Sept ZINE magazine 2013

Page 1


#607 Sept 2013

Their For studentso from 3 trs 18 yea

future is

our focus

Did you know that more parents choose the BSN than any other international school in Holland? With four campuses in The Hague area, The British School offers a caring and stimulating learning environment, with an individual approach that ensures every child can achieve their full potential. The BSN is a thriving and supportive expatriate community made up from over 80 nationalities. Contact us today to arrange a visit and see for yourself why the BSN is the international school of choice.

Admissions: +31 (0)70 315 4077 Page 2

some things you just can’t download.

discover your inner rock star as we celebrate freddie mercury’s birthday. freddie for a day.

September 5th 2013, from 1pm–Midnight.

amsterdam ®




/ max euweplein 57-61 / 1017 ma amsterdam / +31 20 5237625 ©2013 Hard Rock International (USA), Inc. All rights reserved.

Page 3

Page 4

Hard Rock Cafe presents Simply Acoustic Tour 10th of September. Event starts @ 8.00 pm and is free. Hard Rock Cafe has announced the Hard Rock Cafe presents Simply Acoustic tour, a series of gigs with the acoustic collaboration of James Walsh and Ben Montague. A singer songwriter in his own right, James Walsh is most known for his front man status, heading up Indie band, Starsailor. Now about to embark on Hard Rock Cafe presents Simply Acoustic with fellow artist, Ben Montague, James launched his brand new EP’ Time is Nigh’ on iTunes, earlier this year. Ben Montague is a British singer-songwriter and multiinstrumentalist from Farnborough, Kent. His music is highly acclaimed by UK press for songs such as ‘Can’t hold Me Down’ and ‘Haunted’, taken from the first full-length album Overcome. This creative coupling is set to astound audiences across the European Hard Rock Cafes with some incredible music. Page 5

There’s only


ZINE Happy 1st Birthday

Page 6

E Page 7


chair/ “new chair” Page 10 events/ “friday social” Page 14 events/ “britsoc calendar” P british/ “MINI brand store” curious/ “royal mystery” Pag art/ “fellini” Page 26 article/ “homeless” Page 30 music/ “prinsengracjt conc food/ “nick’s nosh” Page 46 food/ “baked sea bass” Pa arts/ “poetry” Page 54 article/ “serve the city” Page 49

Page 8

Colophon >

Page 12 Page 16

age 50



ISSUE # 607

EDITOR IN CHIEF Alison Smith |

ge 24



EDITORIAL BOARD Ian Cherington | Dave Thomas | John Richardson |


ADVERTISING SALES Zetterij Jan van den Berg |

Page 42




Page 9

Who is this Ian Cherington fellow?

Zine interviews our shiny new Chairman…. Before he dives into the deep end of BritSoc organization and gets waaaay too busy for likes of a nosey reporter, I thought I’d catch up with Ian and grill him over hot coals to try to find out more about the man in the cool patterned shirts. What makes him tick? What does he think of the job now in hand? And does he like Marmite? How long have you been a member of BritSoc?

5 years

If you had to compare BritSoc when you first became a member and BritSoc now, what would you say are the largest differences?

The fact we have gone digital and rely more on the website for our communication is a big difference. I also think, in general, that attendance to the smaller regular activities is down. What is BritSoc to you?

It’s a social club

Have you held any other committee positions within BritSoc? Or outside BritSoc?

Not within BritSoc, though I’ve taken on roles such as M-C at the ball and helped with the organization. Outside of BritSoc I have been President of Toastmasters in Amsterdam and Area Governor of Toastmasters of The Netherlands. What made you stick your head above the parapet and volunteer to be Chairman?

I felt we needed new blood and Stephen bribed me heavily to do it!

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing BritSoc now?

Using Social Media effectively. Finding our focus. Defining who we are and analyzing why non members would join us?

Page 10

What qualities, ideas and changes do you think you will bring in as chairman?

I hope to improve communication within and outside the Society. We need to focus on what we do well, increase the membership by making it a club people want to be a part of and exploit our commercial value more effectively. Going forward, what does BritSoc need most of all?

New energy and new people, both volunteers and members.

If you look into your crystal ball what does BritSoc look like in another 10 years time?

I’d like to see the membership go over the 1000 mark. BritSoc should be a place where members get to socialize and have events, mostly for free due to effective sponsorship and where our members are networked into a larger working social group like the BritNet idea

A bit of personal stuff about you…. Time in NL?

33 years!

Retire here? Or where?


What keeps you busy?

Golf. Property Management (Day Job), Music, and of course BritSoc Talents and hobbies?

Public Speaking. Guitar and Squash How do you relax?

Yoga, reading, guitar and music

Ideal job?

Errrrrrrrm….isn’t that a contradiction in terms!? Describe your family.

Mum 92 years young. Dad died when I was 20. Son, 25, lives in Emmen. 1 brother 11 years older and Paula, my wife of 10 years….oh and an 11 year old cat…so born out of wedlock - Shhhh!

Is there any question you wished I’d asked?

Yes…Which band have I not seen but wanted to? OK…and the answer is….XTC Thanks Ian….and good luck with the new role!

Sum up living in Holland in 3 words or statements.

Alison Smith

Sum up the Dutch in 3 words.

Ian’s quick fire round…

Crowded. A relaxed attitude to queueing, and an even more relaxed attitude to service Uncomplex. Friendly. Tall

Whose brain would you like to pick?

Leonardo da Vinci

If you could only save one object from your house it would be?

Marmite Yes/Yuck ?


Beatles or Rolling Stones?

Rolling Stones

... my bass guitar!!!!

Cat person or dog person?

Which three musicians or groups would you like to see on the same bill?

Sports Car/ Motorbike ?

Dog person

I almost got my ideal line up when I saw the B52’s, Talking Heads and Kokomo on the same night. These days I would probably swap Kokomo for Ian Dury and The Blockheads.

Sports Car

Worst work experience?

David Cassidy

Working in a darkroom and accidently spraying lens cleaner up my nose instead of Vicks Sinex nose spray! Well it was DARK! Are you superstitious?

No…..unless you count wearing different coloured socks to play squash matches and never putting my shoes on until I’m about to go on court. (So that’s a yes then really isn’t it Ian! –Ed) Worst fear?

Football / Rugby?


David Cassidy / Donny Osmond? Bar drink - Beer / Wine?


Weather - Sun / Snow?


Holiday - Relax / Adventure?


2 courses - Starter / Dessert?


Heights…or is it really the fear of hitting the ground in a rush?

iPhone / Samsung ?

Who is your hero of Fiction?

Newman / Redford ?

Which person living or dead, do you most admire?

Angie / Jen?

To which person, living or dead, do you most associate yourself with, and why?

Sorbet / Ice Cream ?

Captain Scarlet

Nelson Mandela

Peter Gabriel because of the decisions he made, following his passion Ideal day?

Breakfast of poached eggs with grilled asparagus…. play the guitar…call mum and my son for a chat… salmon sandwiches for lunch…18 holes of golf….surf and turf dinner with a nice red (Cabernet Sauvignon from Orange, Australia)….bit of late night Scrabble and bed with the wife. Favourite shirt?

Sweet Pea shirt by Hans Ubbink. It’s purple and green and has secret messages hidden in the collar and cuffs.

Samsung Redford Angie


Nadal / Federer ?


Call / Text ?


Wii / X-box ?

Play Station

Comedy / Action ?


Classical / Country ?


Opera / Ballet ?


Page 11

BritSoc Social and Sports Calendar


For September calendar go to SATURDAY






Golf 8.00

Golf 8.00 Soft Tennis 16.00

Daytime Badminton 13.00 to 14.00




Britsoc Sailing 10:00 Golf 8.00

14 Golf 8.00

Soft Tennis 16.00

Daytime Badminton 13.00 to 14.00



Golf 8.00 Soft Tennis 16.00

Daytime Badminton 13.00 to 14.00




Golf 8.00

Golf 8.00 Soft Tennis 16.00

Daytime Badminton 13.00 to 14.00



28 Golf 8.00

Page 12

Golf 8.00

Golf 8.00 Soft Tennis 16.00

Daytime Badminton 13.00 to 14.00

Activity Contact Details:

Social Fridays is Tracey Taylor. Email: Soft tennis is Sharron Reed. Email: Bridge is Ruth and Art Max. Email: Squash is Paul Huxley. Email: Scottish Country Dancing. Email: Tennis is Geoff Dudley. Email: see

Scottish Country Dancing Group

Under the expert guidance of Margaret Lambourne, a qualified SCD teacher, Thursday evenings are spent dancing to the strains of Celtic tunes. Swirling in circles or forming up squares, lines or long sets, we learn everything from the proper steps and figures in jig, reel and strathspey time. We change partners for each dance, so you can come on your own and find a partner there. The music and the dancing make you happy, and it’s great exercise, too! And what a bargain, just 3 euros per session! Sessions are held in the British School hall on Anthonie van Dijckstraat in Oud Zuid, from 7:30 to 9 pm.







Playgroup 11.00 Badminton 20.00


Scottish dancing 19.30-21:00 Bridge Night 19.30





Squash 19.30 Tennis 20.00


Squash 19.30 Tennis 20.00


Squash 19.30 Tennis 20.00


Squash 19.30 Tennis 20.00


Squash 19.30

Playgroup 11.00 Badminton 20.00

Bridge Night 19.30 Scottish dancing 19.30-21:00

Social Friday @ The Tara 21.00-24:00




Playgroup 11.00 Badminton 20.00

25 Playgroup 11.00 Badminton 20.00

Bridge Night 19.30 Scottish dancing 19.30-21:00

26 Scottish dancing 19.30-21:00 Bridge Night 19.30


For online Sept Calendar see 31

Tennis 20.00

Page 13

Social Friday Fr

| @The Tara 21

Friday 13th Sept, 2013 No attendance list or Britsoc membership required—so just show up! Sean Jansen

Page 14

rom 1:00



Venue: Rokin 85-89, 1012KL Amsterdam Trams: 4,9,14,16,24 and 25 tramstop Rokin. Contact: Tracey Taylor Email:

This venue is a well known bar amongst the expats.

This Irish bar has an interesting variation of rooms mixing from a trendy modern bar to the classic leather armchair corners and fireplaces. We will meet in the far end of the pub where the rear bar area is exiting to the Nes street entrance. Look out for Stephen near the bar wearing a bright red shirt. Social Fridays is a great opportunity to meet new people or catch up with friends - all welcome.

No attendance list, so just show up!

Page 15

Page 16

Haute ‘Car’ture The MINI Brand Store is Amsterdam’s hotspot for urban lifestyle, events and clubbing. Interview with Robert Dresen, manager of the Mini Brand Store Amsterdam. Written by ZINE staff writer John Richardson


“I did not invent the MINI, I designed it”

he father of the MINI was Sir Alec Issigonis, who famously said: “I did not invent the MINI, I designed it.” It’s an important distinction, because today, according to the US MINI website, there are 10 million ways to personalise your MINI. This is not normal behaviour in the car industry. But then the MINI was never a normal car. It’s perhaps fitting that this iconic, cheeky, urban brand now has ‘the only MINI Brand Store in the world’, housed in a building that also shares a legacy of being totally different: Amsterdam’s Hirsch Building.

Hirsch & Co only spoke French and delivered your Haute Couture to your home and placed it in your wardrobe.

One of the most elegant buildings in Amsterdam’s historic Leidseplein is the copper-domed Hirsch building, which was originally owned by the international fashion house Hirsch & Co. Opened in 1912, it had a Parisian ‘look and feel’ about it — the personnel only spoke French. Queen Wilhelmina bought her clothes there. Hand made and expensive, the French-speaking staff took whatever Haute Couture you bought to your home and placed it in your closet. An unheard of level of personalisation and service, even then.

Haute ‘Car’ ture.

Today we call this extreme attention to detail the brand experience. Or Haute ‘Car’ ture, as we at the ZINE call MINI’s extreme level of personalisation. Go that extra mile in all departments.

It’s not surprising that today the current owners of the Hirsch building are attracting brands that go that extra mile of service down the road less travelled to deliver a different level of service and personalisation. The most famous inhabitant is the Apple Store, known around the world for its ‘Think Different’ advertising campaign and the great lengths it goes to train its store staff.

Page 17


MINI Brand Store: The Store of the future.

Perhaps less noticed by the public was the MINI Brand Store, which opened four months before the Apple Store, in December 2011. The MINI Brand Store is under the umbrella of a BMW initiative called ‘Future Store’, which was born out of the realisation that the world is changing and you need to do different things to attract customers. Gone are the days when you can expect people to trek out to some dealer on the outskirts of town. “These days you have to come to the people. That’s why we have opened the store here in the centre of Amsterdam,” said Robert Dresen, manager of the MINI Brand Store Amsterdam. ‘Future Store’ is busy testing all kinds of new concepts, especially trying out ideas where the brand comes to the people. One of their first initiatives is the Amsterdam MINI brand store. They also have pop-up brand stores and new kinds of test-drive environments in the pipeline.

The first MINI brand store in the world There are a lot of so-called MINI brand stores in Antwerp, Berlin and Paris, for example. But they are purely dealers located in a city centre. It’s the only MINI brand store in the world that sells lifestyle, with a strong focus on the brand. “We are a test pilot, with a lot of success.” They will open thirty or forty MINI Brand stores in the next two years.

The Amsterdam Brand Store is the business card of MINI

I mention that on the Dutch MINI website it describes the Amsterdam MINI Brand Store as the business card of MINI. “Yes we are very British, but the feel is very urban, industrial...the big visuals on the wall are Amsterdam, but the urban parts.” The showroom features industrial piping and concrete floors, and the black theme features orange highlights to give it the Dutch touch.

Page 18

Four or five times a year we turn ourselves into a MINI Club

We remove all the cars, merchandising and lifestyle products. Then we have a DJ and about three or four hundred people and have a great event. When we create the club it attracts new people and potential customers. We want them to think that the brand is right for them and fits with their lifestyle. It provides a very cool, urban vibe, which matches their lifestyle and self image. Having a club night makes us very different from a normal car dealer.

We also hold a lot of meetings and events here.

We have a room at the back that we can transform into a meeting room. It can comfortably hold about 20 people. A typical meeting held there would be a sales meeting from a hotel group. They hire the place for one day. It’s in the back of the store, so we can operate normally.

Why call it a Brand Store?

Even though we are a store, it’s a mix of lifestyle, events and clubbing. But I think ‘Brand Store’ really sums up what we do. You could say it’s a cross between shopping and nightlife, which points out the multifunctional use of the store.

You can buy anything you want in the MINI Brand Store, except for a car.

All the people who work at the MINI Brand Store are specialists and know everything about how to design a MINI to your liking. You can preconfigure it here and take your design to one of 27 MINI dealers across in the Netherlands, where you can test drive and purchase your MINI. The MINI Brand Store has a number of exhibition MINIs. Each has an iPad on a stand where you can request things like a brochure, request a test drive, or ask a dealer to contact you.

“Loading more than 10 million possibilities”

Incredible as it may seem, and even I’m having trouble getting my head around this, according to the US MINI website there are over 10 million ways to personalise your MINI.

If it’s not a MINI dealership, then what is the MINI Brand Store Amsterdam?

I then asked Robert if the lifestyle approach converted to sales of MINI cars.

He said that they are still working on the figures, but what he could tell me was that last year 200,000 people entered the MINI Brand store in Amsterdam. “We had a lot of lifestyle revenue of course, and we are now looking at the conversion rates into car sales. Some people buy a car within one week of visiting the store, but with others it can take up to six months and longer. We are now trying to measure that.”

Does being owned by BMW affect the Brand perception of what is, after all, a quintessentially British brand? Of course it belongs to BMW, but the owner of a MINI wants to be treated differently than a BMW owner. So the store provides that essential MINI character, which is part of a bigger brand separation campaign. There is no BMW branding at all in this store. The interior of the MINI Brand showroom is all black, whereas BMW dealers are all white. Within two years, in the Netherlands, all MINI dealers will be separated from BMW.

Quintessentially British marketing.

Marketing also builds on the distinct British character of the MINI brand. A good example is the quintessentially British marketing campaign running at the moment called Not Nor Mal. “So, no, I don’t think being owned by BMW in any way affects the very strong British heritage surrounding the brand. Its marketing is a bit cheeky and irreverent, and it still feels like a British brand.”

Who visits the store?

I think we appeal to everybody. People just come into the store because they like the look and feel of the place. We have a lot of tourists that come in out of curiosity. During the week we have more international visitors. At the weekend we have more national visitors. Of course, many MINI owners visit us. Then we have a lot of potential clients that come in and seek our advice about personalising the car and helping them connect with a local dealer. It’s really a mixed group, but the potential car buyers group are split 50% men and 50% women.

How are your visitors divided between drivers and visitors?

We have a lot of existing owners that come in that want to add extra personalisation to their vehicle. Some just want an accessory for themselves, like a T-Shirt. We also have the dreamers who will one day own a MINI. Just now though, they want to buy into the MINI lifestyle.

Word of mouth is also one of the strong points about the store. We often hear about people that drop in, not necessarily to buy a car, but they are blown away by the store. They tell their friends, family and neighbours about the brand experience the store has to offer. We get that a lot. “You could tell your neighbours and they will come here and buy a MINI. This indirect word of mouth affect of the Brand Store is huge.”

The function of the store is a brand store, where people can experience the MINI brand. They are welcome to just look around, they can buy mechanise and they can configure a car. Because we are not a dealer, people are more willing to enter the store. They don’t expect a car salesman to pressurise them into purchasing a car. It’s far more relaxed, fun and casual. Whereas a dealer is more formal and sales focussed. It’s more of a subtle approach than a hard sell. It’s about providing information, personalisation, merchandise and the MINI Brand experience. We sell a lot of MINI lifestyle products to our customers.

Page 19

Page 20

Why did you choose Amsterdam to test out your store?

There is a logical reason for that. Amsterdam itself is not a big city, but Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam all make up the Randstad. It’s a huge catchment area with a population of over seven million people. This region is really important to us. Another point is that people of Amsterdam and the Netherlands easily adapt to new concepts. Amsterdam has a high tolerance for new ideas and is an obvious choice to test the MINI Brand Store concept.

Good fit with the Apple Store

We also have a nice brand fit with the Apple Store. The target group is largely the same and our products are built to the highest standards. We, like Apple, offer great customer care. That’s the whole idea behind the MINI brand: we really want to achieve the next level of customer service.

You’ve now been open for two years. What have been the high points?

Gosh, so many. Well the MINI Goodwood was one of my favourite high points. This was a very special MINI designed by Rolls Royce. It was the most expensive MINI ever built.

The two millionth MINI.

We also had the two millionth MINI ever built exhibited here in the store. There was a global competition to win this special milestone car. It just so happened that a Dutch guy won it, so we handed it over to him here in the store.

Big parties and club nights.

We did a couple of big parties for newspapers. We’ve had club nights where really famous people came along. The director of MINI worldwide was here one time.

The MINI Hub. The heart of the store. I interviewed Robert Dresen in the MINI Hub, a slice of industrial design that goes well with the urban, industrial feel of the store. He told me that the MINI Hub had been very successful in drawing potential customers to sit down and play with the large configuration screen. Cosy and informal, you sit and relax to configure your ideal MINI without any pressure. “From next year all MINI Dealers will have this hub in their showroom. It will be central point, the heart of the showroom.”

How important is personalisation to the store and the brand? This is very important because MINI is the personalisation brand. You can just about personalise every aspect of the car. With over 10 million possibilities, almost every MINI configuration is unique. And every MINI driver wants to feel special and different. Their design choice reflects their personality. We take personalisation much further than other car brands.

What is your biggest selling merchandise item?

Amsterdam, ADE’s festival has grown into the world’s biggest club festival for the whole spectrum of electronic sub-genres. ADE offers 200,000 clubbers five days of guaranteed partying with a stunning total of 300 events taking place. The MINI Brand Store is one of those special locations. With its central location in Amsterdam, and the international allure of the Hirsch building, it’s the ideal location for a club.

The MINI Brand Store. Putting the ‘show’ back into showroom.

I noticed many merchandise exhibition stands that have been specially created for the store and I wondered what were his best selling items. “These black and pink T-shirts sell really well. All it says is ‘MINI Amsterdam’, but people really like them.”

It’s such a likeable brand you could stick the logo on just about anything.

As there was such variety of branded goods in the store, I mention to Robert that you could just about brand anything with the MINI logo and it would probably sell. “I agree, you can brand almost everything, but it must be of the highest quality with great attention to detail.” He then showed me his MINI shoes, which have a union jack soul and leave an impression in the sand and snow. They are made in cooperation with Puma. “My polo shirt has racing stripes on the back of the collar. It’s this attention to detail, and the quality of the materials, that make the difference.”

300% T-Shirts.

Every MINI collection has a theme. Currently it’s called ME.YOU.MINI. It describes the connection owners have with their MINI. Enjoying together with the brand and the car. “It’s best summed up by our 300% T-Shirts. 100% Me. 100% You. 100% MINI = 300%”. The store recently featured a collection called BEAT the STREETS. Last year was the Sound of MINI.

Written by ZINE staff writer John Richardson. John is an integrated advertising copywriter by day and a magazine editor, contributor, designer and publisher by night. John loves kickboxing, cricket, Rock n Roll dancing and singing bass in a choir of angelic ladies. He also writes a number of witty blogs and newsletters for various clubs and societies around Amsterdam.

Upcoming MINI Brand Store news.

A major date in October is the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE). We are planning to do one or two ‘club evenings’ in the week. With over 1,700 artists from around the globe performing in 75 of the best clubs in

Page 21

The British Photographer in Amsterdam WEDDINGS





Call 06 83 94 35 52 to claim your exclusive Britsoc discount! Timeless. True. You. Page 22

Dates for your Diary

Page 23

l a y t Ro

h g i AR

y r e t s y M

en in Writt

Cities are often defined by their mysteries.

Perhaps it’s our desire to have a feeling about a place that cannot be easily described. Defining the spirit and mood can take many shapes and forms. Strange, offbeat statues that seem to appear out of nowhere are an intriguing way to capture the zeitgeist of a city. I’ve seen some pretty odd, original and mysterious statues on my European travels:

Stockholm’s Astronaut Cow, the Melting Cow of Budapest, the Hanging Rhino of Potsdam, Germany, the Shark diving into a terraced house in Oxford, UK, The Upside Down Horse in Prague, and the Lactating Female Fountain in Nuremberg. Their quirkiness providing a fleeting glimpse into the artistic soul of the city in which they magically appear. Usually placed anomalously in the middle of the night, they both define and mystify my image of the city. Yet nothing quite captures my imagination like the little lumberjack sawing the tree branch in half in the Leidsebosje, just off the Leidseplein in Amsterdam.

He is sawing through the very branch on which he’s standing. A reference perhaps to World War 11 when all the trees were chopped down in Amsterdam?

Or a statement on the futility of working long and hard without noticing what’s around you— until it’s too late. Mysterious. An enigma equal to the lyrics of the Eagles Hotel California. We’ll never know its true meaning or creator. Which of course is its strength. The little iron fellow was placed here on January 30, 1989, the day before Queen Beatrix’ birthday. (More about this connection later).

Page 24



dle e mid


of t

ght b i n e h


mou y n o n

There are a number of mysterious, unsigned sculptures around Amsterdam: The violin player in the Stopera. The man trying to catch the tram near the Marnixstraat. The fondled breast on the Oudekerksplein. Harmonica man on Anjeliersstraat 175, Jordaan. Three Men in Conversation (“Drie heertjes in gesprek“) at Ten Kate Markt, in Amsterdam Oud West. Until now, no one knows who made the sculptures.

Yet there are two fascinating possibilities. They bear an uncanny resemblance to the works of two sculptors:

One option is that, according to unverified rumours within the city council, he was a retired medical professional who created them as a hobby. However, while it’s true that the Amsterdam city council, which has bought several of these statues, does know who the sculptor is, they have been sworn to secrecy. A condition the sculptor insisted on when selling these artistic enigmas. I believe it must have been someone with great influence.

Someone with the power to saw through the city’s jungle of red tape to be able to have the statues placed in such a professional manner without much hassle in such important spots like Leidsebosje, Ouderkerkspein and Stopera.

You and I certainly could not get away with it.

It’s not that easy to just put in a statue somewhere in Amsterdam. Especially in the middle of the night.

And a retired medical professional simply doesn’t have that kind of kudos or power.

There are several clues in the sculptures. The colours of three of the statues are red, white and blue. The fiddler in the Stopera looks like the late Prince Claus of the Netherlands. Said to be a very talented sculpture herself, we are left with only one real possibility: I say, as do many others, that the anonymous maker of the mysterious statues in Amsterdam is Queen Beatrix. There. I said it. Goodbye knighthood.

It is in fact someone with great influence, whose identity is top secret and is able to cut a swathe through the city’s notoriously difficult rules and regulations.

Page 25

Hardrock Cafe Amsterdam

Page 26

ISA campus, main entrance









Setting the stage. At ISA, we believe that great facilities can set the stage for great learning. ISA is housed in a space specially designed for international education. And inspiration. Our facilities include a four-floor library/media center, a 400-seat theatre, science labs and specialist studios for music, art, and drama. More than 400 computers are joined in a school-wide, online network. Students work with laptops and iPads in the classroom. Two state-of-the-art gyms, discovery oriented playgrounds and adjacent playing fields are large, well equipped and secure. ISA’s campus is not a luxury. It’s where ideas are born.

Exciting and developing young minds Sportlaan 45 - 1185 TB Amstelveen - The Netherlands - Tel. +31 20 347 1111 -

Taste Life!

Kingsalmarkt, the world-famous foodstore! We are known for our wide range of products from countries all over the world. ‘Taste life’ is what we call that. Visit us for your favourite American cornflakes, brownies and soups, British jams and honey, Mexican tortillas, Spanish tapas and ham, Italian coffee and pasta and French cheese. Of course you can pick up the rest of your groceries too.

Rembrandtweg 621, 1181 GV Amstelveen-noord, tel. 020 643 37 51 Easily reached by car (free parking) and public transport (5 or 51 tram to Kronenburg) Opening hours: Monday to Friday: 9 am – 6 pm Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm

Page 27

Fellini at the Eye

Page 28

“It is easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman�

Page 29


The start of the exhibition is somewhat surrealistic Page 30

The Master Painter on Film

Page 31


s I went round this exhibition I wanted to get beyond Fellini’s fertile imagination and the iconic fountain scene from La Dolce Vita (1960). I wanted to discover how he saw his Italian world.

So I wandered around the exhibition several times watching the various film clips and examining the other exhibits. In the end, I chose four scenes that portrayed more than a thousand paintings ever could. For me that is Fellini. In a short scene he could capture an entire city, culture or era without any particular need for words. To my amazement he shot most of his work in the studio, even the motorway scene in Roma (1972). “For me the studio is the place where the images you have in your imagination can be made in a totally controlled way, as a painter does on a canvas with his brush.” This is a man who let his imagination run wild but was most particular about how the fruits of his mind’s eye were portrayed. Ever wondered where the word Paparazzi comes from? Answer: from Paparazzo the photographer trying to get a shot of a famous actress descending the steps from her plane in what is arguably Fellini’s most famous film La Dolce Vita. At first the actress (played by Anita Ekberg) descends like a commoner. The photographers send her back up and she repeats the scene posing and doing all the other things a famous actress purportedly should. The icing on the cake is the director who has come to meet her frantically ushering two waiters forwards to greet her with a huge pizza. She takes a piece with the narrator commenting: “the Swede with her beautiful teeth takes a bite of this typical Italian dish. Its smell and colour symbolise our joy of life”.

Page 32

I wanted to get beyond Fellini’s fertile imagination and the iconic fountain scene from La Dolce Vita (1960)

“Whoever eats alone, eats with the devil.”

amsterdam 2013/ The Master Painter on Film— Fellini at the Eye

That made me smile. Once upon a time pizza was exotic – even sexy. Fellini said: “Sometimes I use make up and psychology to emphasise anything that may bring out the person’s psychology.” That is beautifully illustrated in I Clowns (1971). Various clips can be viewed at the exhibition. My favourite is the scene where a train full of street urchins ridicule the pompous and overdressed stationmaster. He threatens murder and is lambasted all the more. The scene is then repeated exactly but with a fag-in-mouth, tired soldier who merely stands at the stationmaster’s side. The urchins behave impeccably.

His favourite dish was risotto with oyster mushrooms and although he remained married to his wife, Giulietta Masina, all his life Fellini once said: “It is easier to be faithful to a restaurant than it is to a woman”. This love of the stomach is reflected in the dining scene in Roma. A busy trattoria on a warm evening. Everyone talking and arguing at once, tempers commensurate with the heat, and pasta in excess. A well-dressed young man comes alone to eat and is seated at the table of the owners’ friends with the comment: “Whoever eats alone, eats with the devil.” And the banter continues. Banter that merely adds to the ambience just like the noise of the traffic in the autostrada scene in Roma. It starts with the narrator’s words “A first impression of today’s Rome? Let’s take the autostrada. It circles the city like the rings of Saturn”. And in a journey of some nine minutes that ends in a colossal traffic jam it encapsulates the entire gamut of chaos that is modern Rome from hooker to hiker and everything in between. I did not leave the exhibition with a coherent story but then that was not Fellini. Yet I did acquire a richer experience of his Italy and an idea for a poem I’d like to write. Fellini inspires. I wonder how he’ll inspire you?

Fellini Exhibition summary: Title: When: Where: Until: Cost: Open:

The Master Painter on Film Until 22 September 2013 Eye, Ijpromenade 1, Amsterdam Until 12 May 2013. 12.50 euros (Museumkaart 3.50 euros) Daily 11.00 to 18.00 hours (Friday to 21.00 hours)

The Eye

Dave Thomas

Page 33

Small classes and personal attention. At the British School of Amsterdam we get to know each and every student. We provide an all-round education that develops the whole person and delivers academic success. From Early Years to Secondary School, we provide top-class British schooling for everyone from expats to locals seeking an international education. With pupils of more than 40 nationalities, the British School of Amsterdam offers a stimulating and inclusive learning environment for students aged 3 to 18. Non-native English speakers are welcome. Our curriculum leads to the respected British A-Level qualification accepted by universities worldwide. In addition to the formal academic subjects, we teach European languages including Spanish, French, German and Dutch, as well as English as a foreign language.

“The classes are small and the teachers give us a lot of attention�

Every day is an open day at the British School of Amsterdam. Why not come along and visit us? For more information, see, or contact us at +31 (0) 20 67 97 840 or


Abel Age 14 Dutch

Page 34

British Language Training Centre


English & Dutch Courses Teaching English (TEFL) Tel. 020 622 3634

40 years of graphic experience All graphic and printing services Professional assistance with all your printing demands Or teliusstraat 362hs, 1056 PV AMSTERDAM Tel: 020 6275025 / 06 27305428 E-mail: Member of The British Society of Amsterdam

Page 35

MAKOM Makom is a drop in/activity centre for the homeless run by the Rainbow Group, an Amsterdam based community and welfare organization.

Page 36

by Paul Connor Kearns Page 37

centre for the homeless/ Page 38


The Rainbow Group has long been at the

cutting edge of Amsterdam community and welfare services. Paul Connor Kearns Makom is a drop in/activity centre for the homeless run by the charmingly named Rainbow Group, which is an Amsterdam based community and welfare organization. A couple of months ago I offered my services there as a volunteer. My role at Makom is to be a dispenser of food, coffee and hopefully good cheer. The building itself is tucked away on one of the narrow elongated streets that traverse the inner city district of De Pijp. It is located next door to a large church and the building itself is owned by the church but was given over to the Rainbow Group so that it could provide a service to Amsterdam’s homeless people. I had approached Rainbow and gone to Makom with my eyes very much wide open. I had experienced homelessness myself in

the UK. I had lived hand to mouth in a tent in Greece for six months and had slept in various fields, cemeteries and bus shelters throughout Europe. Living a quixotic, itinerant life whilst I still had the youth that could make such a lifestyle bearable and, at times, even pleasurable. So, I have some degree of common experience and common ground with the men and woman who use services such as Makom and, it also transpired, with the staff and volunteers who keep Makom running on a day-to-day basis. The Rainbow Group has long been at the cutting edge of Amsterdam community and welfare services. It was established back in the mid-seventies by a bicycle-riding, >> Page 39

centre for the homeless/

compassionate priest by the name of Douwe Wouters, whose call to action very much mirrored his values and faith. At that time a large indigent community had established itself in Vondelpark. This group of people were living in the fag-end twilight of the hippy golden years. What the priest observed was that, although the people there were living freely, they were not living particularly well and were showing obvious signs of poverty, malnourishment and the ravages of excessive drug use. He and a few associates set up the Rainbow Foundation with the view of offering direct practical help to people in need. Of course Amsterdam had social issues that extended way beyond the confines of the Vondelpark and over time Rainbow grew to meet the challenge of addressing those needs. Rainbow has initiated and overseen drug-use programmes such as safe use rooms and harm minimisation strategies for addicts. Short term shelter for the homeless and ‘buddy’ programmes that offset the slow suffocation of the spirit through isolation and loneliness. Rainbow have worked with Aids sufferers, the newly arrived Surinamese community when they were very much placed on the bottom rung of Dutch society, and they have given succor and support to those working as prostitutes. This list is by no means exhaustive. Most of all, Rainbow has been a presence in the fabric of Amsterdam life. Its work has, at times, been cutting edge and, for some, challenging in its approach to dealing with the detritus of life. They have led policy makers by the nose on certain issues when such an approach was needed. Their modus operandi is both left field yet it is also deeply practical and pragmatic. As much as I enjoy Amsterdam and all of its charms, giving time at Makom has greatly enriched my Amsterdam experience. It has made a pleasant experience a substantial one. Makom embodies the spirit/ethos of practical help. Its staff are forever mindful of giving support without creating dependency. Staff are aware and, sometimes agonise over, the need for a person to be challenged in order that they continue to develop up to the point support may not be given if it was felt that the ‘support’ itself would lead to a person not fulfilling their potential or to them not utilizing their skills, experience and talents. So, practical help is always leavened with a bigger picture philosophy. Makom and Rainbow attempt to address the tomorrow as well as the now. Makom offers food, shelter, a place to visit, the comfort of routine and dependability. But, much of what it offers is subtle, tacit and potentially far reaching. Crucially, when people are in the building they are known, they have an identity. Their story, and stories, are listened to, there is a sense of belonging. Makom functions as a community, as a cobbled together family for men and women for whom such a safe harbour has often been lost. What resonates at Makom is an ethos of respect amongst staff, volunteers and customers. It can be a rough-hewn respect and it is not always stated but it is ever present and palpable. There are rules re expectation of reasonable behavior, these rules are fair minded and enforced. Page 40

This group of people were living in the fag-end twilight of the hippy golden years.

“Most Amsterdammers live in a happy myopia and don’t see these problems”

The men that I’ve spoken to who use the service view the staff and volunteers with a genuine fondness and the time they spend in that building often acts as a balm against the invisibility and the lack of respect that they endure whilst out on the streets. Makom provides craft activities, it has its own band, it has karaoke, and it has a cinema night. It provides fun along with the practical. A fellow volunteer, an Amsterdammer, told me that he had not realized that such a problem with the homeless actually existed until he had begun to work at Rainbow (he’s now been there for 13 years and is a much respected mainstay). Another volunteer, a De Pijp native, told me that she was of the opinion that most people in Amsterdam lived in a kind of happy but wilful myopia and that they didn’t see such problems because well, they didn’t need or want to see them. Interestingly, Rainbow states on their website that one in five Amsterdammers live on or below the poverty line. In a way such a lack of awareness is also a testament to Rainbows efficacy. Their PR person told me they exist to serve the community as a whole by serving those who constitute its underclass. There is no doubt that they are successful in this aim. This secular ‘church’ of practical, compassionate help is a highly effective one and everybody benefits

from its existence. Personally, I enjoy the small moments; the interactions, the smiles, the understated but ever present camaraderie that exists in Makom. For me, it is also a balm from much of what goes on outside of its doors. I always walk away feeling better for having spent a few hours there and I guess that is the principal reason why I will continue to go back. Rainbow Group has over 800 volunteers working in its various programmes and those programmes could not work effectively without those volunteers. If it interests you, climb on board you couldn’t do much better with your time. Check them out at Paul Connor Kearns

Page 41

Rain Gods save

Prinsengracht Concert Page 42




At first the umbrellas were up and the rain came down>>> Page 43

By John Richardson

Weather Gods save the Prinsengracht Concert

At first the umbrellas were up and the rain came down It looked set for the night, but the rain gods were on our side. After two hours huddled under our red brolly, the jolly rain gods took pity on us and the liquid sunshine stopped at the precise moment the musicians from the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra took their seats under the huge canopy. And so the festivities began.

125 years + 400 years = the first time

It’s the first time there has been a full orchestra at the Prinsengracht Concert. The reason for this grand gesture? The Concertgebouw Orchestra is celebrating 125 years and Amsterdam canals four hundred years.

Page 44

Specially built stage

To hold the 90 musicians, a pontoon was specially built and was laid from quay to quay just behind where the Rozengracht bridge crosses the Prinsengracht. This meant that there was less room for boats than usual, but this did not stop everyone having immense fun.

Nothing could dampen the sound of music Led by the top conductor Sir Antonio Pappano, the orchestra played a high-level, predominantly Italian, opera program. The sound quality in the damp air was remarkably good.

Oh my God it’s Joseph Calleja”, screamed my wife as we stood next to but out of sight of the stage. I had no idea she was such a fan. I scored a lot of brownie points this evening I can tell you.


Oh my God it’s Joseph Calleja

At first we could only see the side of the stage, so we only heard him. My wife suggested it was Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja singing Verdi’s “La donna è mobile”.

She was right, of course.

He was the star attraction. He also sang “Nessun dorma” from

Puccini, which had the crowd’s enthusiasm reach one of its high points.

whole concert was televised and sent out live via Radio, TV and internet.

Smoke, lighting effects and musket fire

Free Ice Cream

The most spectacular part of the evening was the 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, accompanied by smoke, lighting effects and musket fire. The plan Initially was for gun shots, but the there was not enough space. The

We finished off this remarkable evening, courtesy of Magnum, who were there handing out free ices. All the way home my wife kept saying “Oh my God I’ve just heard Joseph Calleja sing live.” I scored a lot of brownie points this evening I can tell you.

Page 45

Page 46


Britsoc food correspondent Nick Nugent Reporting from the four corners of the Amsterdam kitchen Restaurant Sla Page 47

Restaurant Review - Sla I

hope everyone has had a great holiday be it in the Netherlands with the great weather we have been having, or abroad. I spent a couple of weeks in France myself for a friend’s wedding plus a tour of the Loire valley. My car did come back 60 bottles heavier! One of the food highlights is a special salad found in the region which consists mostly of meat! The real star of the dish is Gesier which is chicken gizzards which gives real umami to the dish. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to try it if you are ever in France. The really nice weather here in the Netherlands has given me a hankering for salad here too. I think I have been to something like 200 restaurants now in Amsterdam and I have always been disappointed by the lack of choice and quality of salads that are on offer. I particularly remember one Thai beef salad at a restaurant just off Leidseplein which was particularly bad, with poor quality beef and the salad completely wilted by the hot beef placed on top. Every time I look at the salad options in most restaurants the choice is normally Caesar or Goats cheese and that is pretty much it.

On my way to meet a friend recently I passed by a restaurant called SLA and it really caught my eye, so much so that I had to go in and have lunch there. SLA as you most probably know is the Dutch word for lettuce and possibly another fact which you may not know is Coleslaw’s root is also Dutch from the words Koolsla for cabbage plus lettuce. Enough of the pub quiz trivia and what about the restaurant itself.

The concept is simple.


I took a glass of Sauvignon Blanc from Languedoc to accompany and there was free cucumber water to stave off the thirst. OK, it is just salad and it was not the most spectacular salad I have had, but for a hot day this really hit the spot. The combination of the beans, egg and bacon was like cold English breakfast keeping your mouth full of flavour. The dressing was just enough to keep the leaves interesting, but not so much to end up with a swimming pool at the bottom of the bowl. The wine was cool and crisp, but nothing too special. The restaurant does pride itself on being nearly 100% organic so the 11 euros, which I paid for this I felt was excellent value for money. You can also choose to take away and go and enjoy your salad in nearby Sarphatipark should you wish. The restaurant interior is simple to match the food, plus very light and airy due to the huge windows at the front and back of the restaurant and the high ceiling. The service model is similar to subway, if you are familiar with that, which is a human conveyor belt were you add ingredients as you go along and then take it to your table yourself. The bewildering array of ingredients does mean if you have someone in front of you who is unsure about what they want, it can hold things up a bit. The bowls they serve in are plastic, which causes a bit of a problem as your food is very light and the bowl is light you end up chasing the bowl around the table a bit. A lack of other meat options other than bacon and chicken is really the only other thing which detract from what is otherwise an enjoyable salad experience. If you have any other places which you think can rival this salad experience please drop me a line.

You can either build your own salad based on the vast array of ingredients that are on offer behind the vitrine, or you can choose one of their “Favourites” which consisted of 5 different salads. Since it was my first time and I was slightly bewildered by the choice, I decided to go for one of the preselected salads.

Contact me at

I chose the Baambrug’s Gerookt Buikspek, which consisted of different types of lettuce, mushrooms, lima beans, boiled egg, cucumber and parsley topped with crispy bacon and dressed with a vinaigrette. It was about 25C outside so this was exactly the sort of lunch I was looking for.

open 12:00 - 21:00

Page 48

SLA Centuurbaan 149 Tel: 020 7893080

By Nick Nugent Page 49

Karen Vivers

Baked Sea Bass with Lemon and Thyme

Page 50

food glorious/

Page 51

food glorious/ K

aren Vivers, originally from Scotland, has lived here in Amsterdam since 1997, and has set up the Cooking Coach to help inspire people to get back into the kitchen. The basis of the cooking lessons are easy, tasty, healthy recipes. Each course starts with a free introduction session, to make sure that you only cook what you like to eat. As well as cooking lessons, Karen offers Culinary Tours in Amsterdam, is a passionate Food Blogger and works freelance as a Culinary Consultant, specialising in small and medium businesses, helping them get started, grow and deal with commercial challenges.

Baked Sea Bass with Lemon and Thyme

You know what they say, that you should do something every day that scares you a little, puts you outside your comfort zone. Well, although I agree in principle, I think that every day is a bit much. I do try though to challenge myself regularly, sometimes by facing big fears, but mostly by facing more innocuous concerns. Of course, it almost goes without saying that I very often face those fears in the kitchen. Whether it’s an intimidating technique or ingredient, it can be very satisfying to get to grips with it. Before I go any further, I think I have to put my definition of kitchen fears into a little perspective for you. The main reason being that I have come across people, whether friends or clients, who have some really adverse reactions to types of food. I don’t mean allergic reactions, but real fear and sometimes disgust. This was something I have had to get used to when teaching people to cook, as I come from a family who would probably eat you if you sat around too long! We were definitely not squeamish about food. So, when I talk about my kitchen fears, they are not high level, but more related to new things that I haven’t tried and that look complicated. If I’m honest, with me, it’s more kitchen laziness than fear. If you don’t already know, my cooking lessons start with an introduction session. I have a chat with my new client about what they want to learn and what they like to eat, then I go off and prepare a program of recipes for their lessons. As you can imagine, I have gotten some weird and wonderful requests over the years, but that’s the fun of it for me. Having said that, there are some very common concerns and popular requests. And I reckon the phrase ‘I love fish, and would like to cook it, but don’t know how, and am afraid I will ruin it’ appears in the top ten. At the beginning of the summer I was interviewing a client who started to speak this very phrase, and as she

Page 52

spoke, I was already jotting down some recipe ideas, but then she carried on. ‘What I’d really like to do is to learn how to cook a whole fish and present it beautifully.’ I stopped writing, she had hit on one of my fears. Not the fish, not the eating of the fish, not the handling of the fish, not even the fact that it would have its head on and its eyes looking dolefully up from the plate, but the fact that I had only done this once, many years ago, and for some reason had decided it was complicated. But, I couldn’t let my client down. I carried on without missing a beat. ‘And would you prefer to do that with Asian flavours or in a more Mediterranean style?’ I asked, as If I cooked this every day. ‘Hmm, Mediterranean, I think, yes.’ She answered. I had some work to do. Before her lesson I needed to create and practice a new recipe. After some research, I decided to keep it simple and came up with Baked Sea Bass with Lemon and Thyme. I have used bass, but there are many other types of fish that you could use in this way, I have given a few ideas in the tips and variations section. Oh, and did I mention, it’s very simple and not scary at all!

Preparation Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Ingredients for 4 servings 4 x whole sea bass, cleaned, scaled, fins removed (they can be quite sharp!) each weighing about 300gr. 2 x lemons, sliced thinly 2 x tbsp olive oil 12 x spring onions, cleaned and chopped into lengths of 5cm/2in A handful of fresh thyme sprigs Salt and pepper to taste A splash of white wine (about 50ml/2 fl oz.)


1. Set the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 to heat. 2. Wash each fish thoroughly under cold running water, making sure all scales are removed. Slash the fish on each side to the bone about 4 or 5 times. This helps the flavours penetrate the fish whilst cooking and to cook evenly. 3. Line a roasting tin with aluminium foil, make sure you have enough to cover the fish loosely. Lay your fish in the tray. 4. Place the lemon slices and thyme sprigs into the body cavity of the fish. If you have any left over, you can push it gently under the fish.

food glorious/ 5. Place the spring onions over the fish, then sprinkle over the white wine and drizzle the oil over the fish as evenly as you can. 6. Add a little salt and pepper and cover the fish loosely with the aluminium foil and place in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. To check if it is cooked, insert a sharp knife into the fleshiest part of the fish, open slightly so that you can see if the meat has turned from translucent to opaque.

Tips and Variations

You could also use bream, or red mullet for this recipe. You can also use one large fish for this recipe, for 4 servings it should be about 1.5kg I like to serve with simply boiled new potatoes and salad or it is really nice with roast rosemary potatoes.



Karen realized that she had to face her fear (and her great love) – food - and take a whole new approach. This became the start of her successful and sustainable weight loss and the inspiration for her business “The Cooking Coach”. Love Food, Live Healthy is available electronically* via Amazon and will be FREE to download from Monday 16th September up to and including Friday 20th September* * The book can be downloaded to kindle and other E-readers and is compatible with tablets and smartphones as well as laptops and PCs. ** Dates and times are set by and are based on a start time of 12.00am Pacific Standard Time and an end time of 11.59pm Pacific Standard Time. Please take into consideration your local time zone when downloading your free book.

“Love Food, Live Healthy”

FREE to download from Amazon for a limited time Learn How to Cook the Healthy, Tasty Meals you WANT to Eat!

Karen has recently published her first book ‘Love Food, Live Healthy’ which is ideal if you want to eat more consciously or lose weight without compromising on flavour or your enjoyment of food. A very achievable, common sense approach to healthy eating and cooking. With over 150 no-fuss, contemporary recipes suitable for cooks of all skill levels. As well as the recipes in the book showing you what to eat, there is lots of information about how to eat to stay healthy. This book started life as a collection of recipes used by Karen to lose over 40kgs. Karen was diagnosed with a Binge Eating Disorder (B.E.D ) in 2003 and had lost and gained 100’s of kgs over her teenage and adult life.

The Cooking Coach Love Food, Live Healthy Mobile : 06 1424 0009 Email: Page 53


corner Three-legged stool

he sits squarely astride it in the kitchen corner a Humpty Dumpty shaped figure straight faced, hint of Old Spice braces straining to keep trousers around middle he’s lived in West Butterwick all his life former crane driver at Scunthorpe steel works alter server and churchwarden at St. Mary’s never mentions his War but proud of his navy son his mind runs through the day’s tasks rummaging in the junk-laden garage fiddling with the car engine shovelling a bit of coal pottering in the unkempt back garden he remembers when world maps were one-quarter pink a day out was bracing Skegness their honeymoon a week half-board in Scarborough the stool screeches over the mottled brown tiles he reaches forward to open the Rayburn door pokes the fire, picks up the toasting fork pierces a slice of homemade bread and thrusts it towards the glowing coals burning it evenly to a golden hue he passes it to me and I munch in silence as he listens to the news on Radio Humberside while pulling on his overalls “well, I’ll be off then” © Dave Thomas 2013

Dave Thomas & John Richardson Page 54

poetry/ The Royal Blood Line

We push my mother in her wheelchair to as close as we dare to the edge of the world without alarming her. We sit her next to the ruined castle to witness one of the most magnificent views in Yorkshire. We are joined by my brother and two sisters and we stare into the abyss that is the River Nidd gorge in Knaresborough. Nidd is a Celtic word for brilliant. It is my mother’s 91st birthday. Brilliant. She enthrals us with her poetry. It glides like honeyed spittle off her tongue. And drifts effortlessly down into the verdant valley. It then tiptoes serenely under the enormous railway viaduct that spans this long, narrow and sinuous river. A moment later the SMS’s buzz with the news that king George has been born. A train floats over the ancient viaduct and stops. It’s the royal train. Charles and Camilla wave at the bottomless and wooded Nidd gorge at nothing in particular. The news reaches them, and they reluctantly yet dutifully move on. My Mother’s nose twitches. “Bloody Royals” © John Richardson 2013

Page 55

Serve the City Amsterdam Interview with Brigitte Makkinje coordinator Serve the City Amsterdam

What is Serve the City Amsterdam?

A movement of volunteers serving Amsterdam in practical ways and inspiring people to be givers in this world. How did it start?

Serve the City started in Brussels in 2005 as a safe and easy way of enabling volunteers to help people in need. I volunteered to help in Rotterdam in 2006 and later in 2007 I helped set up Serve the City Amsterdam. We started with a fourday festival of projects and music: 250 helped in 40 projects. I thought the Netherlands had a really good welfare system. So why Serve the City?

Page 56

The welfare system merely ensures that those at the margins of society are kept alive. Yet unfortunately these people often experience little warmth and affection, as our modern welfare system is more focused on cost-effectiveness than providing a listening ear. Serve the City makes a difference by adding a bit of love to the lives of those we help. What is the biggest social problem in Amsterdam?

For the people we help, it is definitely loneliness. For potential volunteers it is overcoming indifference. You don’t see many needy people on the streets of

Amsterdam; they are behind closed doors. That makes our lives ‘easy’ as then we are not confronted by their needs. Serve the City’s website states: “If you can’t serve 100 people, serve just one.” Is that drop in the ocean worthwhile?

What matters is that everyone we help feels loved. That could be the drug addict whose home we cleared up and renovated. He has now been clean for two years and we still have contact with him. Or an individual with a learning disability and a mental age of 8 who now enthusiastically welcomes volunteers on our project days.

By Dave Thomas


What matters is that everyone we help feels loved.

The people we help are valuable individuals with a face and a life story and the volunteers who get involved discover that giving can be a life-enriching experience. Who do you help in your projects?

All sorts of people. The homeless, drug addicts, the elderly, people with learning disabilities but also the general public through simple acts of kindness like handing out bottles of water to joggers or helping tourists find the way. How do you come into contact with people in need?

We have developed good relationships with the Salvation Army, social workers, old people’s homes and day centres for people with a learning disability. Nearly all of our projects develop through these contacts. Who are your volunteers?

Mostly people aged 20 to 40 something from all different backgrounds. Families also sign up. For example, kids can help out with

baking pancakes for the homeless or visiting residents of old people’s homes.

possibilities for helping the elderly, as many of them do not speak English.

How can I help?

Can my company get involved?

Go to our website, click on the tab ‘projects’ and sign up for one of our project days. Projects are listed a month or so before the next project day. Project days are always on a Saturday and around holidays and the next dates are 14 September, 2 November, 21 December and 4 January. Once you have signed up you will receive further details by e-mail. A project day starts with coffee at 09.30. Volunteers receive a Serve the City T-shirt and clear instructions about the project. The days end at 17.00 and we then often have a meal together during which volunteers can share their experiences with each other. So sign up, give it a try! But I can’t speak Dutch

Don’t worry. You can still help out on most of the projects. However, a lack of Dutch might limit your

Yes, we produce tailored programmes for interested companies. For example, KLM and the Amsterdam police have both been involved in Serve the City projects. Finally, how has Serve the City impacted your life?

I started my career as a financial consultant. However, I discovered that giving is a real gift and I now work full time for Serve the City. This work has made me more open and less judgemental. It has also made me realise how easy it is to help someone. It is not about your talents but about simply being there for somebody. Such a simple act of human kindness can make a world of difference. Page 57

Two petite pink potbellied pigs wearing pink lipstick sit under a Japanese cherry blossom tree and chat up the pink panther Page 58