Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

In a blaze of Patriotic fervour.

June 14, 2017

 

 

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Our arrival in Australia 1956

 

You would have to feel sorry for our Prime Minister. Ever since he took over from the previous PM, Tony Abbott, because of an endless row of negative Polls, Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity is worse, obstinately stuck in the same drift sands of his predecessor. No matter what the policy, or how he twists and turns, it all turns to an uninspiring porridge of lukewarm indecisions. The light is slowly being turned off.

His latest attempt to pull his Government out of the never never of political defeat, he  turned once again to his voters assuaging the idea that we need all to become far more “patriotic’, far more ‘Real Australian.’ In this endeavour he is clearly appealing to the largest denominator, grabbing some good old fashioned Aussie values. The values that stood the test of time. Bradman Cricket, Phar Lap, the Mother tongue of English language, the spirit of Anzacs and standing up for flag and National Anthem. Oi, oi oi, Aussie, and all that stuff.

There is now feeling of desperation seeping in. With latest poll showing our Turnbull to be seven point behind the opposition, he wants to take the wind out of his adversary, Tony Abbott’s sails with a good old fashioned appeal to ” True Australian Values.” and sharpening this by making the rules of obtaining citizenship harder.  Migrants will need to wait for a number of years and have a good grasp of English together with doing a test on a suitable understanding and uncritical acceptance of all things “Australian,” before they can apply for citizenship.

It will also make a handy appeal to the One Nation Party of Pauline Hanson and possibly filch voters away. I feel this latest from Turnbull is racially tinged, and aimed at making migrants feel inadequate or less than equal by hinting that Australian values are somehow so much better and, that any feelings by migrants of their homeland’s cultural values ought better be left behind.  We need you to totally fall in line with us, or go home, is what our PM. Turnbull seems to be saying.

When we arrived none of us spoke much English, and it took a while to realise that English was even spoken in Australia. It took persistence to accept the foreign slang as actual English. It wasn’t all that rare even then, that in public, migrants were told to speak English only. My father was told in the bus once to stop talking in yabba, yabba, yabba (Dutch) and  speak bloody English. My parents never lost the love of their home-country. How could anyone even loose it? They always felt that Holland was their home-country but they also accepted Australia as their new home. It takes time. When my father retired they decided to go back home. Why not? Don’t many Australians make England their new home or Holland, the US? Over a million Australians live permanently overseas.

The appeal to becoming Patriotic is just silly and will make Australia look even less tolerant. One wonders what the loyalties of the only real original Australians , the aboriginals, ought to be pitched at, their killer overlords?

How we still cling to those Anglo ideas of the past, loyalty to a foreign Queen, despite most of us now having been born elsewhere. Why are we still a monarchy?  What is it about the ‘value of fear’ that we so love? What about encouraging change, move forward? Future Australians are now coming from everywhere, including The Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia. They too, in time will also become ‘real Australians’ and add to this wonderful mixture of all that we call home, Australia. I can’t wait for their national dishes to appear in our Cafes and restaurants. Do people still eat that soapy Kraft Cheddar embedded in silver foil, or Tasty cheese, Heinz tinned spaghetti?

How much better if our Prime Minister had used the opportunity for ‘tolerance, acceptance, and greater empathy towards others, instead of this silly national pitch for drum banging and ‘patriotism’.

 

Early Television.

May 30, 2017

 

It was surprising that, after our arrival in 1956, Australia had yet to welcome Television. The Dutch introduced black and white television in 1951 with Phillips being the first to manufacture the television set. It wasn’t till 1989 that the Dutch Government even allowed public broadcasting of commercials on the radio and television. Even today Holland seems fairly modest in public display of advertising hoardings. Thank goodness for that. On TV, it is however just as hellish with advertising in Holland as in Australia. One reason we never watch the commercial stations, except for SBS channel. We are now experiencing another form of movie watching in Netflix.  I bet it too will include advertisements urging us to add and buy enhancing lifestyle products.

My early impression of TV watching was in Holland standing in front of radio shops. The introduction of Television was of such national interest that people queued up in front of electrical shops selling the first of television sets. Even just the flickering of the screen was greeted by many Dutch burghers being mesmerized by it all, sometimes standing ten deep in front of those shops. When the weak transmission signal came good and actual images were produced the crowd broke into an applause sometimes even shouting ‘encore’ as if in a life theatre.

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When the event of the television came to Australia around the late fifties, it immediately was accompanied by advertisements. Favourite advertisements were for electric Sunbeam fry-pans, Omo soap powders, Camel cigarettes and of course the much desired  TV sets made from wood veneer and standing somewhat forlorn on splayed legs over which many a family member would stumble. Now of course there are whole jungles of electronics available. Most would now be regarded as lifestyle accoutrements. Sooner or later though, no matter what form of electronic device one buys, it will be loaded with advertisements.

One early advertisement still etched belatedly in my fading memory during those heady early TV broadcasts in Australia was the advertisement of Kellogg’s Cornflakes.  It was shown on TV with the help of a beautiful woman seated at a luridly coloured laminex table with similar splayed legs. She was seductively eating this wonderful crunchy Kellogg’s breakfast with the promise of making her ‘regular’. I foolishly confused her outrageous claim to regularity with being in time. I thought that this breakfast was making her come in time for her work, taking children to school or appointment with the hairdresser, and never thought it had anything to do with the delicate state of her bowels.

In fact, during those early years almost all food advertisements were pitched at making women achieve good levels of regularity. It was years later when I learned that women were keenly addicted to head-ache powders containing phenacetin. Apart from the resulting obstinate persistence of cemented bowels,  many suffered kidney failure in later life when those particular pain killers were banned. It must have caused many to suffer from bouts of unimaginable constipation. In factories, canny Medicine moguls installed coin operated headache powder dispensers. Women would flock to put in a penny and get and APC or Bex powder. I was perplexed that so many would queue up to buy those powders. I asked and one woman told me it would ‘pick her up.’  The expression ‘having a cup-o-tea, a Bex powder, and a good lie-down’ came from that period

I don’t know if Kellogg’s cornflakes helped those utterly confused female bowels. The TV did promise so many things. For some reason, men were not shown to suffer bouts of irregularity on TV. Perhaps it lacked masculinity. No doubt with their enormous beer consumption, the male bowel was in robust health all the time.

Our early years in Australia were used productively in a fast ‘learning curve.’

Our ‘own’ home.

May 26, 2017

When we say we own our own home it means just that. We own the title to our home. This means we can sell it, and profit/lose from it. We too bought our own home with our own earned money. Years ago, it used to mean that you had a roof over your head and ‘owning’ had a different meaning. Many people would probably add that owning own home is one of their best investments. I remember being swept up in Australia after our arrival, whereby ownership of home was seen as a main goal. A dream.  It is still looked upon as a major achievement in life. During the nineteen fifties till now,  urgings by many to strife for home ownership reached almost religious proportions. Half the newspapers used to consist of advertisements for buying and selling homes.

People gathered around the garlic- prawns getting grilled on wood- barbeques and spoke of magic real estate deals. Legendary tales were told by jolly men about unimaginable profits  made on selling properties that had sky-rocketed to much higher prices. Parties would rocket as well by  tales of real estate with empty two litre casks of Coolabah-chardonnay littering next morning  with redolent empty prawn shells. If you let it be known you were an ‘own homer’ your status gained enormous. Women would flock around, easy to date. They too were drawn to Homer.

My dad had much trouble understanding this. In Holland at that time ( 1956) owning own home was unheard of and totally unnecessary. Housing was supplied by Councils or Governments and generally leased for life. Even today home ownership in Holland is about 50% of the adult population. There was a period, compliments of WW2 and carpet-bombings, that an acute shortage existed of available housing. Thanks to the US generous Marshall Plan that Europe was given after the war the housing shortage was soon overcome.  Even so, tens of thousands were drawn to migrate to other shores, especially Canada and Australia. One of the attractions that were being dangled before future migrants’ eyes was the prospect of own home on own block with own bathroom in far away countries. Australia was magic. Colour footage was shown of ‘home owners standing on own lawn in front of own house.’ Those white picket fences, the gloriousness of it all.

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My parents with ‘own home.’

My mother was especially attracted to own bathroom. Back in Holland we had a galvanised tub with handles to bathe in. My mother would boil water on a gas stove. I was lucky  being the second eldest and by and large enjoyed a nice warm bath. However my brother Adrian who was nr 5 in the line of ascendency had tepid and scungy greasy well used water. That’s how it was.

Now the real estate has been so magically successful that hardly anyone can afford it. Many flock to the major cities. That’s why cities are formed. The majority like living in close proximity of each other. The prices are astronomical. A million dollars gets you a bare two bedroom un-renovated almost derelict cottage or a liveable home-unit. Most young couples have given up.

The dream is now a nightmare.

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Relaxing in the Dentist’s chair

April 12, 2017
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Birds always understand

“Isn’t it about time you get your teeth looked at?” That was one of the first things my wife came up with one early morning rising out of bed. “Why, I asked,  is there something about my teeth that kept you awake?” “You were gnashing them, all night,” she said  stroppily. “Oh, great, lets compare your snoring with my teeth gnashing,” I replied, ready for combat. “It isn’t just your gnashing,.” Helvi said. “Oh boy, is there more,” I said  warming up into a nice marital fencing?  “Yes, but for now, can you just turn away from me while you are talking, you have either not brushed your teeth last night or you got something sinister travelling inside your mouth”, she said. I thought that was quite a funny thing to say. She won.

I took the hint, and made an appointment with the local dentist. It was some years since I last visited one. Helvi had already made several visits to this new dentist who has his practise inside an old weather-board cottage. The outside is painted a stark white. The picket fence at the front is also pearly white. By squinting and using imaginary projections it is almost possible to see a perfectly formed white toothed mouth. There is a board hanging outside; ‘Family Dentist.’ The gleaming whiteness of it all is the best advertisement for this dental surgery. It impressed us enough, and that is the reason why Helvi decided to get her teeth checked out there. She is not scared of dentists. Not many women are.

She had already warmed me up by telling me that this dentist is very calm who explains the procedure in the greatest detail. Helvi seemed very impressed. I like calmness in dentists and would certainly not have my teeth fixed by a nervous or very agitated dentist.

I arrived promptly at 10.30 am and was met by a very nice bare armed secretary. She wore a blue floral shirt with a white open collar. Her previously mentioned arms were decorated with a modest arrangement of silver bangles around her wrists. There were no other adornments, not even earrings. She seemed kind and reassuring. If I was a dog I would not have minded being walked around town for a bit by her. I would definitely try and refrain from lifting my hind leg.

She gave me a large sheet to fill in. The sheet had all sorts of questions regarding any illnesses or diseases, suffering at present or suffered in the past. Was I pregnant etc? One question that stood out, and shows how far we have arrived in how people are now considered with so much more dignity and empathy was; Was I nervous and if so; what was my level of nervousness? I filled in that I had no nervousness at all. If the secretary had been less friendly and welcoming, I could well have answered with honesty ,and filled in ‘very bloody nervous.’ I can’t say that dentists and I have ever been close soul mates.

I also signed that I took all responsibility and more importantly would pay in full after each treatment. I sat down and waited for the dentist to call me in. The walls of the waiting room were adorned with nice pictures, all meant to calm and ready us. There were some magazines but no hunting or car racing magazines. No deadly accidents or photos of shot pigs.

I was called in by Craig and we shook hands. He was the dentist. It is always comforting when first names are being used by the medical fraternity. I can’t imagine that being normal back in Holland where things used to be much more formal. Perhaps that has changed as well. It is all becoming friendlier, I hope. The dental chair is what struck me first. I have never seen a chair so modern. It had in front a screen on which a projection of a photo of a grizzly bear in a forest was shown. I had hardly absorbed this image when it was replaced with a penguin surrounded by a vast polar expanse, all white. The penguin was large and I suppose it might have been an Emperor. It all looked very nice and peaceful

Craig sat down and crossed his legs in an amicable fashion. He explained in a friendly and calming manner what he was going to do and after perusing my medical sheet, he promised “no great drama.” “You have no medical problems now nor in the past.” He reassured me, and he chatted on how long he had been practising his dentistry art. “Your wife told me you used to have a farm”, he added.

It was after this brief chat that he examined my mouth. His assistant took my glasses, hearing aids and other paraphernalia around and inside my mouth. We are going to take some x-rays, he said. All in all nothing too intrusive. It was over fairly quickly. “It will take about three visits,” he said. “There are some teeth that are split and there is a built up of tartar, a few fillings have come out. Nothing insurmountable.”

I was ushered back into the waiting room.

Nothing too bad. Almost a nice experience.

 

Woe those that save and live frugally

March 6, 2017

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There is always that pull to and fro of our past. Some say, don’t look back. But with age comes an oversupply of what has been and much less of what is yet to come. I am talking of time, not substance. It’s most unlikely that at the age of seventy-seven one contemplates joining the army or seek a career in investment banking. Sure, some go climb mount Everest or take up the piano, but most contemplate things and end up rummaging around in memories. I do.

One of the good things that was ingrained still occupies my train of thoughts. It was one my parents main input. ‘Live within your means. Save for what you want and don’t waste.’  This was also reinforced by the political system back in Holland. The era of consumerism never took The Netherlands in the same way it was embraced by Australia. Buying things on credit was unheard of. Today, this very different and the credit card is also embraced. Even so, some national habits are well ingrained. I believe even eating raw herrings is as much a pastime now as it was when I lived there. Saving is still held in high esteem.

This might well be the reason that of all the countries in the world, The Netherlands now hold the enviable record of 103 quarters of uninterrupted economic growth.  While much of that growth is contributed to cutting welfare and taxes and giving corporations greater freedom, Holland still enjoys a generous welfare system. Excluding costs of education, Holland spends 24.3 % of GDP (Gross Domestic Products) and comes in fairly high on the list of welfare spending. Australia spends 18% and  this is towards the lower end of world’s foremost economies. The US is the fourth lowest on welfare spending at 14.8%.

The Dutch pension gets paid irrespective of being poor or rich. Everyone who turns 65 gets it. It is a state insurance scheme whereby every one who works or has worked in the Netherlands gets a pension when turning 65. It is roughly 2% for every year that one has worked in Holland

http://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/stats/Economy/Social-welfare-spending/%3E-%25-of-GDP/Excluding-education

This is all about our experience on how saving in Australia is being punished.  Since about two months ago the government changed tack on pensions. Those with savings above a certain limit would either get the old-age pension lowered or totally taken away. We lost our pension. It seems, that in Australia it is best to whoop it up and spend, spend. Burn your money, go gambling, load up your credit card, run up debts. You will ensure you get the pension.

https://www.svb.nl/int/en/aow/wat_is_de_aow/wie_krijgt_aow/

And by the way, the Dutch pension is about 70% 0f average wage instead of 40% in Australia. So, next time you hear Turnbull or Morrison going on how Australia is some kind of social paradise. It is NOT. We are pretty stingy when it comes to social welfare.

 

The Evil within

February 23, 2017

 

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Grand dad Oosterman design of church window

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-23/child-sex-abuse-royal-commission-one-of-the-lucky-ones/8296986

A must read, especially considering the stance some of us take on Islam and Muslims. I do hope Pauline Hanson and her cohorts of ‘One Nation’ reads this before she start ranting  again about the evils of Islam or Sharia law. Even Geert Wilders in Holland should try and get a grip on what’s happenings around our own neck of the woods.

Here some excerpts of above article;

“Having listened to the testimony from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse I realise that I wasn’t the sort of boy the paedophiles were ever likely to be interested in: I wasn’t vulnerable enough. My mother asked too many questions.

In my 20s and 30s, I used to joke about surviving the full Catholic “catastrophe” (apologies to Zorba): strapped by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart until the age of nine, in 1974 I was handed-over to the Marist Brothers to be socialised and institutionalised through violence.”

“Many of the brothers were outright sadists. One comes immediately to mind. I well remember being hauled out in front of the other boys in Year 4 and repeatedly caned for submitting a piece of artwork which he had deemed inadequate.

The artwork in question was meant to be a bulldog, made from a discarded cotton spool and two bits of coloured cardboard. I was eight and the brother had determined that I should be made an example of.

There were many of his ilk — Brother Francis, Brother Casmir — grown men who thought nothing of using a leather strap or length of cane on a boy until the child not only cried, but occasionally pleaded in front of his classmates for the punishment to stop.”

Only the lonely

February 8, 2017

 

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But where are the people? This was very often a question asked during the time we had foreign students living with us. We lived in Balmain. It is a suburb which many Australians would classify as having medium to high density living. We always look back with fondness of the twenty years we lived there. It is the place where our children grew up. So, how come this question; but where are the people?

The foreign students came from Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Germany with a couple from Holland. The question has to be looked at from the perspective of living in cities. Australia right from the start understood it had space.  Space was lacking in England, especially in the big smoked filled cities. Thus the suburban block here was soon to be seen as desirable for people to be housed on. At the beginning, people lived in terrace houses joined together forming complete streets. Balmain was one of those earlier suburbs of Sydney with streets of terrace houses. Parks were everywhere and it still felt very spacious.

However, the foreign students came from cities that were teeming with people. They would form throngs on the streets. I am sure that those that have been to Asia understand there is a huge difference between density of people there in cities compared to here in Australia. It were those people on the streets that the students were sorely missing, even in inner city Balmain.

My parents soon after arrival in 1956 went to live in western Sydney. Real Estate agents and blocks of land were the main topics of conversation amongst the migrants.  We too were swept up into saving a deposit for our ‘own’ block of land.  There was no real understanding of the social consequences in making a choice of where to live.  To be near a rail-station was desirable but as for other desirable needs, it just wasn’t about or questioned. Migrants had a need to have a roof and security of an income, all else was secondary. It was like a fever. One got caught up in the frenzy of making a new life. It was all a bit puzzling for my dad. He was different.

The street that my parents ended up living in was like millions of suburban streets anywhere in Australia. There were people living in houses but you would rarely see them. It felt achingly lonely. Sometimes a curtain would stir or a car would drive by. For me it was deadly, spiritual dehydration. Sure, the petunias and rockeries were plenty. Rosellas would be screeching and flying about and then there was cracker night. This was a yearly event with bon-fire on the street, somehow mysteriously related to Guy Fawkes or something. It was an occasion for neighbours to meet up. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes

All this in response to having read a lecture by Hugh MacKay. He is a well know social commentator. “The State of the Nation starts in your Street.”

http://theconversation.com/hugh-mackay-the-state-of-the-nation-starts-in-your-street-72264

It seems to fit in what is happening with all that card swiping and waving at poles. We are forced to dealing with less and less people. Banking is done silently in front of an ATM. People buy food on-line and sit at home all sated and possibly overweight. The steel posts at rail stations. Most work will finally be done by  steel posts and robots. Soon we might go to bed enjoying the icy embrace of a steel post or with a rotating robot with a waving of cards giving consent to heaven knows what sexual delights

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I don’t know what can be done to liven up lonely suburban streets. My mum did her best and was fearless in her search for social contact. It was difficult. All those Venetian blinds and that obsession with privacy. A sign of change is that most people now prefer an apartment close to the city. People do seem to want to live close to each other, able to walk to shops and work. People need people.

We shall see!

The reindeer in Finland are getting nervous. Christmas is nigh.

September 17, 2016

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In the local Highlands Newspaper I noticed an advertisement seeking volunteers to act as Santa. Experience not required, but joviality and those with a deep ho, ho ho given preference. Females with rich chest resonance and dark vocal qualities accepted too. Glass ceilings are being broken here!.

Christmases are coming earlier and with greater urgency. We don’t want to miss out. Business is business and it can’t be harmful if we get the consumer alerted out of their winter slumber a bit earlier. Soon, the heat will be upon us. The cicadas are bursting out of their seventeen year wait already.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2001/02/17/2822486.htm

The Big W store near us has unpacked the Christmas cards and the novelty store nearby is selling beards, holy tinsels and mitres for aspiring Santas. It took us a couple of years to get used to this tropical Christmas. Instead of Holland’s snow and fondant we were supposed to take to beer, barbequed prawns and gherkins pierced enfolded in ham. The first Christmas in church the solemn suit was replaced by singlets, shorts and sweat. The local priest was not unknown to exude alcohol vapours when giving communion at the mid-night mass. Huge bogon moths would swirl around the lights as well as the heads of this herd of pious but slightly inebriated parishioners. One could almost hear the refrain; ‘Rudolf the red nosed reindeer.’

It did not help Dad’s resolve to accept this different type of Christmas. The jolliness of Australian Santa wasn’t really any different from the more solemn North European version, although at the time when we left in 1956, I don’t think that buying presents and spending money was as yet a big deal. It was more atmospheric and certainly a celebration and time of joy in each other and family, including the community. We would go around shaking hands. I suspect that my parents would have missed their own country most at times of Christmas.

We, the kids, would of course be found on the beach and surf, get coconut oil sprayed to hasten the browning up, and eat hot chips when hungry. I had an enormous balsa wood surfboard which I would paddle beyond the surf and miraculously did manage to ride some waves back in. Now, sharks and high rates of melanoma have put a dent in that part of culture. The beaches are notably quieter. Many a surfie is seen scanning the water for any sharks while shark spotting aeroplanes circle overhead. It must be tempting for sharks to see those legs dangling from surfboards. It is their territory.

Perhaps, bush walking and outback adventures will now become more popular. It is rather nice to sit in the shade of a large coolabah tree, sip a cool beer taken from the esky while having a small fire on which to cook some cutlets of lamb or even prawns. At least, your worst opponents might be a snake that got disturbed by you. We are reassured that snakes generally are shy and tend to crawl away. That must be so reassuring. I would rather go bush than surf in the sea.

In any case, Christmas is still three months away. I find the whole idea of yet another Christmas coming a bit disconcerting.

Can Australia help Holland out in closing down their prisons?

August 8, 2016

While here and in the UK, plans are under way to build more prisons, Holland is closing them. They even asked Norway to send a thousand criminals, to at least fill some of the empty cells and keep employing guards.
http://qz.com/644914/the-netherlands-keeps-having-to-close-its-prisons-due-to-lack-of-prisoners

Amsterdam

Amsterdam

The Dutch Aunt married in Kings Cross.( Seniors only)

August 4, 2016

41yjSAQeq1L__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ oosterman treats

Faithful readers might remember a period when I was working for De Rotterdamse Bank, Bij-Kantoor Middenweg, Amsterdam South, as the book-keeper. It all happened during my first trip back to Holland around 1961/62 or so. A few years after my parents migrated to Australia. I wanted to work in an office wearing a suit and carrying an attaché briefcase to and fro work on the tram. It was also thought that my school friendships of the past could be resurrected. There was also the hope it might be possible to find a ‘good woman/girl.’ (I had already met ‘good woman’, but little did I know, but of that later.)

Prior to my first return to Holland and still in Australia, the search for first romantic liaisons had resulted in a piquant but dangerous episode with a large Maltese woman who was married to a nice butcher who kept a loaded shotgun in their marital wardrobe. While this episode solved some of my curiosities about the opposite sex, it wasn’t really all that edifying. The seduction came from her side, giving me a rather weak excuse. It happened while watching the epic ‘Bonanza’ with Ben Cartwright’s three sons chasing bad cowboys on galloping horses going around and around the same set of rocks. It was breathtaking in its audacity. The husband was sitting opposite! I was sure it wasn’t a reflection of Maltese cultural standards. I am so lucky to have survived. ( Dutch migrant shot dead while watching Bonanza!)

I was trying to make the best of my stay in Amsterdam, and lived with an uncle I never heard of. The poor man was permanently red in the face with anger about his former wife whom his was divorced from for many years. He also had cancer in his shoulder. He loved my chili meat patties which was nothing more than minced meat mixed with bread and lots of sambal. He felt it would burn his cancer away and cure him. It did not and he died a few months after I had left to live in Italy.

There were lonely times too, which my ‘good’ Aunt Agnes relieved somewhat by inviting me over to her place on Surinamer Plein, Amsterdam not far from the angry uncle. It was on one of those visits that she introduced me to one of her best friends who lived at the same address. It was a multi story building housing single women only. It is proof of the well developed social conscience of the Dutch that good housing is provided for all groups including single women. I never thought much of it and accepted that good social housing was the norm.

Aunt Agnes’s friend’s name was Rieta van de Meer. Also a retired teacher and never married. But, and here comes Rieta’s amazing story. On a holiday in Norway in the bus doing the rounds of Fjords and snow-capped mountains around Bergen, the Cupid angel of romance had shot it’s arrow inside this bus. She met a retired Australian farmer. He turned out to be the epitome of the jovial, easy going Australian. A barrel of laughter and lightness. Easy come easy go. The original larrikin of the ‘no worries’ man from the bush.

He was divorced too but not an ounce of rancour or bitter heart. He was also well retired, not short of a quid. Helvi and I met this jovial man a few years after Rieta and the ex-farmer married and living in Australia. She played the piano and both lived in an apartment in King’s Cross-Sydney, for many years. The hub of life and Continental excitement. It was obvious they both shone in each other’s company. He was a lot older and sadly going blind. She worked hard at making the best of it. I remember my parents visiting all of us and grandchildren in Australia meeting up with the happy couple. She was on the floor trying to hack open a can of something with a hammer and chisel. My Mum couldn’t understand the trouble she was going through. Rieta just laughed and said it amused her husband watching her trying to open the can. A kind of challenge.

It is never too late for joy and happiness.