Press the buttons of Gouda humour
Gouda is a Dutch a city imagined by most to be simply picturesque and the name of a cheese. Blogger Persephone Abbott, who resides in the heart of the old city, has another take.
Gouda is often represented in the national press as the most criminal city in Holland. I've been told that during the night there are only two squad cars available for the entire region in and around Gouda. This may account for the multitudes of nocturnal auto break-ins---as many as12 the other night.
There is a particular parking lot next to the modern retirement home that is strewn with piles and luminescent traces of pale green glass; as if a transparent ‘magic mole' has been rooting around the grounds. The parking lot is in a blind spot. It's a pity that insomniac seniors don't have any surveillance points over it. (I wonder how many techno savvy senior citizens are associated with BurgerNet .)
Gouda: The market square with the gothic city hall
The city has a long tradition it what one may call financial folly, which even now might end up in their selling off monumental buildings. Gouda was bankrupt at least once, back about the time when a great flux of immigrants from Morocco came to Northern Europe. No-one wanted them, and it seems that Gouda made a deal.
Something about fixing up the city hall springs to mind. There are a lot of people with Moroccan backgrounds living in this area, once referred to by a group of teenaged Dutch women with obvious mixed ethnic background I overheard chatting on a bus heading during train strike for Gouda, as "Little Morocco". The Moroccan immigrants get targeted as the culprits of many of the criminal activities in Holland in large and small general terminology. Not without some factual evidence either. However, not all the people I have seen late at night loitering about the parking lot peering into the backs of parked cars looked ‘dark and swarthy', or ‘foreign' to the Netherlands.
The city of Gouda tries to keep what they think of as reasonable relations with the Moroccan community. They fund a big Moroccan party on New Year's Eve, for instance. They make sure that the candidates that need to fulfil their inburgering (integration) courses get to class on time because there is ‘taxi money' available. The idea of taxi coupons being handed out to Moroccan immigrants incenses some locals as most ‘native' Dutch people get around by bike. All sorts of little news items like this appear from time to time in the national news peppering Gouda's battered image.
The city hall in Gouda is one of Gouda's glories. It sits like a Gothic jewel box smack in the centre of the main city "square", a square more like an egg in form. The Renaissance Period added a porch to it, complete with two half-naked gentlemen in stone holding up the porch pillars on their manly heads, kindly cushioned by folding chunks of rounded rock to ease the load.
Gouda, City Hall: Porch detail
Last year on April Fool's Day, a local paper printed an article about city officials being sent to a convention to learn to identify which kind of dog poop could be found in the park to better hand out fines to the owners of specific dogs. This year on 1 April, there was a long article about the city of Gouda on the verge of voting on whether to sell the Gothic city hall to better finance newer endeavours. Actually, these stories seem almost credible. I heard the echoes in the neighbourhood. It briefly crossed my mind that the building could be made into a real estate mogul office, a casino, a brothel....or any combination of the above. A real money spinner that would cement a total descent into all round criminality, but it's just my own musings on a local newspaperman's whimsical fantasy.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons and Flickr © Qiou87
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