the owner of the Theatre Ribeau, a small 45-seat ‘shoebox’
theatre which has been set-up in an old church in Amsterdam. It is
there that my 2 biggest Amsterdam events were to take place, and both
were booked for the same day.
680 emails had
been sent out to Noppes LETS members, promoting both events. And 20
A4 posters, which I’d designed, had been posted up in cafes
and notice boards around Amsterdam.
The first event
was a public interview by Lisette Thooft from The Simple Living magazine
(in Dutch). Even though I’d been interviewed many times before,
this was a little different because it was the first time I’d
been interviewed in front of a live audience. In fact, it felt very
much like being on The Oprah Show.
in Amsterdam ... Oprah-style.
Lisette is a very
well known journalist who is also a TV personality. So she was very
professional with her approach. She audio-taped the entire interview
(over 2 hours) and I was given the opportunity to address the audience
with my answers. So it almost felt like I was giving my usual LETS
Favours presentation, but with Lisette steering me in the direction
she wanted to go. She even had photos taken with me to use for the
Then after the
interview, the audience kept me back to answer their own set of questions.
Time had been
set aside for dinner, so I joined a few of the audience members and
went to a local Indian restaurant for a meal.
My play was due
to start at 8.30pm, so I got back to the theatre at about 7pm to prepare
my stage props and go through a short rehearsal. After all, this was
to be my first theatre performance of The Glory Of Athens, and I wanted
it to go as smoothly as possible.
It was good to
see some of my earlier audience return to see me performing my play,
and so it turned out to be a very long day for them (and myself) as
the play finished around 10.30pm.
dreaded table scene which was eliminated after this show.
Et, a Noppes member
and good friend of Nico’s, took lots of photos of me while I
was performing on stage, so I ended up with quite a good collection
of photographs (my first acting photos).
The Glory Of Athens
is a comedy, but it is also a very emotional play. And at certain
points it demands some pretty convincing acting when the leading character
gets all choked up inside. So I was very pleased that it all came
together for me and the tears welled up in my eyes, and the voice
quivered at just the right moment near the end (the climax) of the
my success was given when almost the entire audience stayed back after
the play to congratulate me and have a short chat. I even had photos
taken with them, just like a real celebrity.
As you can imagine,
I was so tired by the end of the day that I slept like a log right
through till the morning. And it was such a good experience that I’m
sure it is something I can get used to quite easily.
Bell-ringers "ringing Dom bells"!
Ringers Of The Dom
The Dom is Holland’s
tallest church cathedral at a height of 112 metres (about 365 feet).
In fact, each new cathedral being built in Holland must get special
approval if it wants to build a higher cathedral, and obviously none
of them have been successful as yet.
The Dom isn’t
in Amsterdam, it’s in Utrecht, which is the third largest city
in Holland, situated between the 2 larger cities of Amsterdam and
Rotterdam. My first impressions of Utrecht were very pleasing. It
had a village atmosphere, yet had all the facilities of the larger
I was only in
Utrecht for 3 days, but I had my most interesting experience on the
It was Sunday
morning and I’d agreed to climb to the top of the Dom (about
500 steps!) which would give me the best panoramic view of the city
of Utrecht. But the instructions were very specific.
“Be at the
Dom at 9.45 am, because one of our LETS members is a Bell-Ringer and
he’ll be able to get you in for free.”
Luuk, one of Utrecht
LETS’ most enthusiastic members, picked me up bright and early
on Sunday morning and we left together with his wife and young daughter
getting to the Dom with plenty of time to spare. But as we watched
the other Bell-Ringers entering the Dom, our own LETS Bell-Ringer
was nowhere to be seen. Then at 9.55am the doors were about to be
closed on us.
was able to persuade the door attendant to let us in, so our trip
The normal Dom
tours which are offered to paying tourists include the climb and also
a view of the bells. But they don’t get to see the Bell-Ringers
in action. Today, we were going to see the lot. The normal tour AND
About 20 people
made their way to the Bell-Ringers level. This was only about one
third of the way up the Dom, up what seemed to be an endless spiral
of bluestone steps along brick and mortar walls. And my legs were
like jelly by the time I got there. I’m sure I exercised muscles
that I never even knew existed.
And the first
thing that caught my attention were the ropes. Dangling from the solid
timber ceiling were 17 thick ropes, each attached to a bell a couple
of floors higher up. They were all numbered and neatly coiled at the
base so they looked like coiled-up cobras. At 10am, after the Dom’s
automatic bells struck 10, the first Bell-Ringer was put into position
and began pulling on the long rope. It took about three yanks (not
Americans) to finally get it ringing, and kept it ringing while another
Bell-Ringer joined in with another bell. And so they continued until
about 6 bells were ringing out of rhythm and rather chaotically, but
were kept ringing for several minutes. Then one by one they stopped
until just one bell was left ringing. It too stopped before 10.15am.
This was repeated once again a few minutes later with another set
of Bell-Ringers, so that all the Bell-Ringers rostered on for the
day’s shift had the joyful experience of ‘ringing Dom
bells’ (sorry, but I couldn’t resist).
But while the
second round of Bell-Ringers were doing their stuff, Luuk and I were
taken up to see the bells. I had noticed that on the Bell-Ringers
level the noise was muted by the thick wooden ceiling which must’ve
been a great insulator, but now that I was in amongst the bells, it
still didn’t sound that loud. Maybe it was because we were slightly
higher than the bells and the sound was traveling downwards (just
But I did notice
a big difference in the size of the bells. A couple were taller than
me (about 2 metres or 7 feet), then the others got smaller down to
about 2 feet (0.6 m) in height. These bells were built in 1972, but
the original bells which we were about to see were built in 1663 (440
So after the Bell-Ringers
had finished, we all climbed up the narrow spiraling staircase for
another one third of its height and saw a beautiful set of 33 bells,
perfectly set in layers with the largest bells at the bottom and the
smaller ones at the top. These are the bells that are rung hourly,
half hourly and quarter hourly, but the largest bells are only used
for special occasions like Christmas.
Oh, I almost forgot
to tell you about the view. It was beautiful. But nothing compared
to the Bell-Ringers experience.
article is taken from the ebook,
400-Day LETS Odyssey
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