Archive for April, 2009

Queensday 2009

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


Around 12 o’clock today, a 38 year old man drove a Suzuki Swift at high speed towards the bus holding Beatrix, Queen of the Netherlands and her family, injuring 13 people and killing four. The queen and her family were celebrating Queensday in Apeldoorn.

This event joins the murders on Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh as one of the most serious in the (formerly) uneventful and politically stable Netherlands.

The mayor and police chief of Apeldoorn are currently giving a press conference. Festivities in Apeldoorn and Rotterdam have been cancelled.

Job Cohen, mayor of Amsterdam, has not announced any actions yet. Apparently the Amsterdam council is worried that stopping the festivities will cause chaos. As the full significance of what has happened is sinking in, their hesitation is looking more and more inappropriate.

Similarly, the decision by Dutch internal affairs minister Guusje ter Horst to leave matters to the council of Apeldoorn instead of taking charge, when everything indicates that there has been an assasination attempt on the Dutch Head of State, at a time where the Dutch monarchy is in a period of transition, shows a disturbingly bureaucratic sensibility that can only serve to deepen the disconnect between the people and the political class.

Mister mayor, shut down Queensday – now.

Garden Relais

Monday, April 13th, 2009

IMG 4575 small crop

The sun burns hot on the mountains around Bassano. On the mountains, on the grass, on the pavement. Hot air tries to escape fom the hot fields. It turns into wind and rises up, up, up, taking paragliders and hanggliders higher, higher, higher.

The winds are strong – too strong to fly for us. We can only fly early in the morning, when the mountains are still asleep and the sun has not reached its full power yet.

Meanwhile Germans and Italians and Poles are celebrating. It is Easter, and they have come to see the Fiera Air sports festival. The terraces are full, the waitresses are stressed, the parking lot packed.

It is the final day of the festival. People are packing up and watching as the athletes perform their final feats. Cheering them on from the terrace, raising their huge pale yellow glasses of beer. They are preparing for dinner.