We knew Koninginnedag (‘Queens Day’ if you’re not Dutch) was coming days ago. There were orange streamers in the streets, silly orange hats for sale in the shops, flower stalls selling only orange tulips. In Dirk van den Broek supermarket I met a 10 year old boy buying 20 dozen eggs. ‘Making omelettes for Koninginnedag?’ I asked. ‘No, people can throw eggs at my brother. He stands with his head in a hole and people try to hit him. One euro for three eggs.’ Kids can make money in lots of inventive ways.
My favourite this year was ‘throw a smurf’. The country that gave us Vermeer and van Gogh also gave us reality TV’s Big Brother and Vader Abraham’s smurfs. In a Dutch variation on the coconut shy, kids could pay a modest fee to hurl a fluffy stuffed smurf at members of the royal family smiling at them from a pyramid of Droste cocoa tins.
The royals are still popular though. On the telly we watched as Queen Beatrix led her family through Zeeland to great applause. You may remember last year’s tragedy when someone drove his car at the royal bus, killing himself and six people in the crowd. After last night’s memorial service for the victims, everyone was relieved that this year it was the old Koninginnedag again.
Only idiots who pressed the emergency stop button on a train and striking garbage collectors threatened the fun this year.