Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Being Dutch (2)



I do not remember ever having felt more Dutch than yesterday, watching the inauguration of our new king. Not physically being in the Netherlands, also made me feel distinctly melancholy. A curious reaction, considering the joyful nature of the event I was watching.

I started out by being my usual cynical self, ready to ridicule all that was being televised. I must admit that I absolutely to watch and to listen to commentators whose impossible job it is to fill the endless hours spend waiting for events to actually take place. I watched orange-clad people arriving at central station and making their way over to Dam Square. Surprisingly enough they were all dressed in orange, were all very much looking forward to it and had for most part set their alarm clocks at four in the morning, or camped out all night.
I was being told about possible designers  - noone really knew at that stage what she was going to wear - of the Queens various dresses, was given a lecture in constitutional law and saw some thrilling upclose footage of the flower arrangements in the New Church where events were about to unfold. I put a load of washing on, made another cup of tea, checked my emails, without missing very much. Marvellous.
But it all goes terribly pear shaped when I watch Queen Beatrix signing the deed of abdication at the Royal Palace in Ansterdam. She looks at her son with such pride and even grabs his hand. Willem-Alexander is looking unusually stern and determined into the camera, but not before he sends out a loving and reassuring smile to his three little blond princesses. It all sends shivers down my spine.
I have hardly recoverd when out they come onto the balcony. Beatrix tries to speak, but is forced to stop several times, because she can not make herself be heard over the loud 'Thank you Bea', that is resonating around the square. I am so overwhelmed by emotion, that for the first time in eight years, really all I want to do is to go home.
Home to my country, where on Queens/Kingsday day everybody as young as 3 and as old as 99 can be a street vendor or busker, where people, without batting an eyelid,  hop on the train with an orange toilet seat strapped to their head, where Marocan  girls wear orange headscarfs to signal that they are proud to be Dutc, and where even the most inhibited people dress themselves from head to toe in orange. It all makes me feel terribly homescik.
My youngest brother sending me hourly updates -pictures included - of my two young nieces selling their homemade cupcakes, does not help. Nor do the Dutch mums in orange t-shirts, wearing crowns, that I see standing around on the playground later that day. I keep my distance.  I am just not in the mood.
I fare slightly better during the evening, when my children and I watch the celebrationary boat tour of the new royal family together. They all - princesses included - look and act very graceful and regal.
Our very sportminded new king gets to be shown a very nice film concerning Dutch football successes and olympic medals. He also gets a quick update on succesful Dutch fils, musicals, ballets and opera's. It is all so predictable and patriotic that I am almost getting a bit of the old sarcasm back, when I am completely thrown of course by an enthralling performance of Holland's best known export product - DJ Armin van Buuren - who is accompanied for the occasion by a full orchestra.
The king and Queen love this guy so much that they spontaneously get off their boat and climb onto the podium to shake his hand. It is over in a second. Before we know it, the king and his family are jumping back on board and are speeding off in the distance. But not before Armin and Willem-Alexander give each other a big thumbs up. Two kings in their own right, acknowleging each other. It is goose bumps all over again for me. Tomorrow, I promiss, I will be cynical again. But not today. Today I let my orange heart dictate my mood. Long life the king!