The Dutch

Each country in Europe has its own peculiarities, whether food, sport, culture or customs. There are throwbacks to our barbaric past, still classed as sport in the form of Spanish bullfighting, British fox hunting where humans dress up in bizarre ceremonial costumes and then there’s is the annual mass slaughter of migratory birds in the skies above France and Italy. Sport to a few but not if you are a bull, a fox or a bird.

Dutch peculiarities are mainly centred around what people do and how they do it, food and how they eat it and of course the noise that occasionally comes from the back of their throats when talking! It is true though, that the Saxony dialect is also guttural when pronouncing the words like stomach (Bauch) the German “ch” is the “g” in Holland. Ruud Gullitt had the most incorrectly pronounced name in football all the time he was playing, especially by the English. We’ve just got the “th” tongue against teeth and gentle blowing sound to annoy would be English learners. We used to have a letter “Ȝ” which was very similar to the Dutch “g” but you know how bad the English are with pronunciation, so it was dropped over time.

The Dutch are a fiercely independent bunch but are happy to be surrounded by friendly nations these days and as with all members of the EU, see the benefits of strength in numbers in both economics and state security. Although not an aggressively yappy little country like the UK, it is very protective about its defence capability and has all the most up to date hardware. The Dutch armed forces total 40,000 whereas the UK has 130,000.

Every Dutch person is acutely aware that the biggest threat to their country is the sea and flooding. As such, they have become experts at taming it to an extent and are naturally at the forefront of the fight against global warming. Some of the most spectacular constructions in the Netherlands are the sluices and barriers built across rivers and outlets into the sea.

And then there’s football! And Johann Cruijff, Johann Neeskens and Marco Van Basten.