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The Marseillaise

By Magazine

I had wanted to write about a course in Humming-at-Important-Moments. Imagine: you are the PM and you’ve just announced you’re resigning; you point towards the building behind you, which will be occupied by someone else tomorrow, and what do you do next? You walk over the threshold humming a tune.

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Brexit Bear

By Magazine

‘Bow Tie’ had already warned me. Bow Tie is a man of about eighty years, and I’ve nicknamed him Bow Tie after his ever-present bow tie. Every Saturday, he comes to our stall on Portobello Market for a chat. He talks to many of the stallholders. He has been a market trader himself.

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Letter to the British People

By Magazine

I am one of the three million citizens from the European continent who live and work in your country. I’m not allowed to cast my vote in the referendum, but your country is the one I prefer to live in.

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Axel Graafland 52

By Magazine

Instalment 52: The thick smoke from Reverend Uncle’s Hofnar cigar has finally reached the booth space of the rented VW Beetle. Axel has been sitting there for hours wedged between the fishing rods and live fishing bait.

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Dinner with Louis and José

By Magazine

I have to admit that, to kill time, I regularly watch Come Dine with Me (the way others go fishing). And I also watch its spin-off Couples Come Dine with Me. The programme consists of ‘ordinary’ people going for dinner in each other’s homes and, in addition, rating it. The winner receives £1000.

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An Anglophile European

By Magazine

‘Doctor, I’m an Anglophile, do you think that’s dangerous?’ Every time I visit my GP I’m tempted to ask this question. But, at this practice, you keep seeing a different doctor. The last one I saw was called Georgios, and I don’t think Georgios would get my question.

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Axel Graafland 50

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Instalment 50: The last night freight train changes track, grating mercilessly, on the
railway near the 2nd Daalsedyke and it wakes up Axel from a sweaty
half-sleep on his grubby green IKEA futon.

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No Hugging of Brits!

By Magazine

In the past few days my knee has been giving me trouble, which means that, at the moment, I’m leading the life of a partial cripple. Yesterday, I caught myself muttering: ‘I’m a bit like the EU.’

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Axel Graafland 49

By Magazine

Instalment 49: During the Introit, the crippled sacristan, rubbing his hands, separates the sea of children who are making their First Communion, in the midst of it, the top of Axel’s head is bobbing up and down.

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The God of Rochester

By Magazine

We were on our way from London to Rochester by train. ‘It’s something different, this UKIP safari,’ I said to my travel companion. And after this, as Rochester station loomed large, I added in a David-Attenborough-like whisper: ‘I believe I’ve spotted two of the species. They’re males.’

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Axel Graafland 47

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Instalment 47: While the dental nurse, dressed in a harsh pink trouser suit with a wide white belt and platform shoes, takes him to the dentist chair, Axel left fist tightly grips Virgil Tracey, the Thunderbird 2 pilot.

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On a Knife Edge

By Magazine

People from the Netherlands regularly ask me if I think the UK will leave the EU. The date for the referendum still has to be set, but already they sound concerned when they ask me the question. Others sound a bit sarcastic when they pose this question, as if to say: ‘Well, in that case we’ll be better off without them.’

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