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The Winking Waiter from Canterbury

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It was during the summer of 1980, just a month before I turned eighteen. I still had a full head of hair. My parents had arranged the ferry for me and my elder sisters, and had booked an expensive hotel in Canterbury. For the first time they spent their holiday at home. They did ask us to phone every day. Three years later my eldest sister would emigrate to England.

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Operation Honey Trap

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It has been an exciting week. My attention was drawn to this headline: ‘Forbidden sex in the interest of national security’. ‘How can I apply?’ I muttered. It transpired to be an utterance by Rabbi Ari Schvat. In his opinion, it is perfectly fine for attractive female secret agents to lure the enemy into providing information for the greater good of Israel. However, the Rabbi insists that they should be single.

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Disaster Entertainment

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The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has acquired Volkert van der Graaf’s pistol. It is likely to be added to the exhibition in 2013. I have to explain this a bit for our overseas readers. In 2002 Volkert van der Graaf shot Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who was well on his way to win the general election. I wasn’t a fan of Fortuyn, actually I disagreed with almost everything he said. However it is revolting to put Volkert van der Graaf, an animal activist who wanted to justify his cause by murdering someone, on a pedestal in the museum that houses Rembrandt’s Night Watch.

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Long Live Belgium!

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There are many Anglophiles and Francophiles in The Netherlands, people who adore respectively England and France. There are also quite a few America Experts, a wide-ranging concept in my opinion. Does it mean that you are an authority on McDonald’s activities, know the ins and outs of Wall Street or are deeply into the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald? Yet, the America Expert does exist. However Belgium Experts are thin on the ground, quite apart from the fact that I have never come across a Belgophile.

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What Came First

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Penny Boxall is the winner of the Frederik van Eeden Competition

 

It was the first fine day.
Not even hot – just that the sky
had broken to show itself, modestly,
startlingly blue. We watched through
the high classroom windows, the shuddering
of cloud and sky. After break, we filed
down the lane to the burn behind the village.
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A Brit in the Attic

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Each year when it turns autumnal, purple flags with Pegasus, the winged horse, on them are flown from houses, balconies and flag posts all over Oosterbeek and Arnhem. Pegasus is the official emblem of the First Airborne Division. On 17th September 1944 this division was dropped in and around Oosterbeek as part of Operation Market Garden to capture the bridge across the Rhine at Arnhem. I don’t believe there is another defeat of the British army anywhere in the world that is still remembered to such an extent.

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Dancing Resembling Lugging Potatoes

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Dancing in public requires a bit of courage. It can be quite an amusing spectacle. Remember, for example, political correspondent John Sergeant on Strictly Come Dancing when it looked as if he lugged a sack of potatoes across the dance floor. Unfortunately it was his dance partner. This week it was announced that politician and writer Anne Widdecombe will take part in the new series. I am curious to see how she gets to grips with the ‘sack of potatoes’.

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Did Tony drink too much?

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This is the question I pondered upon this week. Tony Blair mentioned in his autobiography that when he was Prime Minister he drank a stiff whisky or a gin & tonic before dinner. Followed by a few glasses of wine at dinner, or maybe half a bottle, Tony admitted. ‘So not excessively excessive’, he concluded. I think it must have been just that little bit more. It makes Tony human.

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Living under Fire

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Short Story Competition – Closed

 

To celebrate the release of Arnold Jansen op de Haar’s King of Tuzla, Holland Park Press is holding a short story writing competition, because often fiction describes reality more truthfully than an item on the evening news.
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Go Camping

By Magazine

I have done it all, a stay in a villa in the Dordogne, in luxurious hotels in Barcelona, Paris and Madrid, or in a palazzo in Florence. This makes little impression these days. However, when you announce that you have been camping in Luxemburg, people look at you as if you have been visiting the North Pole in your swimming trunks.

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Summer Writing

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It must have been about fifteen years ago Рit was a year after I left the army to make writing my full time vocation Рwhen I decided to relocate for two weeks to a small cottage in Fontenoy-le-Ch̢teau in the French Vosges.

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The Flying Cigar

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Winston Churchill considered it prudent not to disclose an alleged UFO sighting because it would create a panic … bookmakers immediately increased the odds by 20 percent for David Cameron or Barack Obama to acknowledge the existence of extraterrestrials…

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A Plump Athlete

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When I was young I could beat the fastest woman in Europe. If I had competed this week in the European Athletic Championships in Barcelona my old personal bests would have been fast enough to reach the 100, 200 and maybe even 400 meter finals, with a real chance of winning a gold medal. Well, in the women’s races. Unfortunately I am a man.

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Spare me the Blushes

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One day on your way to work you think: well, why not, I will call my boss dad (or mum when the boss is a woman). It is hard to take such an idea seriously. Yet calling your boss mum or dad is the biggest slip-up you can make in the workplace, according to British research which contacted 3000 employees. So it does seem to happen.

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A Great Family Tree

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This week Zsa Zsa Gábor (aged 93) fell out of her bed and as a result has broken a number of bones. The picture of this marvel of plastic surgery holding a poodle is implanted on my mind. Actually, it belongs to the memories of my youth; I didn’t know she was still alive.

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The Other Orange Team

By Magazine

Queen Victoria produced beautiful drawings of her children. She didn’t advertise this, she didn’t organise any exhibitions of her work, but what she did do was encourage the arts. She and Albert commissioned many artists. There are, however, quite a few modern day Royal Highnesses who think that they are artists, architects, writers or bankers.

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Please, don’t call me middle class!

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‘I use middle class as an insult’, wrote Cath Elliott on The Guardian website last week. I do employ this insult myself from time to time, but for totally different reasons than Cath Elliott’s use of the term. She positions herself as a feminist and trade union activist.

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Beckham’s Underpants

By Magazine

Anky van Grunsven, Dutch dressage rider and triple gold medallist at the Olympic Games, needs to wear one of her old hats to win a competition. She has tried competing when wearing a brand new hat but the results were dismal. According to scientific research three quarters of all people taking part in sport at top level are superstitious, and especially among footballers this affliction reigns supreme. For example, during his time at Manchester United David Beckham wouldn’t dare to play without wearing the same underpants.

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