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

Saturday, April 28, 2007

New vocab

Today’s new word: Burgelijk.
It’s a very difficult one to define. It’s essentially a derogatory term which means something like bourgeois or middle class or conformist.
I’ve known of the word for years and used it as a slur to apply to other people and their actions.
It’s something I’ve always snobbishly aspired not to be.
Buying matching his ‘n’ hers bikes is burgelijk.
The act of washing one’s car can be burgelijk if you own a special bucket and sponge and hose attachment used exclusively for car cleansing duties.
In a reference back to the last new vocab, sleurhuts are extremely burgelijk – and only slightly less so if they’re rugged off-road models.
There are so many examples, but way up there on any scale of burgelijkheid is trimming one’s hedge.
For the first time, at age 40, I trimmed a hedge today.
And I kind of enjoyed it.
More specifically, I enjoyed the fact that I didn’t totally fuck it up. The hedge is still standing (though our helpful neighbor pointed out that it’s a little top heavy on our side) and we appear to have more garden as a result of my snipping.
The only really disconcerting moment came when I asked Irmie, whilst holding a big sign saying: This is a rhetorical question! if she thought I was too youthful and sexy to be trimming a hedge. Managing to be casual and sincere at the same time, she answered, No.

As if hedge trimming was not burgelijk enough for one day, I also bought a parasol for our back garden. Is parasol even an English word? I have certain Dutch words for which I no longer know the English translation – my favorite is ontsluiting, meaning dilation – as in how far is your cervix dilated madam? I only learned the English translation for that when Julia was born. Irmie dilated like a tortoise when Esther was born and like a hare for Julia.
Buying the parasol was bad but it also vindicated my insistence that we buy this house. As I may have mentioned before, when Irmie first saw it she shook her head and said, it’s nice, but the garden’s on the wrong side.
The sun-worshipping Dutch have a sort of built-in compass when it comes to gauging on which side of a house the garden is. Southeast good, northeast bad. While I was trying to persuade Irmie that we should buy this place I was dispatched to look through the windows every hour of one afternoon to see when the sun stopped shining on the back garden.
Still, thanks to climate change and a slightly lower roof than Irmie feared, we can sit in the sun pretty much all day at the back of the garden even in April.
April has already broken all records for warmth, hours of sunshine and lack of rain. My colleague at AP in Amsterdam even wanted to write a drought story. I said that until he kicked his way through a field of bleached sheep bones on the way to work or a dust storm hit Amsterdam he should probably wait, if only out of respect to Australian farmers. The farmers here are whinging because they have to dust off their pumps to suck water out of the thousands of kilometers of streams that criss-cross the country so they can irrigate their paddocks.
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