They called me a Brits burger! I haven’t quite decided if the greater insult is to be called a Brit(s) or a burger. Coming from the Celtic fringe of the Isles the term Brit, even if you’re a diehard Ulster Unionist, isn’t exactly a compliment. To be of average height and build and be called a burger isn’t entirely flattering either and yet I’m chuffed, really, because I’ve now got my Burgerservicenummer which means I’m legally residing in the Netherlands. Without a Burgerservicenummer (sensibly abbreviated to BSN) you’re a non-person in the Netherlands. Everyone residing here for three months or more has to register with the authorities and get their BSN.
Imagine my joy when I opened my letter to find my magic nine digit number. Now it’s possible to open a bank account, have a mobile phone contract, and complete many other fairly ordinary tasks. With a BSN the world of the Netherlands opens up to you – and allows the state to keep tabs on just about everything you do.
Imagine my horror when I read down to the section ‘Nationaliteit’ (Nationality) and read the words Brits burger! Call me Irish, call me confused, call me stupid, call me just about anything you like – but Brits burger seems a bit cruel.
The trauma of some experiences is ameliorated (isn’t that a lovely word?) by the discovery of many new experiences, such as taking a liking to buttermilk. My grandparents used to drink buttermilk and we kids thought it was ‘stinking’. My memory of buttermilk is of a tall milk bottle with this horrid looking liquid that separated out into a watery upper layer and a fairly sour smelling white, gloopy substance at the bottom. True enough we’ve been buying it ourselves for years in those yellow and white tetrapak cartons, but that’s been for baking – wheaten bread, scones, pancakes and the like. However, in this country they’re into buttermilk, or Karnemelk as it’s known, and I’m a convert. In the glass it looks like brilliant white emulsion paint but on the palate tastes like liquid natural yogurt. I’m pretty sure my grandparents’ buttermilk wasn’t this good and the joys of Karnemelk somewhat soften the trauma of being called a Brits burger. A Brits burger, really….