I catch a 6.30AM flight from Heathrow to Amsterdam. First thing I notice is the flight attendant is the spit of Elisabeth Shue. I mean it might have been Elisabeth Shue, I haven’t seen her in a film for over a decade.
After the wheels hit the tarmac at Amsterdam airport, the gentleman in the opposite aisle attempts to retrieve his luggage from the overhead. Only it’s too much weight for him, he loses his grip and the bag crashes on my knee.
‘Fuuuuuck,’ I cry.
‘I’m so sorry.’ He starts to rub my knee, in a motherly way. I won’t lie I quite enjoyed it.
I meet my driver Tako at the terminal, who is a unit, with a Clark Kent handshake. I want to sit in the back and sleep as I’ve been up since 2.30am (now 10am). But he holds the passenger door open so I begrudgingly sit up top and limp through 20 minutes on Ajax football club. When I get to reception I’m told my room won’t be ready for a few hours, but they cushion the blow with a free heated cookie.
After meeting fellow press and Pr we are taken to a boat on a canal lined with orange balloons to partake in the King’s Day celebrations. The boat had a DJ, two girls that blew out shots of dry ice behind my ears, and a guy whose name I’ve forgotten (I’ll call him Frans for now) who was the only one that looked stressed. Frans was in charge, calling the shots, ordering his minions around. Finally he sat down and drew breathe. At that moment a kebab box came flying into shot, pinged from some kid on the bank from a distance of at least 30 feet. It had the accuracy of a Bergkamp curler and clapped Frans on the back of the bonce – clean. It’s as clean as a flying kebab box hit could get. A cheer came from the bank. Frans remained motionless. He should have known better to take a moments rest.
After the boat party we moor up by the A’dam Toren, which looks like Blofeld’s lair from Diamonds Are Forever. Inside, the building is still under construction. So much so they haven’t even put the hand basins in the toilet yet.
‘No water?’ I say to an elder Dutch dude in the toilet.
‘Here you want water? I’ll piss on them,’ he replies making a swaying motion with his hips holding an imaginary cock. The rest of his friends laugh hard. This is why I don’t talk to strangers in toilets.
In the party I’m told the DJ is the 4th most famous in the world. I didn’t clock his name. His name will be in the emails I got sent but I can’t be fucked to dig them out. I get talking to a flight assistant called Roy who looks like a short Kevin Bacon. He points out his flat from across the river and we drink a couple of Heinekens. He’s as camp as Christmas and I’m worried he thinks I’m gay, so I manoeuvre the conversation onto how I prefer Eastern European women to English women. Secretly I don’t, but it was a subtle way of establishing the boundaries. Roy was cool, actually really cool. We said goodbye and as per usual I fucked up the goodbye handshake, slightly marring the overall exchange.
As I leave I see a girl outside the lobby with an incredible legs-to-body ratio. She’s on her own and looks cold. I hang around, deliberating an opener. By the time I’ve thought of one some dude enters, they hug, he picks up her bag and they leave together.
Back at the hotel I have a beer for 5 Euros and tell the barman to put it on my room. The next day I learnt that the barman included a 5 Euro tip.
‘Scratch that,’ I tell the receptionist, ‘that’s bollocks.’
‘I’ll need to get the manager out, I can’t just cancel the tip.’ She replies picking up a handset.
‘I either pay for the beer and go, or just go.‘
She takes a payment for 5 euros. I look around, I want to find that barman. That cheeky fucker, he only had to get the beer from the fridge and pull the cap off. It’s not like I asked for three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, have him shake it well until ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.
My driver Glen turned up, another unit. Glen has an affable handshake and wants me to sit in the back. I instantly like Glen and on the way to the airport we talk about football, his career, the career of Arjen Robben, and the dominance of Ajax football.