maandag 22 januari 2018

Getting to know each other

It was hard not to notice the fear in her eyes. Mary and I started at the same time in this department. It was quite a small team, just six people (5 men and Mary) and our meeting looked a bit out of place in the huge meeting room. The work was very specialised, quite difficult and just as important for the company.

Our manager Andy made a suggestion. "In my teams it is customary that we go to the sauna together on a regular basis. That way we get to know each other perfectly."

I reacted: "I have been in quite a lot of teams, never had problems getting to know my colleagues and never had complaints about it. Furthermore I did not read anything about this in the job description. I would pass on this one. If I want to go to the sauna I rather go with my wife. Sorry if I hurt anybody with this, but this is where I stand on this matter."

Mary sighed with relief and said that she agreed with me. I thought I had made a friend and also made an enemy.

Time passed and we had our regular meetings, nothing special happened. Until that meeting:
Mary pointed out that she really regretted this, but she had noticed I had made a terrible mistake that had cost the company dearly. She showed the others copies of the case and gave me a copy too.
I told the group that in my opinion we were just human, we all make mistakes. It was more important to learn from these than point a finger to the culprit. And I could tell them that it was not my mistake, but that the signature of Fred was under the thing. The discussion went on a bit, Fred admitted his mistake and was just as quick forgiven.

A few months later Mary had found another mistake, it was not very significant, but it was very obvious that it was mine. This time nothing was forgiven, the mood in the meeting was very negative. Randy Andy told me he was going to ask for me to get the sack. The next day I was invited to a meeting with the top management and got fired. Thanks to my union representative and his threatening with a court case I got the payment of two years salary to make it easier for me to find a new job. I was fired under the pretence of incompatible characters with other members of the team.

About two years later I unexpectantly bumped into Mary in a supermarket. She tried to be invisible, but I greeted her in a very loud manner, so she could not get away that easy. She asked me how I was and I told her my new salary was now twice as much as in the days when I worked with her. And I was working in a very good team with some great people. I could not help myself but ask: "Did you have a nice visit to the sauna lately?" Her face got red and she mumbled something I could not understand. Then she turned around and left the supermarket without any shopping.

zaterdag 20 januari 2018

Contact Lost

His idea was proven not to be a success. He was feeling for weeks that the relation with his girl friend was coming to an end. They hardly had any good times lately, were spending hours being angry with each other. So he had been thinking to do something nice with her and had come up with this trip to the seaside. 

But after spending hours on the beach, which she normally liked, she was very grumpy. According to her it had been boring, he realised he was a bit to be blamed. He had fallen asleep, no wonder when you spend hours in silence on a beach towel. So now she went on and on about him snoring next to her. And after deciding to go home, they missed the train and now had to wait for almost an hour.

He didn't react, knew it would not help a lot. Any word from him would be like throwing oil on an open fire. After a while she was out of words and told him she was going to get a coffee. It was too much trouble to ask if he wanted one too. She left him standing on his own on the platform. 

He stared into the distance without really seeing something. There was a train at the next platform, had been there for some time. He sort of woke up to notice that two girls were hanging half out of one of the windows. One was wearing a white top, the other something with a lot of colours. Even from this distance he could notice that the one with white top probably was quite attractive and was waving and shouting at him. He could not understand what she was saying. The other girl seemed to be quite amused and laughed a lot.

First he thought it was about somebody else, but except for him the platform was completely deserted. He could not help it, felt a bit embarrassed. His girl friend might come back any moment. The girl blew him kisses in the air and he stood there a bit helplessly. The other girl kept giggling.

His girl friend came back with a paper cup of coffee and stood next to him again, her back to the rails, reading some commercial announcements on the boards. He decided to react and waved back at the girl. She reacted with even more air kisses. He was a bit worried: if his girl friend noticed this, his relation certainly would be lost.

His partner went to a bin to throw her empty cup away and the girl shouted something again. The sound got lost because of the noise of a train coming in and getting to their platform. It parked right in front of them, so he could not see the other train anymore. His girl friend announced she had to go the toilet and walked away. He had become a bit curious now, wondered what the girl would do next.

The train in front of him drove off, he would soon know. But when the train was gone, he only could see the other train leave too. In the other direction. It was almost not noticeable but she was still waving until the train went out of his sight.

He wondered on their way home about the girl, was silent. 
A few days later his girl friend phoned him, told him she didn't want to see him anymore.

He wondered, should he put an ad in a newspaper? You often see these. Like "You with yellow jacket and your lovely smile. I saw you on the train to ... on ..." He didn't think anything ever came off these. For some time he read these ads in his newspaper anyway, maybe she would place one. But he never saw anything like it.

maandag 11 december 2017

Swedish Girls

There were only two pubs in the village. When I didn't see my mates in our regular one, I figured out that they would be in the other one. We normally didn't like it there, they had Skol on draught.
But I tried anyway.

It was surprisingly busy and I even had problems finding a free stool. There was a big crowd of young men surrounding two blond girls. I asked one of the guys what was going on.
"Swedish girls! These are Swedish girls!"
Now I noticed that the conversation sounded a bit weird. I could hear some different languages being exercised. English, German and something undescribable. Was that Swedish?

The slimmest, blonder one of the girls was really under siege. She indeed was very pretty. The other one seemed to take a bit of distance of it all. In my eyes she was more attractive, I'm not really in for skin and bones. At a certain moment she turned around and gave a bit of way so one of the male crowd could get closer to the skinny girl.

My favourite got even further from the crowd and ended up next to me. She looked apologetic to me, it was obvious she didn't feel very comfortable. The gentleman in me wanted to help, so I offered her a drink and we got into a conversation.

I praised the Swedes for all their good things: Volvo, Saab, Bjorn Borg, ABBA. She nodded, good things indeed. I mentioned the Swedish royal family; they are quite special.
After Napoleon got defeated Europe was totally reshaped and some new kingdoms were installed and some were exchanged for new people. But the Swedish kept their royalty, the Bernadottes.
They are descendants of the French general who was appointed as Swedish king.
He was doing so well that the European rulers, like Metternich thought it was not needed to replace them.

She listened a bit in amazament, it was obvious this was all new to her. Now she talked in a normal way to me: "I can tell I can't fool you. We're not Swedish at all. It's a trick we did before. It works, you get free drinks all the time."
I assured her I would not give their secret away and led her away from the rest to a table. She waved at the other girl who just winked at her.

The girls were staying with family in the village for the weekend, would be going back a few days later, she told me. I got disturbed by a phonecall; one of my friend said they were waiting for me in the other pub. I told him about the girl that was sitting next to me. They all shouted that nobody wanted to drink that awful beer they served in the pub where I was. They demanded that I took the girl with me. She shook her head, pointed at her sister. No way she would leave her with that bunch.

I gave her my phone number and made her promise to go out with me the next evening. I was happy with that, gave her a peck on the cheek and went.

The date never worked: she phoned the next day that there was a quarrel in the family.
They all decided to leave immediately. I could hear shouting and banging of doors in the background. I started asking "Can I have your phone nu..." But it was too late, she was gone already.
And gone forever, the "Swedish" girls never returned.
Sometimes one of the guys could be heard bragging about snogging with the Swedish girls.
I never took their dream away.

zaterdag 11 november 2017

Murdered on the Obelisque

This was not the way Allan Saunders wanted to be woken up. His phone rang way before his normal time to get up.
"What is it?", he shouted, not really interested who was calling. The evening before he got three calls from a provider and he expected that this was going to be the same rubbish.
But it was his Sergeant, Patty Anderson on the other side.
"Sorry to wake you up, Guv. We have a murder." She said it gently enough to calm him down, but the message was not at all what he wanted to hear.
"What?", he shouted again.
"We have a murder, Guv.", she answered patiently. "I've sent a car to pick you up, sir.", she added.
She was about to end the call, but he managed to ask her in time where the murdered person was.
At the obelisque.

He had been there before; once, as a tourist. Allan Saunders had considered himself to be a tourist on the island. Up to now.
They had sent him over here to get him out of the way. He could do no harm on the island, nothing ever happened over here. A bit of violence in the weekends; a bit of drug abuse maybe; some shop lifting. More excitement he was not going to get they told him. It was this until retirement or getting the sack. He had figured out that he could get this job done on the automatic pilot. No sweat at all.

Thoughts like these kept playing in his head while the uniformed policeman drove him to the obelisque. The man at the wheel was not very talkative and that pleased Allan Saunders. He was lucky to have been able to get some sandwiches from his landlady in the Bed & Breakfast he was staying in. After two months he really should have been able to find a suitable place for himself to stay, but somehow he didn't have any luck with finding something. Somehow the B&B was not bad at all for him at this moment. It was very easy to have his breakfast made for him and his laundry being taken care of.

It didn't take that long to get to the place. His driver stopped the car at the parking of the Obelisque Inn next to a few police cars and he walked to the thing. A few policemen greeted him, one was still busy with securing the site off with blue and white police ribbon. He had to walk around the monument to see the victim. A young man was tied to the stone monument and it was obvious that he was dead. His sergeant Patty Anderson came to meet him.
"Morning, Guv. We don't know much yet, but SOCO is expected soon from the main land. We blocked everything off as much as we could. My suggestion is not to get too close to the obelisque, so not to disturb any traces."

He nodded, but pointed at some rubbish near the monument. "Looks like they will have some work with that."
Patty Anderson nodded, "Rubbish is everywhere. Looks like the locals like to smoke and eat around here."
"And look...", Allan Saunders looked while she was bending over. She was doing it again! Even now, while it was quite chilly, she had unbuttoned her jacket and he could see her breasts dangerously getting near from falling out of her blouse. She picked up a little empty package. "They also fuck over here."
"Right", he managed to say.
He never wanted to be one of these men who looked women on their tits instead of in their eyes, but it was very hard to keep to his principles with his sergeant. She was in her thirties, very good looking and he thought that she knew all about that. He had no idea if she was married or had a partner; it was none of his business. He hardly knew anything about colleagues, as the highest in rank in the police station he was not supposed to socialise with them.

"Who discovered the body?", he wanted to know.
"The landlady of the Inn", was the answer.
"Anybody had a good talk with her?"
"Yes, there was almost nothing she could tell us."
He sighed, "Let's get over there, have a coffee and wait for our friends of SOCO to get over things properly. I hope they can find out who he is. That would be a start. And get the poor guy down and to the pathologist as soon as possible."

"Are you coming, Anderson? The pathologist seems to have some answers for us." Patty Anderson nodded, grabbed her coat and followed Saunders. In the car things were a bit quiet, both of them not in for small talk on this time of day. Patty only had one cup of coffee and regretted now not to have had the second one. Once in a while the police radio made some sounds, not a lot going on on the island.

She was almost feeling happy when they arrived and she could get out of the car, seeing other people than this grumpy man.
The pathologist was waiting for them, eating a sandwich in his little office while reading some files. He asked them to follow him, stuffed the remains of his breakfast in his mouth and walked in front of them to - what he called - the cutting room.

The body was under a sheet on the slab, the pathologist only uncovered the face. "No need to see my butchery this time", he said. "Thanks, Doc", they reacted like a little choir.
"Of course I wrote it all in my report, that I will give you in a moment, but I would like you to see the most remarkable thing on this poor fellow.
He pointed at the mouth and they both bent over to look at it.
"Now you can notice that the sides of the mouth have been cut with something sharp. I would say a Stanley knife." It was not hard to see it: somebody had tried to give the victim a mouth double the normal size.

"Who and why would somebody do this?", Patty Anderson asked. The pathologist shrugged: "You are the detectives. I only cut people open. But I am able to tell you what his last meal was. It was a curry and he flushed it away with a pint of bitter. I'm not a detective, but I would say that this was a pub meal. And by the way, he was killed with a stab in the heart with another knife. Regarding the wound I would say it was a big kitchen knife, like something to carve up the Sunday roast. The mouth job was done later otherwise it would have been more bloody."
They thanked him twice, for his words and for his report and got back in the car.

Allan suggested that his sergeant and him could have some breakfast somewhere. Patty suggested a "greasy spoon" only a few streets further. She was a bit surprised that he came up with his suggestion, but it was very welcome. She was starving and in desperate need for coffee. She drove him there and the way he looked around made her think this was the first time he saw this neighbourhood.
"First time here?" she asked. He nodded, there was still a lot on the island he needed to discover.

They both ordered a full English breakfast and while they were waiting sipping their coffee, it was hard to keep silent. Patty asked Allan what he thought about the big mouth of the victim. He answered that he was almost certain to have read something somewhere about big mouths. Couldn't remember what it was, but it would come back to him. His sergeant offered to search on the net with her smart phone. "Not while we're eating, please!" was his reaction.

Back in the office Saunders knew again what it could be. "Search for the Smileys Gang, I remember there was an urban legend. I'll start the autopsy report."
Soon she came to his desk: "Seems like the killer did hear about it, but didn't know the real story. There were rumours in the days after 9/11 that there was a rape gang. They offered their victims a choice: being raped by the whole gang or getting a permanent smile. The smile would be the carving of the mouth and in some variations on the story they would put salt on the wounds. It was a big story in these days, but there were never any victims found or any proof that this gang really existed."

"Right!", Allan nodded. "In the report there was something the good doctor didn't tell us yet. The victim had a few grams of marijuana in his pockets. Just for pleasure? Or is there a drugs connection to this murder. Maybe that would be the reason to have the victim so exposed."
Patty Anderson was looking over his shoulder, "Do I see a name?"
"Yes, Virgil Cooke. He lived in Ryde. Maybe we best visit his house first, after that tell his family."

The house of the family Cooke was in a part of the town that had been of quite some standing in the Victorian time, but now the neighbourhood showed of having been in decline for decades. Broken bins and black garbage bags were in some front gardens. One had a settee, that had seen better days, placed in it. All the houses were split into flats and bedsits.

The garden of the Cooke family or the neighbour downstairs didn't look too bad. They had dumped a load of grit in it to keep plants and weeds out. Against the hedge that bordered the garden to nextdoor's was bicycle with a flat tyre.

When they rang the doorbell it took quite some time before there was any sign of life. The neighbour next door had a look who rang the bell. They explained who they were and he told them they should wait a bit longer, the woman who lived there, was ill. Finally she appeared and Allan and Patty didn't need to be told about an illness, she looked like a living corpse. Her name was Garrison, but she was indeed the mother of Virgil Cooke. They asked her to let them in and followed her upstairs.

When they broke her the news, they first thought they should call an ambulance. But she managed to get around a bit and they could talk on. She asked what had happened and Allan told her some things, but not how they had found him. When asked about the marijuana the mother explained it was meant for her. Virgil would buy it for her because the GP didn't want to prescribe it. It helped her to cope with the pain she had because of her illness. She knew Virgil would smoke some of it, but there was nothing wrong about it. She knew that even the police was smoking pot from time to time. No harm in that.

She had seen Virgil the last time around 6 PM yesterday. He went out after eating a sandwich, she knew he was going to buy some medicine for her and he had told her not to stay awake for him. That was the last thing he had said to her.
Patty asked if there was anybody from her family or friends who could stay with her and wanted to know if somebody could identify him, so they would be certain it was Virgil they were talking about.

They ended the visit by knocking at the door of the neighbours. The man opened the door again quite soon and was okay with staying with Ms.Garrison while waiting for her cousin from Portsmouth.

Allan and Patty drove back to headquarters in Newport, being very disappointed. They still didn't know anything about why and where the victim was being killed. The only things they had was his name, the fact that he was stabbed to death and that his mouth had been carved bigger. They had a lot of questions and hardly any answers.

Back in Newport they sat together for some time, looking at the board with the facts that they had. Not a lot to go on with. Allan Saunders came with something: "Let's reconstruct the last days of his life. Make that a week. What do you think, Patty?" She nodded. "Then we need to get back to the people who knew him best: his mother to start with. We need to go to his workplace. Find out who his friends were, where he went for a drink. Where he went for a fuck." Allan wasn't really prepared for her last suggestion, got some extra colour on his cheeks. She was not exactly beating around the bush.

They started with phoning the mother, not wanting to drive to her house again, asked her where he worked. That was in the supermarket of Tesco in Ryde; he had been placing goods on the shelves and doing odd jobs. Asked her too who his friends were. She came up with three names. Phil Oakly, Dennis Partridge and Joe Cleverly. All men were living in Ryde.
Allan and Patty decided to go and interview the friends and colleagues apart. Allan would see or hear the friends in Ryde and Patty would visit the supermarket and see with which colleagues he had a stronger relation than just being work mates.

First they tried to get hold of the three friend by phone. They were only able to track down Phil Oakly, made him promise to come to the station in the early morning. Allan would try to visit the other two at their home adresses.
They left the station at the same time. While he was inserting the address of Dennis Partridge in his SATNAV, she already drove off giving him a sort of greeting by wiggling her fingers in front of her. He just nodded.

Dennis Partridge lived in a flat near the former theater of Ryde. Allan never got used to the idea of such a beautiful building just being left, for the population of the town to see it being derelict and becoming more and more a ruin. The state of the building in which Partridge lived, was not much better. In front of it were a few bins, two without a lid. There was further the remains of a bicycle to be seen. Allan rang the doorbell and after a few minutes rang ik again and banged with his fist on the door. "I'm coming, I'm coming!", somebody shouted. Through the door the police officer could hear that person coming down the stairs, it sounded like he was a sort of elephant.

That elephant was just a young guy in a track suit. "Now where's the fire?", he asked after he opened the door. His voice sounded very nasal and he wiped his nose with a rag looking like a kitchen towel. Allan Saunders showed his id-card: "Are you Dennis Partridge? I have some questions for you about your friend Virgil Cooke."
Partridge was home because he was ill, something like the flu according to himself.
He could not give a lot of information, had seen Virgil two evenings before he was murdered. The four friends had been drinking in a few pubs; the pub crawl had ended in the Inn. Joe Cleverly had driven them all home. It had been his turn to spend an evening on mostly cola. The days before they only had spoken on the phone once: to discuss their drinking evening.

Allan left the house of Partridge after he had got the promise that Joe Cleverly would be sent a message or phoned by Partridge. He would ask his friend to contact the police, would give him Allan's phone number.
He certainly had done this, because the policeman already got a call while he was still on the road back to Newport. Joe Cleverly could affirm everything Dennis Partridge had been saying, could not add anything useful at all.

donderdag 26 oktober 2017

A lost friend found and a friendship dropped

Lots of people will have the same as I had when I got closer to my 40th birthday. You look back on your life until then and ask yourself why and where on earth you lost certain friends. I certainly had this with Peter.
Peter had been very dear to me. There was a strong reason for this.
I can still recal the moment when I awoke from being unconscious and he was sitting next to me, trying to keep the blood running from my temple getting in my eyes with his shirt. Somebody had knocked me down with a motor helmet for some silly reason.

I was taken to the hospital by an ambulance, got some stitches. When I left the hospital it felt like I was walking on clouds. I realised I had to find a taxi, maybe I would have to walk to the station for this. But there was no need: Peter had followed the ambulance to the hospital on his bicycle and waited for me get out. He got me home in his bloody shirt and I felt I would be grateful eternally. Days later I found out I had a concussion, so the bike ride probably was not a brilliant idea. But all the same: my gratefulness had no boundaries.

The weird thing is: within a year we lost all contact. This was caused by an intense but quite short romance with his sister. They didn't get along and that showed. The friendship was lost and was not restored after the love between his sister and me was gone.
Life goes on: people come into your life and people disappear out of your life. There were not many days that I wondered where my friend had gone.

But getting near my 40th triggered a search. I abused the computer programs in my office to find Peter. I found a few people who could be him and it took a few phonecalls, but I succeeded.
It was surprising that he even lived quite near where I had visited him for the last time.
He sounded enthusiastic, like I was and we planned a date for me to visit him.

Of course I went together with my wife. I wanted him to meet her, make him a bit part of my world again.
The address was easy enough to find and I rang his doorbell. The welcoming by him was surprisingly formal; it could have been a total stranger I was giving a handshake. He explained that he lived upstairs, but that we were invited to the living room of his downstairs neighbour.

Her greeting of us was as cold as that living room, it was very spartan and contained only the essentials. On the wooden floor was a child playing with wooden blocks and a plastic police car. The child must have been 3, maybe 4 years old, but was referred to as "the baby".
The woman put coffee cups on the table and we were sitting around it, having a laboured and polite conversation about the weather, the state of the roads around the city and more like this. It never became clear whether Peter and the woman had a relation of some kind.

The child crawled under the coffee table, that was quite low. We had to bend down to get to our coffee. The child tried to get up and banged his head quite loud. I was a bit worried about this, asked if it was okay. Peter and the woman just laughed. And the continued doing that, every time there was a loud bang from under our coffee cups. I was truly horrified and I could see that my wife equally shocked. The fact that we at that moment had been trying to get a child for months must have doubled this for us. I felt so low, really wanted to get that table out of the way.

I finished my coffee and asked my wife if we were still expected by her parents today. I never thought of cancelling. Very surprisingly she had forgotten this too.
So we were very sorry, there was no time for another coffee, we really had to go.
But...if Peter was ever in the neighbourhood he should pay us a visit. Of course he promised this; there was no mentioning of taking the woman along, but I was not really expecting this.
When we left, they didn't even make the effort to get us to the door, stayed at that table.

It is not surprising that Peter never came to our place and that I never felt like visiting him again.

zaterdag 14 oktober 2017

Morris Dancers

We knew this weekend was the Beer and Buses weekend. Vintage buses take you all around the Isle of Wight to all the pubs who are into the celebration. It's a great way to taste some local ale without having to drive your car while doing some sightseeing in lovely antiques vehicles.
A lot better than a pub crawl!

While walking on the Esplanade in Ryde we were pleasantly surprised by an unexpected spectacle: Morris Dancers. I had seen this a few times on tv, in programs about local things of interest.

Why they did it over here, near the base of the hovercraft, I don't know. They had drawn some spectators. The scene made me think a bit of National Lampoon Holiday in which Chevy Chase gets involved in a dance, a bit like this. They keep hitting him, like it is a part of the dance until he gets enough of it and it all results in a big fight. Luckily the Morris Dancers are not like that at all. It appeared to be very professional.

Of course I could not resist to search for the history behind this. The first mentioning of this is in 1448, so it is a very old tradition.
They used to be named Moorish Dancers, what eventually evolved in Morris Dancers.
The tradition almost disappeared in the 19th century, but was picked up again in 1899. Most mining communities were forming their own groups and there were competitions among them.

Another form of Morris Dancers were groups with blackened faces, or wearing scarfs to disguise themselves. The origin of this is the start of unions for miners and other workers. Unions were forbidden and when people attended meetings or rallies they risked being arrested.
The dances of these black groups are quite loud and (almost) threatening. You can imagine the sound of these must have been ominous for the owners of mines and factories.

Nowadays Morris Dancers can be found not only in England, but even in countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
Nice to encounter some history on the street!

donderdag 12 oktober 2017

Halloween in Holland

I was asked to write something about Halloween. I'm afraid I'm not into scary Halloween stories, but I can write about personal experiences.

In parts of the Netherlands the 11th of November has been celebrated for centuries. It's named St.Maarten after the Saint Bishop Martinus van Tours who lived from AD 316 till AD 397. Since the 1920's the festivities have spread around the whole of the Netherlands.

Suddenly it was celebrated in my city too; very surprising because people in the region are mainly protestants so they would not have anything with saints. The attraction for children is the candy that they can collect with just walking around with lampions, ringing doorbells and singing a silly song about "cows that have tails". They don't need to tell me this, but when you open the door and the group of little brats start singing, with their parents behind them in silent admiration, there is not a lot else you can do but to put some candy in the sticky hands. The parents nod approvingly, they all go to the next door and you can only hope your doorbell will not ring again. Mostly this is in vain, within 10 minutes the next group will pop up.

My children were pleasantly surprised with this show of generosity and they decided to do this too the next year. So we bought them each a lampion and we were ready to go along, but the two of them pleaded us to let them do this by themselves. We agreed that they would try to go along with another group. So off they went.

We already had listened to the stupid song three times when my daughters came home again in a very angry state. They had been chased away by the other children and their parents. "We don't go to the same church and school, so they don't want us to walk along. And people opened their doors for us and accused us that we had been there before, so wanting a double treat. We hate it, won't do it ever again!" So we gave them some of the candy we had in store for the little singers and thought that was it.

The next year, on the 31st of October the groups of children popped up in front of our door, just dressed a little silly. No song this time, just sticking their greedy hands out. The parents watched it silently again from a distance. People seemed to have decided to celebrate Halloween. This American thing was new to us and we were not very prepared for an invasion of children. We did have some tangerines and gave them to these kids. A good thing too, better for their teeth and a bit of help to prevent them to become obese. Lucky for us we had less children ringing at the doorbell that night.

The next day we saw how they had appreciated our fruit. Some was smashed against walls, the rest was thrown on the street. We had enough of it all!
I could already foresee the same children coming to our door on the 11th of November; of course St.Maarten would not be skipped.

I was right, they did go around again. This time without silly costumes, but with their lampions. I had unscrewed the doorbell and drawn all the curtains. There were fruitless attempts to ring the doorbell, they would knock and bang at the door too. But I was determined: no more of this.

The next day we could see that they had spit all over our door. We cleaned it and that was all.
The next two years we had to get the saliva from the door on both celebrations. After that they just left us in peace and my children never again tried to mingle with these children.