Friday, 15 July 2011

Dyslexia and Pork Stuff in Holland

So I like going to different countries. It's pretty cool, because you get to see a ton of different cultures and languages and meet interesting people who aren't British every now and then. I ultimately feel sorry for Americans, due to the whole less than most people owning a passport thingy because that sucks. My life has been shaped by the different countries I've visited, or lived in, and I can't imagine never leaving one, no matter how diverse it is.

So it's a kind of unofficial challenge thingy for me to visit as many countries as I can in my lifetime, and it's going pretty well so far.

And the future's Orange bright.

My Brother's a trucker. He drives trucks. It doesn't make him a millionaire, granted, but it's pretty damn cool, because he's good at driving, and despite his constant complaining, that's all he's ever wanted to do in life - and it doesn't get much better than that.

So recently, he's been offered jobs driving abroad, delivering big boxes of stuff to places, and on Sunday, just casually, he passed me in the hallway and said 'How'd you like to go to Holland?'.
'Well gee-withers!' I exclaimed 'I've never been to Holland before! When might this momentous trip occur?'
'Uh... tomorrow.'

And so, I packed for the land of nether. And at ten o'clock bluntish, we got in a seven and a half ton truck and left for Holland.

Now, Peter hadn't left the country since he came to England at fourteen, so he was an ickle bit nervous about the whole border-crossing-language-speaking-wrong-side-of-the-road-driving bit, which I found adorable, having not left the country for a year.

We arrived in Dover, which was helpful, it being a location in my novel, and saw two hitchhikers stood outside the terminal, with a large sign saying 'PRAGUE, OR BUST'. I don't know where this Bust place is, but it seems like a nice alternative to travelers. Nevertheless I said 'That reminds me of my time in Prague', but Pete didn't get the reference and just gave me a weird look.

We got on the ferry, where we ogled duty-frees and planned what we were going to bring back, I looked at books, scoffed haughtily at some lost Northern folk, and Peter complained that he forgot to watch the complimentary Tom and Jerry DVD.

We then drove through France for half an hour, which was hilarious, as Pete doesn't speak a word of French.
'Parlay-voo une receipt, bitte?'
We saw some fields, which was a nice alternative to buildings, and some funky bits of bridge that looked as if they came off the side of a pair of Niké trackies.

Then we went through Belgium, or the country of wars, chocolate, and incomprehensible language, as my Dad has previously handled it. It was boring, so after not being able to find a service station in the entire freaking country, I took a s**t in a field as revenge.

Then we went through a big tunnel, where we turned up the D&B and pretended we were at a rave. After a while we popped out in a place we assumed was Holland, as there didn't seem to be a sign, not that we could read anyway, as Holland is the land of dyslexia, but I'll get to that in a bit.

We stopped in a service station where a well-spoken Dutch chap asked my brother if he was the Stig, or whether his shirt was lying, almost spoiled the previous nights episode of Top Gear for us, and then condescended us for not being able to use the internet to watch it. He then disappeared to 'save stupid ladies from bad driving', whilst I ogled the bottom shelf porn magazines, next to the Donald Duck comics.

Oh Holland, you so crazy.

We asked the well spoken Dutch chap if he could point us towards a hotel, whereupon he pointed over our shoulders to a large neon sign that read 'HOTEL'.

After conversing and checking in with a Chinese-Dutch lady who couldn't comprehend what cider was, even after we had gotten the entire bar into a tri-lingual discussion about it (There was a German Dr. Kelso lookalike). We then ate what was described by the menu as 'Pork stuff', downed some cheap lager (Legal drinking age in Holland is 16) and then went to our room to watch some television.

Now you can tell a lot about a country by what it shows on television. Unless you're in Holland. What they showed on Dutch television, bar the pornographic, fast moving and incomprehensible adverts, was pretty much just English TV with nonsense subtitles. We watched Coast, University Challenge, and Master of Antiques. Seriously.

Then I came to my conclusion about Holland. It is, to an Englishman, the equivalent of being horribly dyslexic. Everybody spoke English when you spoke to them, all the TV was in English, and everything was pretty much England (But cleaner and generally more polite). The only thing different was the signage. I couldn't even pronounce half of the words. It was horrible.

The next morning we delivered our load, a portable kitchen, to an Irish bloke in the shipping yard where strange orange men in blue jumpsuits cycled around on little bicycles. And they looked at us funny.

Then we did the trip there in reverse, this time buying some crispy M&M's, some Ice Tea, having a conversation in German with a Belgian woman, buying a can of go-faster which was actually called 'Go Fast!' and purchasing a book (An awesome story called 'Narrow Dog to Carcassonne' which is by far the funniest book I've ever read) and a litre of vodka in the duty-frees.

When we arrived home, Brownbear came over, and my brother received another job to drive to Scotland and back over three days (Strangely twice as long as going to Holland?!) but I opted out because:
a) I was tired.
b) It involved me doing some work.
and c) I wanted to start on my vodka/the book.

- Lewis