Skip to main content

A stone

Pictured above is my most prized possession. It doesn't even qualify as a stone, just a hunk of concrete. It sits on my balcony surrounded by more attractive objects, but none so relevant.

Shortly after arriving in Amsterdam in 1998 I began working in a busy ad agency in the city center. After a gruelling day at the Mac I would often stop at a coffeeshop homeward bound. It's still there on the Oude Hoogstraat, 'Pick up the Pieces' it's called. Sometimes I would smoke a joint, others not, but would always meet friendly colourful international types and chat with the staff who became good friends over the years.

Holding the door open to release the weary workers from plumes of marijuana was a large piece of concrete. After many months I inquired about it's peculiarity, it some how beckoned significance. I was told that indeed it was a very special piece of cement. The owner of the café was Kishore, an Indian Surinamer who also owned a hotel in Schneverdingen that was frequented by Germans seeking respite and recreation on the adjacent sandy beaches. As the first frantic images appeared on TV from the collapse of the wall, he was spurred on by his loyal Saxony guests to seize the moment and drive instantly to Berlin and be part of something monumental.

The block that held the door wide was the souvenir. To be precise it is half a block. Occasionally I would pop by the café to renew old acquaintances and on one such visit I noticed the chunk of history was no longer. I gawped, "where's the wall gone?". It had split in half and lost the required gravity to keep the door ajar. "What did you do with the shattered remains?", I asked. Johnnie the nephew of the proprietor, walked over to an electric meter cabinette, opened it and there they lay, two broken halves like a young lover's pendant heart. He gave me one of the blocks and so it found a new home.

Poignant enough as a story, permit me to go further. I once pointed out its significance to a visitor, he sceptically commented, "How do you know it's actually a piece of the Berlin wall"? I assured him of its provenance and how its giver was a good friend of sound credentials. My visitor gawked at me with distrust, bewilderment and even contempt. He was such a man, but the giver, like the stone itself, is a tribute to the wonder of life. Thank you Johnnie and Kishore, it will stay with me until my very death and inevitable freedom.


BC Richardson said…
Hi Pearse

A fine chunk of concrete indeed and if it was in my backyard don't think I could resist using it as a object of meditation.

DubintheDam said…
Many thanks Brian, a fine piece of stone, but my writing could be better...we do our best.

Tamsworthy said…
What a fantastic blog! I love reading about the things you have done, your life seems such an adventure! Greetings from Australia, keep up this fantastic read!

Popular posts from this blog


Some of you may notice that I have deleted a few posts. These in general where some of my more contentious writings with regard to my frustrations being a 'outsider' in the Netherlands. As with most things in life one needs to review and reassess at various stages. Some of these postings generated a healthy amount of comment, but this perhaps is just indicative of how people can more easily relate to critical editorial. The world press is full of such editorial writings. We read such articles on global politics whilst nodding internally in agreement, confirming our belief that we some how understand the complexities of human suffering better than those who actually live in such situations on a daily and all too real bases.

I've decided that should I post a critical comment, then I should always accompany it with a positive one because in reality that is how things are.

In addition, as a man who has worked in advertising for many years I'm all too aware of my 'brand…

An ex-pat I shall always be

I recently visited the ex-pupils Facebook page from my old boarding school. I hope some old chums will post me, however I only resided at the Franciscan secondary school for three years and not the normal full five years so perhaps any imprinted memory may be somewhat vague. I ponder that I've kept moving on for most of my life. I guess I was born an ex-pat, whenever I return to Ireland to visit my parents I get the feeling that I've been here, I've done this. Am I a stone that gathers no moss? I suspect not. It's just that the moss has many coloured hues.

At the age of 16 I realized that remaining in boarding school would stunt my preparation for adult life. By 17 my girlfriend would sleep over, by 18 I knew my future would be founded in work and travel and not taking notes in a lecture hall. At 19 I had grown disillusioned with advertising and commerce and joined the Army. By 20 I was in London. By 24 I had bought my first house and was a junior partner in business. …

"You're not like me..."

Elections loom in the swamp, local elections that is. I will probably vote for the Animal Party or the Greenlinks Party, the third - yet to be decided option - being the Muslim Party! So why would an Irish Buddhist be voting for a Muslim party. Well there has been a huge shift towards the right here in the Netherlands. I believe it stems from a inherent xenophobia which arises from a society where conformity is a golden rule. In order to conform one must know what is normal and what is not normal. Being different is only tolerated if it falls into a 'normal' category of excepted creativity or artist behavior. Unique in western society today the Dutch not only steer well clear of abnormality but they exude great suspicion towards it. A finger will be pointed at anybody who does not fall into a strict Calvinistic version of behavior. This really cuts to the degenerative aspect of Dutch society, it needs to destroy what is not excepted in order to justify it's own dull medioc…