The Dutch Uncle: Excerpt #2

The following text is an excerpt from my National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo) effort. Excerpts appear in no particular order.

The Dutch Uncle tells the story of Crijn, his sister Mariëlle, her former landlord Jasper and his daughter Harriet (Harry). It is the story of lost loves, forgotten chances and the problems people create for themselves and others.


His small kitchen was immaculately clean and tidy – everything in its place – like it had been once untidy and had his solution applied to it. The problem hadn’t been the untidy kitchen of course. It had never been untidy. The problem, that had required the Crijn’s attention to keep the kitchen and the rest of the house tidy, was that the other person who had lived there, the other person who had been so particular about how the house was kept, the other person who kept the kitchen so tidy, had died. His way of dealing with that loss had been to ensure that in his life he had remained busy and so on that a few days after that very first day without her, all those years ago, he had woken early, lit the stove to make tea, cut the bread and the cheese, eaten in silence and then stoically cleaned the kitchen and the rest of the home. And that is how it remained for the next thirty-five years. He had never allowed grief to soil the residence of his beautiful, long dead wife. Not that letting the house go would have been his particular style – he was an immaculately neat man after all – but to let the house go, to leave things laying around, to gather stacks of newspapers, to have not done one’s laundry, would have been the first step to giving up on life and Crijn was not about to do that. He had an uncommon passion for life and a determination to travel through it doing the things that needed to be done. Getting on with life was just another thing in life that needed to be done.

It was this solution approach to life that had driven him all his life. A cup breaks, sweep it up, fix it if one can and if not, clean it and move on. A bed is slept in; then make it. His life was about action. Action to a problem. Action to a task and to his friends who visited him who might quip about his constant action to do things, like keep the house clean, he would respond with a quaint saying like “I wish to leave my blinds open to the world”. It was the kind of characteristic that other men envied and women admired, admiring so much that they reminded their husbands why they had envied the man so much, willing them to be more like the man so that they might cease to envy and start to practice the act of acquiring that characteristic.



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