A touch of orange. Summer of 1997. Typical Dutch weather!


Ramsgate, Australia

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It was July.
One of a number of anecdotes that I have heard my father relate, quite a few times, since we came to Australia, in May, 1956, tells of how, during WW2, a German soldier stopped my father, at this tunnel to check his papers.

My father carried a false certificate, given to him by his boss, who was a member of the underground/resistance.

This false Ausweis meant that my father could stay, in Gouda; continue to work if the mirror factory and look after my father and me (born in 1943). All he needed to do was, every so often rush off to another factory, which was supposed to be producing goods to assist the Germans. (A young boy on a bike would come and fetch him, when an inspection of that factory was due and walk up and down with a wheel-barrow, pretending to be working.)
ANYWAY……my father was stopped by the German soldier, and a bomb fell, on this tunnel under the railway-line. So this hold-up saved my father’s life.

Me, in 2005, at Scheveningen, a main beach, close to The Hague.

And on the subject, above: It is said that when Dutch resistance fighters were not sure if a stranger was a German spy, they would ask them to say: Scheveningen.

It is also said, every so often: Dutch is not a language. It’s a cold. (The sch and/or g are to blame for this. They come from the back of the throat. )

On a sunnier day, that same week, my daughter and son and I were above the tunnel. (Still July, 1997)

And, just a random thought: After that week, after my children had gone to Germany and then on to the U.K., I was waiting at the lights, at the top end of that picture, in the middle.
It struck me how ‘personal’ it still was in Gouda. At least there!
Here, in Sydney, when the lights are red, I sit in my Subaru, with the windows up. I might stop singing along with Dean Martin, because I’m embarrased.
I avoid looking at the people, in the car beside me.
There, in Gouda, all those people, stopped at the lights, waiting for them to change, are a metre away from the people around them. They could comfortably shake hands.

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  • Martin Derksema
  • MrJoop
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