Once again, the New Year celebrations – officially described as ‘relatively peaceful’ – have been marred by death, destruction, wanton vandalism, running battles with riot police and the stoning of fire fighters trying to put out a blaze that was deliberately started.
Dozens of cars set on fire in The Hague, 150 arrests and a 36-year-old man blown to bits and we talk about peaceful New Year celebrations?
Every year scores of people are arrested for smuggling illegal fireworks over the border or for storing the equivalent of an arsenal in their front rooms.
As soon as the few shops that are allowed to sell fireworks open their doors for business – just three days a year – the most sensible and sober of us spend a week’s wages on a few rockets and a massive Chinese firecracker.
The post office and local councils think it is completely normal to seal post-boxes and underground waste bins because stupid adolescents delight in shoving lit fireworks inside them. If ever there was an argument against prohibition (fireworks are banned every day of the year except one) it’s the Dutch attitude towards fireworks.
Perhaps if the authorities took the same attitude towards them as they do to alcohol, or even illegal drugs for that matter, some of the thrill might disappear.
Happy New Year.