Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bad news for the Dutch

The Provencal market trader is a verbose sort and when business is quiet he’s likely to sound off about all sorts of things - Pertuis’ new potato confrerie, illegal Luberon raves and of course foreigners.

I’d have thought the Americans would be public enemy number one - Iraq, George Bush, and global warming - there’s more than enough material to fill half an hour of idyll gossip, but no. Although the Americans take a hit for their inability to learn how to even say “Bonjour,“ or “Merci,“ without doubt, and rather surprisingly to me, it’s the Dutch who are the least welcome tourists in Provence.

In the local imagination Holland is little more than a massive car park for camper vans. Apparently all that flat land makes an easy marshalling point for these white tanks before they bulldoze their way south laden with cans of Amstel and a month’s supply of Edam. The last thing any self respecting Dutch person would do on holiday is buy any regional produce - so my fellow traders rant - instead they illegally park their vans in the municipal parking - who needs to pay for a campsite when there’s a parking so close? And who cares if the residents have to lug their shopping and their children a couple of hundred metres to get to their houses? Camp chair in the next door parking space, country of origin proudly displayed by a bumper sticker, the Dutch sit under the trees, congratulating themselves on their ability to holiday on the cheap.

“Never ever spend any time serving the Dutch,” my neighbouring trader continues. “They’ll taste absolutely everything you have on offer, they’ll talk to you for hours and prevent you from engaging with other customers, and then they’ll just walk off. Forget “oursins” in the pocket (see blog dated May 22nd) the Dutch have whopping great Portuguese men of war. If their fingers so much as stray near a spare euro, they risk being stung to death. No wonder they don’t spend anything,” my neighbour concludes triumphantly.

He’s on such a roll that I hate to tell him I’ve always found the Dutch rather pleasant.

Finally apologies to anyone who came to see us in Ansouis market on Sunday, as you’ll have noticed we bunked off. Our excuse - the weather was a little bit iffy and there was water jousting to watch in Cuceron.

Health and Safety prevents this type of thing in England, which is a shame because as a betting spectacle it beats greyhound racing - Two boats with outboard motors line up at the opposite end of a stretch of water, and members of the crew stand on a podium mounted at the stern, holding a wooden lance. Then, you guessed it, the pilots cut the outboard motors loose and the two water knights hurtle towards each other. Carnage follows. The event was eventually won by a stocky young girl, whose low centre of gravity, much to the chagrin of the competing boys, prevented anyone from dislodging her.