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Thursday, 24 October 2019

Randomness, Toilets and Beer

In 1932 Franklin D Roosevelt came to the conclusion that: ‘this would be a good time for a beer.’ In 2019, and after three days of intensive culture, I reached a similar conclusion but went one step further: a brewery – one, in my opinion, deserving as much time as an art gallery. Chris, a friend we met up with, agreed and took me to the Brouwerij ’tIJ in an obscure but pleasant suburb of Amsterdam. I loved it on sight, the beer even more. So much beer. So little time. And a rash but firm commitment on my part not to get drunk.

What I like about a good pub is the ‘random.’ Random events or conversations at the bar or sometimes the toilet, though the latter can sometimes verge on the dubious. It’s also quite a melancholy business, talking in the toilet, flushing out what you’ve just spent your pension on. Even so, it was in the toilet I enjoyed the classic random conversation, in this case with an American. At first I thought he was Canadian. “No, sir.” he assured me. “Indiana, sir.”
“Oh,” I said. “I know someone from Indiana.” (And no, I didn’t make the cardinal error of asking whether he knew Natalia C. ) “She lives in Zionsville, I think.”
“Zionsville. Hot dog. Zionsville. ” And from that moment we bonded for as long as the conversation lasted, and I remembered again the American fondness for  ‘Sir’. I love its courtesy, its formality, and how the smallest nuance of tone can add an element of threat. 

We talked about beer. He’d been there longer than me and made his recommendations,  adding sir to emphasise the beers he liked best. We never met again and never will but the Brouwerij ’t IJ brewery will forever bring to mind a beer loving American, and a man and a woman passionately making out in the men’s toilet. It was Amsterdam and likely it was cheaper than beer.

And so on to the general and things learnt.

a)    Some people rave on about Dutch Apple Cake. I found it sweet with a slight taste of cinnamon and even less of apple.
b)   The architecture forces you to look to the sky:
 A series of random streets

c)    My first time on a double-decker train.
d)   Trams are punctual to within seconds. They’re unaffected by traffic jams
e)    Dutch toilets are beautifully quiet with paper towels instead of the infernal electric hand-dryers. When four or five are in use together it's like being in the flight path of a Harrier Jet. In Holland you can ponder on what you've just done as you dry your hands. 
f)     The Dutch are very friendly. (When they’re off their bloody bikes)


DRC said...

I also have an american friend from West Virgina. she likes to use Sir and Ma'am a lot and I really it but also understand that a british person just won't be able to pull it off like an American. If we used it, we'd totally fill that 'stiff upper lip' stereotype others see us for lol.

I've also been to Amsterdam a few times - not the brewery though - and you're right. The architecture does make you look up. I always remember the first time we went, one narrow building was precariously leaning forward. They were obviously working on stabilising it and had dug a hole at its base, but there were planks of wood across the hole and two telegraph poles standing on these propping it up! AND PEOPLE WERE STILL WALKING PAST IT! begs belief but I did get photos...

Maria Zannini said...

Someday someone is going to meet a complete stranger and they really will know the same person.

Greg uses sir and ma'am, but it's strictly as a show of politeness.

Mike Keyton said...

DRC I liked Amsterdam but life's too short to go again. And you're right about Brits and Sir. It would be a bit of a culture shock.. Strange when you think of it.
And finally, if you go a third time I can give you directions to the brewery, though having said that, the link in the blog has other links that give directions. Well worth going ito.

Mike Keyton said...

Maria, it would be a magical moment if that came to pass. Mind you, I'd rather spend those odds on winning the lottery.
Ref 'Sor' and 'Mam', I wonder if it's state/urban/ rural specific. America's so vast there are sure to be differences. As I said in the blog, I love hte old world courtesy to it, and I think it's peculiar to America. And is it only a male thing or do women get to say it tiii?
When we come over I shall study the matter further and expect to be sired and mammed wherever we go :)

Speaking of which, The £ spiked when Boris first got his 'deal'. I promptly bought some Dollars. Wise move. The £ plummeted two days later when Parliament blocked it Not exactly George Soros but a minor triumph