Thursday, 18 November 2010

Going Dutch

We have just come back from a lovely short break, spent on a houseboat in Amsterdam and the thing that impressed me the most, was the friendliness and easy going nature of the Dutch people we met there. Ready smiles, gentle humour and common courtsey were the order of the day.

I am not a great lover of Cities or Towns, where people seem in such a rush, dashing from one thing to another as quickly as possible. Whilst I appreciate that our life time spent in this world is a precious thing and chores need to be done, we should also remember that life spent in the fast lane can become nothing more than a passing blur at times, as it flashes by at high speed. 

In the seventeenth century, the Dutch and British were enemies. Both wanted maritime superiority for economic reasons, especially control of the sea routes from the rich spice islands of the East Indies. The two countries fought three wars at sea between the years 1652 and 1674. At the lowest point of the struggle, in May 1667, the Dutch sailed up the Medway, sank a lot of ships, and blockaded the Thames.

The Dutch were powerful, and they were the enemy so their name was taken in vain at every opportunity.
During this period the English portrayed the Dutchman as someone who was stolid, miserly and bad-tempered. These associations, especially the stinginess, were linked to several phrases.
Examples from the time of the Dutch wars include:
Dutch reckoning: a bill that is presented without any details, and which only gets bigger if you question it.
In the same spirit, but recorded later are:
Dutch auction, one in which the prices go down instead of up.
It was considered that Dutch courage: was temporary bravery induced by alcohol. And that something made from Dutch metal: was an alloy of copper and zinc used as a substitute for gold foil.
A Dutch uncle: was someone who criticises or rebukes you with the frankness of a relative. And a Dutch treat: was one in which those invited, had to pay for themselves.

So for now, I feel that the term Going Dutch, really means that life does not have to be like a roller coaster ride, hurtling from one drama to another crisis. Because it simply makes a lot more sense to give yourself some time and space to collect your thoughts and a chance to review things first, allowing you to begin and finish from a point of calmness. Because how you feel on the inside, will be displayed on the outside too. And those around you will pick up on this relaxed energy and eventually match it with their own.
So just like the laid-back Netherlanders, I'm going to go Dutch too.

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