Monday, December 12, 2005

I nearly didn't make the ferry for Amsterdam on Friday night. One of the many Christmas shoppers that have steadily been overtaking our multi-storey carpark since the beginning of November had quite impressively beached her car ( a Micra, so I'm guessing it was a woman) right across the concrete ridge between the up and down ramps on the top floor. It was like something from a cartoon, with all four wheels still spinning round suspended in mid-air. It is just this type of incident that makes me determined to include Compulsory Car Park Etiquette in the Driving Test in my manifesto when I run for Prime Minister. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Ken Livingstone used to park in the same multi-storey in days gone by, perhaps when visiting his old mate, Two Jags Prescott, that lead to the introduction of the congestion charge. Anything that discourages shoppers from using anything other than the Park 'n' Ride has to be a good thing.

Once on board the boat, we quickly dumped our bags and explored the range of entertainments on offer. 5 minutes later we'd established that our credit cards were in no mortal danger from the poor offerings in the shops and found the Bar for some pre-dinner drinks. I should have remembered from last time that they go for quantity, not quality in the self-service restaurant. I obliged by stuffing myself with sausage casserole and mashed potato ( after asparagus, cod provencal, a bit of roll mop and some smoked mackerel) topped off with some sort of chocolate tart thingy that looked better than it tasted so had to be smothered in fresh cream to prevent it cementing itself to the roof of my mouth. That just about finished me off and I spent the rest of the evening unable to move. Johnny Red didn't seem to mind when I left him on his own in the Bar and headed back to our capsule cabin.

We arrived in Amsterdam just before 10am and headed straight for the Van Gogh museum. The only thing that had appealed to me whilst searching the Tourist Board website had been a Caravaggio/ Rembrandt exhibition. Turns out I was 2 months premature. I was a bit disappointed but enjoyed wandering around nonetheless, giving myself a crash course in pointillism. We were all dotted out by noon and jumped on board a passing canal bus, where Johnny Red promptly fell asleep and I skim read my Guidebook trying to decide how to fill the rest of the afternoon. Anne Frank's House was abandoned when I realised it was in the opposite direction so we had to make do with exploring the Red Light District instead.

It's not quite what it sounds. I'd read about an anonymous sculptor who deposits bronze statues about the city in the middle of the night. We were searching for one of his more beautiful creations, a pert pair of breasts being fondled. So diligent was my search, that I nearly tripped over them on our third lap. I'm nothing if not thorough.

The entire place is quite surreal, almost a theme park to hedonism, a sense not diminished by the ageing trans-sexual coach driver who took us back to our waiting ferry a few hours later.

By a strange coincidence, Richard and his friends had been enjoying the Dutch Delights at the same time and we bumped into one another just as we were about to disembark. I'm guessing art galleries hadn't really been on their itinerary which is why we hadn't met earlier. And I can vouch that they were not in the vicinity of the vice-ridden Walltjes. I'm sure I'd have seen them whilst carrying out my own extensive explorations. Then again, there were a lot of closed curtains even at that time of the day, and it is feasible that some of those talented ladies offer Sports Massage.


Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

I read your post earlier today but I wanted to think about it and reread it a couple of times. I enjoyed all of it, but what really made me smile was this, "giving myself a crash course in pointillism. We were all dotted out by noon" I could just picture it. I've studdied pointillism a bit and I was able to place myself seeing what you saw for those morning hours...dotted out by noon. Too true, too true.

4:25 am  

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