Hermit Age

Dec 15, 2023 | Real life | 0 comments

Hi there! Welcome to the Bashful Blagger. By way of introducing you to my blog, I’d like to begin by setting the scene: What’s life like for an aspiring author/freelance editor in the slow lane of a sleepy village in the far north of the Netherlands? Well, here goes.

You know the tired old sign that office jokers keep on their desks: “You don’t need to be mad to work here but it helps”? Well, for me, “here” has to be “home.” Indeed, it would be sheer madness for this tireless joker NOT to work from home. I sure ain’t good at the alternative. All that tweet and greet and blithering about the coffee machine in the corridor gives me the heebie jeebies. No offence intended, but I had enough of that social faffery in my corporate days to last a lifetime.

Let me socialize instead with the birdies gossiping outside my window. I can handle their chirpy twitter and besides, the birdies never mind what I bleep back at them or even how I bleep it. So, does my desire to escape the madding crowd sound that mad? Nope, not to me, nor to many of my neighbors in Thesinge, the placid village we live in.

Really, we ought to rename the place Hermit’s Hamlet. For some strange reason, Thesinge harbors among its 555 inhabitants a plethora of people who work from home, even now, after the COVID-19 pandemic. Down my own sleepy lane, for instance, at one time you could find (in no particular order) an accountant, a builder, a children’s book illustrator, an electrician, a health food distributor, a management consultant, a psychologist and a professional English-to-Dutch translator/photographer.

That’s nine hermits in a row, including me, your trusty author/editor, although I hasten to declare that none of us actually occupies a grotty cave in solo splendor. Most of us are blessed with social partners who often go out to work (and can be counted on to do the housework when a deadline beckons) (not to be confused with beacons).

Gerard Kingma, good friend and fellow language hermit, lives at the end of the lane. He does get out and about but that’s because he’s also a prize-winning photographer and has to. Obviously Gerard can’t fob off his clients with the shots he catches on his office webcam but rest assured, this photo of the Thesinger Maar (the river flowing past his office, down which my dog Chino and I wander every day) is as gorgeous as all the other works of art he displays on his beautiful travel & nature website.

The rest of us hermits, however, true to our reclusive nature, seldom are observed blotting the landscape or scaring off visitors, the task of the truly professional hermits employed on the fashionable estates of our Victorian forebears. Only the dedicated dog walkers, like me and a few others, ever poke a nose outside the comfy confines of our hermitages except under duress or in unbearably sunny weather.

Talking of hermitages, did you ever wonder how the moniker for a dank, dark grotto got to be given to that mega-museum in St. Petersburg (and its former satellite in Amsterdam now renamed H’ART Museum)? Well, stay put and I’ll tell you. When Catherine-the-Second first began her great art collection she called the original gallery she had built to house it “my small hermitage” since only very few people would be allowed inside to view its riches. She once lamented in a letter that “only the mice and I can admire all this.” Thought you’d like to know that.

And that’s enough from me, for the moment. Happy reading!

Featured image: Thesinger Maar, watercolor by Maike van der Kooij
Photo: Thesinger Maar by Gerard Kingma




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