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Has anyone else noticed how much Holland resembles ducks? Of course, there are some differences. According to Earthwatch 1997 which I was reading last Friday, Holland's biomass is approximately 63% Dutchmen, 6% hippies (playing didgeridoo on the Dam), 8% grass (agricultural use), 10% grass (pharmacological use), 5% red cannonball tomatoes (exported to UK), 3% red cannonball cheeses (exported to UK), and 13% dogshit (all over the pavements). On the other hand, ducks are 100% pure duck. Dutchmen aren't pure at all, at least in Amsterdam.

But look at the similarities. Holland is a small, unthreatening, and faintly ridiculous country; the duck is a small, unthreatening, and faintly ridiculous bird. Both like canals. Both eat fish - raw, head-first, and accompanied by much smacking of lips or beak. And both bask on the banks of the river of life, occasionally fidgeting in protest as some event - a barking dog or the latest massacre in Rwanda - passes them by, but content usually just to sit there sleepily, fat and smug at their own success, heads turned inwards and the rest of the world ignored.

You can see it in the national emblem. Would Germany have inspired such terror had Hitler had the Nazi duck on his banners? Can you imagine Holland with an eagle? But the other way around, it makes a perfect fit.

The language reflects this too. Look how the words "Dutch", "duck" and "dike" resemble each other - not surprising, because they're all related. The Dutch duck under the dikes in the deluge. Actually, in the original version of that legend about the Dutch boy and the dike, it wasn't his finger he stuck in the hole, it was his dick. He wasn't even trying to save the country. It's just that his girlfriend had left him, he was feeling desperate, the wall had a hole in, and wet concrete contracts. But that was back when fairy tales were still stories for adults, before Andersen, Grimm and Co. began cleaning them up for the childrens' market.

And you see it in the names of their towns. Eindhoven, that most lovely and beloved of Dutch cities, comes (as any native speaker can confirm) from a corruption of two Dutch words meaning "duck port"1, or more literally, "where the ducks are hove to". Of course, Eindhoven hasn't been a port since the 12th century, being now a few kilometers inland due to successful land reclamation. But come the greenhouse effect, and Eindhoven will once more become a coastal town, while the Dutch will need to become ducks in a much more literal sense. There's a genetic engineering project being carried out right now on the inter-specific transfer of mallard genes from duck to Dutchman. Probably in Amsterdam's Red Light district. The Dutch stuck his dick in a duck on the dike; the Dutch on the dike stuck his dick in a duck.

Just a thought. Or several.

1. Eend (Nl.) = Duck (Eng.)

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