Gevoel: OP DE (voet) BAL
(Translation: Feeling on the (Foot) Ball).
So Saturday dusk (well, as it doesn’t get dark until like 9.30pm here, I guess it was more what we would agree on as dusk in the time frame of things but it was still pretty bloody brightly lit) struck with Annelies and I driving along to Alphen (listening to the crooning of Eurovision Dutch lad Douwe Bob in Slow Down Brother, which I am setting as my alarm tilling to rouse me awake each morning) to have an evening meal with Will.
She was looking beautiful, all put together with her hair styled and floral scarf strung around her neck. (It makes me bittersweetly sad to always see older people taking such pride in their appearance even when they are at home alone all day. If it was me, it would be active wear and static hair all the way). (Wait, that’s anyway, regardless of being in company or not). We thought we were just going to go to her apartment to cook her some cuisine but she said she wanted to go out, suggesting cousin Rolf’s Eight restaurant as the place to partake in ingurgitation.
(I was filled with such joviality when I saw Rolf had in fact placed two puns on the side of the eating place. “Let’s meet at Eight” and “Let’s have a drink at Eight”. Love it!).
Annelies and Will had the market fish of the day while the kitchen crew catered to my request for a simple bowl of sautéed mushrooms, with Will and I sharing in a wine. We had a lovely meal, gabbering away about all sorts of hosh tosh (Annelies as the go-between to continue convo) and upon hearing of our after-into-the-evening plans of the football club party she cheekily told me (through Annelies) to go and find a Nieuwkoop boy and give him a good time so I could stay in Holland forever (that naughty Wortman humour!).
All attempts to sneak off and pay for our consumed were thwarted by the two – they are onto my ways well and truly. As I whipped out my “wallet” (the little plastic bag given back at the bank when getting out a different currency; the current (yes I did) one I have I have been using this entire trip, right since the get-go at the Kiwibank counter) (ok, from my house; well what with Deb working there, it is understandable I gave her my paper and pin and got her to sort it out for me, is it not?) Will shooed it away with such vigour as she demanded it was on her (the dinner, not the rather ravaged money plastic bag).
We dropped her off home, stopping for a cup of tea (her trying to offload all this chocolate onto me and not hearing of having it returned; I had to sneak it in my back when she wasn’t watching). She showed me all the photos adorning her side shelf, including one of her with Opa and some other siblings when they were young and another of her, Opa and younger brother Willem a mere ten years ago when she was in NZ. Seeing it in pride of place made me teary, especially when she told me (through Annelies translating) that my Opa was always her favourite brother (even more special when you consider she has 11).
What with the club colour being orange – what else? “Very Dutch” – I attempted to find an honorary hued t shirt, but – alas! – to no avail (I flirted with the idea of donning Richard’s Hi-Viz workwear, but thought Nieuwkoop may not yet be ready for my weirdness). So instead I pulled on the top Annelies had bought me earlier, chucked my hair in and Richard, Annelies and I got in the car to go.
As soon as we walked into the hall a beer was fostered upon me (though I think it was Amstel). (Gettit? “Fosters”?). In all Dutch style, of course they have the most on point way to buy rounds – that in line buys a round (yes) tray like contraption with cup holders for the beer. There are about 13 compartments or so (enough for a team, coach and what not I later figured – on the ball), so the buyer must, well, but the full lot so as to not appear as cheap or stingy. And they have the ultimate carrier to cavort back to the crowd with! Ingenious.
I was in awe of the tide of orange. All these ball booting boys and goal guarding girls getting jovial on one side of the hall, while parents and what not converged on the other. Annelies took me round and introduced me to all the to-knows (with Richard a gleeful schoolboy setting me shaking hands with his group of 12 lads, all in company), whereupon Sharon came bounding in with her squad and wrapped me in a hug.
“Poppy you will come to the pub with us after here, won’t you?”
I was touched. Although earlier in the week the kids had made noises about me joining them for Jullz (cider-type bevvy, very sweet – almost sickly – that I got convinced into trying and ended up purchasing a fair few for my new parade of pals), I had thought it was just them being polite. You know, the whole, “kind-of-have-to-ask-her-because-she’s-here” situation. But when I tentatively queried if that would in fact be ok, Sharon shrieked out in certainty, “Of course!” with all her friends gathering me in cuddles and agreeing with gusto (I think a fair bit of vodka had been downed prior to them reaching the party). Then Dennis galloped up, looped a limb around me and insisted on buying me a tipple too.
What a fucking fabulously fun night! After a good go at the football club singing Dutch songs (some of which had familiar tunes but the lyrics had been done over in the Netherlandic voice), yarning to a lad who had just returned from 14 months in Aus with two weeks in NZ (he’s coming back next year to see the North Island too, with me being his tour guide) (in fact, a fair few are… Deb and Henio, we may have to turn the corner of Norfolk into a B&B affair for a year or so to accommodate all I have asked over), being waltzed about by young boys (I have to admit, upon being asked my age I did make like a razor and shave a couple of years off – didn’t want the lot of lads and lasses talking of the van der Post’s “older” cousin tomorrow. Plus the security stallion on the door didn’t believe I was 18, with me having to hand over the licence to prove my 1991 DOB) and having girly giggles with all the girlfriends, Sharon & Squad barricaded me outside and we bundled onto bikes.
It was decided me and my cousin would go on one, with me manning the manoeuvring and her clambering aboard once a bit of velocity was garnered. Unfortunately, I’m not “very Dutch” in the way of the cycles so a fair few attempts failed. So she got on with another friend and I turned my legs on my lone (declaring the not-at-all straight way I was weaving as a result of bikes not being so used in New Zealand, rather than the real reason of having had a few too many Jullzes).
We reached the pub that I had been told of, many a chap telling me not to expect much. So my mind was detonated upon seeing it was like an actual club! Complete with a long lengthy line pythoning its way up to the entrance (exclusive admittance as well). We were like matches in a, well, matchbox as we did little bobs and were pushed about by the parting (as well as jostled by a couple a jocks having a shove off every so often – tipples, testosterone and competing teams, ride for a fair bit of fighting).
I danced and discoed about with the lasses as well as Dennis and his lads, earning the description of being “the so tiny and crazy one”. It was just jovial and joyful and jollily jocund.
At about 4am we decided to do the dash home. This time Sharon set on steering, with me on the back of the bike holding my hands around her waist (she laughed when we got back and she saw I had straddled the seat stand rather than have legs to one side as was the “very Dutch” way.
After another hour or so of skyping Deb (always an incredible idea when a fair few deep) and having girly gossips, we went up to bed to sleep.
Just amazing. I didn’t think I could love this lot anymore. (And I’ve got no choice but to move to Holland now (not that that’s at all a hardship). I told all and sundry about my impending idea – though I termed it “definitely-locked-in-relocation” – to the Fatherland).
Just two points to add from the party that tickled my fancy well and truly.
- As we sort of sung, sauntered and staggered about at the soccer shindig, a sudden song came on that had all in the room sitting in lines on the floor and acting as if they were rowing a boat. And I mean everyone in the room. I don’t know why, but I did as I always do when in the unknown; join and be on board. (As what with a song a few more on when everyone made a train and snaked throughout the hall. Barging to be at the very front to be followed could be considered as being all up in the culture, right?).
- And yet another eccentric everybody-in institution: there is a melody that was made with the lyrics being about two football fellows who were in fact brothers, Yaya and Kolo Toure. The two both play for Manchester City and the supporters made a song about them. What with Yaya being very tall and Kolo being significantly small, the chorus goes, “Yaya” – whereupon all raise their arms up in the air – “Kolo” – where all lower their arms and point at the floor – which repeats on and on as you do too. Great fun, jolly scott.
Here is a vid appropriated from YouTube to explain if my description did not do it lucidity.
Holland is just a wHOLLeLAND of warmth, wonderment and Wortman ways.
(And Jullz. That shit is great).