Youp van ‘t Hek is in the United States. It’s giving him a whole new perspective on his native country.
I’m still on the other side of the Atlantic and I quite enjoy the distance and the time difference. I’m constantly nine hours behind. When your day ends, mine is just beginning. I tend not to think too much about Tofik Dibi. Or Jolande Sap.
You see your country from a different perspective. Especially when you read about the heir to the throne’s embarrassment over the bog throwing contest during the Queen’s Day celebrations. He is right to be embarrassed. It was a trying day for him and his family anyway. They had to deal with enormous grief and I thought it was very brave of them to go to Rhenen and participate in the usual folkloric claptrap. You might have thought the mayor of Rhenen would have had the tact to scrap some of the more toe-curling parts of the programme but no. Before Alex knew what was happening, some local numbskull had put a toilet in his arms and told him to throw it as far as possible. He won as well. Out of pure rage. Protocol dictates that our crown prince keep silent about such things but this proved too much for him. I applaud him.
Sitting in the Californian sunshine, the news about our future king’s senile uncle also gave me a good laugh. I’m talking about professor Pieter van Vollenhoven who, years ago, knocked on the door of the Catshuis in order to beg then prime-minister Barend Biesheuvel to give him the title of prince, the same as his brother-in-law, Claus. It must have been a touching scene. Biesheuvel sent him home with a flea in his ear to a mocking welcome from mother-in-law Juliana. Now he struggles through life as a professor. He can because the title is not protected. I know because when I taught at Delft University a couple of months I was allowed to call myself professor as well. Pieter himself says he can’t remember the meeting with Biesheuvel. Not only a professor but an absent-minded one to boot. What a cosy country it is, especially from a distance. A toilet throwing prince with a fake professor in his wake.
I enjoy jotting down this sort of thing for my paper and realise that I may not do so for much longer: the NRC is being sucked dry financially by its shareholders, a super socialist and a family of textile floggers among them. Derk Sauer and the Brenninkmeijers, it’s a curious combination. Staff at the paper are starting to worry, and rightly so. But the editor says it’s all above board and things aren’t so bad. I believe him. And I will tell you why: my father worked his whole life for C&A and he taught them all there was to know about investing. It was old van ‘t Hek who made the family rich after the war. I don’t really know whether he was aware of the fact of the Brenninkmeijers backed the wrong horse during it. They were Catholics, charitable, and very good employers. That is why things will turn out alright. The Brenninkmeijer’s money is old money. They have masses of it. They are not derivatives cowboys. They wouldn’t want to kill off an institution like NRC. The civilised Brenninkmeijers won’t be selling tops and jeans at the new NRC Amsterdam head office.
And Sauer? Surely he doesn’t need the money? The man is awash with roubles. And as a true SP acolyte he has to hand over his profits to comrades Roemer and Marijnissen. They will give it to the poor who can spend it at C&A and the Brenninkmeijers won’t need the paltry profit on NRC. Although things at the new head office on Rokin will take some getting used to: C&A, sorry, ‘NRC, always the cheaper option!’
Youp van ‘t Hek is one of the country’s best-loved comedians and writers
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