It’s very green and there is a good community spirit too. I’ve been part of many community related organisations in Kwinana but I’m a father now so for two years have only had limited spare time.
I was born in Hulst, a small town in the Netherlands. It’s a medieval town actually, it was given town rights in 1180. And there’s about 8000 people living there I think. It used to be, in medieval times, the bustling centre of trading. Nowadays it’s a bit sleepy.
My dad was born there and still lives in the house he was born in, and his dad was a coal merchant.
We’d been to the UK in the 70s, my mum and dad and I, and my brother, and that’s when I realised it was quite a bit different – ‘cos - to us it was almost like a third world country in those days. It was, it looked really poor, fashion was like 10 years behind, yeah things looked a bit bleak. We had to find some food and ended up in some sort of fast food, well, fish and chip joint with plastic chairs and strip lights. And I thought ‘oh god!’, and the chips were presented in a newspaper and they, I don’t know what they fried them in because they weren’t golden yellow, they were like grey! And they were twisted too. That was the first time I saw twisted chips.
For some reason I wasn’t consciously exposure to the rest of - you saw the first famine crisis was probably in Biafra, which is now Ethiopia. I think I recall a picture of that, and also the Vietnam War. I almost lived a bit in a bubble. ‘Cos even to the rest of the Netherlands, which is quite different from the area I was born, ‘cos I was born near the Belgian border in an area that’s, actually, you know the people have a bit of self-esteem problem because they don’t really feel Dutch but they don’t feel Belgian either. Nowadays you’ve got a tunnel, but you used to travel by ferry all through Belgium to get to the rest of the Netherlands.
We used to make trips to places like Amsterdam, not very often, but school trips. We almost felt like we were in a foreign country. ‘Cos Amsterdam, contrary to what lot of foreigners think, is very different from the rest of the Netherlands. It’s like a freak show for tourists. Yea the rest is a lot more sedate.
There is a lot of different dialects in the Netherlands. So the next village, town, they spoke differently. There was a bit of ‘us against them’, but, yea they were looked upon differently but we didn’t have a lot of contact with people from the north. It was more a bit like we looked in awe, and we thought ‘oh, what’s going on around here?’