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June 25, 2008

Last Entry on the Warwick Server

Writing about web page http://verhaal.blog.com/

Nous sommes toutes des dilettantesThis will be my last post on Warwick blogs. After four years of (not so) hard work at the University of Warwick I am finally moving on to another university, another country, and consequently another stage of life.

That does not, however, mean that my blog will stop. For future purposes, I have opened another blog on blog.com, “surprisingly” called Scribbles of a Dutch/Polishman. I decided not to change the name mainly to point out that the transfer will be marked by continuity, rather than serious change. It will continue to reflect my thoughts on politics, art and current affairs, as well as social observations and petty thoughts, and, some occassional poetry, I hope.

The content of this blog, the result of four years of sometimes intense scribbling, will stay where it is, accessible to all. It reflects to some extent quite neatly what occupied my thoughts and how they developed. To quote Joseph Weiler: these are my thoughts, for what they are worth.
Scrolling through it, I hope it may continue to serve the reader as a source of amusement; if it provides food for thought, all the better.

Bye then, blogs.warwick.ac.uk/mhillebrandt. Enter the new Scribbles of a Dutch/Polishman.


May 25, 2008

Exercises of the Mind

A blog entry a few days ago (“Riddle”, 19 May) seems to point at the craving for creative, out-of-the-box-typed thought exercises people might have at this time of exam revision. So here’s another one. Below is a photo fished out of the current news cycle which I reckon is pretty stripped of its context. What first thought or caption comes to your mind when you see it? Within limits of decency, I’m interested to find out where this image takes people’s minds.

riot police


March 24, 2008

Pasen 2008

Pasen 2008:

- een verlaten campus, een verdorpelijking van het busschema
- wel Paaseitjes, maar te weinig mensen om ze te verstoppen/zoeken
- eerst in de krant lezen over sneeuwstorm en de volgende dag zelf de volle laag (natte) sneeuw ontvangen
- veel nieuws over Tibetanen, maar weten dat de Olympische Spelen toch gewoon gezellig doorgaan en Tibet echt niet morgen onafhankelijk wordt
- veel meer te lezen over Geert Wilders dan me interesseert

+ het onverdroten verderwerken aan een bachelorscriptie.


March 19, 2008

Library

Day five in the library. (Where have I heard this before?) This time it’s in the good old Warwick library on Library Road. If I come in during the morning, it’s still not too busy. I find my way to the same spot as usual – after all, we are creatures of habit. I can see that I’m right by the covers of certain books that are now becoming my dissertation companions by simply sitting on the shelf where they always sit: Norman Davies, God’s Playground. Another book called Inside Putin’s Russia. “Everything as a political biography should be”, praises the Sunday Times right above the title. See, when I read something like that, my reflex thought will be: “If everything is as it should be, then it can’t be a good book.” Of course I can, but that’s the kind of thought such a slick comment provokes with me. DK 441.H2 – DR 701.S55, that’s where I am and will be for the coming days. Luckily, the library will close for Easter in a few days, that’ll push me to get some more work done.

And on that note, time to get on with it. Have a productive day.


February 18, 2008

The need to get out of here

I spent the weekend on the coast, in Britain’s smallest capital city Cardiff. (A church that serves a small parish is called a cathedral there.) It was nice and relaxing to be away, the weather was crisp and clear. We decided to take it quite easy, and so we did.

Coming back to campus, or to be more honest, already on the train back to Canley, I started to think those thoughts again. Four more weeks, three assessed essays. Literature study, thinking process, writing words, cutting words. It just made me a little bit tired. And then campus: the same familiar faces wherever you go, academic departments mark every road you walk through and the spectrum of conversation is rather limited: “essays, union nights, future plans”.

It made me think of a Monday morning some weeks ago when I was trying to get out of the library. One or two of the electronic gates were behaving technically disordered, as usual. A technician was on the spot, surrounded by a toolbox and flocks of us, students. He was speaking on the phone – as I walked past, I caught a few words of his conversation. “I’m surrounded by students here”, he said, “I want to get out of here as quickly as possible”. I smirked. How right he was.


January 07, 2008

Travels Without My Aunt

Between Saturday morning and Sunday evening I was between Eemnes and Coventry, on my way back to campus with a London stopover. Here’s a few observations and thoughts from along the way.

On the ferry, as I unfold my laptop to watch a film, I suddenly realise just how many flatscreen TVs surround me. I count them; only within eyesight I observe 8 of them. If I already cannot avoid screens on the open sea, maybe the age of Big Brother has already arrived?

In Harwich, as I’m waiting for a train, I sit down next to a girl. In her hands she holds a rat. Then I realise she is having a proper conversation with the animal. “Don’t be silly,” she says, “it’s just been a couple of hours of travelling so far. What did you say? Oh, come on, do me a favour, stop whining and eat your food.” Etc. I want to tell her to cut it out, that this rat really can’t talk, couldn’t ever communicate like a human being does. Instead I keep quiet.

I see a couple, the man white, his wife black, their children brown. I’m surprised that this should attract my attention.

I see a woman commenting on a Sunday afternoon football match. I’m surprised that this should strike me.

At the coach station, they’ve stopped bothering about any languages issue any longer. No smoking signs are now posted exclusively in English, and the UK’s new second language, Polish.

On the coach, a little girl behind me continually sneezes as loud as I’ve never heard any person sneeze. “You’re nearly sneezing the roof of the coach!” complains her mother. “Please keep your germs out of my neck,” I think to myself.

Then I got to campus.


December 18, 2007

Dorpspostbode

De kerstpost...SEDERT ENKELE DAGEN ben ik wijkpostbezorger van de buurt rond de Raadhuislaan in het landelijke Eemnes. Een prima baan die zo zijn voordeeltjes heeft. Ik haal na de middagboterhammen de post op bij het depot om de hoek van mijn huis. Met een karretje waaraan de zware posttassen zijn vastgehaakt begin ik dan mij ronde die ook al aan het postkantoor grenst. Een rondje van twee en een half uur, door de kou weliswaar, maar vaak met een bleek zonnetje en altijd fluitend.

In het dorp heeft de postbode een sociale rol. Mensen zeggen je vaker gedag, en jij zegt het vaker tegen hen. Ze wachten je soms met een open deur op, en rond deze tijd breng je toch alleen maar goed nieuws: kerstkaarten in overvloed. Een wat oudere vrouw keek me verbaasd aan. “Een nieuwe,” zei ze, en gaf me een kerstkransje.

Toen ik onlangs met mijn postkarretje langs het altijd slapende plantsoen met het Eemnesser oorlogsmonument reed, werd er net een boom verhuisd. Hoe vaak zie je dat nou gebeuren? Respectable Eemnesser ingezetenen kwamen met fotocamera het huis uit om dit vast te leggen. De boom was dan ook enorm. Hij stond dik in jutte ingepakt op een kar die voorzichtig werd voortgetrokken door een tractor. In de kruin zat een man. Bij de eerste lantaarnpaal van het plantsoen was al het mis: de boom paste er niet langs. De kap werd toen gedemonteerd en een kwartslag gedraaid zodat de boom er alsnog langs kon. Dat soort dingen zie je als postbode.

De krantenbezorgers hebben het dan toch minder. Zij brengen dagelijks nieuws van afgezwakte internationale “milieuafspraken”, vreemdelingenangst en de halve en hele racisten Verdonk en Wilders. Terwijl de kerstpost vaak grenzen en geloven overstijgt en slechts blijde groeten zendt uit alle windstreken.


December 17, 2007

Vandaag 167 jaar geleden

We blijven in de familiesfeer. Het waren grimmige dagen voor het gezin van Willem Hillebrandt te Harlingen, zo vlak voor kerst 1840. Na al enkele vroeggestorven kinderen en na het overlijden van zijn vrouw in 1832, moest hij in de herfst- en wintermaanden van dat jaar ook nog eens twee van zijn zoons overleven. “Wij berusten in Gods onwrikbaar raadsbesluit”, liet Willem, kennelijk een vroom christen, in de krant zetten, “maar met verplette harten.” De verslagenheid spreekt uit de tekst hieronder. NB: de in dit bericht genoemde Eildert Jan draagt dezelfde naam als zijn kort voor zijn geboorte overleden broertje (zie ook vorige blogpost).

17 december 1840


December 15, 2007

Vandaag 181 jaar geleden

15 december 1826. Gelukkige tijden voor het gezin Hillebrandt te Harlingen.

Een oud krantenbericht kondigt vol blijdschap de geboorte aan van het achtste kind van Willem Hillebrandt en zijn gemalin Elizabeth Stuurwold, Eildert Jan Hillebrandt.
15 december 1826
Een directe voorvader was Eildert Jan niet, dat werd zijn zeven jaar oudere broer Willem. Geschiedenis heeft ook iets tragisch, in de zin dat we zelfs op de meest oprecht blije momenten het noodlot al in het vooruitzicht zien doemen. Eildert Jan zou al in 1828 overlijden, maar net anderhalf jaar oud.


December 11, 2007

A Blog–Related Topic

It has been a real while since I updated my blog regularly, I find that once you lose the discipline that enables you to see the world from a blog-perspective, it becomes harder by the day to find something interesting to write about. And here’s the result: I blog about blogging.

Which is, however, in itself not such a strange thing. Last year, I wrote in an article for the Sanctuary that Technorati was at that time monitoring 56 million blogs, while another 100,000 came into existence by the day. Which means that some 9 months on what we must have today is around 83 m blogs, which seems somewhat exaggerated seeing that blogs have been around for a while now and cannot be projected to grow at such rates indefinitely. (And yes, you read it correctly, I sent an article to the Sanctuary, at a time when I was on a year abroad and mistook something that in reality could go for a Daily Mirror publication for something that in my wishful imagination could compete with the Boar. Exited minds can go quite adrift at times.)

So another blog-related topic: about myself. I shall tell you what my unassumingly quiet life has run into in terms of absurdities in the last couple of days. No less but certainly no more absurd than another’s life I’m sure. On Saturday I have taken a ferry back to the Netherlands to be environmentally friendly. I was readjusted to Dutch circumstances in about 5 minutes, a top record so far. Monday morning my relocated academic office opened at 9 o’clock as on any other day, however now at GMT +1 time. Then I arranged myself a job to be a postman. I am invited for a job interview tomorrow morning. (What are they going to ask me? How well I know the streets in my village of ca. 9,000 souls? What my educational level is? I wouldn’t be surprise if I was in fact quizzed with an empty map… the lady on the phone already took a shot at asking me whether I was aware of the weather conditions at this time of the year.) The day after tomorrow I am going to a university department in Amsterdam to talk about a possible master to pick for the following year. Fairly wordy for so little to say isn’t it?

To finish in a didactic tone the following poll:
“I find the fact that a UK Government Department lost a disc with 25 m Brittons’ private data…”

a) shocking
b) no problem, everybody could have made that mistake
c) redisculous


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