corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Monday, October 30, 2006


I spent a bit of time today in the Dutch Senate. Old building, overstuffed green banquettes, tables with what appeareed to be pewter ink pots on them. And paintings on the walls and ceilings. All very impressive indeed. Apparently done by students of Rubens. Being Dutch and therefore genetically - how shall I put this ... er, frugal - the old 17th century members of the States General probably thought students of Rubens were pretty much the same as the man himself. You've seen one fat chick or cherub and you've pretty much seen them all, right? How hard can they be? They were right. The students did a nice job. The fuzzy picture, again a product of my phone, is of the central panel of the ceiling and depicts kids gazing through a hole in the roof at the proceedings below (in today's case, a speech by King Abdullah II of Jordan). More interesting, I thought, were the portraits around the edges of the room - I counted about eight, which suggested to me that they were kind of founding fathers of the place. Leaders of the old states (Holland, Friesland etc, etc) who got together in The Hague once in a while. For Calvinists, the blokes in the portraits seemed to have taken a lot of care with their hair. Many carefully clipped moustaches, and who knew they had curling tongs in those days? I suppose the Calvinism kicked in with the black robes and white bibs, but still they all seemed pretty vain to me for a bunch of protestant fundamentalists. (Maybe I'm historically challenged in all this and Calvinism only reared its shaggy head here in the 18th century, but anyway they all looked vain to me, but then which member of parliament isn't?) Apparently some of the other murals depicted people around the world who were exploited by (oops, sorry, traded with) the Dutch East Indies Company. I got that snippet of information from a clerk who was explaining the history of the place to Jordanian journalists. I was glad, because I'd been wondering what to make of the foppish man in the turban or the badly painted American Indians or the bloke in the fur hat brandishing a harpoon.
On a separate but slightly linked subject, as I was rushing through downtown The Hague to get to the houses of parliament, I nearly slammed into an owlish old bloke on a handsome black bike. He gave me a quizzical look as I swerved around him and I realized it was Piet Hein Donner, the Justice Minister whose resignation I covered a month ago. Posted by Picasa


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