It’s Monday and we’re going to be on the television. My sister and I are on our way to the country’s leading live news talk show in Amsterdam. Two countryside girls go the big city.
First we find out that I’ve booked a room in a student flat on the east side of the city, when we need to be in the west side. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever get the hang of traveling without either getting lost or making other random errors. So we eat and take a bus and walk through the park at night, making a list of Dutch words that should be used more often. Zompig, toetje, druilerig, kledder and vlapflip are definitely in there. We have a drink in the fancy studio bar with equally fancy-looking people and begin giggling, fantasizing about pulling some weird shit during broadcasting.
A man who started off as a public news anchor, Jeroen Pauw, hosts the program. Obviously I’ve always fancied him since he is tall, slender, charming, has got blue eyes and cute curly hair and is at leas fifteen years older than I. Linda and I are sat down right next to him, a mere arm’s length away. The guests are our most notorious criminal defender and politician-to-be Bram Mozkowicz, actor Maarten Spanjer and the nation’s media tycoon John de Mol (Endemol productions) who just won his second Emmy award for conceptualizing talent show The Voice. He was asleep at home when it was awarded. Dutch humbleness for you right there.
We’re lucky with where we are sitting (Linda is visible right next to the host in every shot) and it turned out to be a great show. What I particularly enjoy is the lack of screaming and arguing ruling most American programs. Our host is a solid leader and asks intelligent questions, making sure everyone gets a fair amount of time to speak. He does not, like say, Bill Maher, allow himself to get emotionally sucked into the arguments and let people run away with their personal egos. When Pauw speaks, everyone is quiet and whoever begins answering first is given a quiet stage to do so. If a guest takes too much time, Pauw will direct his question to whom may have the most interesting reply or who hasn’t had the chance to say much yet.
The reason I describe this, is because it is one of the things I miss living in America. Another is the humbleness and perceived safety with which these famous people move about their audience. Pauw came in to greet us beforehand and afterwards we walk out together; there is no separation of the common and the famous. Back in the bar, everyone sits around for a chat. We were allowed to keep our jackets, shoes and belts on! Oh, and everyone was offered a glass of wine or beer just before the show started. Yup, everyone (including the guests and host) drinks on live public television–it’s great!
We catch on the last bus home and I’m reminded how Dutch cities completely shut down like a village after midnight. No 24/7 metropolises here, everyone gets to go to bed for a while and rest up before sunrise.