John Walker's Electronic House

by on Jul.29, 2004, under The Rest


So finally Holland. The ferry kindly wakes you up with pre-recorded announcements in seventeen different languages informing you that the ferry will be arriving in an hour and a half, so you’ve still got plenty of time to be asleep and not lying awake listening to pre-recorded messages in seventeen different languages.

The most repeated message was, “Foot passengers, please wait in the Sunset Misery Lounge on Deck 8, or the Oirish Bar on Deck 9, and NOT in the reception area.” Over and over and over. Bah, we thought. These Butlins loving idiots must drive them mad, standing in reception, the fools. So we waited in the Irish bar, fearing that were we to head to the Misery Lounge, residual echos of the strained tones from last night’s P&O North Sea Players might stumble upon our ill-rested ears. But no one else did. Then a couple of others came in, but they wandered away, probably peturbed by the low numbers of fellow passengers. Eventually, fearing we were in completely the wrong place, we wandered down to the reception to ask where we were supposed to be. The Sunset Misery Lounge on Deck 8 or the Oirish Bar on Deck 9, we were told. But where were we? Standing in reception…

So far the journey had been Train:Train:Train:Car:Train:Train:Taxi:Ferry. Now we added Coach:Train:Walk and finally appeared in Amsterdam.


Let me give some examples:

[15:05] botherer: we’re staying in Amsterdam. I am in charge of creating an itenary
[15:06] Charybdis: 9:00: Large bowl of drugs. Also orange juice.
[15:07] botherer: yawn

[15:07] botherer: I am in Amsterdam this weekend
[15:07] Jim: ooo
[15:07] Jim: sex n drugs?
[15:08] * botherer awards Original Response Of The Day Trophy to Jim

[02:02] cheese toasties: Going to Amsterdam on Friday
[02:03] Soul279: for the drugs, huh?
[02:05] Soul279: what do i win?! drugs?!

and so on.

So of course the first thing I saw as I stepped out of the train station in Amsterdam was a British guy smoking an enormous spliff, trying to offer it to Dutch people who looked at him, embarrassed.

Our B&B – Mae’s B&B. Run by Ken and Vlad. It was, without question or proof, the gayest B&B in the world. The whole world. Ken and Vlad, who called each other “honey”, were the kindest and most helpful hosts we could ever have asked for, giving us really helpful tips for things to do, and nice places to visit. It was a great B&B all round, really lovely old building, spiral staircases, and a complete soap opera to unfold by reading through the ten years worth of guest book comments. See, originally, it was Ken and Someone Else. And then, at one point, Ken and Someone Else were away, and Vlad and Another Man were looking after the place… Ooooooh! You don’t get that sort of speculative nonsense in a hotel.

By the time we arrived, we were so tired from our intrepid travelling, and time-travel addled sleep, what we really wanted to do was sleep. But Vlad was having none of that. We were told that sleeping was wrong, and that going to the giant open market was right. And so we did. It would have been a brilliant place, were the stalls to have been two feet further apart, so that human beings could walk between them. As it was, it was a hellish nightmare of shoving and standing still. However, we still managed to perform some excellent cheese purchasing – the sort of cheese purchasing to be proud of – and went back to the B&B to eat. And then, using this eating as a clever ruse for being in, went to bed for a couple of hours.

We wandered around Amsterdam a lot. There’s lots to see there, without rushing frothy-mouthed around the red light district, or becoming feverishly excited that the Coffeehouses sell weed. (“Coffeehouse” means dope joint, “Coffee House” means coffee joint. We all know which drug is best). And it’s small enough to walk across, so long as you don’t mind constantly flinging yourself out of the way of the Nazi Cyclists.

Amsterdam is a city owned by bikes. For example, this is the bike park by the station.

bike park

The roads are divided into three sections: a thin sliver for cars, wide areas for bikes, and occasional bricks that pedestrians are allowed to step on. And all three are overlayed by the ever-present tram tracks, ensuring that even if you find a place to stand where bikes aren’t attempting to cleft you in twain, there’s always the possibility of being splattered by a tram.

We went to a nice bar in the evening, after eating at a nice restaurant, which boasted over a hundred different beers. Vlad had recommended it. We love Vlad. Sitting outside, I guarded the table while Nick and Victoria went to get drinks. It was one of those microbrewery type places, and remembering the delicious blueberry beer I’d had a couple of times in San Rafael, I asked for them to select a fruity beer. Nick came out and said, “The choice is: banana, apple or cherry.” “Ooh, banana,” I said. “Well, you’re getting apple,” he replied, “we’ve already chosen.”

“But I want banana!” I protested. Nick went back in. He came out again, and said, “The banana one I’m having is the last one they’ve got.”

So when the barman came out to give us our drinks, as he was pouring them, I asked. “Is this really the last banana beer you have?” “No!” he replied, surprised at the question.

Nick is a Bad Liar, who rather than asking the barman to swap the unopened bottle of apple beer for an unopened bottle of banana beer, instead made up a Bad Lie. Which makes Baby Jesus cry. Although he did somewhat make up for it, by explaining, “It was too late – he had already opened it,” as we sat at the table, five minutes later, watching the barman opening the bottles in front of us. If one is going to lie, I think it best that one lies so ridiculously that the lie is being revealed as such as it is said.

Victoria, who is best, swapped my horrid apple beer for her much nicer cherry beer. And the banana wasn’t very nice anyway.

4 Comments for this entry

  • Nick Mailer

    Click on the picture for a bigger view of the Multi Story Bikepark. The station’s carpark was tiny by comparison, and only seemed to have taxis and buses within.

  • AndyK

    So, apple beer. Cider then.

  • John

    No no no.

    One is made from apples, the other is flavoured with apples.

  • Victoria

    Apple beer is usually beer with apple juice. The beer I got for John, mistakenly, is beer brewed with apples. One tastes a lot like the cider John likes but isn’t allowed, the other is an acquired taste and John isn’t prepared to put in the effort. Anyway, that’s why he got the apple beer to start with.