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The Living Books (Or How A Title Can Mean More Than The Author Ever Intended)
I have a question for you.  What is your favourite title to a book and why?  (You don't have to even have read the book.)

I can name two titles off the top of my head which have great meaning for me - "Spellbinder", and "The UnDutchables".

The first title is almost responsible for what you have been reading as you have read this blog.  "Spellbinder" (The children's book by Stephen Bowkett) was - along with its author - the main proper spark for my love of writing and daydreaming.  Yes, it was the book which was published when I started in his English class all those years ago.

"The UnDutchables" is a bit of a funny one for me as it brings back a memory of when I first saw the title.

I was in a bookshop on a car ferry between England and Holland (I cannot remember which way I was going) with my Mum when I picked it up.  Now - in order to understand what I am about to say you have to understand one thing about my Mum.  She may have spent most of her life living in England but she was Distinctly Dutch (with capital Ds) until she died.

For those of you who have never read "The UnDutchables" it started out as a satirical look at Dutch life by two men from either Canada or America.  Then people started adding to it as the editions went along.

Anyway - I picked the book up and flicked through it.  Then promptly started giggling.  When my Mum asked what was so funny I showed her and she laughed as well.  So I bought it.

To say I had never read anything like it was an understatement.  Having been repeatedly "drowned" in Dutch culture (yes - even in England) by both parents I had the dubious "pleasure" of seeing the life depicted in the book both from the Dutch side and the "Buitenlander" (or foreigner) side.

In fact, I will let you into a little secret.  Some of the things which Buitenlanders find the strangest about Holland and the Dutch are the things which I find most useful over here.  Let's just say the Dutch have got the inverse "distance to exit" ratio to a fine art.  In plain English - the faster you wish to alight a train the furthest from the door you should stand.

Basically - reading "The U|ndutchables" was almost like reading about my Mum's family and the rest of the Dutch people I have ever come into contact with.

I just really miss the "Stempel automaat" and the concertina tickets (formally known as "strippenkaart") which you could fold into a concertina if you wanted to jam the machine - but you had to fold them to get the correct fare stamped on it.  You couldn't win.
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