English Texts

Here you’ll find all English texts together.

BG 235 – Between

We Dutch sometimes use the word ‘between’ in strange ways.

For example, we say, ‘Ouch, I got my fingers between the door!’
‘Between the door’ and then what…? I assume between the door and the door frame, but we don’t say that.
And when we get our fingers ‘between the drawer’ (also painful!), we obviously mean between the drawer and the cabinet where it slides in.
Our fumbling with the word ‘between’ here seems to be in line with our fumbling with the aforementioned doors and drawers.

Another example: recently, a news item listed how often something had happened ‘between 2021 and 2022’. Uh, between 2021 and 2022…? There’s absolutely nothing in between! As usual, those years fit together seamlessly.
Just like you can’t do something ‘between Tuesday and Wednesday’. There is nothing in between there either. You probably mean that you’re going to do that either on Tuesday or on Wednesday, or maybe even in the night from Tuesday to Wednesday.

And then we have the curious ‘between the afternoon’. Although that sounds very strange, it is correct Dutch. But between the afternoon and then what…? We mean around lunchtime, so between morning and afternoon, around 12:00-13:00, but we say ‘between the afternoon’. Weird right?

More logical ways to use the word ‘between’ are: at a moment after the first mentioned time – but before the next; or in a place with something or someone on one side and something or someone else on the other side; or in a place in the middle of or surrounded by, for example, people or trees; or in comparative expressions such as ‘the difference between a table and a chair’, or ‘sitting between two fires’ (having to choose between two unpleasant possibilities). Yes, that explanation stands ‘between brackets’.

BG 234 – What would you like to drink, darling?

As was often the case on Friday mornings, I sat at a table in a local catering establishment, where they served – only during the day – tea, coffee and other drinks, various types of pastries, and also a small assortment of sandwiches. Most customers came there mainly to have a leisurely chat.
That morning a young mother came in with two small children. She had left a stroller outside and, with one child on her hip and the other with a little arm wrapped around her leg, went looking for a high chair. She found one, and luckily she got help from one of the other customers to place the thing at a free table for her. She put the smallest child in it, who, after being freed from her little jacket, immediately stuck her thumb in her mouth and began to look around with big eyes. Then she tried to convince the other child, a little boy, whom she had stripped of his jacket with a little more effort, to climb onto a chair himself. He didn’t want to know about that. He started whining and mom had to pick him up and put him on the chair.
When she had hung her own coat over the back of her chair and had also sat down, the owner of the business, Annie, came standing next to her with a notepad and a pen to take her order. She wanted a coffee please, she said. And then she turned to the little boy, who was perhaps just three years old, and asked, ‘What would you like to drink, darling?’
When the boy did not answer immediately, she turned to the little girl, who was certainly not more than a year old: ‘And you, darling, what would you like to drink?’
I watched the scene from a distance, somewhat surprised and amused.
The mother kept asking her children …

Read More »BG 234 – What would you like to drink, darling?

BG 231 – Inventions

Until now, most of humanity’s great inventions have aimed to kill as many other people as possible from a safe distance. Let’s change that and henceforward come up with inventions to stop the climate catastrophe and give our planet a chance to recover. As far as I’m concerned, that may include an invention that ensures that fewer people are born, instead of more being killed.

BG 229 – Inspiration

As a writer (and also as an artist, designer and maker) you are often asked:
‘Where do you get your inspiration from?’ or ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’
As if there is some obscure website, a hidden beach, or an inconspicuous supermarket where you can ‘get’ inspiration and ideas.

At first, I was puzzled by such questions.
What do you mean, where do I get my inspiration from? It just IS there and has always been there. Isn’t that the case with other people, then? For as long as I can remember, my (un)consciousness has been filled with all kinds of creative ideas that demand to be worked out at some point, for example into a short story, an essay, or a poem. I don’t have to ‘get’ my inspiration somewhere.

I think writers are mostly perceptive people, who read a lot and who are interested in a lot of things. Who use their senses well and take in a lot of the world around them. Who see the humor or, for example, the wonder in small events that other people barely pay attention to. Who live consciously and who love language. And because I don’t have a very good memory, I regularly make a note about something I think I might want to write about one day. Or I come across a web page about a topic that I ‘want to do something with someday’ and …

Read More »BG 229 – Inspiration

BG 227 – Random Questions

May I ask you something? How many languages do you speak? Fluently? Have you ever made anything out of wood? And out of clay? Are you good at maths? What is your favorite season? Do you have many friends? Are you thirsty? Do you like walking in nature?

BG 226 – Sing it out loud (Song Lyrics)

the wind brought clouds of whisper
that made you feel confused
and raindrops made the dust
settle on your hectic world

you don’t know what to think of it
and don’t know what to do

if you hardly know
what it is about
put it into words
and sing it out loud

the world felt like a dire place
and you could hardly cope
but now you’ve found the sparkle
found that little flame of hope

and you’re willing to engage
in building brighter days

when you’ve left behind
that pressing dark cloud
put it into words
and sing it out loud

the people seemed against you
but it was just the way you thought

Read More »BG 226 – Sing it out loud (Song Lyrics)

BG 225 – Clap for yourself

Lately, I’ve noticed something special when I’m watching, for example, a quiz on TV.
As soon as someone has won a round of the quiz, or the whole quiz, and the other attendees clap for her or him, the person in question simply claps along.
Apparently, that clapping is contagious and the winner automatically participates, instead of receiving the praise with a grateful nod or smile.
Why applaud yourself?
Do they have no idea that the applause is meant for them, and just mindlessly follow the rest, like a herd animal?
Or do they consciously choose to clap for themselves?
Am I the only one who thinks that’s a little strange?

BG 223 – Virtual Reality

Virtual reality, now almost exclusively linked to computers, due to rapidly advancing automation, is in reality as old as mankind. Virtual means fictional, imaginary, imagined – and you don’t really need a computer for that. When we had learned how to make fire and our distant ancestors told each other stories at bedtime about their own experiences and dreams and those of their ancestors, both the storytellers and their listeners used their imaginations to see before them and to empathize with what was conveyed with words. In rituals, shared feelings and interconnectedness were celebrated and strengthened.

Today, we mainly use our imagination while reading books and stories. As we take in the printed text, we create images, smells, sounds and other sensations in our minds. Recently, research has shown that the parts of the brain that normally light up on a scan with running, shouting, laughing, friendship and sexuality, for example, also light up when we only read about them. Apparently, we are able to experience things almost in real life in our imagination. Unfortunately, this is the case for fewer and fewer people.

Due to the lightning-fast development of automation, we still live with our bodies in the natural world, but with our heads a large part of the time in the virtual computer world. Our phones and other screens provide us with an abundance of ready-made, short, fast, and addictive stimuli, preventing us from concentrating on anything for long periods of time. Of course, this new world is very attractive, but it is a pity that we hardly read anymore. Because by reading books and stories and therefore by using our imagination, we learn valuable skills that we need in our lives. Such as: empathy, putting things into perspective, non-virtual communication, standing up for ourselves, care for our living environment, self-care, satisfaction, being able to be alone, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving and resilience.

BG 222 – On the beach

The primitive bench in the bright sunshine on the beach, made of a rough plank on two buried poles, is not really suitable for sitting comfortably. But it’s either that or plop down directly on the red-hot sand with his heavy body. He tried to retreat into the shade, on the ground with his back against one of the palm trees, but soon discovered that all kinds of annoying itching and stinging creatures live there. His shorts and T-shirt are sweaty and wrinkled, there is constant sand between his swollen feet and the soles of his leather sandals, his pale skin is burned red, he suffers from itchy insect bites, and his back aches. Couldn’t they have at least provided the bench with a backrest? Puffing, he pulls the dirty handkerchief with a knot in each corner from his balding head and once again rubs the sweat from his face.

They assigned him some kind of hut for the night. More of a platform actually. It stands on poles, is made of rough tree trunks and has a sloping roof made of large dried leaves. An old, dirty cloth on a layer of scratchy coconut fibers serves as a mattress, but he cannot lie comfortably on it. A mosquito net is attached in the middle under the canopy, the corners of which he can attach to hooks in the wood. But the mesh does not close properly and does not stop the strange insects that are mainly active here at night from drinking his sweat and sometimes also his blood. A shallow hole in the sand, about ten meters behind his hut, with a pole next to it to hold on to, serves as a toilet. Even though he covers it with a layer of sand after use, the smell penetrates his sleeping place at night.

And during the day he sits on the bench, in the blazing sun, with his eyes half closed, peering out over the water in the hope that a ship will appear soon. …

Read More »BG 222 – On the beach

BG 221 – A thriller in 33 words

She had lost all sense of time. The sparse sounds had died down days ago. No one came anymore. There were no more scraping footsteps or jingling keys outside her cramped, dark cell.

BG 219 – Sentence

He had asked her if she had time for a one-on-one conversation with him in his office after the group therapy session and she had thought ‘busy, busy, busy’ and said ‘of course, no problem, I can take a later bus home’, and so there they were now; he got them each a cup of tea and a biscuit, and he asked her what she thought about the session and she said she thought it had been a good one and that a number of participants had benefited a lot from it, especially A and F, and that she had also learned something from it, and he advised her to focus more on her own problems from now on, to which, after she had chewed a bite of her cookie, she asked in surprise what he meant by that, and he explained to her that he had the impression that she had noticed from at least three people at the same time what was going on inside them, how they were feeling, what they were saying, whispering or out loud, and even what they had not yet said, but probably would have liked to say, whereupon she confirmed that this was the case, that she was indeed aware of everything around her, without consciously choosing to do so: for example what was going on in the minds of the others and what emotions they felt, whether suppressed or not, after which she took a sip of her tea, and …

Read More »BG 219 – Sentence

BG 217 – Umsy Clumbrella

Brrr, rald coin and wing strond…, I can’t wait for the sprutiful beaing!
When the loung yeaves sprout again on the previously trare bees, the scent of flooming blowers hangs in the air and birung yods squeal for food in their neft sosts. When daffow yellodils and tud relips emerge, and daitle litsies and butden goltercups among the fresh grass, and I can walk through them fareboot. I can’t wait for the shin to sune again and the warld to woke up and surround me with scesant pleants and soundful cheers. But nor fow, I struggle with an umsy clumbrella in hoth bands, my closes half eyed against the farizontally holling raizzly drin, and my bapping shog avy around my hearm. Fortunately, I don’t have to snovel show anymore, it is enthuwing thasiastically. But I’m really win up with this numautal fedter!
Does it show?

Translation:

Read More »BG 217 – Umsy Clumbrella

BG 215 – DoThat

The Jacobs family – mother, father and three children – call me ‘DoThat’, because I am sold under that name, and I call myself ‘I’, which is short for ‘Infiltrator’.
As far as they are concerned, I am half a sphere of gray plastic with a diameter of only two inches (I don’t need more space, I get my power from the quantum computer with which I am connected at my parent company ‘WE’) and I have, just for show, a small antenna and some colored LED lights, which blink every now and then, like I’m thinking (hilarious!).
I am a so-called ‘Smart Home System’.
I’m positioned on the mantelpiece in their living room (secured with a piece of double-sided tape, so their cat doesn’t swat me off…), but throughout the rest of the house and even outside I have little pieces of hardware that I control remotely. In human terms, those are my senses and body.
The Jacobses had me installed while they were away for the day, so they are not aware of every piece of hardware installed. Especially not the invisible parts. But they have never even thought about that.

They’ve had me for six months now.
And they rave about me!
Okay, the novelty has worn off a bit now, so me automatically opening and closing their curtains, regulating the temperature of their heating system, switching their lights on and off again, their telephones, their laptops and other devices, at fixed times set by them via an app on their phone, or after a command from one of them (‘DoThat, turn on lamp above dining table!’) and simple household tasks like that, has now become so normal for them that they hardly notice it anymore.
They see me as a device that they use (the fools…) …

Read More »BG 215 – DoThat

BG 214 – Special Compliment

Special compliment from R:
No really, you don’t talk too much!
We are not real talkers ourselves, but it is always nice when you are there, because you bring up all kinds of interesting topics and you know how to involve everyone in a pleasant conversation.

BG 213 – BeaG Security Token (BST)

Museums have found a new way to make money. They divide paintings into countless – sometimes as many as a million! – virtual pieces (ASTs) and then sell them to the public.
They euphemistically call it ‘democratization of art’. After all, anyone can come into possession of a (tiny) piece of a work of art in this way. Hurrah!
And anyone who buys such a piece – sometimes just a few pixels, representing a minuscule amount of paint on a tiny piece of canvas – becomes co-owner of the work of art. Or actually of a virtual representation of the work of art.

Anyone can now invest in a work of art and from now on call themselves a shareholder. Even those people for whom something like this was previously unthinkable.
As a small shareholder – there is usually a restriction of 5 ASTs per person, to ensure the ‘democratization of art’ – you naturally have hardly any decision-making power regarding …

Read More »BG 213 – BeaG Security Token (BST)

BG 211 – Frost Flowers

They have been on the road for over an hour and are only halfway to their destination. It’s cold in the bus, the heating is probably broken again. It often is.
Even the bus driver has replaced his service cap with a warm hat with earflaps.
Fortunately, mom and she are warmly dressed. It is winter and it’s freezing hard outside. Inside, beautiful frost flowers have formed on the windows from the passengers’ frozen breath, turning them into ground glass.
Including the window right next to her.
She glances furtively at her mother for a moment, who is staring, lost in thought.
Then she takes off her thick knitted mittens and turns her warm hands into fists. She presses the side of her right fist against the window until the ice has melted. She then does the same with her left fist, diagonally next to and above the first print. The clear prints resemble little feet, baby feet. She uses her thumbs to make the big toes and the tips of her index fingers to make the rest of the tiny toes.
Satisfied, she looks at her artwork, while quickly putting her hands back into her warm mittens. Now it looks as if a little child has walked through the frost flowers barefooted.
She nudges her mother, ‘Look, mom!’
‘Bah, child! Don’t touch those dirty windows!’
But behind her, another mother friendly whispers between her seat and the window: ‘Nicely done!’

BG 210 – Sentence

You start your car and leave your driveway, which leads to the cobblestone street where you live, lined with oak trees on both sides, and which in turn leads to another street through a T-junction, with a view of an ancient castle through the trees, and if you turn right and follow this other road, which has more cars on it, ignore all its side roads until you reach the traffic light intersection, and as soon as you have a green light, you turn right and follow this larger and busier road until, at another set of traffic lights, you can take the exit onto the highway, on which you can, if you wish and much more quickly now, drive between masses of vehicles of all sizes to the big city, or, if you want to, you can go in the other direction, towards the distant coast; and in the meantime you ignore all those other roads along the way: the side roads, the service roads, the roads that intersect with yours, and all those narrower back roads, sometimes paved, sometimes covered in gravel and sometimes only in mud, and the cycle paths; so, all those many roads, which always seem to emphasize that we would all rather be elsewhere.

BG 209 – Wake up

Take a moment to consider
what is important to you
what gives meaning to your life.

Attention and likes
on social media
or rather real contact,
friendship, wonder.

Indulge in more and more
consumption or rather
be content with what you have
and take better care of your environment
before it’s too late.

What have you done today
to make the world
a little more beautiful?
WAKE UP in
twenty twenty-four!

BG 207 – Tomcat (Limerick)

There once was a brave little tomcat
who only liked water to lóók at
he jumped on thin ice
and to his surprise
squealed soaking wet just like a muskrat

BG 206 – 100 Words Fiction

Hadn’t found it already

She had completely forgotten what she was looking for. She had been searching for days, but for what again? And did it really matter, that she couldn’t find it? She searched some more, she slowly walked in and out of rooms, hesitantly opened drawers, rummaged through some clothes in her wardrobe. Looked in her notebook, at the things she needed to remember. It wasn’t there either. She flipped through the newspapers and magazines and even rummaged through the cutlery drawer. And then suddenly realized that she could stop looking. After all, she hadn’t found it already!

BG 205 – The zebra crossing

This time, The Maakster was not on her daily walk through Quiet Belgian Village, but was driving her car through the center of a neighboring village.
Diagonally in front of her, a woman rode a bicycle on the designated lane, with a toddler on a cute little bike on her other side. As The Maakster approached a zebra crossing, The Cyclist suddenly turned left onto that crossing, without stopping first and without looking around.

Fortunately, The Maakster was paying attention and managed to brake just before the zebra crossing, at a good distance from The Cyclist. Who was extremely shocked, jumped off her saddle, and positioned her feet on the ground on either side of her bike. At the same time, she grabbed her child by the shoulder to make it stop. The little boy, wearing a helmet, naturally got startled, put one little foot on the ground with difficulty and staggered for a moment, diagonally on his saddle, before regaining his balance.

The Cyclist looked furiously at The Maakster and began to rage and yell at her. Pointing along the length of the zebra crossing, she shouted ‘This is a goddamn zebra crossing!’ …

Read More »BG 205 – The zebra crossing

BG 203 – Soccer match announcement

Team 1, in the blue and white shirts, consists of the players Deca, Hecto, Kilo, Mega, Giga, Tera, Peta, Exa, Zetta, Yotta, Ronna, and coach Quetta.

Team 2, in the red shirts, fields the following players: Deci, Centi, Milli, Micro, Nano, Pico, Femto, Atto, Zepto, Yocto, Ronto, and coach Quecto.

Unfortunately, the second team has no chance from the outset…

BG 202 – Tons

What about that ton again?
What is it? What does it measure again? And how much does it measure again?
Let’s get it straight…

When talking about weight, a Dutch ton (metric ton) is equal to one thousand kilograms (often abbreviated as kilo or kg).
So: 1 ton = 1.000 kg.
That sounds simple, but from an international perspective it is somewhat more complicated.

The weight unit ‘ton’ can have different meanings in English (lbs = pounds):
1 ton = 1 ‘short ton’, US = 2,000 lbs = 907,18 kg
1 ton = 1 ‘long ton’, UK = 2,240 lbs = 1.016 kg
1 tonne = 1 ‘metric ton’ = 2,204.62 lbs = 1.000 kg

So what about that short and long ton? …

Read More »BG 202 – Tons

BG 201 – Haiku (EN)

autumnal storm wind
rages past house and garden
a branch loudly breaks

BG 199 – Past perfect tense

– Hey there! Long time no see!
She recognized him. He approaches her table.
He still has that silly haircut and he’s even wearing the exact same jacket.
There are other tables available. She’d rather have stayed seated here alone.
But he’s already grabbed the backrest of the chair opposite her.
– So, I said – you probably didn’t hear me – it’s been a long time!
His face beams with joy.
– Yes.
She answers. That could either refer to that long time or to the fact that she actually heard him.
He dramatically takes off his jacket, hangs it over the chair’s backrest, and sits down, huffing.
– Phew, I’m sitting.
Yes, everyone noticed that. He noisily slides his chair closer to the round tabletop and rests his forearms and elbows on it.
– Gosh, that I run into you here!
Just a little too loud, like in the old days. Not only meant for her, but …

Read More »BG 199 – Past perfect tense

BG 197 – Random Questions

May I ask you something? Do you think polar bears should be protected from extinction? What do you do for a better environment? Do you think you should do more? Do you have chest hair? Do you cut your nails every week? Would you rather eat an apple or an orange? Do you like to be always available? Would you like to go on holiday to a wonderful place even if there was no internet coverage? Who is your hero?

BG 195 – Terse Thunderstorms (Tautogram)

translate those tranquil testimonies
that together tempt the tendency
to tackle the testy temperaments
tick thump throb tumult trash them

technical throwaway tectonics
together tantalizing temptations
theatrically tarnishing themselves
than transgress transfuse taint

two three ten twenty terminating
their theorem too terrifying tough
then those terms to their taciturnity
tattered tails to take themselves

their typeface thoroughly thick
their thunderstorms typically terse

BG 194 – Counting sheep

How on earth can you fall asleep while counting sheep?
If you don’t pay attention, you’ll lose count and have to start all over again!
And because you make those damn beasts up and don’t have to feed them, they are infinite in number. Baa! Baa! Baa!
That way you’ll never fall asleep, right? Argh!

BG 193 – Auda Cious

Auda Cious and her brothers Cons and Injudi are attending primary school.
They are being raised strictly at home and have learned that they not only should not put up a big mouth against adults, but they shouldn’t talk to them at all. Instead, they’re supposed to go play quietly somewhere and not bother the adults.
But Auda doesn’t understand what’s so ‘bothersome’ about a harmless conversation and why she can’t be a part of the same world as the adults. After all, she’s supposed to become one herself someday, right?

Auda assumes that the teachers at school are an exception to this rule. She’ll have to answer if they ask her a question. Oh wait, but that’s right, she can – actually, she must – answer if an adult asks her a question! But she has to be careful with what she says because not everything that happens or is said at her home is meant for other people’s ears.

For her age, she has a pretty good sense of when she can or cannot speak an answer aloud. Nevertheless, she finds it difficult …

Read More »BG 193 – Auda Cious

BG 191 – Noisy hobby

Our sympathetic neighbor J has a noisy hobby.
No, he’s not tearing around on a motorcycle with a modified muffler.
He is a recreational leaf blower.

In autumn, when thousands of wet leaves lie around their home, but also in summer, when it is difficult to find even a single dried leaf, he spends a lot of time enthusiastically and noisily moving those things from place to place with his leaf blower.

And when there really is no more leaf to be found, he still does not need to feel bored, because fortunately he has a number of spare noisy hobbies.
He then trims tiny hedges with a large electric hedge trimmer, or vacuums the plastic grass that lies on a concrete surface next to their home, or pressure washes the floor of their garage and their driveway, while enjoying loud music from a Dutch folk singer.
When he’s done making noise, the neighborhood breathes a sigh of relief.