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Axel Graafland 45

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Instalment 45: In the bridge room of Tabor Home, Reverend Uncle Peer emphasizes the Feast of the Transfiguration with a Holy Mass in front of twelve wheelchair-bound people.

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A Very British Secret

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Pantomime is one of the best kept secrets in Britain. Dutch readers may well think it’s like the mime (in Dutch: ‘pantomime’!) which was a recurring interval act during the big TV variety shows of the 1960s and 1970s, in which a mime artist wordlessly performed actions such as placing hands against an invisible window. In our house this was the signal for a toilet break.

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End-of-Year Chat

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‘So you think bombing is very bad for the environment?’
‘Yes, setting fire to oilfields is rather damaging to the environment.’
‘So we shouldn’t have fought that Second World War, either?’
‘That’s not what I’m saying.’

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A Cigar in Brussels

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The people I told looked at me as if I was going to travel into a war zone. Actually, after the Paris attacks, I travelled from London to Arnhem and, six days later, back again. Yes, that’s right, through Brussels.

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Burning a Catholic

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Last Thursday, together with my publisher, I decided to research the local Bonfire Night customs in more detail, like an anthropologist investigating the last tribe that still wears penis sheaths.

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Ted or Sylvia?

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Can a book make you change your mind? That’s what occupied my thoughts after reading the new Ted Hughes biography by Jonathan Bate. The publication of this English biography almost coincided with that of Jij zegt het (It’s you who says it), a Dutch novel about Ted Hughes by Connie Palmen.

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Axel Graafland 41

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Instalment 41: Because mummy’s gallbladder is being removed on Good Friday, granny Reuser, from across the road, has taken charge of her daughter’s home.

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Unsuitable for Class War

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Recently, someone asked me what it is like to be a poor poet living in a very wealthy London neighbourhood. ‘I see the funny side of it,’ I replied, ‘and it’s rather nice.’

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In the Current Climate

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Reflect on the current uncertainties by reading ‘In the Current Climate’ from Live Show, Drink Included by Vicky Grut. It is being read by the Short Stories group in Constant Reader on goodreads. Join the discussion! https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/21744058-in-the-current-climate-by-vicky-grut?comment=219858488#comment_219858488

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England-bound

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During World War II, there were ‘Engelandvaarders’, people fleeing to England, and who used small boats to cross the Channel. Alternatively, they travelled through Belgium, France and Spain to Portugal or Gibraltar, and then on to England. They were made very welcome.

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The Weather in Arnhem

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I’ve lived in London for over a year now. ‘Dutch expats are critical of the Netherlands,’ I recently explained to some English friends. ‘And a lot of Dutch people live abroad, actually 1 in 17.’

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Axel Graafland 39

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Instalment 39: Every fourteen minutes the High lighthouse’s rotating beam hits the neatly trimmed conifer hedge which surrounds camping the Corner.

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Accident & Emergency

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‘The number of confused Dutch people abroad is increasing’, ran the headline in one of the Dutch newspapers. Embassies are coming across it far more frequently. In Madrid, a Dutchman was spotted directing the traffic stark naked.

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The Plumber and the Little Prince

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Here at home, the boiler is being replaced, and all of a sudden I find myself in an uncomfortable situation. This awkward state of affairs begins as soon as the workmen arrive. I’m never quite sure if I ought to offer workmen something to drink. Nonetheless, I’ve set out tea and coffee, but I don’t have any milk. ‘No problem,’ say the workmen.

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