I believe that, when you move to another country, you should adapt to the local traditions. Speak the language, dress the same as the locals and get involved in a local hobby. Not that one can do much different. I can speak Dutch to people, but hardly anybody will understand me if I do. And going to Holland to buy clothes might be a bit expensive. I can still cook some traditional Dutch meals, like stamppot boerenkool met rookworst (Curly Cale Hash with Smoked Sausage). The code on the smoked sausage has something with NL on it, which tells me: it’s made in Holland. But the curly cale at least is from England.
A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to start a local hobby. So I went to St Helens and joined Mucky Mountains Morris. I have been to their practice night three times so far. And today I make my debute as a member of Mucky Mountains Morris. In a little village called Mobberley, during the Winter Solstice Dance at a pub called Bird in Hand. I’m accompanied by Lawrance, and Eddie and Carol, so needless to say that I am a bit nervous.
I don’t have the proper kit (yet), but I borrow a hat and use my Swedish dancing shoes. I manage to sit out the first dance, but at the second dance it’s BINGO!
Frantically I try to remember steps, figures and chorus, wondering why the hell I started a hobby that involves performing in public…
But of course I don’t have to worry too much. I’ve been a morris dancer and morris musician for about 12 years
The only thing is: that’s also almost 12 years ago. I was still young, then. Was NOT out of breath, after 1 dance. And didn’t have to think about steps or figures, I could dance in my sleep. Now I’m a lot older (yes, I know, 12 years, to be precise), and co-ordinating hands and feet doesn’t come as easy anymore. I’ve danced most of the dances before, but they do feel kind of new to me, somehow.
Which is fkin (excuse my Dutch) frustrating.
But despite all this, I do enjoy myself very much.
I even dance the Prescot Clock, a dance that is completely new to me, and (during this dance) manage to break one of my sticks in half.
Yes, I think I’m adjusting very well.
Update 22 December 2014
Did I say I adjust very well? That went out of the window today. Why? Read this!
A lot of people in the UK complain about these bl***y EU migrants, that move to the UK just to (mis)use the NHS. Well I can tell you, us bl***y EU migrants can’t even AVOID the NHS!
Since I’m in the UK I had all the periodically checks a woman of my age gets. I had my mammogram taken a couple of weeks ago. Nobody even asked me when I had the last one in Holland. And today I had my cervical cancer check. Again, nobody asked when I had my previous one.
So I’m at the medical practice. The woman who is taking the sample tells me to (partly) undres. There is an examination bed, with a piece of paper, to lay on. And she also gives me a big sheet of oversized kitchen paper. Well, I’ve had these checks many a time in Holland, but to be honest, I don’t have a clue what to do with the kitchen paper.
So, being an stupid foreigner, I decide to ask: “What is this kitchen paper for?”
To my utter surprise the answer is: “To cover yourself up.”
This absolutely doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not cold in the room, and if it were, kitchen paper would not give much warmth. So what does she want me to do with it? I ask the same question again, and lo and behold, I get the same answer. While I’m wondering if I should just blow my nose with it, and see what happens next, she finally manages to get the message across to me by showing me what to do (bl***y, stupid immigrants).
At that very moment I realise that I will NEVER adjust totally. I’m absolutely flabbergasted. The kitchen paper is to cover up just that part of my body that has to be examined! And not because she won’t see it, but so that I DON’T SEE IT.
By the time I’m back at the boat, I’m still shaking my head in disbelief…