I‘ve been here a long time in the Netherlands now and I have learnt that there are some things that the Dutch do well. In fact there are a lot of things the Dutch do well.
Here are eight things that the Dutch could specifically teach the English a thing or two about……
1. How to Celebrate Defeat
The fact that the Dutch actually lost to the Spaniards in the World Cup 2010 final didn’t make much of a difference to the after party. It was amazing. For one afternoon, everyone actually forgot that the Dutch football team had not brought the World Cup home. Even the Dutch media stood firmly behind celebrating the Dutch team’s defeat. It’s something that I am sure would never have happened in England; the media would have slaughtered the English team for losing the final and the English would have used the opportunity to revel in defeat – simply more fodder to moan about.
2. How to do a National Holiday
When the Dutch party on a national scale, the Dutch really party. The King’s birthday (formerly the Queen’s birthday which wasn’t actually her birthday at all) is all the excuse the Dutch need to celebrate. The country turns orange, is adorned with flags and everyone takes to the streets. The English like to pace themselves, celebrating in this fashion perhaps once every 25 years coinciding with a jubilee of the British Queen. There was a knees up was in 1977 and then one in 2012 – I’m guessing there won’t be one in 2037…… St. George’s day, the national day of England, is still lacking any form of real celebration.
3. How to Tell It Like It is
The dutch don’t hold back when it comes to speaking their mind. If they think it, they say it. Known for their bluntness, the Dutch make the English look like stuttering fools in the department of expressing their thoughts.
4. How to Balance Work & Life
The Dutch have got work life balance down to a fine art. Not that they are slackers. Not at all. It’s just that whilst the English are contemplating life over their second cup of coffee at the breakfast table, the Dutch are already at their desks. And have been for hours. It means they can leave the office earlier and spend time with their families in the late afternoon/ early evening. The English have a long hours work culture – the longest work week in Europe in fact. Guess which nation scores well in every happiness survey going…..
5. How To Greet Strangers
From doctors’ and dentists’ waiting rooms to elevators, the Dutch don’t hesitate to greet the entire waiting room or lift as they come in – loudly and confidently. The English on the other hand are masters of pretending that no other human being exists within a radius of half a kilometre. They put their heads down and stare at their feet. Should any sound pass their lips it is a bumbling mumble.
6. How to Give Flowers
The Dutch do flowers so much better than the English. In fact, the Dutch do flowers better than any other nation. They don’t need an excuse or special occasion to adorn their houses with flowers. Dutch men don’t need a reason to buy the women in their lives flowers. They are cheap and in abundance (the flowers, not the women). The Dutch have made a tourist industry (as well as an economy) out of flowers. Many English men, however, still think they need to do something terribly wrong before they give their partners flowers – or wait for a special occasion.
7. How to Take the Work Out of Dinner Parties
When the Dutch host dinner parties they cleverly leave the cooking to their guests by getting the fondue or gourmet out. The English make hard work of making a three course meal they wouldn’t attempt under normal circumstances.
8. How to do Post-Natal Care
Supplying a maternity nurse (kraamzorg) for the week after childbirth is part of the course in the Netherlands. It’s one of the things I loved most about the birth process. Every mother is entitled to post-natal care that makes other nations green with jealousy. In England you are sent home from the hospital after a few days and left to discover the essentials of baby care for yourself.