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The International Writers Magazine: Life Stories

De Rode Molen
Diana Goss

‘Sure Mike, I’m already here, Ok, Ok sure…. I’ll see you soon… I’ll just wander round till you get here….’

Waiting in front of the big red Windmill at the Piet Mondrian exhibition at the National Gallery I failed to realise how much power that magical motherly shape still held over me. It’s billowing sails began to rotate sucking me into a magical world of big and small where the aroma of Douwe Egberts coffee filled my nostrils, mixed with strong cigarette smoke.
Met with the grinding of coffee mills set upon the wall, hearing the magnificent crunch of the beans when being lifted up to turn the handle. Opening the glass drawer underneath to see the results of my efforts, which were then poured into a small robot on the stove whilst eager aunts’ await the boiling water bubbling up over the grains.

The openness of the homes, all windows and space. Great big uncles with kindly faces and deep voices. Grinning aunts with plates of cake and lots of children. Hours of biscuit dipping around the kitchen table, which was frequently dealt a hefty blow by a clenched hand, sharply followed by a puzzling guffaw. The gruffness in tone of the harsh language. Shower rooms and no baths. Sheds full of bikes that anyone could ride that magically brake when you back peddle. Special paths to feel safe on when you ride them. My grandfathers pipe and pipe cleaning brush; black felt trousers and clogs on a bike with the hugest of chrome wheels and a basket big enough for a pig. Duvets and bedding hanging out the windows. The never-ending teapot… "geen melk, geen melk". Potatoes with everything, on a dining table big enough for at least a hundred people or more. Chocolate vermicelli on bread for breakfast, yoghurt in milk bottles delivered to the door. Coca-cola lorries delivering…well…. Coke, 7 up and Fanta and, and, and…Chips with mayonnaise, not ketchup.

With eyes wide open, not my mouth… watching my father at the market dipping raw fish in raw onion, head tilted backwards dropping it into his open mouth so it fell down his throat, as if touching it with his tongue was strictly forbidden. Uncles clapping their great big hands loudly at this amazing feat, then surprisingly all copy him.

Being pulled round markets of socks that fit and cardigans with long enough sleeves. Scissors ripping through rolls of material with acceptable and appealing designs, to be sewn into dresses with rolls of cotton that perfectly match and finished with zips that don’t break and much more suitable buttons. Shoes that were wide enough, knee length socks that did reach my knees. Jumpers that were warm enough. Coats that were thick enough, long enough and school trousers that reached past my brother’s ankles. Sweets given freely by shop-keepers without ever having to ask.

The fervent gathering of balls of cheese wrapped in plastic skin all colours and shapes, round and orange, oval and red, speckled yellow and flat like waiting for some major game to be played. Jars of herring drowned in vinegar, some rolled up impaled with a wooden stake, some flat and upright held in the jar like they were caught in the act of swimming out as the sharp vinegar was poured in on top of them.

Mercedes cars and Volkswagens; that smell of new leather. Heineken beer caps popping off during noisy discussion about the Ajax football team. The Palace of Soestdijk and the day everything turns orange. The Polders. The ‘dreringen’ brewery in Amersfoort, the canal ride under Mondrians house with the little square panes of glass changed by the sun to various shades of purple…………

‘Hi Diana, you’re here…wow look at that red windmill…’ wiping away a sorrowful yet melancholic tear I see my brother standing next to me…how long had he been there?….how long had I been gone?

© Diana Goss October 2007
Diana at

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