Blues and bike skills

Walking home, alone, at midnight, from a gig.

Holland isn’t going to win any tourism prizes, but strolling along a canal, houses reflected with the lights in the still water, the odd cyclist wheeling home, helmetless… the guitar riffs of some international muso who just played for you personally (and about twelve other people), still humming in your head, the taste of the Belgian beer lingering in your mouth… it’s not a bad way to spend a Tuesday night.

And tonight’s performance happened to be Dan Patlansky, a blues/rock guitarist from Jozi. Even the Dutch people were beginning to bop. (Do you ever get the feeling a famous person is following you? A few weeks back, I read a review of his new album on a flight from Jo’burg, got off the plane and saw “[x hotel] welcomes Dan Patlansky” on one of those arrivals boards. Subsequently realised he’d been sitting across the aisle from me. Found a gig he was playing in Cape Town, then moved to a small and random town in the Netherlands – and there he is. I think it’s a sign. But I’ll have to wait for the voices that speak to me from the radio to tell me what kind of a sign it is…)

Most likely, it’s this: even the worst year can be redeemed by a good soundtrack.

Here’s something else that happened today: I rode to work in a dress. Like I said, possibly not on anyone’s bucket list – but sometimes it’s nice when your day doesn’t get any more exciting than that. And I think I get Dutch points for managing the whole skirt-on-a-bike thing. Also for informing myself on local current affairs: there’s a major debate right now about racism in Dutch culture. Apparently the traditional helper of SInterklaas (Father Christmas) in the Netherlands is called Swarte Piet. Someone has finally realised this might be construed as racist.

The only thing extreme in this flat country is the levelness of it all.


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