Trip Start Jan 31, 2010
Trip End Jul 21, 2010

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Where I stayed
Robert's House

Flag of Netherlands  , Utrecht,
Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I'm up early to an empty house with the glorious sight of snow out the window. It covers the garden and balcony out the back in a thin white blanket. Simply gorgeous!

Visa issues are getting the better of me. Not really, they’re just getting old. The walk to the office of immigration, the one I’ve made several times already, is disturbed with road works. Five men gingerly lift out individual bricks from the footpath, hoping to lay them again after the machinery cuts a new line in the earth. I need to have an interview to make sure I can have an interview to live here. The lady behind the information desk is lovely, her superior refused to peak to me in English, but she helps out. I’ve ticked all the boxes and had hoped to call yesterday, but the recorded message was in Dutch and didn’t make any sense to Robert, so this turns out better.

So now we play the waiting game. My ticket is booked (was booked a while ago), everything is set.

I sleep on and off, muck around on the uke, and finish the toys ready for sending later today to tomorrow. Robert is jamming upstairs, and receives a phone call from Mitros. I had been trying to call them for a few days now to discuss my living arrangements, but to no avail. Again, after a lengthy discussion in which they seem happy to repeat what has already been said without further explanation, I am told they believe there is not enough room for me to live here. What they recommend I do instead is apply for a postal address only, that way I can still get mail and be registered in Netherlands.

So it’s back past the road works. The men have stopped for a while and are examining the large scare they’ve left in the ground, hoping to cover it with the stones later on.

New lady at a new desk. Again I explain my situation. She smiles, then realizes what I’m saying and says no, unless you are registered as living here already you cannot apply for a postal address only. Oh. She calls for someone to help. He is nice and I explain my situation and show the paperwork I have filled out. He understands, as says I can be registered as living there, but as Mitros have said they don’t want me there is may get Robert into trouble, and he may in turn be cast out onto the street. Oh dear. I will tel Robert when I get home, and ask the mister that he please come round to approve my living conditions as soon as possible, as I am to leave for Sweden tomorrow. Ten o’clock is penciled in; the lady looks worried and asks if I have somewhere else to live. I do, but this is to be discussed tomorrow.

Back at Robert’s and I explain the situation, and the chances of him being evicted. He laughs, which is not the reaction I was expecting. He then speaks at length for the relationship he has with his landlord. He has lived there for thirty eight years. There is no contract between he and the landlord. Neither side has documentation of the agreement. Everyone just keeps on going as they are, as they always have been doing, no matter how the circumstances. Apparently my presence here will change nothing. I am both relieved and very dubious. Asking no more questions, we jam for a few hours, recording some of it on my laptop, which is wicked.

It is my last dinner at Marja’s. I bring le wicked truffles and presents for both her and Robert. Drawings I have done while here are framed, parts found while hunting through Utrecht’s many crazy shops.

When we get there Marja has the radio on, as she will be having a live interview later in the evening on a program taking a moment out of history, tonight detailing her controversial publications during her school years in the 70s.

I hear the start of it, but head off to play at Café Averechts, my last performance in Utrecht. I don’t need a map this time; I remember the canal, the penis graffiti and the couple making out under a hotel sign, most of which appear again on my way.

Averechts is quiet tonight – though I have only been one other time to compare. The bands are great though. This time Eric has a mandolin player and another on that crazy percussive box, the Cajón (which is translated from Spanish and means box – yes, he was playing the Spanish Box). I don’t have a spot on the list – I show up half an hour after the place opens and the list is already full, it’s like GB all over again, but Eric gives me five minutes between sets to bust out as many as I can. The girl before me looks nervous onstage with her guitar; she has never played in front of people before. Her songs are amazing, and witty about confidence and cleaning and living and working. Truly amazing for a first time, I want to get her songs by she leaves very quickly after playing. I bust out four originals – Flying Naďve, Lock & Key, Last Night Expectations, and My Corresponding Shape before the next band is set up and ready to play. Those there seem to like them, which is always good. Eric loves it, and says he’ll send me a song he wants me to learn to record with hi when I come back, as well as the request I learn Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World like that other guy, we both don’t remember his name.

The next band is two guitars, one of which is freaking mind blowing in voice and ability. The other is wicked as well, but pales in comparison. The group after do a cover of Bring Me The Disco King with double bass, acoustic guitar and that crazy Spanish box, which turns out amazing and has me guessing until it’s over.

I call it a night not much later, trying not to wake Robert on my way to bed.
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