Well everyone, next Monday (8thApril) I have been invited to attend my own naturalization ceremony with the local Mayor. Coffee and cakes and then the big moment when I become a citizen of the kingdom of The Netherlands.
The literal meaning of the word is: the admittance of a foreigner (me then the British citizen) to the citizenship of a country.
Also, which is rather nice, there are two of us next Monday, both ‘Brexit’ people as the invitation states. So someone else going through the exact same procedure as me.
After the ceremony we will then be eligible to apply for a Dutch passport and still retain our British ones. Good.
My favourite dictionary goes on to say: the naturalization process can be intimidating? What? Why? I actually have met the local mayor who is a very nice person and I cannot imagine for one moment that a thought of ‘intimidation’ will come up in my mind.
We will see how it all goes, taking my daughter with me, only available family member to accompany me and my granddaughter as well.
And all because of a complete no effect referendum two years ago. I have seen that several other more ‘prominent’ Brits like me here, have taken the same decision, because I no longer believe that there is a single person alive on this planet who has a solution to the ‘stale mate’ about Brexit. So much has been written on this subject and yes I understand completely all about British pride and their longing to once more be an independent island. Probably if we were all totally honest people in other EC countries would prefer to leave the fiasco known as the EEC.
The thing that struck me on the endless reports in the newspapers, on the radio, on television is the lack of tolerance political leaders have for one another. Doesn’t really matter which country you are referring to or how high they are in the EEC ranks, but I seem to remember years ago, that the sole purpose of forming an EEC was to create a common community bond on many facets. Listening to other EC politicians and in particular to the totally useless PM for The Netherlands, Mark Rutte, it amazed me how outspoken he was about the Brits and ‘that they must just get on with it’. Excuse me; I seem to remember that the Dutch King and Queen whilst in Buckingham Palace were both talking to QE II about the close relationship between the two countries. Is it me? Or do you agree? This is just what I mean.
Tolerance, help, advice, suggestions, compassion, and empathy you name it but forget it. Just let them all get on with it!
Yes, there is frustration that grown up people cannot under any circumstances seem to agree about anything. Thankfully the Speaker at the House of Commons, John Bercow is the only person who puts a smile on your face when he says one more time ‘the no’s have it, the no’s have it!’
Each and every single vote on whatever compromise ends in yet another dead lock. I truly believe that they will not sort this out next century, let alone this one. We shall see.
Another word, which is in my mind today, is: Justice. I think I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs about being taken to court about my house. Not the one I live in now, but one I sold way back in 2013. Yes, 6 years ago.
This is far too long a story to tell in one simple blog, because to be honest I could write a book about it. Before the actual sale and all the legal ‘kerfuffle’ went through, the new buyers had a building survey done. The result of said survey was that the house, including 3 extensions was perfectly in order and based on this, they went ahead and bought it.
End of story you may think! Sadly no!
A year later there seemed to be a problem involving cracks and we were immediately threatened with a very offensive legal letter that it was basically our fault and large sums of money were mentioned because it had to be repaired and was spoiling their enjoyment in the house. What a lot of nonsense.
Let’s just step back: Justice is about the quality of being fair and reasonable. The administration of the law or authority to maintain same. You are all very familiar I am sure with the so-called statue of Justice, I am sure. A woman blindfolded holding a upright sword in one hand and scales in the other. In other words, a person, who does not take sides and bring the justice into balance for both parties.
So to continue: years have passed by and so many people have done surveys, that I now have two completely full Lever Arch files of the correspondence. In fact, it is absolutely impossible even if you wade through the masses of reports to find a conclusion. As a writer I actually consider myself (and please correct me if I am wrong) that I possess the ability to create a fairly short concise summary about something! Well I try to at least.
The whole thing boiled down to the fact that in 2000 the third and final extension to the house had, as is normal here in The Netherlands, been underpinned with special supporting poles. It is completely normal practice here (because let’s face it more than half the country is under sea level) and yes of course, I did not do the work myself, it was all done and carried out under very strict control by the local council too, by a well-known builder and several sub-contractors.
In some or other way, and for a multitude of reasons, rain, storm, extreme dry summers, harsh winters, a tree close by, the vibration of traffic in the road and so on and so, something has happened in the ground that has caused some form of subsidence meaning that the whole extension is gradually pulling forwards away from the original house and subsiding.
Let’s be honest, this entire planet is constantly moving and under the effects of all the elements.
In the final technical report someone said that the underpinning poles were not long enough? And that could be the reason for the subsidence.
But please someone tell me how do you compare a situation in 2000 to one 18 years later when the report was written. Or even better, how could the man who put in the original supporting poles know, 18 years ago that the ground would have moved for whatever reason. He is not a bloody psychic!
The upshot is, that is has to be repaired and that is going to cost money. A lot of money!
Yesterday was the day; the ‘official’ hearing in court. Well for those of you who might know the building in The Hague, this has to be the most depressing building on this planet. Situated on the edge of a busy motorway leading into the city (parking impossible) and after the usual heavy security checks you come into a place with long dark corridors, low almost claustrophobic, ceilings and rooms going off in all direction. It is a mass of lawyers, wearing their black frocks and white bibs and people waiting and looking very harassed. The energy is incredibly negative and probably for a good reason, as this is stressful even for the toughest.
There was so much paperwork, so after several sessions of stopping the ‘hearing’ we were almost pushed into making some form of settlement.
The thought sprung to my mind that perhaps way back in 2014 if the buyers had contacted us directly this would have been solved years ago, because we would have of course contacted the man who originally put in the poles and he would undoubtedly have been insured to put it right if necessary.
So all this Justice and hours and hours spent by lawyers and believe me the buyer’s lawyer was awful and really someone who put shame to the profession (and yes I hope you read this blog Mr. Meeusen) Constantly interrupting, almost shouting from one side of the room to the other and so on and glaring aggressively all the time.
Then back into the dismal corridor again so that a sort of ‘bartering’ session begins, almost makes you feel that you are at the market and bidding on the price of food. We make a suggestion; they come back with their offer, to and fro and then stalemate. No deal.
The judge stepped in and said: ‘split the difference’ and within minutes the clerk is typing up some sheet to be signed and that’s it. All done and shut up and pay up.
I am left with the idea this morning that this is all so totally unfair. I mean how can the judicial system work when (as an example) someone who is drunk knocks down and kills a family (two grandparents and a small child) out on their bikes cycling and gets a sort of punishment helping in the community of a number of hours and then we get penalized heavily financially to pay for the repairs for something we have not done or in any way been responsible for. You tell me! We knew nothing about. Just acted in good faith at the time, that the extension had been done properly and under supervision and everything was perfect until 2014, one year after the fact we were no longer owners.
Sorry Mrs Justice, you may have been blindfolded but your scales yesterday were certainly not in balance at all. My faith in the system has gone. Take off the blindfold and pay more attention and make sure that judges are fairer. That the final adjudication is right. I will only say that I am grateful and as I always say, there is always something positive in even the darkest depths, as from tomorrow we will no longer have anything to do with the buyers (thank God) and the chapter is closed. Even if the entire house falls into a pile of rubble when they start the repair work, it is no longer anything to do with us (big sigh of relief).
Obviously for now, this is the end of me having my ‘little carp on’ about it and it will be continued. We will HAVE to pay the money and then try in some or other way try to get it compensated from the people who built it in the first place. Don’t hold your breath! I am not either. Just feeling nauseous, that the so-called fair judicial system is such crap.
I want to end with a smile so here goes: The no-no’s have it; the no-no’s have it!
Images: Google Images and Hilversum Council 2013.