Our man [formally] of Amsterdam

Implacable November weather
November 1, 2009, 19:13
Filed under: Amsterdam

Locals wear hooded sweaters under their rain jackets or thick woolen coats, while some even add a scarf, which makes them look strangled and constricted, like wearing a neck brace, but I think they are the warmest in the implacable cold and wet windy weather that’s descended with the onset of winter.

The puffer jacket is a difficult fashion item to pull off, unless you’re near the summit of Everest, I guess, not below sea level in Amsterdam. Small children poured into their puffers by very protective parents are funniest of all, as they can’t fully lower their arms by their side because of all the fluffy duck down, and so they walk with arms angled outwards like a scarecrow on the move.

Many cafes have entrance doors split in half at about waist height, like a barn or horse stable might do, with the bottom half closed and the top opened. This intrigued me until recently when some errant customer left the bottom half ajar and I felt the cold wintry air seep around my feet and legs as if an invisible fog of chill had, with great stealth, breached the outer defences. The change in temperature between the top and bottom half of my body was like being immersed in the ocean on one of those early hot days in summer when the water is warm at the surface but icy beneath.


De Vergulde Gaper cafe - it has a 'barn' door but you can't see it in this photo.

Now, you can excuse tourist arrivals their oversight, for they know not what they do, but you can’t excuse seasoned locals who do not close the lower flap on exiting. If you sit long enough in a cafe that has one of these ‘stable barn’ doors, a kind of telepathic roster emerges as first one incumbent (usually the closest to the door), then, later, other ‘long-term’ tenants will acknowledge their calling in keeping the cold air at bay. When my ‘turn’ came at Beans & Bagels today, I duly obliged, and felt a warm bond of solidarity with my impromptu security brethren on returning to me seat. After that, I wasn’t intrigued about cafes with barn doors anymore.


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