I wrote yesterday about an unexpected arrival at a lunch time café bar in Den Bosch, the common name for the beautiful and very old city of ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. We were visiting with friends, and after our lunch at the Cafe Tijl Uilenspiegel, we went to find the ticket office for boat trips along the canals and through the tunnels under the city.
Tickets purchased we stood leaning on a rail by the landing stage, looking down at the canal, and people watching. There was a party of jolly ladies who were also waiting for the trip, an elegant couple who joined us on our little boat, and various others, all cheerfully waiting in the sunshine for the trip to start.
My eye was drawn to a person sitting opposite where I was waiting; there was a narrow bridge with seats so people could look down into the canal, as I was doing, directly opposite me. He – or maybe a she, it was a little difficult to tell, was probably in his/her twenties, with light brown fluffy hair, glasses, a pale face, black hooded jacket, long white shirt with a tee-shirt underneath, blue jeans and pales, sandy coloured trainers with a white sole.
S/he was just sitting, staring blankly, apparently deep in thought, not unhappy, but not necessarily happy, just observing and thinking. The next time I looked across, s/he had a small notebook out and was busy writing – and suddenly all became clear. s/he was a writer! Something had triggered a thought, an inspiration or a coagulation of ideas and s/he was scribbling them down… when i say scribble, they seemed to be writing carefully and neatly, not dashing their pen across the page.
I chatted to my friends and noticed the writer had stood up, still writing, and then ,moved off the bridge and stood looking at the canal from a different angle, writing standing up. I tried to see what might have inspired him/her… there was a plaque on the wall opposite – the side of a house or building, with an engraving of two men’s faces; there was a little black statue of a a man in old fashioned clothes and a hat with a feather and a notice said he was half Peter, because there was only one side of him – maybe he had been affixed to the wall in profile. The writer may have been looking at him.
It was nearly time to go down the steps to the landing stage and board the boat. The writer had walked past us and was standing by a rack of bicycles – a common sight in the Netherlands, He was stooped looking at something, but I couldn’t see what. My last glimpse of him was standing looking at a small bar… and the next time I looked he’d gone, wandered away with his note book.