Hard Gras 31 - Grote kleine spelers (02-048)
New issue of Hard Gras, football literature as it should be. This one is a special about big small players. I.e. players under 1.69m who still became stars. And even though I like the idea, to me this number is one of the least interesting issues of the series. Great idea for an article, too much for a whole book, imho. Still, reading about Jesper Olsen, Romario, Allan Simonsen, Maradona, Strachan, Rivellino, Tahamata, Davids and other small stars is very interesting. The pictures are nice as well. Uncharacteristally Hard Gras. Sponsored as well, if I understand well. Oh well, the first out of 31 I wouldn't have bought. But I subscribe and I'm happy I've got my series complete still.
Reid, Geleijnse & Van Tol - Fokke & Sukke, het afzien van 2002 (02-049)
Fokke and Sukke are so typical Dutch, it is impossible to translate. Two little ducks, who comment on everything in the papers every day. Whatever happened in 2002, F & S had an opinion, quite often not a very subtle one, but always one that made you think. Which makes them useful additions to any newspaper, to any opinionmaker, to anyone who wants to keep up to date with what happens in the world.
Chris Willemsen - De moeder aller nederlagen (02-050)
Willemsen writes like Tom Waits sings. Melancholy, deep voice, poetic language, tragic stories in which everything goes wrong. And not just wrong, but usually disastrously wrong. This book has 8 stories, the first one lending its title to the book. Mother of all defeats is not what Saddam Hussein uses for Gulf War I, for the rest of the world it might be. Ask any Dutchman what the worst defeat in history was and he'll give you the answer straight away. World cup final 1974. The best team in the world thought they were invincible and lost the final. Willemsen's look at it is at least original, perhaps even controversial. He blames Pieter van Vollenhoven, brother in law of our queen. The story is written to be read out loud, what seem simple sentences could be complete stories if you hear them. Meaningless gestures to just about anybody else, Willemsen uses them to explain what went wrong with the world and this one tragic match in particular.
In the third story of the book he tells about visiting the funeral of Aad Mansveld, famous football player in The Hague. Again he is at his strongest when circumstances are at their worst. Mansveld, far too young to die, kept his sense of humour until the very last. Some anecdotes are nicely woven into the story.
He explains why Suurbier was the culpit in the lost WC final of 1978, knows why an insignificant incident a decade before is decisive when the Dutch have to win in Leipzig to qualify in 1980 and has a brilliant history on Luco Coeck, another football player who went to a different world on a young age.
I like reading Willemsen. Apparently he is fluent in Portuguese and has even written in that language. He deserves to be published in more than just these two languages.
My students (11)
His parents must have come over in the sixties or seventies, somewhere from North Africa. Not an easy decision, give up everything and go to a cold country in the north of europe, to do the jobs that the locals won't do. Still, they wanted the best for their children, so they came here. So he was born and bred here, but raised as if he was born in their natice country. Caught between two cultures, as so many of the children of the guest workers.
In his case, I doubt if he really feels it this way. He has led an easy life up until now. Whereas his sister has a job, next to school, he doesn't have to. He is the boy, the son of the house, he gets a bit spoiled. He always has a friendly smile, sometimes seemed a bit slow, but what can you expect at this level. If he had been bright, I wouldn't have had him in my class.
At some point I tried to explain the difference between concrete and abstract markets. Asked the class for examples of concrete markets, something everyone will be familiar with. An abstract market was much more complicated. Minutes into my explanation and examples, he suddenly found an example of another concrete market. By then I realised he is not just a bit slow. From that moment on I have tried to find evidence for the fact that he is not completely stupid. I'm still looking. By now my image of him is a completely empty head. I've had plenty of children in my class who aren't very brihgt, even some who are borderline mentally disabled. Still, I never actually pictured it as clearly as I do with him. I just can't imagine that there is anything behind his eyes. I've got this image of complete emptyness. Should someone crack his skull, he must be a miracle. I'm amazed he finds his way into school sometimes. Had he not been such a nice person, one could have easily made fun of him, now everyone is just feeling sorry.
The worst thing is, he doesn't realise. In an easy assignment I gave them some months back, I asked them to write some things about themselves. What are your strong points, your weak points, how does your future look, things like that. He had big plans for the future. He even posed for a picture to make the assignment look nice. I gave him a reasonable grade, ignoring the fact that not one sentence was without spelling mistakes. Had I been honest, he would have scored extremely low.
Soon he will leave us. He found out that the leisure industry is not his cup of tea, is considering retail now. I wish him good luck, I really hope it will work for him, but I can't imagine anybody hiring him. I hope he'll prove me wrong.
My computer is ready to pick up, they called yesterday. Tomorrow I'm leaving for Austria though, so I'll have to fetch it the week after that. My parents have their computer room ready again, so hence the posting spree, still several books behind though, might take way into february before I'm up to date again. Still wondering which book to read in the bus tomorrow, I've decided to take two. Im Krebsgang, the last one by Gunther Grass, a nice birthday gift (a year ago) from my cousin. The other one will be Stephen Fry's "the stars tennisballs". Everything Fry writes is good, so I'm convinced this one will be as well. Tonight an early night, thirtysomething pages left in Irvine Welsh' "Glue".
And yes I'm skiing for free in a couple of days. I guess several people envy me. I'm going skiing for free with thirty something young girls. A decade ago that would have been a wet dream :-))