Those Irish

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While walking with our Jack Russell ‘Milo’ a few days ago, a woman approached us with great enthusiasm. “Oh, your dog, he is so lovely”. “We had them too,” she added. Milo looked up, as he does when the conversation turns to him. He knows he is a star,the rose amongst the thorns, or the daisy amongst the thistles.

She started talking with a question of whether Helvi was Irish. No, I’m from Finland. Oh, I thought you had an Irish accent, I’m from Ireland, she said. I thought, I better add Holland before being asked. Boy, did she love the talk. No wonder the Irish are so loved. The next item was how the Dutch are so clean. Tell me about it, I said. They even scrub the stoop, wash the windows as if a single speck of dust will send them to eternal hell-fire. One reason while we love living here in Australia.

This was the very thing she wanted to hear. “We have Dutch friends, she added, and are so clean we are petrified of crumbling the biscuit.”. It is scary, she added. Not us, I replied. I understood her perfectly. The Dutch are a bit manic with cleaning or at least, they used to. Perhaps with the influx of so many from dusty countries, the window washers and stoop scrubbers have been overwhelmed with those that rather spend time in social intercourse with friends standing on the stoop instead of soaping it.

I remember years ago, arriving at Schiphol airport after an absence of many years and within half an hour from leaving the airport seeing a man dressed in a suit standing on a small ladder soaping, and washing his spectacles shop window. It was a surreal scene. It brought it all back in waves.

It came out they were thinking of retiring here in Bowral and wanted to know our opinion of the place. Clever woman. We love living here. It is a great place. We live near, not one, but two hospitals. Where can you find that, we added.

Anyway, all of a sudden a man approached her and said; “I’ll be around the corner if you want to find me, near the shoe shop.”. “Yes,” she answered rather routinely. “He is just my husband and knows I am forever accosting people on the street with conversation,” she added. “Feel free any time”!

How great it is to have a Milo and hoorah for the Irish.

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11 Responses to “Those Irish”

  1. petspeopleandlife Says:

    The Irish lady sounds like my Daddy. He could strike up a conversation with a sign post and he was French and German. I like a good talker as it generally means they are quite lovely people.

    Having Milo with you will always be a good thing. Dogs have a way of giving people a way to connect. “Break the ice one could say.

    My Mother was from north western Germany and she often related how all the children had to help scrub the floors and sorts of things.

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  2. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes Yvonne;
    I am somewhat of a recluse in taking the initiative, also quite deaf in both ears, so…with Milo, it is just great and he often gets people to talk to us. When I misunderstand, Helvi chips in, and with her lovely smile corrects any misunderstanding.
    Yes, I think some Germans can also be very fastidious and tidy. We are both a bit in between the Dutch fanatic scrubbing and the Aussie laissez faire attitude.

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  3. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I’m absolutely fascinated by this – are the Dutch really very fastidious when it comes to housework? I think this special ‘dust free’ gene must have skipped my side of the family. Not, I hasten to add, that the women were in any way slatternly in their housekeeping skills, merely that I don’t have any memories of anyone down on their knees scrubbing steps or washing front doors.
    Irish and dogs, what a combo – My Irish cuts quite a dash walking round the village with his drawing book and pens and as for Colin Snout, how could any one resist not stopping to speak to him!

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  4. gerard oosterman Says:

    Yes Lottie, there is some truth in it. It has something to do with butter and curdling of milk.
    http://organizationsandmarkets.com/2010/04/05/why-are-the-dutch-so-clean/
    Did you see that British TV program on how somewhere a getting together event was organised between the sexes on which the deciding factor was each other’s smell based that when dogs meet, within a second they go straight for the bum. No mucking about.
    Anyway, people had to put their underwear in numbered plastic bags which would do the rounds for sniffing and choosing a partner on the lingering bouquet of the underwear.
    Something to do with pheromones.

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  5. Rosie Says:

    Dear Milo – curled up in the daisies – not a care in the world. Just as it should be.

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  6. berlioz1935 Says:

    Interesting, the gist of your post: of being Dutch and trying to escape from it.

    As we walked to wards Circular Quay yesterday we had to stop at a traffic light. A woman beside us looked at us and I looked at her. I thought, German, but being shy did not say anything. But the lady wasn’t shy and started a conversation and in no time knew we were of German stock.

    Like the Irish lady in your story this German woman liked to talk. In a flash we heard her life story and it turned out she was a refugee from all forms and styles German. Especially correctness ! On a visit to Germany an aunt pointed out to her constantly, “You can’t do this and you can’t do that.”

    She was very happy to be back in Australia. We assured her, that we prefer living here too; for very much the same reasons.

    I think if ( real) Germans and (real) Dutch lived as neighbours they would have a cleaning competition every day of the week.

    WE are looking forward to Australia Day !🙂

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  7. gerard oosterman Says:

    The problem is that sometimes one remembers the good of the old country and emphasises the bad of the new. It can make for a confusing life but one made by choice ( my parents did). Stick to today and make the best of it. It is all we got. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow is yet to happen.
    Dear oh dear, I did not mean to get that philosophical.

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  8. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Lovely sort. I’ve ended up back where I began after being an army child all over Europe. I think I enjoy visiting the differences, but, weirdly enough, I prefer the weather here.

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  9. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Sort? sorry story.

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