Life in Amsterdam
June is the month to prepare for family visits – Mr. Fanning’s sister and my own mother are book-ending the summer months.
The first visit sparked off a series of minor household renovations. The kitchen floor and stairs got a new coat of paint, our neglected terrace received ‘attention’ and a dusty candelabra finally left the building. So now with the visit just a migraine-inducing memory, we’ve got a souped up apartment to enjoy. Just the job for me as The Karma Chameleon is nearing the end, and writing in organised chaos is never good.
Neighbours – everybody needs good neighbours. So why are mine so shit? Just the other day, I was coming back from emptying the dog, when I spied a note pushed through our letterbox.
Although in Dutch, I worked out its gist. Some couple whose massive mansion style Lord of the Manner house backs onto our tiny apartment planned to celebrate thirty years of marriage with a big party. Big as in loud. Loud as in they’re writing to everyone with a three street radius to apologise in advance.
They’re splashing out on a professional DJ (from Jazz FM, you understand, nothing too bangy and young). There’ll be a marquee in the garden, drinks and food. I assumed it was a casual, ‘sorry for the noise, feel free to drop by for a glass of punch and a sausage roll’ sort of thing.
I read on. The letter in fact was not a friendly little invite. It was more of a ‘we’re going to make so much noise your ears will bleed, tough shit’ sort of thing. It ended with the suggestion not to call the police (it’ll remind us of our student days, ha ha) and adding that it might be a good idea to go out on the night in question, rather than try to get any sleep/relaxation (although we promise to try and shut the doors at 1am, you know what party animals can be like, ho ho).
Not that a team of very determined wild horses would persuade me to go, as Mr Fanning pointed out – but none the less, it’s nice to be asked.
- Postscript: On the night of their party, Amsterdam was swept by storms, high winds and freakishly cold weather. Bad karma? You be the judges.
Talking of karma, it brings me neatly onto my new novel. The Karma Chameleon. I think it’s my best work yet. Thought it might not be. Maybe I’m too close. After finishing it, scrapping it and starting again, I’m at the two-thirds point and reading back over what I’ve written so far to ensure there’s no glaring loose ends and make sure I haven’t called someone by two different names or turned a five-foot stick insect into a six foot bruiser between chapters (it happens, far more often than I care to admit). I’ve arranged a couple of weeks off at the start of July to knuckle down to the final stages and then it’ll be off to the readers to tear it to pieces. When reassembled, I’ll let my agent do the same until there’s something that stands a chance of being at least read by a few publishers.
The exciting stuff to come is recording a couple of short stories for inclusion on this site and also producing a short promotional reading/video for The Karma Chameleon, that I’m hoping to have online by August. For the briefest of times, I shall feel like a real writer as my words come back to me from a speaker instead of in my head.
Hey ho, rock n’ roll
Has anyone been watching the news lately? The silly season is in full swing. There are no real events, so you have to make do with what you can get. But what is the world coming to when Kerry Katona is offering relationship advice to Kylie and Trevor Macdonald admits to binge drinking?
I’ll end on a rant. My current airline of choice from Amsterdam to the UK is now offering me the chance to make my flight carbon neutral. Last time I jetted to Birmingham I was told I personally produced 0.14 tonnes of C02 emissions. For just 82 cents I could pay to negate this. Fucking cheek! If anyone should be bothered about this latest eco buzzword, it’s the robbing bastard airlines or better yet those who pile various trumped up taxes and charges onto the ticket price. A 90 euro ticket with 140 euros in taxes? And there’s more, from 1 July Schiphol is loading an extra 11 euros on the ticket price to cover security charges.
So who exactly is making money from terrorism here? The airports say it isn’t them. They can’t afford to meet government security requirements. They have to charge. Oh really? If the airports and airlines cannot manage to provide security within the limits of their already massive profits, they shouldn’t be offering to fly people in the first place.