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«The Dutch people are not particularly known as dreamers. We can see this clearly from how other people describe us. Take one of Mr Barroso's countrymen, the Portuguese writer José Rentes de Carvalho, who came to the Netherlands in 1956, fell in love and stayed here to live and work.
He wrote a book about the Dutch in 1972 called Com os Holandeses. The picture he paints of us is not flattering:"Dutch people are not visionary dreamers or exalted idealists in his eyes. On the contrary: they sit in meetings all day long. They're frugal. They're a bit dull. They prefer to stick with the herd. They're conservative and over-organised. Their greatest passion is thinking up new rules. And their manners leave something to be desired."If you talked about us like this, Mr Barroso, you would definitely be less popular in this country. But people accept more from writers than from politicians - and a good thing too. Fortunately Dutch people can laugh at themselves.
De Carvalho's book was a great success in Dutch translation and went through many printings.
De Carvalho is not alone in his observations. Historian James Kennedy also calls the Netherlands a country of reason and pragmatic solutions, not a country where the sparks of passion fly.
If you type 'American dream' in Google, you get 2.5 million hits. ' Rêve français ' gets you 16,000 hits. ' Nederlandse droom ' gets you 1500.»
«José Rentes de Carvalho gave an interview a few years ago in which he had something positive to say about the Dutch. He said,"If Dutch people collect matchboxes, they do their best to collect all the matchboxes that exist in the world. A Portuguese collector collects two or three dozen boxes and says: 'OK, that's fine.' That capacity to set a goal and pursue it together, as a team: that's a remarkable thing about the Netherlands."
This should encourage us on our journey to the future.»