Anglophile #17 2023-2024

In this edition:

Save the dates

Message from the board, by Ammerins Moss-de Boer

Join us on the 25th of May for the Alumni Lunch, by Marjan Brouwers

British cheese, by Reinou Anker-Sollie

Cats and Stones, by Ammerins Moss-de Boer

Books and Booze in February Night Side of the River by Jeanette Winterson, by Elke Maasbommel

In Memoriam: Ank de Witt Wijnen, by Henk Dragstra

My generation, part 2, by Annie van der Veen

Save the dates!

Friday, 12th of April, Books & Booze, Walter’s Bookshop

Saturday, 25th of May, Alumni Day

Message from the board

by Ammerins Moss-de Boer

Welcome to our latest alumni magazine! We hope you’ll enjoy reading through the articles, stories, and updates shared by your fellow alumni. Whether you’re feeling nostalgic about your university days or discovering the exciting ventures and fun adventures pursued by your peers, I’m confident you’ll find something that catches your interest.

Looking ahead, don’t forget to mark your calendars for our next Books and Booze event. It is bound to be a fun evening, discussing Fahrenheit 451 while drinking Elke’s awesome cocktail. The last time, we had great fun and good discussions, and I can’t wait to see both familiar and new faces there!

Also, don’t miss our upcoming University Lustrum Day! We’re planning a delightful lunch in Groningen to celebrate this special milestone together. This day promises to be filled with laughter, nostalgia, and the chance to reconnect with old friends and professors.

Enjoy the read and see you soon!

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Join us on the 25th of May for the Alumni Lunch

by Marjan Brouwers

This year our dear old alma mater celebrates her 410th anniversary! A wonderful occasion to return to Groningen and meet up, we thought. The lustrum celebrations start on with an Opening Ceremony Tuesday 21 May and will last till Saturday 25th Of May. Here you will find the details about the entire programme.

For us alumni the university organizes a lovely alumni get-together on Saturday 25th of May. This is what will happen then:

In the morning we start with a cup of coffee or tea followed by an interesting lecture by Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Prof. Dr. A. André Aleman on imagination and wonder. After this, lunch can be enjoyed together on the academy square and after the lunch “meet your favorite lecturer” will start. This is a tour along pubs and faculties where you can follow mini lectures together with a group leader.

Now, we thought it would be a wonderful idea to have lunch together as alumni of English. We will be present on the Academieplein, so we can share a table and catch up. We will make sure you can find us: look for the British party flags! You can apply for this Alumni Lunch here.

See you in May!

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British cheese

by Reinou Anker-Sollie

So, we wanted to entertain all you grate people with a fun article about cheese, because it has come to our attention that Britain is producing some brie-lliant cheeses at the moment. The first kind of cheese I think about when I think about Britain, is cheddar, but apparently Britain has recently become a pretty cheesy country.

The ‘mature’ cheddar is not necessarily something to be proud of, it was bitter and orange but during the crisis of the 1930s, the government decided to keep the price of milk artificially high. This caused a decline in the interest to make cheese. In addition, during the Second World War, cheese was rationed and almost only cheddar was made. Hence the cheese market had a total meltdown, which is nicely illustrated in this Monty Python sketch (this might cheese you up when you’re feeling blue):

So in the post-war era, Stilton remained a favourite, for example around Christmas, but other well-known cheeses, such as Wensleydale and Red Leicester, almost became extinct. Fun fact: Wensleydale was actually saved by Wallace and Gromit, since they were quite fondue of it. It was referenced in a few of the Wallace and Gromit episodes. The makers weren’t hole-y aware of it at the time, but the factory was about to declare bankruptcy.

Nowadays, cheese has become a luxury product. Cheese shops now have plenty off British cheeses to offer. In general, the British cheeses have a buttery and spicy flavour. They are mild, subtle and often crumbly but they don’t have rind, the British are feta up with rind. So here’s a tip: go and try some English cheese, you might be surprised!

Finally, to keep this article nice and short, I would like to hopefully make you smile with (one of) these two jokes:

  • What do you do when you babysit a Babybel?

Build a supernachoral Roquefort, to protect the baby from the Munster under the bed.

  • What cheese is made backwards?


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Cats and Stones

by Ammerins Moss-de Boer

With a conference as an excuse, I spent a few days ‘walking the streets of London’ last month (although without dirt in my hair and my clothes not in rags). I did, however, try to honour a few unsung, unknown and maybe ‘forgotten heroes’ of London and at the same time cross a few sights off my bucket list.

I chose Greenwich as my base of operations, and on the first day, with glorious weather, visited Greenwich Park, home to the Naval College, the Royal Observatory with the meridian line, and Queen’s House. This beautiful house and (free) museum is home to lots of famous art (including that portrait of Henry VIII and the Armada Portraits of Queen Elizabeth I). But however impressive the tulip stairs and the Gentileschi ceiling might be, the reverse of the coin of all that pomp and glory is also given attention here. Lots of the riches of the Empire were earned from and by slavery, which for me was shown powerfully by the bust of Olaudah Equiano, displayed in a room where surrounded by portraits of naval ‘heroes’. Equiano was sold into slavery in West Africa at age 11, transported to America, eventually managed to buy his freedom and became an important voice in the abolitionist movement. His autobiography, The interesting narrative and other writings (1789), was the first first-person testimony of this harrowing journey and became a very powerful work in the fight against slavery.

After two days of conferencing, I spent my last day in the centre of the city and went for a literary walk around the Bloomsbury area. In Tavistock Square, which a lot of us will probably remember as the location of one of the suicide bombings on 7 July 2005, I didn’t just marvel at the statues of Mahatma Ghandi (very impressive, if only the poor fellow knew he would be looking out on a Prêt and a Starbucks…) and Virginia Woolf (can we please start a petition for a bust that is a bit more, ehm… elegant and less psychotic looking?), but found the English ‘Aletta Jacobs’ in the south-west corner: Louisa Aldrich-Blake, who was the first woman to obtain a Master of surgery in England, and who became a specialist in rectal and cervical cancers. She died way too young from cancer in 1925, at only age 60.

After passing the very impressive Senate building (which inspired Orwell for his Ministry of Truth), it was time for a visit to the British Museum, which I had never visited (yes, shocking!). The Great Court is even more impressive in real life than on the telly, if that is possible. On my list of go-sees were a few of the highlights (I knew I would only be able to do about half of the museum, and I was right – a good reason to go back): the Book of the Dead, various mummies and the prosthetic toe in the Egyptian collection, the Parthenon marbles, Lindow Man, and, of course: the Rosetta Stone. This broken stone slab contains text in hieroglyphics, Demotic and ancient Greek. That the French scholar Jean-François Champollion ‘cracked’ the code (without AI) is something a lot of people might know, but there is an unsung hero in this story: the person who wrote the text that you can read when you view the Rosetta stone from the back. As an example of how hieroglyphics work, it gives the Egyptian word for cat (a divine creature in Egypt), which consists of three signs to record the sound – mi-i-w – followed by a picture of a cat. Real heroes don’t wear capes, they love cats!

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Books and Booze in February Night Side of the River by Jeanette Winterson

by Elke Maasbommel

Last February, we had our very first Books and Booze event. The premise is very simple: we read a book and drink an (alcoholic) beverage that suits the book. Our first edition, which was attended by eight book-and-booze lovers featured Night Side of the River, a collection of stories by Jeanette Winterson, and a lovely cocktail called Corpse Reviver no. 2. 

There’s a problem with discussing short stories: unlike novels, they’re quite hard to discuss. Thankfully, all stories in Night Side of the River were about ghosts; old ones, new ones, physical ones and artificial ones. We decided to talk about whether they were scary, whether we believed in stories (and heard some pretty hair-raising anecdotes about Ouija boards and lights that wouldn’t switch off), whether the stories were good, and which ones were our favourites. We all agreed that Winterson is an excellent writer who is capable of presenting her readers with some excellent plot twists, but that some stories work better than others. But the best parts of her book were where she talked about her personal ghost experiences and how all of us believe in ghosts, in one way or another – for memories are kind of like remnants from the past, and therefore somewhat ghostly, too. Overall, we had a great time discussing the books, nibbling bites and drinking a glorious classic cocktail.

That cocktail, Corpse Reviver no. 2 is a tasty and refreshing cocktail which dates back to the 1930s. It was chosen to be this night’s cocktail first of all because of its name; ghosts, of course, are some kind of revived corpse. Secondly, when pouring the Corpse Reviver no. 2 the glass should be rinsed with absinthe, a drink which was supposed to be so bad for your health that it was banned until twenty years ago. An added side effect of drinking too much absinthe was that you’d start to hallucinate. Therefore, I decided that adding just a touch of absinthe to our drinks might just allow us to see some spirits…

Image: / Tim Nusog

Want to try the Corpse Reviver no. 2 for yourself? Here’s the recipe:

  • 25 ml gin
  • 25 ml dry vermouth such as Lillet Blanc
  • 25 ml orange liqueur such as Countreau
  • 25 ml fresh lemon juice
  • 5 ml absinthe

How to make:

Rinse absinthe glass. Then shake all other ingredients with ice and then fine strain into the glass.


The next meeting is on Friday 12 April, and we’ll be reading the book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This time we’ll have a special bartender who’ll make sure we won’t be thirsty. Want to join us? Then scan the QR-code! 

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In Memoriam: Ank de Witt Wijnen

26 mei 1933- 18 maart 2024

by Henk Dragstra

Ank tijdens college, begin jaren ’80. Foto Henk Dragstra.

Wij collega’s kenden haar allemaal als Ank, maar officieel heette ze Cornelia Johanna Joséphine de Witt Wijnen, zoals we onlangs in haar overlijdensadvertentie hebben kunnen lezen. Vijf namen maar liefst; ze kwam dan ook uit een prestigieuze familie. Haar vader was jurist geweest, wethouder van Gouda, en tijdelijk loco-burgemeester van die stad, en haar moeder had Frans gestudeerd, een studie die passend werd geacht voor jongedames. Ank zelf had in Leiden het doctoraal  Engels behaald.

Maar Ank was Ank. Liet zich niet op haar afkomst of opleiding voorstaan, en ambieerde niet meer dan de taak waarvoor ze was aangesteld. Officieel hoorde daarbij wetenschappelijk onderzoek, maar in feite bleef het voor veel stafleden bij onderwijs en beheers- en bestuurstaken. Zo was dat in 1967, toen door een grote toeloop van studenten op het Anglistisch Instituut opeens veel nieuwe docenten moesten worden aangenomen. Net als haar collega’s Loes Baning en Liesbeth Verpalen voelde Ank zich in het onderwijs en de administratieve taken op haar plaats. 

Niet dat het haar allemaal gemakkelijk afging. Marjan Brouwers herinnert zich ‘dat ze vaak erg nerveus was tijdens onze colleges. Ze hakkelde dan en dat vonden wij dan weer grappig. Ze was eigenlijk altijd aanwezig op de derde verdieping van het alfa-gebouw. En als ik die foto’s nu zie, besef ik dat ze veel jonger was dan ik me toen realiseerde.’

Ank tijdens de Sinterklaasviering in Het Hijgend Hert in 1981. Foto: Marjan Brouwers

‘Ze was er wel altijd bij’, zegt Marjan, ‘dus ook in het Hijgend Hert bij de Sinterklaasviering, en bij twee van mijn buluitreikingen. Dus zeer betrokken bij studenten, al hadden wij dat misschien niet zo in de gaten. Op die leeftijd ben je meer met jezelf bezig denk ik.’

Van de betrokkenheid die Marjan noemt heb ik vooral kennis kunnen nemen bij de mondelinge propaedeuse-tentamens Middelengels, die door Ank, Gerrit Bunt, en mij in wisselende combinaties werden afgenomen. Al was ze vrijgezel, het ontbrak haar niet aan moederlijke gevoelens; ze toonde inderdaad altijd actieve belangstelling voor ‘haar’ studenten, die ze onder collega’s in hun algemeenheid aanduidde als ‘Pietje en Marietje’. Vóór zo’n tentamen, dat voornamelijk Chaucer betrof, haalde je op het secretariaat ‘de kaarten’ op, dat wil zeggen de documenten waarop de behaalde cijfers, en dus ook de studievoortgang, van elke kandidaat stonden geregistreerd.  

Ank zorgde ervoor dat de student bij zo’n tentamen niet alleen aan de tand werd gevoeld over zijn of haar kennis van Middelengelse taal en literatuur, maar ook werd geconfronteerd met achterstallige cijfers. Die waren er indertijd veel, want er stond lang niet zo veel rendementsdruk achter de studie als later, dus Ank had heel wat terecht te wijzen en aan te sporen. Ik hoop dat deze inspanningen hun beoogde effect hebben gehad, maar weet ook dat heel wat studenten erg tegen dat tentamen opzagen. Die vrees werd door grapjassen aangeduid als ‘Vinoblancofobie’; hoe dat ook zij, Ank’s bemoeienis was meestal hoognodig.

Kandidaats-buluitreiking, 1984. Naast Ank, Johan Gerritsen, Liesbeth Verpalen (half zichtbaar) en Gerrit Bunt. Foto: Marjan Brouwers.

Ook op andere manieren toonde Ank zich met studenten begaan. Alumna Marie-Louise Grooten, nu Rullens, die begin jaren ’70 in een studentenhuis in de Oosterstraat woonde, werd getroffen door een brand die haar kamer verwoestte, met alle spullen die ze bezat. Toen Ank hiervan hoorde besloot ze haar set pannen aan het slachtoffer te doneren (en dus zelf andere te kopen), en die herinnert zich deze gulle gift vele jaren later nog steeds, ‘vooral het zwart-groene stoofpannetje’. De pannen zijn later weer doorgegeven aan een andere behoeftige.

Ank lachte graag en hield van grapjes, ook als die haar deden blozen. Zij en Gerrit hadden in de loop der tijd een repertoire opgebouwd dat ze bij de Middelengelse tentamens voor de dag haalden, buiten het gehoor van studenten. Zo was the Wife of Bath steevast ‘het Wijf in het Bad’, en werd regelmatig besloten aan examinandi ‘the benedoubt of the fit’ te verlenen. Mild-pikante grapjes kon Ank ook waarderen, al bezondigde ze zich daar zelf niet aan. Dat kwam natuurlijk goed van pas bij het lezen van The Miller’s Tale, en The Reeve’s Tale. En niet te vergeten het Wijf in het Bad.

Dat Ank van gezelligheid hield bleek ook toen Liesbeth Verpalen en zij samen een ‘wassail’ organiseerden, een soort Kerstavond voor alle stafleden van het Anglistisch instituut, inclusief de secretaresses, en hun partners. Dat vond plaats een paar weken vóór Kerstmis, en was één van de zeer weinige gelegenheden waarbij we elkaar allemaal informeel troffen: bos- en heidagen waren toen nog onbekend. De wassails zijn een paar jaar teruggekomen, soms bij Ank thuis, soms bij Liesbeth, en werden node gemist toen het er niet meer van kwam. 

Deftig was Ank dus niet, maar ik kon wel aan haar horen dat ze behoorde tot een vorige generatie: ze gebruikte uitdrukkingen als ‘je moet je vader maar eens lief aankijken’, en ‘ik zal Professor Gerritsen even aan zijn jasje trekken’. En als er eens een student op schema lag en goede cijfers haalde, dan kreeg die van Ank ‘een pluim op je hoed’. 

In 1982 schreef ze een kort autobiografisch stukje voor ‘Ice Breaker’, het studententijdschriftje van de afdeling, in het kader van de serie ‘The Human Being Behind the Teacher’. Dat loog er niet om. Tijdens de Duitse bezetting toonde haar vader zich fel anti-Nazi, wat haar beide ouders het leven kostte, en daarna werden de kinderen van elkaar gescheiden. Waarschijnlijk mede door de honger van de bezetting bleef Ank lange tijd te klein voor haar leeftijd; ter compensatie ging ze zoveel mogelijk ‘volwassen’ boeken lezen. Maar aan een academische studie begon ze niet, na het Gymnasium. In plaats daarvan deed ze een secretaresse-opleiding, en werkte als zodanig voor juristen en artsen.

Pas toen ze een tijd in Schotland had doorgebracht als au pair, en daar de boekenkast had leeggelezen, besloot ze om Engels te gaan studeren, eerst voor het M.O.-diploma, later voor het doctoraal. En zo belandde ze in Groningen, in 1967, toen ze 34 jaar oud was. In 1990 kon ze met VUT, op 57-jarige leeftijd; ja, dat waren nog eens tijden.

Misschien was het omdat Ank lang buiten de ivoren toren had geleefd dat ze geen academische airs had. Ze bleef altijd bereid tot notuleren en ander administratief werk. Ze bleef altijd blozen als ze in verlegenheid kwam. Ze bleef altijd de vrouw die ze was. Een Koerdische man die enige tijd bij ons heeft gestudeerd zei over haar: ‘I like her. She has a simple heart’. En dat lijkt me een mooie pluim op haar hoed.

Ank bij haar afscheid van de afdeling, 5 oktober 1990. Foto uit het plakboek van Elly Rollema.

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My generation, part 2

Studying English Language and Literature at the RUG in the seventies (1972-1980)

by Annie van der Veen

1979 Pubnight at Het Hijgend Hert. Among others: Janny, Josie, Josefien, Liesbeth, Willy, Wendy, Fred, and even mr. Mackinnon, Alex, Magda, Jane 

Let me pick up where I left you in my account of my experiences as a student at Groningen University and then in particular the studies of English Language and Literature 1972 – 1980.  So many memories come flooding back, so much I could tell you but won’t…, but hopefully there is still plenty to satisfy your curiosity. 

The library/ reading room, 3rd floor, Anglistic Institute. Willy Lanen studying hard.

I cannot compare it to what students of English are doing now, but there must be significant differences with our time in the Institute.  Officially three years to get your ´kandidaats´, but very few people managed to do that. A very full programme, and you had to do it all. No choices before your ´kandidaats´, that came with the ´doctoraal´ programme.  Let me try and give you some idea of what we had to do.

Our year,1972, was the first to have the unbelievable number of 45 first-year academic students. There were still quite a few MO-B students around, mind you. Most of us came with that secondary school attitude that it is best to follow classes and do your homework. And a good thing that was! Very little difference! We had classes every day.  Lots of us would do a lot of our work at the Alpha building in the library of the Anglistic Institute.  Open from 9 – 22.00 h. For a lot of us ‘home away from home’.  A very popular place to be!  You would drop your books, claim a spot and then go downstairs to the canteen to have a coffee and a cigarette (all allowed back then!). Then pick up your second cup from the lovely canteen ladies Wilma or Willeke and go back to the library to study. With your cup of coffee ánd your cigarettes! Yes, back then you could smoke in the library as well!

The secretary Liz Boomsma-O’Mahoney was good fun. With her lovely Irish accent, always in for a laugh. We became good friends and even visited her and husband Andele and four daughters in Limerick, Ireland after they had moved there.

And here again. How things have changed. I asked Liz to type my final thesis, because they had this great new typewriter in the secretary’s office: electric, with an extra gadget: if you made a typing error you could simply wipe it out, instead of having to do it the old-fashioned way of typing the error again while holding a bit of Typex paper and so remove the error. Brilliant!

The library had all the books we needed to study or write our essays. Especially loads of secondary literature. Plus of course The Encyclopedia Brittanica.  

Again!  Please remember that at that time there was no internet, no Google, no Google Translate, no Chat GTP.  All knowledge was in BOOKS!  And in case you had to produce a paper, you collected all your facts (including the correct source) and wrote it down on small cards. When you started to write your paper, you put down the cards in the correct order and then you would begin. By hand, on paper of course. Loads of people carrying their special ‘kaartenbakjes’ around with them then!

And while I am at it, let me tell you how we found out whether we had passed an exam or not… there was a big noticeboard on the third floor, at the top of the stairs. The teachers would put up the results of the exams there! For all to see! Large crowds would gather. Many expletives heard…. I remember only too well some people who had great problems in passing their kandidaats- translation Dutch-English. Time and time again their insufficient marks would appear on the list…  Some students suspected foul play, that the teachers would never give them a sufficient mark anyway when they saw these students’ names on the paper. So, a new system was introduced to give the students anonymity and exams were made with only a number on the paper! Did it work? I doubt it very much.   

In order to keep things a bit organized I will try and stick to one subject at a time. You will have noticed that I can get pretty excited and will then bombard you with lots of hopefully amusing stories. No doubt, some of my fellow students will have different memories and could tell more anecdotes. Please do, send them in, or at least come to one of our Alumni gatherings.

Looking back, the KANDIDAATS programme was pretty loaded. Lectures every day! All aspects of the English language were on the list of exams you had to pass in order to get your kandidaats. Let us tackle a few:

PROFIENCY. Remember the story about the language lab? Six hours a week, headphones on and ‘repeat after me’. And all the idiom … I remember a book written by Weijers?  

GRAMMAR. Of course! We had to study the Bible of Grammar: English Grammar by prof. dr. Zandvoort, founder of the English Institute in Groningen. You cannot begin to believe the amount of detail in that bulky book. My own Zandvoort still shows the signs of my battle with grammar: loads of underlined parts and notes in the margin. It is still up in the attic now, as a memento of the extent of our knowledge of the language.  

One of my colleagues at the dr. Nassau College in Assen, Theo Alserda, had his copy of Zandvoort in his classroom to look up things when in doubt…  yes, yes…would you believe it! And of course to show off the extent of his knowledge!

As you probably can tell, grammar was and is not my favourite subject. And then we also had to do a second grammar to broaden our outlook on the subject: Transformational Grammar by prof. dr. Van Eck. So confusing… so difficult! Poor Geert Barkhof. He spent hours with Boukje Lutjeboer and me, trying to train us, analysing one sentence after another, juggling terminology from both grammars.

But what a fantastic teacher Geert turned out to be! The day of the final examination: an oral examination! Mr. Paul Floor was waiting for me and had decided to be funny. Probably worn out by the long day of examinations: “So Annie, if you look at this text, you will agree that this group is called ** in Zandvoort, and  ** in Van Eck.” I had been trained so well by Geert that I just looked at him, began to laugh and said: “Oh no, it isn’t!” Whereupon he leaned back and said: “Okay, explain it to me then.”  Which I did and scored an 8! The look on Geert’s face when he heard the score… Priceless! Forever in your debt, Geert!

Jan Posthumus

PHONETICS. How to describe the way you pronounce words and sounds and transcribe them properly. I loved dr. Jan Posthumus. What an extraordinary man. The way he would say ‘Bilabial-Plosive’ and then demonstrate it by pronouncing the ‘p’ and ‘b’ several times…. so convincingly! Unfortunately, I just could not bring myself to focus properly and had to sit his exam several times. But Jan Posthumus himself was a great person and well-liked by many.

CREATIVE WRITING/ GRAMMAR/ DIDACTICS. Mr. Paul Floor. Loved him. He would sit there at his desk, place his bits of rolling paper (light green packet of Mascotte vloeitjes) in the right position with great care, take a bit of tobacco and slowly but carefully build his cigarette. A bit like people build their joints, I guess! And from behind a cloud of smoke came his unmistakable voice telling us all about the technicalities of writing. Later on in the programme he also taught us Didactics in the same relaxed way. A born teacher!

TEACHING. In order to become a certified first degree teacher, we had to follow his classes and then spend no less than fifty hours inside a school! You would either sit in the back of the classroom and learn from the teachers or go in front of a class and teach them yourself. Which of course was what I did! Mr. Floor was quite happy with my performance when he came to visit the school and attended my lessons. And so I became a certified “first degree” teacher!  Must sound quite unreal to students trying to get their teaching qualifications nowadays. Oh, and by the way, all I had to do to get my MO-A after I had got my ‘kandidaats’certificate, was pay a sum of money, et voila….!   Certified teacher!

David Wilkinson

ROMANTIC LITERATURE. Prof. dr. David Wilkinson lectured on the Romantics. How we all loved his classes! They almost turned into performances! He clearly enjoyed himself so much whilst introducing us to the subject. His inimitable laughter could sometimes clearly be heard in the corridors and put a smile on everybody’s face!

OLD ENGLISH. Mr. Anthony Davies. Quite a character! Red chequered shirt, knickerbockers, beige kneesocks, walking boots. The only teacher, apart from Henk Dragstra later on, that we addressed by his first name. I remember him marching through the corridors on the third floor with his two small daughters trying to keep up with him. “Hey, there’s Anthony with his offspring” someone shouted. Whereupon he stopped, glared at the speaker over the rims of his glasses and spoke the memorable words: “They are persons in their own right, you know!” and marched on. During his classes we talked a lot about Old English literature, the background, tried to learn the grammar and translated a lot of texts. A great many of these came from the Bible.  Although my knowledge of the Bible is quite good, I have to admit that I felt the need to buy a small English Bible. The hopeful smile on the face of the salesman in the Oxford market (who tried to convince me to buy a nicer one ) disappeared instantly when I told him it was just for translation purposes!  

Anthony was a lover of poetry. And being Welsh, a poet himself. I own a special copy of Anthony’s poetry, given to me by Bethann, one of those daughters that I described before. I met her again at Dokman’s Dance Studio in Assen forty years later, where we take our dance classes. What a pleasant coincidence!

Anthony organized guest lectures by Welsh and English poets. Afterwards there would always be a session at his house at the Noorderstationstraat in Groningen, where you could meet the poets and have a good discussion.  

Anthony loved the Anglo-Saxon Age and most of all, he loved to actually step into Anglo Saxon footsteps. Hiking was his great hobby and when he started to organise walking trips to a.o. Hadrian’s Wall and Thomas Hardy Country, I decided to join those trips and never regretted doing so. Got to know a lot of fellow students better, got to know Mary Jo Arn (guest lecturer) and husband Ken, who came along too. Experienced England as I never would have done otherwise!

MIDDLE ENGLISH. Prof. dr. Hans Gerritsen was our lecturer for Middle English. He was a true academic, a walking encyclopedia, who knew sooo much! His lectures were very interesting, although sometimes frustrating because he expected so much of you! No readymade chunks of information, always pushing you to look things up for yourself. His exam on Middle English literature very often was the last one you took before receiving your ‘Kandidaats’ certificate. And everyone dreaded this oral exam!

Hans Gerritsen

In 1975 I didn’t go to England during the summerholidays, but stayed in Groningen to study for this exam. It was a very hot summer, so I would get up very early and pick up the key to the Library at the concierge’s desk so I could start studying at 7 o’clock in the morning.

In order to prepare properly for this exam, you were given a photocopy of a page from a Middle English manuscript in advance. You were expected to analyze this bit of text thoroughly: transcribe the text, translate it correctly, determine which manuscript it was taken from, what Middle English dialect it was written in (with argumentation). No mean job…

It was meant to help you with the beginning of your oral examination, boost your confidence. No such thing for me ! Prof. Gerritsen started  my exam by saying that he had enjoyed my analysis thoroughly! It had made a train journey that he was on very agreeable.  He had laughed a lot, was very amused, because I had got it all wrong ! Nice start of the exam!

And there was always the very well-meant cup of tea and the bloody biscuit that one of the canteen ladies brought in! When to eat / drink that during an oral examination? I was so nervous by that time that I couldn’t even remember, when asked, where we would find most of the Arthur stories …(I now own about three metres of Arthurian novels …) Very slowly, but gradually, I regained my confidence and managed to shout about a quarter of an hour later “I know ! Malory !.’  Absurd !

Two and a half hours later, with the noise of all the people waiting in the corridor getting louder and louder, prof. Gerritsen asked me how I rated my performance. Oh, I can remember so clearly saying how I had worked so hard all through that hot summer, how nervous I was and that I thought I deserved a 6.   Whereupon he said: ‘Well, let’s do that then!’  Yeahhhh! ‘Kandidaats’ in the pocket!!

I must have made some kind of impression on him, because years later, when I got my Doctoraal Certificate, I invited the people on the exam committee for a drink at our place. Con and I lived just around the corner from the Alpha Building, at Nieuwe Kijk in ‘t Jatstraat 116. He had received his Kandidaats Certificate that same day. It was the first time our parents met. Yes, quite a special day! Imagine the silence in that room when prof. Gerritsen and mr. Posthumus entered the room to have that drink with us: Prof. Gerritsen sitting at my father ‘s feet on a small stool, engaged in lively conversation. I will never forget it!

Was it called IDIOM?  ENGLISH HISTORY AND INSTITUTIONS?  Anyway,I told you last time about the influence ms. Baning had on my attitude towards my studies. “Go to England as often as possible, be English among the English, speak English like the English do.” This was drilled into us, and some followed the advice more than others did of course. But I desperately wanted to go and learn. With little money, but with a strong wish, I applied for the job of course leader with European Language Tours (later taken over by EF). Off to England for three weeks, thirity unknown children aged 15-18 in my care, to the English Riviera, Torquay. I would teach them English in the mornings, assisted by a local teacher, sailing classes for them in the afternoons with Dutch instructors. I also had to organize activities during the weekends and in the evenings. We all stayed with host families. Brilliant experience. Learned a lot about teaching and organizing. I took this job five years in a row. Aaltje ter Reegen and Henk Braakman also picked up this challenge several times.

But again. No mobile phones yet. You didn’t know these children, their peculiarities. Some of their well-to-do parents sent their children on this kind of course and off they went to the Costa del Sol themselves! When one my colleagues got robbed of all his ‘girobetaalkaarten’ (you had to fill these in, go to a Post Office and get your money in cash!), one of my students said to me: ‘If anything like this happens to you Annie, just let me know.  My surname is Van Lanschot you know.’

As a bonus at the end of the course, we would go to London, a two night-stay at a hotel in London. On my own, with thirty kids…. NO MOBILE PHONES YET! A sight-seeing tour by bus. Tickets to a musical. But also one afternoon off. So, before you let them go…strict instructions to the children: ‘At all times, take the telephone number of the police with you. And the number and address of the hotel. Never venture out alone.’ I would give them my position in the town beforehand: two o’clock Piccadilly Circus, 3three o’clock Trafalgar Square, four o’clock …. etc etc. Making rounds in the evenings several times to check the rooms to see if all the students were in the hotel. You get the idea. Looking back, you wonder how we dared to undertake this responsibility! I learned a lot. About London, about the NHS, about children that age, about psychological problems, but most of all about myself.  Still, I loved the job. Torquay is great. The people we stayed with became very good friends and we even named our youngest daughter after our dear host Alison.  

POETRY. Dear Mr. Alisdair Mackinnon. Poor mr. Mackinnon! Poetry at 9.00 on the Thursday morning. In groups of ten or so people. I never let him down, was there most of the time, although I rarely found the time to thoroughly prepare. But even whilst reading Gerald Manly Hopkins for the first time on the spot, we usually managed to have very interesting discussions!

Poor mr. Mackinnon? Yes. Thursday morning was always the morning after…. our pub gatherings. The English Students’ Club (now NUTS) organized their pub evenings on Wednesday nights. In the beginning, in 1972, I remember we had sessions at the bar of the Hendrik de Cock student society, then at the Rademarkt. Pretty soon afterwards, the ESC moved to Het Hijgend Hert in the Papengang. I didn’t miss many pub nights. Loved them. But also made it a point to attend the 9 o’clock lectures on Thursday!

So many memorable pub nights: darts competitions, performances by folkband Pennyworth.  Rob Hermans, Wim Tommassen, Aaltje ter Reegen, Martin Mulder, Reinette Tuin and, when Rob went to Oxford, ‘us’ Popke van der Zee. And let me just mention that one time when no less than three ‘Sinterklazen’ turned up. Hilarious! Fred Adam of course, his performance interrupted by Geert Barkhof and then to make the chaos even worse Tony Parr (guest lecturer for Drama Class ). We all loved it!

The ESC board: Nienke Houtzager, Hans Jansen, Jan Mellema, Con Diender, Anna van Gelder, Wil Verhoeven, Baukje van Dijk

We were the generation of Saturday Night Fever, and of course of Grease. The new ESC board (many well known committee members there: Jan Mellema, Nienke Houtzager, Baukje van Dijk, Wil Verhoeven, Anna van Gelder, Hans Jansen én Con Diender). A special night was organized. First a visit to the cinema, to watch the film. Then everyone to the disco the Jolly Joker. Great time! We are talking 1979. Dancing was something Con and I both liked very much and still do. We never stopped going to classes, Ballroom and Latin. Nowadays at Dokman’s Dance Studio in Assen. That is 45 years now….. how time flies!

The number of first year students grew and grew.  From the fifteen or so in the year before I started, to over a hundred! So difficult to get to know people. So Geert Barkhof, Aaltje ter Reegen and I, and the ESC, decided to organize a first year weekend! All together in a special hostel/ camp farm ‘De Kolonie’ in Ellertshaar. (I also remember one in Appelscha). We organized activities, made small mentor groups. We rented a bus, and a van for all the supplies, and off we went. Such good fun! And on our ‘show night‘ a lot of the teachers showed up to admire the show we put on!  I remember a.o. mr. Posthumus, mr. Bakker, Mary Jo Arn and Ken, mr. Mackinnon and Henk Dragstra. Those were the days!

The mentor groups did have a positive effect. We met every two weeks or so. Some people expected them to be extra lessons/ tutorials, which some of them were, but the get-togethers overall turned out to be more of a ‘social nature’. Surprise, surprise ….

So many names crop up in my head. Perhaps I shouldn’t mention names, in case I forget some! So sad that some of them have already passed on….  

Let me make an exception for Kees Hartmans. Shocked to hear he had passed away. Feel guilty for not keeping in touch. But such is life… A very memorable person. Not an easy life, but always willing to help. ‘Foto Kees’ he was very often called. He even did our wedding photographs. Most of the photos you see in my contribution were taken by him for another occasion. But he gave me extra copies, when I asked nicely….  

I warned you!  Once you get me started…. I still have many more memories to share with you, especially about the ‘doctoraal’ fase of our studies. Next time? Be safe.

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