Friday, 21 February 2014

You are my Kandi Guuurl

Recently I experienced a very Dutch issue (no, I didn't run out of hagelslag). My bike broke down whilst I was on my way to pick up his Lordship from school. I heard the Devil cackling beneath me, chorused by a cacophonous explosion of malfunction at my feet. my legs kept pedalling but nothing was happening. It took me a good ten seconds to fully accept this and I have replayed the continuous, fruitless efforts of my laboured pedalling in my head at regular intervals ever since. I have come to the conclusion that the best way for you to come close to imagining this is to think about a classic cartoon running scene where you see the characters legs spinning very quickly, yet, for a few seconds they do not go anywhere. This was me.

However, there was still the very real issue of still going forwards at all. I should probably explain that the brakes on most bikes here in the Netherlands are operated by pedalling backwards. Obviously this wasn't exactly possible, so I had to wait until I came to a natural stop before hopping off and attempting to flag down some much needed help, preferably from a nice rugged Dutch guy, which would obviously blossom into something beautiful. This proved much more difficult than I ever would have thought and not just on the romance front which, by the way, I am half joking about. But seriously, it got into double figures of people that passed before anyone stopped to help. Thankfully, someone did, but unfortunately, whereas I imagined it was just an issue with the chain or something and that someone would magically fix it on the roadside for me, this guy took one look and basically condemned it. He spoke barely any English so in amongst talking to himself about the issue in Dutch (it sounded serious) he just kept shaking his head and repeating 'no' to me. I didn't take this as a good sign so resorted to phoning my host parents and trying to get them to arrange something for the little one.

Eventually it was Opa van Heek to the rescue and he agreed to have a look at my poorly bike when I arrived back after pushing it home. Someone should really provide an AA service for bikes. My shins were destroyed from repeatedly smashing them against the pedals.

This was the first incident. The second involved a more serious injury to the bike in which this time the chain, or axel maybe, or something technical involving these two things, had completely given up the ghost. Oh, and the back tyre had followed suit. Not ideal, and again on the way to school. This time it was possible to soldier on, though I think if I'd have ridden a drowsy tortoise there it would have been quicker, and much more comfortable too as the wheel felt like a square by the end of this ordeal and my arse definitely paid the price with each clunk. But I had to abandon it by the canal and resume the journey on foot eventually. Though I managed to arrive at school on time, so the world kept on spinning as always (unlike my wheels). She's all fixed now though, you'll be relieved to know.

Also, it has just occurred to me whilst writing this that my bike doesn't have a name. In England its very common to name your mode of transport, so perhaps she deserves to be christened officially. Definitely something befitting of her nature. She's sassy as anything and her leopard spots give her a catty streak, obviously with an element of teen drama queen. I don't know why but I imagine her to be an independent and streetwise black girl...

Kandi with a K and an I is a pretty solid choice.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

Today, while I was in town, I thought I'd have a look around an art gallery that always catches my attention every time I ride past it. Whilst I was parking up my bike, I looked through the window and noticed a nice piece that featured a bulldog on a contemporary vintage velvet chair, asleep and looking rather regal. It wasn't until I opened the door, with the intention of going over to look a little better, that I realised the dog I had assumed to be a statue, was very much alive! He waddled over curiously, sniffed me a bit then proceeded to follow me around the small shop while I looked at the actual art. I kept looking at his jowly face and imagining him giving some intellectual critique on each piece, (all in the voice of Churchill, the dog from the insurance adverts, of course) and giggling to myself.

By this time, the owner of the shop appeared out of nowhere and told me that there was another part through a door in the back, and that the dog would show me the way. So this was a little confusing, and I wasn't sure whether he was joking or not, or indeed whether it was another case of mistranslation on my part, so I stood for a little while looking first at him and then at the dog, not wanting to look totally idiotic for following the animal. But then the dog grunted at me over his shoulder and led me through a door, a passageway and then through two more doors, stopping and looking at me at each one as if gesturing to me to open them. After taking me on a sort of tour of this much larger gallery, he turned and flopped down on a rug in front of the big open fire and waited for me to finish.

The whole thing reminded me a lot of the fabric shop in my home town where I used to go with my mum as they effectively had a cat acting as front of house and leading people up into the back of the shop where there was a greater choice of materials. Also, the cat was a talking cat. I'm not lying. But I am exaggerating. It couldn't actually talk, but it meowed in all the right places and knew what people were saying because it reacted in the correct way. For example, the man who worked up in the shop used to ask the cat if it wanted some milk and it would meow crazily and stand by its milk bowl. This was definitely not a coincidence and I think you'll agree provides conclusive evidence that the cat could definitely understand and interact with humans and basically had the same level of intellect as a small human child. Fact. 

Anyway, the man told me that I could ask anything I wanted and just to come and find him if I needed anything and I kept wondering how inappropriate it would be to ask how much he would be willing to sell his little tour guide bulldog for. Also, I'm not sure I could even get him through customs without at least having to declare him and that seems like a hell of a lot of hassle.