Youp van ‘t Hek: The risk of wearing a balaclava

Youp van ‘t Hek discusses the risks of using Facebook, wearing a balaclava and trying to get the better of the derivatives market.

A man in the American state of Connecticut took his fifteen-year-old son for a burglar and killed him. The son was wearing a balaclava. According to Fred Teeven he was asking for it.

It’s the risk you run if you choose to wear a balaclava, he said and of course he was right. The boy was wearing a balaclava on his head, he was dressed in black, his father had a gun and he was walking around in the garden. What did he expect? He won’t do it again, principally because he’s dead, but there’s a lesson in it for his friends: yes, you can go to the ball but don’t wear a balaclava. And don’t go as Batman. Was he on his way to a masked ball? The paper doesn’t say. Maybe. It could have been a party he’d seen on Facebook. A private party that someone had forgotten to mark ‘private’. Which would have given everyone and his mother the right to turn up and cause a riot or two.

Night out

I can think of several other events that are not strictly private. Cremations and funerals, for example. Sometimes the only notification of a death is through an ad in the newspaper. Most don’t explicitly say the occasion is a private one. Everybody has a right to attend. So can family members mourning their loved ones expect crowds of hooligans and bored teenagers urinating on graves and demolishing the hearse? It’s only to be expected from people whose idea of a night out is trashing a small village.

I know: we’re not at war with anyone, we’re not hungry and we’re bored stiff. But is that really a reason to bend lamp posts in two, pull up traffic signs, plunder supermarkets and torch whatever will burn? I haven’t forgotten my own youth. I dearly liked a prank but I think my friends and I were more creative about it than those Haren types.

Radio Drenthe

By the way, did you enjoy the chat shows afterwards as much as I did? All those experts debating about whose fault it was? The police (ignorant)? The media (inflammatory)? Nobody knew and nobody knew what to do about it. I loved the way a couple of journalists who had been ever so slightly harassed by the police immediately filed a complaint. They had been wearing special blue jackets saying ‘media’! I think a policeman who is focusing completely on the task at hand, i.e. hitting as many people as possible, can be forgiven for not noticing the Radio Drenthe microphone. The only person to regret the sudden silence of Radio Drenthe is the journalist’s mother and she doesn’t count. And it could be worse: he could have worked for Radio Damascus. I don’t think anyone there respects blue media jackets very much. Or do Syrian politicians talk about an ‘occupational hazard’ for those wearing blue media jackets? I have a feeling they don’t.

Sometimes chaos is difficult to understand. How do you explain to people what happened in Haren? And why Haren? And how can the VU and AMC hospital administrator explain the loss of millions of euros in the derivatives market? It beggars belief. Maybe the VU could train a few cameras on the hospital’s cash flow. If I were that administrator I would lie low for a bit, perhaps wear a balaclava. Or perhaps better not.


Youp van ‘t hek is one of the Netherlands’ best loved comedians and writers





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