Theo Rebergen: The Continental View

I’m the blunt Dutchman trying to tell how the continentals see England and how we get on with life in these troublesome days.

If you missed the introduction last time, you can meet me on

ALERT: I am learning more and more soft swear words but I am not allowed to use them. So I use abbreviations and BLS has nothing to do with a sandwich. ???????, here you have to use your imagination.

Olympics over and boy do I know it. I could hardly get in to my local (Eastbourne) pool this morning as it was packed with middle aged, slight beer bellied fathers that were training for Rio 2016 already. My fellow grumpy old regular swimmers suddenly developed a murderous free style that lashes out more side wards than forward and many times I had to make a triple Daley salto for my safety.

These very mature local sporting die hards now have this fanatic look in their eyes hoping for OAP games. However in our age we can’t wait 4 years, so once in 6 months would be ideal.

From my Olympic special you know that I was surprised by the faultless, smooth organisation and that us, jealous failing Eurozoners did not expect that the Brits would pull this off.

Not trusting the Tele, I went to London to sniff some Olympic air myself; it took away my last doubts. The only ticket I could obtain was for the train which surprisingly worked very well. (even for my off peak special I got a whole seat by myself and a train was perfectly on time) The stations and streets were full off charming volunteers with enormous plastic hands; the soldiers guarding our safety were so helpful and friendly that I would recommend all hotels to recruit their future staff from the armed forces.

Hyde Park was still open to the public and I even got a glimpse of a green swimming cap; did not know if he/she was in front or miles behind. Said quickly hello at Buckingham Palace and ended on the Southbank which looked like one big open-air theatre. The whole of London was taken over by Americans, Dutch, Spanish and Germans and even they behaved like civilized tourists.

As a good stingy Dutchman (I told you that we like free meals) I had cut out a discount voucher from the Mail for a French restaurant chain; even paying only half, I received a regal service and the food was above my expectations. So my observation that England was on cloud 9 and that all Britons really love each other was confirmed; these fairy tale games had supressed all austerity pains. Until yesterday morning, when a female journalist on the BBC switched back to her doom-gloom mode and had enough of all these happy smiling people of GB.

She asked the PM with a grave yard voice that indicated the end of the world, what would happen when the nation wakes up on Monday morning and suddenly remember that we are still in a double dip recession. (my 5 year old granddaughter thinks it is an ice cream with 2 toppings). The MP’s answer was spot on this time: “If we are creative, think positive, work hard together, we will get through this difficult time”.

This would bring me to my favourite subject: “growth”. But that is a story by itself; you can readthe full content on . It ends with my expectation that we will have a period of economic consolidation for at least 5 years. So my advice: back to the 80ties, bring the industrial production back to the UK and in line with the real demand. Reduce imports and let the number of shops reduce naturally to what high streets really need to serve the basic needs of the customers.

This will be painful and even in Holland hundreds of shops go out of business because we have far too many; on the other side new businesses pop up started by the creative people Mr. Cameron was talking about. And only if we invent life changing new stuff like affordable electric cars controlled by induction rails in the roads and driven by robot chauffeurs; voice controlled mobile phone chips inserted in the palm of our hands; intelligent wallpaper with integrated TV’s that stream news, entertainment and…. alright, your soaps; this wallpaper keeps you 24/7 online to the shops and banks, transfers cooking recipes from Gino di Campo straight to your larder, fridge and oven and cooks the meal for you fully automated.

Windows (the double glazed ones, not Bill Gates) with integrated Skype, so that you can have friends over virtually for a drink without wasting your precious wines and expensive booze. Than we might have growth! Here I go again; I have so many business ideas that I should be a billionaire.

Why on earth am I not, where do I go wrong?

So let me stick to what I am reasonably good in; how to improve your business on the other side of the channel and how can you make continentals spend cash in your area. But how to finance new business? Remember I mentioned the pots of money in Brussels? Well you will find them at the European Commission, Enterprise and Industry DG.

This department of the often rightly criticized European Union that provides support to European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It is called the Competitiveness and Innovation Framework Programme (CIP). From the 3,7 Billion wallet only 430 Mill. has been allocated. This is serious business and another story by itself.

I will put the details on my website: Off course it is not that simple getting your hands of some of this dosh, remember it is Brussels and there you have 5 civil servants sharing 1 responsibility. But if you follow my idea and form trade alliances and business co-operations you would have a lot more fire power and could lobby the people sitting on this money. The Dutch and German governments are offering easy and cheap financing for export to new markets like India, Brazil and yes, also China.

The Asian new rich have the billions we have given them buying cheap copies from technologies we invented and invested millions in. Yeah, would that not that be cool if we sell them back the crappy track suits and plastic Nike fakes they sold to us?

Finally, the closing ceremony. Again Ab Fab! But why on heavens earth do we allow old (I am 69) expressionless muppets like Blatter (FIFA) and Rogge (IOC) to run our sports organisations; “You showed the best of BRITISH hospitality?” BLS! The Brits showed the best Olympic HOSPITALITY ever, full stop!!!! So I beg you, do not let anybody spoil your Olympic spirit; go and do your job or run your business as you organised the 2012. Then you can recruit plenty of volunteers and when you are in the ??????? because an US supplier messed up?

Call in the army; not only can their wives sing, they are brilliant in customer service. And for haven sake, keep smiling as if you just won a medal for being British; you deserve one.

Oh, I promised you the second part of my Italy trip by car; (sorry publisher for using too much space again) we got as far as Bourg-en-Bresse in France with the delicious chicken with black feet. From Bourg make the spectacular drive to and through the Mont Blanc tunnel; at the other side you are in my promised land, ITALY! Stop anywhere for your 1st real espresso, coppa di vino or anti-pasti.

Don’t even look at the menu, just ask the waiter to bring a dish from the staff’s menu, the same as he personally had for lunch. Italians make no concessions for tourists; no fish and chips or German bratwurst, either you eat their food or head for Mallorca. Within 2-3 hours you can reach Milano, a great city to spend a day or two. (I cannot afford more) You can stay in the centre in a small but expensive art hotel called Spadari al Duomo, 2 minutes away from the Plaza Duomo; check it out on the net or write to me.

You can’t get more contempory Italian than this. Hide your credit cards, the Milan shops will bankrupt you; the attraction of Antonio’s designer shoe shop is lethal; your spouse might divorce you for a salesman in this shop just to get near the shoes. Fancy a more classical approach, continue to Monza; check in the Hotel De La Ville, a gem on the edge of the Parc Villa Real.

If you are lucky the owner and all the staff will welcome you personally at the entrance, if you let me announce your visit, you will get this VIP treatment. De La Ville (in France this would be the Town Hall) is a beautiful old hotel (also not cheap) with loads of F1 memorabilia as the famous Monza race track is just around the corner. Have a drink on the noisy terrace watching Monza dads racing by on their scooters balancing a baby on the steering wheel and a 3 year old fighting for survival on the back seat. I saw a police man stopping the scooterist (new word) asking him how much horse power the motor has, “ 95” The cop sticks up his thumb up, cuddles the kids and sends them on their way.

That’s Italy for you. Enjoy a costly in-house De La Ville meal or go by tram to the centre of Milan and have pasta/pizza; it does not matter where, it is always authentic and yummy.

However there is one Milanese restaurant you should not miss: Osteria Stendhal in the Brera area; full of history, waiters/waitresses that have worked there for 40 years, full of atmosphere and great food.

However I could even rave about places like Rimini or other Italo holiday resorts with a very dodgy image. Now writing about all this makes me dreaming about a lovely Italian beach with playing children, flirting pubers, stunning mummys, proud fathers, sleeping grandmothers, in one word, a real Italian beach.

When I wake up because the sun is turning my head into a BBQed chop, I find myself on the stony beach at the Eastbourne waterworks; ice cold sea water, dads in a grumpy mood because the dingy is leaking, nagging wives, kids screaming for their 10th ice cream, seagulls nicking my sandwich and dogs ????????? on my towel. That’s when I join Eric Idle singing “Always looking at the bright side of life.”

See you, Au revoir, Hasta La Vista, Auf Wiedersehen, Arrivederci, Tot Ziens!