Today all that was left of the IAA meetings was the Council meeting. This is pinnacle of meetings as it is where all the votes happen. It is where all the political intrigue is worked out. Most the meeting was quite nebulous. Only two points raised considerable discussion. The first was a proposal by the finance committee to increase the dues by 50c (in Canadian $ – that is about R5) per annum. That resulted in at least a 20 minute discussion. The Portuguese said they would vote no and that they must rather cut expenses (probably because the Portuguese are bankrupt and can’t pay an extra R5 per year). Themba (our current President) turned to me and said he could not imagine wasting 20 minutes discussion on 3% fee increase in SA – it would never happen. I in turn pulled out my wallet and took out a R5 coin and said I would pay my increase now if we could cut the conversation. The discussion really made me wonder how broke the Europeans really are?!
The second major discussion point was on a motion that both the UK and the USA were unhappy with. The UK argued their point quite politely (as any UK person would) but the US guy agreed with the UK but added a threat to go with it. We were thinking of abstaining on the point until the US guy added the threat. We then voted in favour. The only two people to vote against were the UK and USA. The motion carried easily and the look of surprise on the UK and USA reps faces was incredible. They clearly expected everyone to follow them. I shared a taxi from the hotel to Rotterdam airport with the UK rep and we got talking about it in the taxi. She admitted that they were indeed surprised that others had not supported them.
The council meeting actually ended early (generally unheard of) and so we got to the airport about 2.5 hours before the flight was to depart. Rotterdam airport is about the size of Port Elizabeth airport. No airbridges, you walk out to the plane. No business class lounge, just one self-service cafe and a small duty free shop. Free wifi that wasn’t working. So nothing else to do but watch a few TV episodes on the iPad. I was on a business class ticket as it was part of my international ticket (we don’t usually fly business class for a short flight) and it turned out I was the only one in business class out of about 24 seats. The flight is only about 40 minutes though and most of that is spent circling around Heathrow until they let you land.
Breezed through Heathrow. Guy at passport control wanted to know why I didn’t have a British passport. I asked him if he could write me a letter of commendation to get one. He was amused – I think I made his day. He clearly didn’t think I was going to hack anyone up and wait next to the body to be arrested. I then had a driver pick me up and take me to my parents home in the New Forest. Tomorrow is a bank holiday in the UK and so it made no sense to sit by myself in the flat in London.
The taxi drive down was very interesting because we had some intense discussions. The driver even apologised at one stage as he said he realised he had evoked a ‘serious discussion’. It started because he overheard me on a call to Helen. I asked how Church had gone today. He asked me if I was ‘religious’ and I said that wasn’t how I would describe myself but that I was a Christian. He then asked if I believed life was predestined. That was 5 minutes into the taxi journey. We ended that conversation an hour later. Having covered the value of human life, the purpose of life, suffering, sin, morality, ethics and a few other subjects. I had an opportunity to share my views very openly with him. He asked some great questions, I hope I gave some good answers. I asked some good questions to which he admitted he didn’t have answers but would think about them. I think we both enjoyed the discussion and it definitely made the 1 hour 20 min car journey down to my parents pass quickly.
It was a lovely afternoon in Southern UK today. Albeit a little cold (around 18 degrees) but not raining. I got to my parents house at 5:30pm and we headed off the Church. The photo below is of my parents garden when we got back from Church at about 8pm. It is finally Spring here and my parents garden is filled with Tulips. Those are the only ones I have seen because I never saw one in Holland. In fact I never saw much of Holland besides the conference center, my hotel and the two airports. That, in comparison to Paul, who in his blog post talked about being ‘on holiday’ in Holland. I don’t recall signing a leave form for him but I am sure he will give me one on his return.
I usually post a few concluding comments/observations about the country that I have visited. The problem is that I have seen so little of Holland that anything I say will be unfair. So I will restrict it to a few random thoughts only:
- Holland must be the most racially mixed Society in Europe. I have not seen a country anywhere outside Africa that has such an obviously visible mix of races.
- They know how to make coffee. Even the instant coffee in the room was brilliant – best instant coffee I have ever had.
- They have no idea what a Gala dinner is.
- It’s flat, really flat.
- You could easily get killed by a tram, car or bicycle while looking the wrong way. Chances are that whatever way you’re looking their is either a tram or bike coming in the opposite direction.
- They know how to make biscuits.
- They have at least 1 excellent restaurant
Now that I am back in the familiar land of the UK my posts might get a little shorter over the next few days especially when I am working on Tuesday and Wednesday. Until tomorrow.