‘I intended to stay three months, that was 12 years ago’

Ben SilburnBen Silburn, 45, is a computer programmer, presenter, writer and one of the chaps behind Easy Laughs. We ask him 10 questions about his life in the Netherlands.

How did you end up in the Netherlands?
I wanted a break from my writing job in London so I applied for short-term contracts anywhere in Europe. Amsterdam was the first place that offered me a job. I intended to stay for three months, that was twelve years ago…

How do you describe yourself – an expat, lovepat, immigrant, international etc – and why?
I am a child of the planet! I don’t believe in national borders or political/administrative systems of control. If anyone from the belastingdienst is reading this then I am a Dutch resident.

How long do you plan to stay?
I don’t make as many plans as I used to.

Do you speak Dutch and how did you learn?
My Dutch is very poor. That’s not false modesty, I attended a course at the UVA and this was the result of the final exam. My Dutch is officially “very poor”.

What’s your favourite Dutch food?
I’m a big foodie so I love it all: raw haring, gehakteballes, traditional Dutch nasi-goreng… but I draw the line at kaas broodjes, a plakje of cheese between two slices of bread is NOT a sandwich.

What do you miss about back home?
Pints of ale in country pubs.

How Dutch have you become?
My girlfriend is Dutch, I own an apartment in Amsterdam, I check out what’s on sale during Hamster Week. I guess I’m pretty ingeburgered.

What’s your top tourist tip
Don’t smoke pre-rolled joints. And of course, I would recommend *all* tourists to get their weekend started at the weekly English-language improvised comedy show that I perform in. We’re called ‘easylaughs’ and we’re on every Friday at the Crea Cafe.

Tell us something surprising you’ve found out about NL
Of all the Albert Heins in the country, the branch in the Red Light District sells the most toilet paper.

If you had just 24 hours left in NL, what would you do?
Breakfast at Singel 404, cycle to Oudekerk and back, picnic lunch on a boat round Prinseneiland, frisbee in Westerpark, drinks at Wynand Fockinck, ribs at Cafe Klos, mojitos at Cafe Cuba, MDMA at Paradiso, wake up in Vondelpark, breakfast at Singel 404…

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