Sunday, March 5, 2017

Toyota dashboard memories

Waiting for my father, sitting in the passenger seat of his new 1970 Toyota Corolla, I was quietly admiring the beauty of the modern dash of the small car. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder for sure, but that simple white metal dash with its two big gauges surrounded by a piece of black plastic, looked like nothing else in the entire automotive world for me as a young 12 year old at that moment. Because this was my father's first new car in many years. And with each subsequent new car, at an average interval of every two years back then, I witnessed progress in technology and luxury. How easily satisfied we were.

A Japanese family happily enjoying their late 1960s Corolla.
The 1970 car my father owned for a couple of months had a slightly different grille.

Of course, that Corolla was not a marvel of advancement. It was modestly handsome, and the Japanese early fame for offering a lot for bargain money was somehow lost on this car. It offered nothing. Not even headrests. And this Corolla did not last long with us. It was part of the household for a mere three months. When my father ordered his car, nobody knew that a new Corolla, the swoopy 1971 model, was waiting to be launched. And boy, was that new model an improvement over the old one. Flashy styling, bigger, and my father immediately felt old school with his 1970 Corolla. Since he worked at a Toyota dealership, he could order the new 1971 model while selling the 1970 Corolla without a loss. So, what did bring the 1971 car us, except new styling? Well, actually not a lot. Still the rear wheel drive setup with leaf springs at the back and recirculating ball steering. But wait, there was nylon carpeting and two vents at the far ends of the dash, which was now a black plastic affair. And the seats had fixed headrests, which made this car's cabin look like nothing else available then. Otherwise, there was nothing. No rear window demister. No tinted windows. No trim. Not even seat belts. But to compensate all that, it was bright yellow! “I saw your dad driving a big car”, someone in my class said to me. “What is it?” Well, a Corolla...

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Tucker Tesla – no future for Elon Musk's cars

Elon Musk spoke, and European countries have a nervous breakdown. Tesla is planning a 'megafactory' in Europe. No surprise that every country and region is flirting with Tesla now. Poor Brexit Britain, it disqualified itself, but for the others it will be a winter and spring full of suspense until Mr. Musk will speak again. And to the winner I will say, enjoy it while it lasts. Because anyone who is familiar with the Tucker story, knows how the Tesla adventure will end. Musk and his companies will be there in our future, but Tesla won't. So, if you want a Tesla megafactory within your borders, you better start thinking about future re-employment and outsourcement programs as well. 

Tesla Model S

I have never driven a Tesla Model S. Frankly, I'd love to be behind the wheel of one, if only for an hour. The Tesla Model S has become a common car on Dutch roads, helped by massive tax incentives. Apparently, it is even the best selling car in Norway. Which is cheeky, since Norway was the homeland of an early, small and capable electric vehicle, the Th!nk. Yes, that acclamation mark is correct, that's what the marketing guys came up with. Briefly owned by Ford, but when it was on its own feet again, it stumbled. Too bad, I've seen 'm managing high and steep Swiss mountain roads.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Alma mater friendship in a box

True friendship lasts forever. We, six college students, were convinced of that when we graduated one by one in the cause of one year 33 years ago. When we enrolled at the Leiden University to study political sciences, we became close friends that shared our college lives in that old Dutch academic city. Six young people, two female and four male, of complete different backgrounds and all with our own individual outlooks on life, somehow managed to be a very coherent group. That would never change.

Or so we thought. But life interfered. Even though our friendship did not evaporate, it surely faded. Career, relations, moves, maturing, it all contributed to the lack of interaction that followed. I'm sure we are not unique in that, many will recognize this unintentional change of emotions that happen, without any real conviction how to prevent it. Even though some friends occasionally got together at special events – a wedding, a priest ordination, a funeral - true friendship was not reactivated for many, many years.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Een vrouwonvriendelijk verhaal


“Het spijt me van het lawaai. Maar ik denk dat ze wel gauw weer naar huis gaan,” aldus de eigenaresse van een tot theehuis omgebouwde boerderij ergens in Midden Delfland. Niet dat ik ook maar ergens over had geklaagd, maar ze had er zelf kennelijk ook genoeg van. Zij doelde op een groep van acht tot tien jonge vrouwen, die zich tegoed deden aan de grootste gruwel die de horeca de afgelopen jaren heeft voortgebracht: de high tea.

Er bestaat een nieuw soort Jonge Vrouwen. De High Tea-ers. Wie niets meer kan bedenken, gaat aan de high tea. Want zo stond dat in de Viva, in print of online. Zet een groep jonge vrouwelijke twintigers bij elkaar die tegenwoordig nog maar amper de 'r' kunnen uitspreken, geef ze thee met scones en het eind is zoek. Een nieuw menselijk ras is ontstaan, een gestileerde versie van de lallende jonge mannen in een bar. Jonge vrouwen tussen de 20 en 30 jaar nemen het publieke domein over. Ze hebben geen begrip voor de mensen om hen heen, want die bestaan gewoon niet. Vooral niet wanneer ze in een groep verkeren. Ze lijden dan aan een spontane autistische aanval. Ze zijn luidruchtig. Ze drinken muntthee of latte macchiato, de eigentijdse vrouwendrankjes bij uitstek. Ze lachen keihard. Ze praten allemaal tegelijk. Ze hebben het over collega's en werk of over hun vrienden waar ze nu een middag van zijn verlost. Dat er ook nog anderen zijn die in alle rust van hun lunch willen genieten, gaat er bij hen niet in. De rokers zijn de horeca uitgegaan, de high tea-ers kwamen erin.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Retro Man

The Opel hostess at the recent Amsterdam Auto Show was overly enthusiast. She was young, dressed like you expect a hostess is dressed and regarded me as a possible Opel client. While all I was doing was admiring the colour scheme of the small Adam hipster, a 1970s combo of beige and brown. 'Do you like the car, sir?' she asked. 'I love the color,' I answered in true honesty. Her reply hit me like a bullet. 'Yes, a bit like your style, retro.' 

The writing is on the wall. There's no denying. We can tell ourselves we still look good for our age, but other people tell us the truth. Grin and bare it. It would have been a fun story to tell on parties, if not just a few weeks later a similar situation confronted me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Windturbines en domme toeristen

 De afgelopen Pinksterdagen bracht ik door in Bad Bentheim, Duitsland. Gelukkig op tijd kamers gereserveerd, want het hele dorp zat vrijwel vol. Nu is dat vreemd, tenminste in de ogen van het Katwijkse college en haar volgzame en napratende raadsleden, die gelukkig voor het college vergeten zijn wat het concept van dualisme in de politiek inhoudt. Want het wemelt rond Bad Bentheim van de windturbines. Op de foto slechts vijf van de circa 100 windturbines die je zo rondom het symapthieke plaatsje ziet staan.

Het moeten dus allemaal wel domme toeristen zijn, mijzelf inbegrepen, die niet begrijpen dat je daar niets te zoeken hebt als je oergevoel van het vrije uitzicht je lief is. Britse vakantievierders hebben ze ook niet allemaal op een rijtje. Voor de kust van de Engelse badplaats Sheringham ligt een hekwerkwindmolenpark, dat te vergelijken is met wat hier voor de Katwijkse kust zal verrijzen. Iets lagere turbines, maar wel nog dichter bij de kust. Allemaal domme toeristen daar in de hotelletjes en de vele caravanparken. Ze begrijpen ook helemaal niet dat hun vakantiebeleving volkomen is bedorven.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

1944 - Finland... Saunaland!

Finland... Saunaland! A claim nobody can deny. But bizarre when it is the title of book, that was published in 1944 in The Netherlands. That leaves you with questions. And they will never be answered. So, I just had to buy this little book. Not only because I am a convinced advocate of the Finnish style sauna, but maybe more so since this is such a peculiar book on a very un-Dutch topic in that era. 

Author Sjoerd Brandsma was a Dutch journalist who spent a number of years in Finland. It was there where he got acquainted with this country's landmark culture and learned about the physical and mental benefits of sweating it all out at 90 degrees. The professor he asked to write the foreword was a bit skeptical about the possibilities of how sauna would conquer the Low Countries, but I suppose the author could not be picky here.