I suppose everyone knows the joke about the people looking for Clarens (but fill in your own version): these people drove along, went past a light, saw some signs pointing to Clarens, turned around, went past a light again, and saw signs pointing back to Clarens, drove past the light again and so on and eventually stopped at the house with the light, whereupon some old guy answered the door holding his candle, and in answer to their question stamped his foot on the wooden floor and proclaimed: this is Clarens!
I had to think about this as I as per usual milled around looking for a place, I spend as much time getting to a new place as I do milling about on site trying to find exact locations. I was looking for ‘de grote markt’ in Heusden-Zolder (don’t ask) and I kept seeing signs pointing to a shuttle location parking place to take you to the ‘grote markt’. I decided that a woman walking her dog would be a good person to ask, nothing doing, she tells me she’s not ‘from here’, what the hell is she doing walking her dog in this town if she’s not ‘from here’? My search continued and I found some ‘allochtonen’ (bless us) who could point me in the right direction. When I did find the ‘grote markt’ I had to wonder what would bring people here in droves, enough to arrange shuttle pick-ups? My next thought as I realised that this was the place I had been circumventing for the last half hour was: how much money and effort does it cost to put a sign up? I subtly (yes, yes I’m learning to do subtle) mentioned this to the person I went to see and I could see he didn’t give two bits for this thought. Perhaps it’s a work in progress I suggested, good idea to turn an old mining site into something that can be used, he went blank and changed the subject. I have also been known to ask: why don’t you put a sign up if you don’t want clients to sit there? Could you have something pointing in the direction of the gate? If this letter confuses ten people every year, is it time to change the letter? If the train door doesn’t open, stick a piece of paper on it! If the road is closed, is it possible to put a sign up at the entrance to the road? And, my absolute favourite, why take the time to put tens of dozens of signs around a hole in the road if you could have fixed the hole in the time it took to put the signs up?
And now something about a much-disputed word ‘allochtonen’ – basically ‘allochtonen’ is a nice way to say: ‘the foreigner who caused all the trouble’ but some or other newspaper has banned its use, good for them, the word was becoming politically loaded.