Monday, November 06, 2006


Only a street away from the Notting Hill gate stop on 'the circle tube', we walked into a shop filled with happy hippy clothes and got busy moving around the racks. Upon our enthusiastic exclamations, the owner of the boutique, also the author of the collection, started a conversation. Her name: Ginny. When someone asks her ‘what do you do in life?’, she answers I make things. In essence, she considers herself a very lucky person, because she does what she loves to do. She asked what my nationality was, then told me Dutch women are boring. They don't appreciate eccentricity like we do in England. Characters that stop by her shop regularly include a colourful stand-up comedian lady from California as well as big American labels that decompose, then mass-produce her designs. She doesn’t mind because they mess the pattern up anyway. She does, however, mind that Portobello Road has come under the influence of big American companies, ever since that movie.

In Oxford, my old professor looked up in the middle of a lunch conversation and said Do you know what you've managed to do since we last met? You've managed to sound more American! Britain did that to me. The waitresses at Segafredo actually spoke with an Italian accent. The Lebanese restaurant could just as well have looked out on the streets of Beirut. The tourists spoke French or Spanish or Danish or their respective languages in the streets. I heard 63 new shades of British. I felt foreign on a whole new level.

Finally, a man at a bar got it right, saying Dutch women are difficult before he left.

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