Category Archives: Holland
Here’s another Blog08 post, originally written for Londonbloggers.net
Pete Cashmore, the famed creator of Mashable, the social networking news site, was the first speaker at Blog08, telling us how to build a blog empire. He should know, because, as the Blog08 site tells us, Mashable has 5 million monthly pageviews and Cashmore was recently named the 22nd most important Web Celeb by Forbes.com
(Forgive the shot; the light and people’s inconveniently-placed heads conspired against my dream of a Magnum photographic moment at Blog08! )
The twenty three year-old English-born, Scottish-raised internet entrepreneur was at ease on stage as he imparted his wisdom to the crowd. He confided that he’d been unwell as a youngster so hadn’t been able to attend college or university, concentrating on the money-making opportunities that the internet could provide him. At first, Cashmore had wanted to build his own social network, but while he was working out how to do this, he started blogging about the social networks that already existed or were then in development. That’s how Mashable came about and now his site is THE authority on social networking.
In a nutshell, Cashmore says that in order to build a blog empire, you have to eat, live and breathe the business, which is exactly what he’d done himself. In Mashable’s early days, Cashmore existed on four hours’ sleep per night, but the effort paid off, didn’t it?
Here are his main tips for blog success:
- 1. Build something you love. No one fell in love with a market opportunity.
- 2. The passion for what you do will help you work hard with little sleep if necessary.
- 3. Don’t waste too much time making your blog look good. Content is king. If you blog about what you’re passionate about, well enough and for long enough, eventually someone will take notice.
- 4. Just do it.
- 5. Read, write, comment, improve – and repeat. Blog, eat and sleep – for years, if necessary. Seek out interesting blogs related to what you do and subscribe to them. Use Google reader. Do not worry about funding yet.
- 6. Use WordPress as your platform. In Cashmore’s opinion, WordPress is the most extensible platform for a blog.
- 7. ANALYSE. Look at your stats and steer into the areas where you’re successful. Find out what’s working on your blog. Extend it. Serialise it. Give readers what they want. Use analysis sites like Woopra, getclicky.com and Google analytics, which Cashmore thinks is the best. Check out your referrers and stats twice every day. If people are checking out your site via Digg, then target Digg.
- 8. MONETISE. Mashable uses Google Adsense but Cashmore doesn’t think it’s that effective. He says that CPMs are not that great either. Look into niche advertising and find a network selling ads across your niche. Think about direct selling. (Mashable sells ads on its sidebar). Consider creating a marketplace or job boards.
- 9. Cashmore’s favourite networks are:
- TWITTER: This engages your audience, reaches friends, creates ripples so you don’t need a big hit. It’s a good tool for tracking conversations and syndicating headlines and for finding negative feedback about your site quickly so you can act on it before it becomes farther-reaching.
- FLICKR: Isn’t great for traffic-building but is good for creating community.
- FACEBOOK is most effective if you work with groups but loses effectiveness at scale. How many REAL friends do you have on Facebook?
- DIGG: Here you can vote for the best stories. It’s useful for learning how to write a rocking headline. A blogger asks “Is it okay to DIGG yourself?” Cashmore replies: “Yes, but the system is starting to make this harder.”
- STUMBLE UPON: this is a useful tool for watching what’s popular but here it is not so good to vote for your own site.
Cashmore then takes us to the next stage: you’ve built a successful blog and it’s been recognised, monetised etc. YOU’VE GOT COMPANY! His tips about staffing your blog company are simple:
HIRE carefully, frugally and remotely. Personality isn’t that important if you’re working with someone on an internet platform, so if you like what you see of their internet presence and it’s what you need at the time, then that should be sufficient proof that they can help you.
FIRE quickly, decisively and mathematically. Remember that people are assets so they need to make you more money than they’re costing you.
Then, before leaving the stage Cashmore took some audience Q&A, providing us with the following nuggets of information:
- Cashmore IS Pete Cashmore’s real name. Someone thought it might not be, probably because this internet guru has more cash than he can shake a stick at! He said he’d rather have been called ‘Cashman’, however, because it sounds funnier.
- Cashmore as a name has it’s origins in meaning ‘castle man’, which is what castle caretakers were once called.
- He receives about 400 e-mails per day.
- His view is that a blog takes a long time to set up properly, but once that’s been done, it’s stable.
Sadly, by the end of Blog08, Pete Cashmore still hadn’t invited me to a Mashable party, insisting I wear party-on clogs. I suppose there’s still time. As some consolation, however, I did get to sit next to him at dinner and his chocolate lasagne dessert looked amazing. But that’s another story…
Get clicky: http://getclicky.com/
Google analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/en-GB/
Cashmore reviewed by Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/2007/12/18/web-celeb-fame-tech-cx_de_07webceleb_1218top_slide_23.html?thisSpeed=20000
[Warning: you may like to grab a cuppa and take your time with this post. It's a LONG one.]
When Andy Bargery announced the London Bloggers Meetup competition where entrants had to state why they felt they deserved a free ticket to Blog08, the day-long conference for bloggers in Amsterdam, I entered for fun. I never dreamed that playing around with Powerpoint with pictures of strange clogs and a tune called ‘Tiptoe Through the Tulips’ could possibly win; it was surely too weird. Regardless, I put the entry together and dutifully sent it off, only to be shocked to the hilt when the bloggers’ website announced I’d won. I really thought Lolly had it in the bag because her entry was so social networking-tastic.
Of course, plenty of people are capable of winning competitions without promising to do something stupid if they win. Not me. In my entry I promised to wear clogs, All. Day. Long. at Blog08 and I also pledged to set up a blog about clogs. When I won, (and being a woman of my word), that’s exactly what I did. Would I do it again? If it involves wearing big wooden clogs painted with a Fresian cow pattern to an event where I know not a single soul, then probably not. However, Clogblogger, the blog I started as a result of the competition, has actually been a surprising amount of fun, so yes to that one.
Blog08 was the brainchild of two Dutch blog prodigies, Ernst-Jan Pfauth and Edial Dekker. Compared to me, these early twenty-somethings are babes in arms but their c.v.s are impressive. For instance, Ernst-Jan is Editor-in-Chief of The Next Web Blog and also of award-winning blog, Spotlight Effect, whilst somehow finding time to write an e-book about the Dutch blogosphere AND plan this blog conference. Meanwhile, his partner in crime, Edial, is an editor of Spotlight Effect and founder of MaptheGap, a mobile start-up. The three of us had chatted a bit online prior to me reaching Amsterdam, and the lads were encouraging about my wearing of clogs; they’d even put a post about me on the Blog08 site. However, Ernst-Jan’s face when he saw me in the Fresian Wonders is something I will not easily forget. His jaw dropped slightly, eyebrows raised high and the forthcoming high-pitched giggle showed that he hadn’t really believed that I’d wear clogs. “They’re…um…. COOL!” he told me, still laughing a bit, “and you match!” That was certainly true. I was black-and-white colour-coordinated with my clogs. Too cool for school. Or not, as the case may be.
Initially, my fellow bloggers looked me up and down and dismissed me as a viable person to talk to as soon as they spotted the clogs. I started to think I’d made a serious error of judgment in wearing these things. Then no one sat in my row so clog-related paranoia set in. There were plenty of rows to sit in about the hall, yet mine remained ominously empty as the rest filled up with bloggers keen to hear the experts’ views on the blogosphere. When a man did finally sit with me and chat a bit, I was relieved, but he made such a quick getaway at tea time that I couldn’t keep up in my cumbersome Klompen.
Meanwhile, the conference commenced and a tall bald guy in a white suit reminiscent of those worn by the hosts on Fantasy Island, introduced himself as Patrick de Laive, the Blog08 moderator. Then Pete Cashmore taught us his technique for building a blog empire the Mashable way (see my Cashing-in with Cashmore post), and a Dutch chap called Nalden took to the stage to show off what you can do with your blog if you have 150,000 Euros to burn and a talent for merchandising.
At different points there were panels of blogging aficionados inviting active discussion on current affairs of relevance to bloggers, but somehow they always got stuck on one topic so that the tweets from the Blog08 backchannel, being projected onto screens to either side of the stage, would get a bit antsy, referring to stuck records and the like.
The most debated topics were:
- Why aren’t there more women at Blog08? (this was an issue, both on-stage AND in the audience, so a journalist from England was pulled up onto the stage to represent women in one panel.)
- Can you be transparent on the web? (Some say yes; Loren Feldman says an unequivocal NO).
- Is blogging journalism and can journalism use blogging? (Fiery activity on this one; the general consensus was that the two are inter-linked and sometimes inter-changeable but the polar opposite opinions of yes or no could not see eye-to-eye).
- Is blogging dead? Well, obviously not because otherwise what were 250 of us doing at the conference?
- Is micro-blogging the new blogging? Only if you can’t spell or you work in PR, apparently. People either love to tweet or can’t be bothered. The audience was split, even though the Blog08 Twitter backchannel was unavoidably displayed to us with such lively tweet activity that it had to be hidden at times.
After a full-on morning, we bloggers needed sustenance and I have to say that lunch was a bit odd. By this point I’d made friends with some of the more clog-friendly bloggers, so I didn’t eat alone (thank my sainted clogs) and the buffet of filled ciabatta sandwiches was normal enough, but the drinks made me wonder. There were three groups of glasses filled with milk, orange juice or more milk. What? I’d never seen anything like it before, but as my new friend informed me, the Dutch love to drink milk. At least all this milk seemed to complement my cow clog theme. Meanwhile, in the corner of the lunch room, a couple of men watched me with suspicion, as if I might jump up and clogger them with my clogs at any moment. The sense of humour I’d so expected was lacking in such folk and, unfortunately for me, they weren’t alone.
Back in the lecture hall, we heard a range of speakers, their presentations varying greatly in both theme and viewpoint. Boris van der Ham, a member of the Dutch House of Representatives, talked about using his blog to connect with his constituents , something of particular interest given the 2008 US elections witnessing a huge boom in political blogging.
Scott Rafer, the CEO of Lookery, blinded us with science as he told us how his site provides a service to help site owners ‘amplify their audience data’. In explaining the importance of his particular tools, he vented frustration from his dealings with Facebook management, telling us that ‘they don’t care about anyone’. He also recommended considering carefully before signing up to the new Facebook Connect because of data storage concerns which Facebook staff aren’t sufficiently answering. Rafer claims that Facebook is helping Microsoft to gain market share against Google, but that’s hardly surprising in a competitive market. What interested me was that Facebook tracks every search made through its platform, linking those searches with relevant advertisers, which is how we end up getting so much SPAM. According to Rafer this will only intensify under Facebook Connect. Conversely, Rafer’s site, Lookery, was set up according to the strictest privacy laws on the planet, (which just so happen to be German), and they utilise and store their data according to those laws. When Rafer’s presentation ended, the audience sat slightly stunned. The Blog08 moderator thanked Rafer by telling him: “That was a really nerdy presentation!” Nerdy, perhaps, but I’ve already signed up to Lookery to learn more about my audience. So far, so good.
Next on stage was Loren Feldman, controversial vlogger-stroke-puppeteer, telling us how he got to where he is today. In a nutshell, he found himself to be an ageing actor with plenty to say about everything, so chose the blog/ vlog arena in which to say it. Most of the bloggers in the audience had already seen his Blog08 site vlog post appealing for our help as he claimed not to know where Amsterdam was (this was thankfully prior to his arrival). Did Björk come from Amsterdam? he pondered. I’ll have to dedicate a separate post to Feldman because he was one of the most refreshingly direct and unabashedly opinionated presenters at Blog08, making him one of the conference’s highlights.
Then we heard from Dutch internet millionaire and entrepreneur, Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten, co-founder of The Next Web Blog and unnervingly wearing the same white suit as Patrick de Laive. It turns out they’re business partners, so this wasn’t a new Dutch trend, as had occurred to me might be the case. White suits on men are unusual enough in summer; in Amsterdam the weather outside was atrocious, so the white suits looked even more odd. To intensify the surrealism of this, Boris demonstrated his unicycle techniques by riding from one end of the stage to the other, and back again. Just when we were pinching ourselves to check we weren’t in some sort of Fantasy Island circus hallucination, Boris started to explain why he thinks that blog prowess is next to godliness. It was a confusion of philosophy and theology, of technology and circus performance leading to the very special conclusion that (to himself, at least) Boris is God. Perhaps that’s why he wears white. This presentation was strange, yes, but forgettable? Not likely.
Moving swiftly on, an obviously jet-lagged Hugh MacLeod, cartoonist extraordinaire of Gaping Void fame, whose post ‘How to be Creative’ has been downloaded a million-plus times and is due to be published as a book next year, entertained us with his amusing doodles and ponderings on life. I’ll write a separate post about MacLeod, as some of his advice is wisdom on a stick.
It was the last presenter who made us all sit up and take notice at the end of this nine-hour blog-fest: Gabe Mac, self-proclaimed Bad Mother Vlogger, took the day’s Rockstar theme to the extreme as he pranced around the stage to a funky remix of a classic Scottish pipes tune. He wore streaks of blusher, serious eye make-up and twanged his Wii Air Guitar madly. He had our full attention. His siren of a sidekick sported bright red stilettos and figure-hugging leggings, dancing about him with a giant video camera, causing the feminists in the audience to tut tut and shake their heads. I think that was the point. Then Gabe Mac toked on a spliff rolled for him on stage by Stiletto Chick, crooning “good stuff, baby”, and any thoughts of audience fatigue left the room. Like him or hate him, we wouldn’t be bored by him.
Gabe Mac told us his vlogging evolution story which suitably began in Amsterdam but is now based in Madrid. We watched some of his own favourite posts and tolerated his thespian arrogance and shameless self-promotion. In summary, I think Gabe Mac was acting his pants off for us, but can’t really be sure, just that off-stage he seemed like a much quieter soul than he was projecting to us in his presentation. You probably need to decide for yourself whether or not he’s worth watching. Check the link at the end of this post to see what this Bad Mother Vlogger is all about.
Throughout the day a band of rock musicians called Love OD rocked us awake, literally, so that we’d soon OD-ed on their brand of ‘love’. However, as the theme for Blog08 was “Rockstars of the Web”, I suppose the first theme accessory must be a rock band, so there they were and, in keeping with said theme, the lone freebie handed out to everyone on arrival had been Blog08-branded guitar picks. Somewhat bemused as to what I’d use it for, mine went in my pocket, but I later saw someone wearing a bracelet made with lots of the picks and it looked fantastic. I’d found out too late that the dress code was ‘Rock star’ so hadn’t had time to change my clogs to something a bit zanier, however, at Heathrow I had bought a few rock guitar-shaped pins in aid of the charity, Ability Net, which uses technology to help people with disabilities, so I was wearing one of these to show willing. It also struck me as a suitable charity for bloggers to support.
In summary, Blog08 was a fascinating exercise in debating what’s hot and what’s not on the web today. Transparent or not, microblogger or not, there were strong opinions and plenty of voices willing to air their views. The presenters were a varied bunch, providing us with valuable insight into the blogosphere of today, and the audience was keen to participate. As this was an inaugural event, it’ll be interesting to see whether Ernst-Jan and Edial plan a Blog09. If they do, I’d be keen to attend, only this time I think I’ll leave the clogs at home.
The Next Web Blog: http://thenextweb.com/
Spotlight Effect: http://www.spotlighteffect.nl/
Loren Feldman http://www.1938media.com/
Ability Net: http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/
Gaping Void: http://www.gapingvoid.com/
Gabe Mac: http://gabemac.com/
Casa di David, Singel 426, 1017 AV Amsterdam, http://www.casadidavid.com
Monsieur and I went to Casa di David on the recommendation of a Swissotel receptionist, who goes there frequently and couldn’t rate it highly enough. What a disappointment. We had an 8pm reservation on a Saturday night and because there was a crush of people trying to get in at the time we arrived, we weren’t even acknowledged (in spite of waving and smiling at any passing waiter) for around 20 minutes. Finally, we were led upstairs to a table in the midst of an attractive room decorated with a Tuscan theme. As we sat down, the table of 4 next to us finished their starters. We were promptly given a menu, then ignored for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile, our neighbours’ plates were not cleared.
I started to get cheesed off when 3 more couples arrived, were seated at different tables around the room, and were served straight away. Our attempts at attracting the attention of a waiter (there were 5 on deck, so no excuse of short-staffing) didn’t work. The other couples had placed their orders, received their drinks and were already waiting for their food. We were obviously invisible.
When we were finally deemed fit for a waiter’s time, the food came quite quickly; at least the starters did. Monsieur ordered a seafood casserole, which looked and smelled tasty, and I tucked into warm goat’s cheese with honey and berries. The goat’s cheese was superb. Then we sat and almost finished the (vastly overpriced) bottle of Italian white wine as we waited and waited and waited again for our plates to be cleared and the mains to arrive. If this was a ploy to encourage us to order a second bottle, as our neighbours had, then they failed.
My main was seppie di neri tagliolini but there was nothing -ini about it. It was tagliatelle. You’d think Italian restaurateurs would know the difference. It was served with a creamy seafood sauce, but there were only about 3 prawns and 3 scallops in the whole thing. Tasty, yes, but could I make it better myself? Definitely. For one thing, there would have been more than a cursory appearance of seafood. This sort of recipe is mainly down to fresh ingredients. It’s not rocket science.
When the mains arrived, I asked the waiter to bring the bill so we could settle up without another long wait. In a huffy tone, he told me to try the food first, just in case I didn’t like it. He didn’t check back later to see whether or not we were satisfied; he just ignored us again.
We eventually received the bill of 110 Euros. Ouch. That really hurt, especially given the current exchange rate. Around 40 Euros of the total was for the wine that we could have bought for a fiver in Sainsbury’s. It definitely wasn’t worth the splurge. We paid the exact amount in cash and left without tipping. As we walked down the stairs, I saw our designated waiter, who’d been so superb at ignoring us, run to our table, no doubt expecting something in appreciation of his vast lack of effort. He was to be disappointed. Not one member of staff said goodbye, good night or thank you to us on our way out. It was a highly expensive way to be treated appallingly, and rates as my worst restaurant experience for 2008.
Avoid, avoid, avoid.
I give one star for the goat’s cheese starter only. The potential of 4 more stars was lost due to too many waiters and not enough attention, and a VERY expensive wine list.
Following on from my recent experience with a sniffer dog who got it wrong, I thought I’d look into the success rates of these working dogs.
In Australia, they’re not convinced. Following research into sniffer dog accuracy a couple of years back, it was found that only one quarter of positive sniffs yield drugs. I don’t know why that should be a surprise, after all, no matter how much positive reinforcement you use to train a dog to recognise drugs on a person, they are still going to be interested in their own favourity doggie smells – food, bodily fluids, insect repellant (apparently). Here are some articles about when the sniffer dogs who bark up the wrong tree:
From Australia…, this report card for Downunder’s sniffies includes a lot of Ds and must sniff harder.
This post is from a chap who was stopped on the way to a legitimate meeting in Camden Town. The comments on this post are almost as good as the article! It would seem I’m not alone…
In Canada, they’re arguing over sniffer dogs and the infringement of civil liberties. Sniffer dogs should not be allowed to search for drugs in schools or public places – a recent ruling has decreed this to be the case – however, as the threat of explosives in airports is a more serious threat, sniffer dogs will still be allowed to operate there. I get it, but it is somewhat confusing. If an airport is a public place but I’m not an explosive, then why search me? It’s like those philosophical exercises: if a pig is pink and Maxine is pink then does that make Maxine a pig? It’s not exactly a yes or no answer. Besides which, in my experience, those bits of material that can be sniffed by a machine seem to be way more accurate than the dog (who’s probably more interested in food and people’s more delicate parts).
Without boring you with the other articles I’ve found, I can summarise by saying that sniffer dogs are far less accurate than we assume, so the next time you see someone being hauled off for further questioning by a customs official and a Sniffy, you should NOT presume they’re transporting illegal drugs. It could just be that the dog hasn’t had dinner yet and wants some of that duty free chocolate in the nice person’s backpack.
Meanwhile, Natasha Cloutier, my friend from Blog08 in Amsterdam, just sent me the link for a song about sniffer dogs. Can you believe it? Get those heads banging and enjoy (if you can). Personally, I think these guys need a spliff or something to calm them down…
The song’s called ‘I wanna be a drug sniffing dog’ (in case you can’t quite make out the lyrics). It’s by LARD.
At long last, I flew to Amsterdam for Blog08 last week, with the clogs I’d promised to wear packed dutifully in my case. Friday’s conference was packed with interest and Monsieur joined me on Saturday for some Amsterdam sightseeing. We packed five museums and a lot of clog photography into the weekend, and then we flew home. Separately.
As part of my competition prize had included flights, I was taking KLM. Monsieur, meanwhile, had a free flight on BA courtesy of a diligent accrual of points with his favoured airline. His flight left Schiphol an hour before mine but I didn’t get home until three hours after him; instead of racing onto the Heathrow Express homeward-bound, I was instead the subject of a Very Special Greeting by customs officials when KLM landed at Terminal 4.
As we filed off the plane, an official instructed us to walk single-file along one side of the corridor so we could be sniffed by a drugs dog. When it came my turn, I fully expected the dog to take a cursory sniff and move on, but he didn’t. Apparently I smelled GOOOD, so as his nose went all around my nether regions, I wondered what could be so interesting about me. Then he sat at my feet and looked up at his handler. That was the sign. According to the hound I was a problem so I was waved out of the corridor and taken aside.
An official took my passport and asked a number of questions as he worked his way through my previously neatly-arranged carry on bags. Meanwhile, my fellow passengers walked past, casting looks of disdain in my direction. ‘Great. They think I’m one of those people on Airport, with all sorts of illegal substances ferretted away on my person,’ I thought to myself. I already knew that they couldn’t be more wrong; sauvignon blanc is my substance of choice and unless they considered that to be Class A on a list of drugs (I’d just consumed some on the flight) then I was going to be a complete waste of their time.
The officials separated me from my bags and brought the dog back. He didn’t find anything of interest in my carry-on, so they brought him across to sniff me again. His nose kept finding its way to my crotch in a disturbingly-insistent fashion. Perhaps he thought I’d squirreled some narcotics into a particular orifice? Thoughts of latex gloves started to feature in my mind. Whatever would I tell Monsieur?
The main official overseeing this investigation told me they’d now have to fast-track me through customs and retrieve my suitcase from the conveyor. As we approached a customs desk from a side gate, my seat neighbour, a visiting professional from the Phillipines with whom I’d had a friendly in-flight chat, looked directly at me. She frowned and shook her head before turning away. Oh joy. Now it was confirmed in my fellow passengers’ heads that I was a drug-runner. How little did they know! My face burned.
On the way down to baggage collection, I turned to the official.
“I hope you don’t mind me being graphic for a minute, but I have my period. Could that be a factor in what the dog can smell?”
“No,” he replied, “the dog is trained to sniff out Class A drugs.”
That was the end of that Epicurienne theory. It had only occurred to me because I’ve noticed that when it’s that time of the month, dogs take an extra-special interest in sniffing girls. Apparently we give off a similar smell to a bitch on heat. (Some might say that’s exactly what we are, but I couldn’t possibly agree.)
Wondering now if someone could have planted something in my case when I left it at the hotel after check-out this morning, the officials and I collected my luggage before going to the red “Something to Declare” section of the customs exit. There my case was opened and underwear, nightwear and big, wooden CLOGS bared for all to see, along with a pack of tampax. With two pairs of clogs in my luggage, I certainly can’t have been your usual suspect. I answered questions about what I did for a living, how long I’ve lived in the UK, why I was in Amsterdam (I won a blogging competition) and with whom I’d been travelling. When I explained that my fiancé had been with me but had flown back earlier, faces frowned again. They probably thought Monsieur was the drug baron and I was his mule. Poor Monsieur. I was quite relieved he wasn’t there to see this.
Little pieces of drug-sensitive cloth were rubbed around my suitcase and on my clothes before being put into a sniffer machine. Negative, negative came the machine’s response to the situation. Had I used drugs in the past two weeks, they asked. No, came my reply. Not unless you count ibuprofen. Would I be averse to a urine test to prove that? was the next question. Not at all, I replied whilst thinking ‘Where’s the cup? Just give me the cup. I’d gladly pee into any receptacle if that’s what it takes to get out of here and GO HOME.’
By now I could see that the officials were somewhat perplexed. As they told me, I’m well-spoken, obviously professional and could prove my reason for a visit to Amsterdam (no whacky backy required). Physically, I was on form (apart from blushing with shame at being escorted through the airport by uniformed officials). I wasn’t shaky or red-eyed, didn’t stink of an all-nighter or three like many visitors to the grass-capital of Europe might and was relatively calm considering the massive embarrassment I was currently enduring. Apart from a canine with an interest in my crotch, there was nothing to show that I had any contact with drugs.
Then a female official came up to me.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” she asked,
“Of course,” I replied (still wondering when I was going to be taken away for a more thorough inspection),
“You don’t by any chance have your period?” she ventured,
“Yes I do. Could that be a factor?”
“Yes it could.”
“Really?” asked the male official,
“Yes.” said the woman. I think that’s what you’d call a Homer Simpson moment. DOH.
The male official went off to consult his serious-faced boss. They talked for ages. I looked at the ceiling. I looked at the floor. I looked at my dishevelled belongings and I looked at the door marked with “Authorised Personnel Only”, wondering how long it would be before I was led off to somewhere more ‘private’. Then the male official returned.
“I’ve told my boss that you should be allowed to go. You’re too helpful to be a druggie. We can’t find any evidence of drugs here. We’ll just say that the dog was wrong.”
He continued “You may simply have sat in a seat where someone using drugs had been before you.” God bless the liberality of Amsterdam. Major sarcasm intended.
So with that, I packed up my suitcase, clogs included, and left for home. Home, sweet home. I wouldn’t be in the clink tonight. As Monsieur later told me with a big, comforting hug, “Darling, I just can’t let you travel on your own, can I?” He might just be right.
PS I have debated with myself all morning whether or not to write about this because I don’t usually get so personal. Although the dog was obviously barking up the wrong tree, so to speak, causing a great amount of embarrassment and inconvenience to all concerned, I have to say that the customs officials dealing with me were polite and professional. At the end of the ordeal, they apologised and admitted that an error had occurred. However, because I never realised that something like this could happen, I do think it’s important for Epicurienne readers to take note of my experience, just in case the dog ever gets it wrong with one of you.
Pinch me hard ‘cos my clog blogger competition entry just won the Blog08 prize. In a nutshell, that means that I am now going to Blog08 in Amsterdam. This also means that I will be wearing clogs. All. Day. Long.
The competition was a huge amount of fun to take part in and the other entries were incredibly clever. I also have to thank competition adjudicator, Andy Bargery, for sharing my somewhat eclectic sense of humour. Without that I wouldn’t be sitting here thinking so much about CLOGS.
Click here to see the competition announcement.
Now for the part where I need help. Yes, help, and we’re not talking about padded jackets or small purple pills (although you could be forgiven for thinking that after seeing The Clog Blogger). I need help planning what I do after the day at Blog08. If you’ve been to Amsterdam and you think you know what a girl in clogs (that’s me) should see/ do/ eat while she’s there, please let me know!
Now please forgive me if I’m quiet for a while. I have to set up The Clog Blog. After all, I did promise…
It’s been a busy week on the London Bloggers‘ front. We had another Meetup (more about that later) and I’ve entered another competition. For this one I’ve had to explain why I think I deserve a free ticket to Blog08 in Amsterdam. Here’s the entry:
BTW the music was supposed to be These Boots Were Made for Walking by Nancy Sinatra, but that track just wouldn’t behave, so I used Catwalk instead… but that was a bit short so now it’s Tiptoe Through the Tulips! Gosh, this is fun.