This is a famous quote which I am sure many of you know meaning, ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’ spoken by Julius Caesar in 47 BC. He spoke and wrote these words after his victory at Pontus, the battle of Zeta.

Victor Hugo, a famous French poet, wrote the words in French (of course!) for his daughter:

‘je suis venu, j’ai vu, j’ai vécu’.

Now for those of you who remember like me at Grammar School spending many totally boring hours learning Latin, the reason why at the time escaped many of us, I now realize in my adult life and especially as a writer, how important Latin was and also how many words are derived in current day languages from Latin.

The Roman Empire is something we have all learnt about too at school, or maybe later at university, about how the Romans overtook a large portion of the world, using mainly violence, murder and even genocide, something sadly still going on anno. 2024. This theory followed the Viking pillage and plundering many centuries before.

So how is this famous quote related to my blog today. Well, I found myself saying it several times this weekend and the reason why is a follows:

I have been lucky to have been the owner (since 2001) of a lovely small stone cottage about 100 meters from a small beach on the Grevelingen Lake on the SW coastal islands of The Netherlands. I have told you in my previous blogs that I was born and bred in England and moved here some forty odd years ago. Right from the start it was very clear to me that if I was going to make a success of a new lifestyle here (when I originally came to work because of my native English) there would only be one way forward. Learn the language. It just makes it so much easier long term to speak the lingo, in your contacts, the way you express yourself etc., and even though you will always retain your accent, it is in my opinion, the only thing to do when relocating to another country.  I am lucky despite the boring hours reciting Latin verbs at school that I can pick up languages easily and I am not afraid to try, even if I make mistakes. I now have knowledge of French, Italian and Spanish and even though I cannot have an easy conversation mainly because of the speed the people speak, I can at least make an effort, greet people in the morning and evening and say please and thank you. Which are good manners don’t you agree?

So, where I live is a small group of houses (42 to be exact) in a parkland area. Many owners are Germans who bought these houses ‘yonks ago’ when they were built but have made no effort whatsoever to learn Dutch. It is obligatory in this park to be a member of a Resident’s Association because there are certain facilities which we pay for in a group situation, like street lighting etc. 

Every year around Easter time my heart begins to sink because on Easter Saturday is the annual meeting of the RA and I am subjected to hours of incessant boring German language. Even though it is a Dutch RA, on Dutch ground and in The Netherlands. I can tell you without any shadow of doubt if this was a park situated in Germany no effort would be made to speak either English or Dutch. Over the years living here, it amazes me that the majority of Germans don’t even speak English at all. It may not be the number one world language anymore, with Spanish and Chinese being spoken by the majority of people, but all the same. And of course, we Brits, and I know this is a bad attitude, expect that everyone just speaks English.

So, at the meetings which I find a complete waste of time, mean that every single idea or suggestion is always decided by the Germans being in the majority and the Dutch people (all 8 of us) are simply wasting our time being there. And to make matters even more frustrating, the Germans only come for a maximum of 2-3 months a year anyway. Meaning in the winter this is like a small ghost village and do we mind? No, we love the peace and quiet to be honest. Germans are in the main very loud and very present and very annoying.

And I have a good example. This weekend two people rang my doorbell. They introduced themselves as my new neighbors, they have bought the house behind mine and even though I have to credit them with the effort they made to speak Dutch, I found myself being confronted with the title of my blog. He told me that he was going to take down all the fencing and shrubs (including conifers which have been there since the houses were built in 1985) and replace it with what I can only describe as the ugliest fencing ever and often seen in prisons and detention centers, made up from black plastic! He went on to tell me that he had a small dog, who did not get on with cats and I thought, well ‘good luck chuck, I have a cat and my other neighbors have 3’. He was going to plant Portuguese Laurier. I found myself at a loss for words and told him when I had regained myself that I did not agree to him just taking down the established fence and shrubs and replacing it with the ugly black plastic fencing. But as my title said, this is so typical of the German attitude. They arrive, they see, they say, and they conquer! And, excuse the language: ‘to hell with what anyone else thinks’. (This was the polite version by the way).

On Saturday I went to his house and told him again that I did not agree to him taking down the existing situation and also spoke to the man (from the local firm) who would be carrying out the work who I have known for 23 years. 

I then wrote a letter in Dutch to the new neighbor saying in words that I did not agree, and he could do what he likes on his side of the fence, but he cannot remove my fence. Now it just so happens that because this has been here in place for more than 20 years that the law protects you. Thank goodness I may add. The rules as such have expired and therefore things can be left just as they were. 

I, like many here, am fed up to the back teeth of this attitude as per my title. The days have long gone when the Germans overruled Europe and carried out atrocities and murdered millions of people to create a world of the ‘perfect Arian race’. The majority of people like me were maybe not even born in the world war years, but it is as if it is imprinted on their DNA how their attitude is. And that everyone should bend and buckle down, to their words, wants and needs.

Well, I don’t think so! I have now had to contact my lawyer and make a case that if he as much chops off a twig on my side of the fence, then I will have to take legal action and having had this house for the 23 years I have already said, would it be fair to say, this is too much.

Who do these people actually think they are? Is the question which comes to my mind. Is it so that you buy a house and make the rules? Wouldn’t it be more correct to, of course be free to buy the house, but not to come blabbering at the front door of your neighbor demanding that your wishes be carried out. It really takes the biscuit.

And as for the RA. Well useless, I wrote, and emailed and they wanted to sit down and have a talk. No point, I have made my case, no is my answer, and I am not buckling down to anyone who thinks they can Veni, Vidi Vici. No way!! All very stressful.

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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