Insuring Amsterdam

Stiltsville in various Germans. With a filthy joke, and several less filthy ones.

This is great fun for everyone who doesn’t mind the fact that languages are rarely geographically congruent with polities. Amsterdam, you great city, built on poles; if you fall into the umme, who’ll pay:

Amsterdam, du grote Stadt,
büst gebaut up Palen;
wenn du nun ins umme fallst,
wel sall dat bitalen

[Or is “ins umme fallen” the same as “in elkaar vallen”?]

The common Dutch saying (i.e. the one I know) is “Wie zal dat betalen?” -who’s paying?- and part of the national myth is that the Dutch are cosmopolitan commercials, the Germans violent villeins, so it would be amusing if the verse turned out to have originated in an eastern dialect. However, although the truest words are often spoken by outsiders, the explanation given -that there may be a factual basis in 18th century East Indian worm attacks on the stilts, ended by a cold winter- may be unfavourable:

Nicht allein in Amsterdam, sondern in ganz Holland ruhen beinahe alle Häuser auf Rosten. An und für sich ist indess die Befürchtung des Umfallens eine kindische Vorstellung. Dennoch gab im vorigen Jahrhundert eine Erscheinung einigen Grund zu dieser Befürchtung. Um das Jahr 1730 fanden sich nämlich plötzlich Würmer ein, wahrscheinlich mit Schiffen aus Indien gekommen, welche in kurzer Zeit die Wände der Schiffe und die Pfähle an den Dämmen durchbohrten und unbrauchbar machten. Die Besorgniss war gross, da man kein Vertilgungsmittel kannte. Man fürchtete, sie würden die Pfähle angreifen, worauf Amsterdam ruht. Sie verloren sich indess nach einigen Jahren infolge eines strengen Winters wieder.

The following is a joke about yokels (Westphalians … well yes, but the choice is considerable) thinking that if they take all their wares to Amsterdam the money will run out, but it sounds like it might have been told by the yokels themselves:

Der Westfälinger (s. Feling) war auf seinem Hausirhandel bis Amsterdam gekommen, wo er für 30 Gulden seine Waare abgesetzt hatte; er fürchtete, wenn er noch einmal so viel Waare hinbringe, dass die Zahlungsmittel der Stadt erschöpft werden würden.

The first time I heard the next joke, originally in Low Saxon, was in Hotel Krasnapolsky on the Dam in Amsterdam, while, leathered up, I waited to entertain some congress or other with a Saxon peasant act:

A farmer arrives in Amsterdam and dives into the Red Light district. “How much?” he asks at the first window. She takes one look at him and says, “Go fuck yerself.” He thinks about this briefly, walks off, and comes back half an hour later with a slight limp. “How much?” he says. “Jesus,” she says, “no suck, but 50 a fuck with a free shot.” “OK,” he says. “Wait,” she says, “I better tell you now: I ain’t got no clitoris.” “That’s fine,” he says, “give me a Jägermeister.”

Which drink was at the time particularly associated with fuckwit farmers.

More some other time about “Utrechts Dom steht auf Ochsenhäuten“, “Utrecht’s Duomo is built on oxhides”: Christmas clients await.

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