The grass has always been greener on the Continent. That’s a fact. Back in the 1950’s the Wheelers wanted to leave Revolutionary Road for France. Now the Nymph wants to leave Cheverton Road for Amsterdam.
Life is “vurrukkulluk” over there, she claims. Everyone cycles without helmets and for lunch and dinner one goes to restaurants and stays in nice hotels. Moreover, when you meet people they are happy to see you and in the morning you don’t even need to make our own coffee.
Frankly, I can’t blame her for that dream view of Amsterdam. Because this is what we experienced last week.
The Dutch Foundation for Literature invited Peirene and me to Amsterdam. We were flown out there, put up in the literary hotel of the town, The Ambassade, had dinner with translators and authors, including Peirene author No 5, Jan van Mersbergen, and during the day we met Dutch publishers, agents and booksellers. It was absolutely delightful and I came home with a long reading list of Dutch short novels and novellas.
Everything was arranged. I didn’t even need to book the air tickets. And only one thing was expected of me – to chat and network. And as an added bonus: I was unable to reply to my emails because my blackberry refused to let me do so. The world beyond Amsterdam went on without me. Heaven, to say the least.
Or, “vurrukkulluk”, pronounced: fy:ry:kky:lly:k. Best Dutch word I came across. It means “delicious”. It’s also the title of a classic Dutch novella from the early 60’s, one of these books everyone seems to know, has read in their youth and when you asked them about it, eyes lit up. Needless to say, it’s never been translated into English but the Dutch Foundation who archive any translation ever done of any Dutch book, hope that they can find an old German translation. If that is the case, I will read it and if I like it, “Verrukkuluk” might come indeed across the channel.
“There is one thing I do prefer here to Amsterdam,” Peirene conceded by the time we had arrived back home on Friday.
“And that is?” I was curious.
True. Amsterdam was rainy and stormy while in London the sky was blue, the trees blossomed and people got their T-Shirts out. To celebrate the beautiful weather we ate strawberry and cream out in the garden yesterday lunch time – for the first time this year. Simply vurrukkulluk. I think Peirene is getting used to life in Cheverton Road again.
Image by alsis35 (now at ipernity).