“The devil shits Dutchmen,” complained Sir William Batten in 1667 as he watched the English fleet burning in the Thames estuary.
The famous British naval administrator was exasperated by Dutch challenges to English rule in the east Indies, on the high seas, and now even at home.
While few would accuse the Netherlands of having an overly aggressive foreign policy today, at least part of Sir Batten’s observation continues to hold true—the Dutch are everywhere.
A new contingent of guests arrived today at York Lodge. While not all proper Dutchmen, five of my seven fellow diners were Dutch speakers—two government officials from The Hague, the Belgian diamond trader who also joined us yesterday, an American teacher who has lived in Antwerp for nine years, and an Afrikaner.
Unsurprisingly, dinner conversation focused on the idiosyncrasies of the various Dutch dialects.
The only internationally recognized Dutch word, of course, is apartheid. But none of us felt inclined to bring this to the attention of our non-Dutch-speaking table mates.