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Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Eleventh letter: Kojak impressionists and the Open University

Monday the 13th of February

I have two big items of news this week.. well, when I say big, I mean big news for me.

Last of the snow

The biggest and most important news is that the temperature has risen above freezing today. Walking along the now familiar paths I’ve been overjoyed to watch the last of the ice dissipating, revealing the rather grubby streets beneath. Grubby only because for the last two weeks, the efficient, sweeping, yellow Tonka toy, that follows the man in the reflective waistcoat with a floral disinfectant hose pipe, in the early hours of the morning has been laid off due to the weather. It’s amazing to see just how organised and effective the Dutch road cleaning service is. It’s also horrifying to notice how bloody dirty the local streets are without it.

Outside my local supermarket this afternoon, I noticed:

·         50% of the footpath covered in gum.
·         Almost every crack in the footpath filled with paper or plastic lolly pop sticks.
·         Lolly pop wrappers
·         Several pieces of bicycle mud flaps
·         A purple plastic flower head
·         Two charming piles of lumpy, pink vomit

You’d be forgiven if you imagined the streets of the Netherlands are crowded with gangs of Kojak impressionist (you need to be over 40), chewing gum, wearing bovver boots, kicking at nearby bicycles, ripping flowers and spewing heaps of sausage and Pernod. But you’d be wrong. The streets are full of perfectly nice people who keep carbon monoxide levels down by cycling everywhere, recycle passionately and aspire to healthy work life balance (that doesn’t extends to the expats unfortunately).  So where does all the litter come from? I’m damned if I know. I’m tempted to blame Andy, after all he has some similarities to Kojak, and he recently has broken his bicycle.

This week I’ve been preparing myself for my years of study with the Open University, and believed I was managing reasonably well  - until:

Consonants are sibilant or dental

Amazingly this for me, is the phrase that launched a thousand dreams. I’ve been trying to work my way through The Arts Good Study Guide, the OU help book for beginners like me, who are under the illusion they can achieve a degree. I had more or less completed the section on communicating your ideas, when I came across the little beauty above. I read the phrase several times, broke it down and finally reread with the help of a dictionary (surprisingly the word dental isn’t always associated with teeth!)

In between all this I:
  • ·          Fell asleep once.
  • ·          Composed a witty, mildly wise email to my sister.
  • ·          Wrote a wistful booklet for my sons, advising them against making all the same mistakes as me, not letting opportunities pass them by and making a conscious decision to choose to be happy (think I read this in a Facebook article last week).
  • ·          Rang an old friend in Derby and promised to keep in touch more often.
  • ·          Re-learnt the skill of ice skating and joined the other youthful (ah), elegant skaters on the frozen river here.
  • ·          Spoke to my brother, regarding several childhood incidents.
  • ·          And watched three quarters of a very bad made for TV  American movie.

          Only the first and last events actually happened, the rest were just wistful day dreams. I’m hoping that not too much of the reading in AA100(the first module of my degree) will invoke such expansive fantasies, otherwise I foresee difficulties.

I almost forgot the other big news  – the reintroduction of wine. Yes it happened, I’m no longer teetotal, I'm sort of sad to hang up my goody-two-shoes hat, but in a greater way relieved. Weekends were becoming duller(or so it seemed) and the diet cokes just weren't cutting the mustard on a night out.

Thats all for now...
Trace xx

P.s. It's now Valentine's night and I was expecting nothing more than a frown.. But I was delighted when Andy came home with tulips, roses, wine and chocolates. (So glad I didn't say anything too mean about him this time)

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