Below are the first five thousand words of my first book, the Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man.
Anna, a blonde bombshell of a woman from the beautiful city of Frankfurt, who is one of my best friends, my colleague and who claims to know me better than I know myself, says that I am the shallowest man she’s ever known, and that because I constantly deny being so, the best way for me to realize quite how lacking in any real depth I am would be to start writing down exactly how I live my life for a month. Her theory is that I’m so busy living my allegedly shallow existence, that only when seeing my activities written down will it dawn on me how I am the living equivalent of a worm’s grave, i.e. extremely shallow.
A month is a hell of a long time, most of my relationships don’t last that long (joking) and I’m not too happy about making such a long term commitment, but since Anna claims that I lack the discipline to keep a diary, I am intent on proving her wrong. So welcome to the diaries of Simon Woolcot, an allegedly spoiled and shallow Expat from London living in Amsterdam.
The Amsterdam Confessions of a Shallow Man
BOOK 1 The Book of Lust
The iPhone alarm woke me up with the soothing sounds of John Coltrane’s version of Nature Boy. I have an Alarm App that allows me to select which song I’ll wake up to. It also chooses the right time to wake me up based on sleep cycles. This prevents me from being shocked awake and – because I love Coltrane’s music- starts my day the right way.
Proceeded to my ensuite bathroom. While looking in the mirror, what did I see? More hair in my ears. This is the bain of my existence. No sooner is ear hair removed that it comes sprouting back like weed in some uncared for garden. I’ve noticed that since turning 40 unless I pay due attention I could grow an Afro on my ears. So I reached out for the ear clippers and gave it a good trim, ditto for the nose hair. Jumped into the shower and applied my Biotherm Homme facial scrub, while also using liberal amounts of my Chanel Allure shower gel. Say what you like about Coco Chanel (alleged Nazi collaborator, raider of the minibar in the Paris Ritz Hotel during the war) but she knew how to put together a damn good shower gel.
Hopped out of the shower and applied plenty of Vichy body lotion, pricey but worth every penny. One of the first things I do when spending the night at a new love interest’s apartment is to check out the shower gel and body lotion choices. All you need to know about a woman is in her bathroom cabinet. I’ve made my excuses and left a girl’s place faster than a Dutchman bending over to pick up a dropped coin due to the lady of the moment’s bathroom cabinet contents. Had a shave, applied face cream (Chanel of course), hand lotion, deodorant (have a guess), brushed my teeth and then headed to the spare room which also doubles as a walk-in closet.
Spent some time selecting the right suit, shirt and tie combination for work. I’m an IT Director at McCulloch Management Consultants and looking sharp is as important, if not more critical, than the work I do. I have 15 tailor made suits and over 50 shirts that I can wear for work. To ensure that I don’t repeat the same combinations too often, I keep an Excel spreadsheet that notes which suits were worn with which shirts and ties on which day. My rule is never to repeat the same combination within a single month. Went for the worsted grey with dark blue shirt and pink/blue tie combination, last worn on May 27th. Excellent!
For a change of pace, I took a bus to work. One of the great things about living in Amsterdam is the public transport. I walk for 10 minutes from my apartment overlooking the Sarphartipark to Museumplein and from there take the bus to our office which takes 20 minutes. I stand the whole way, even though it’s possible to have a seat, as I don’t want any muck from the great unwashed getting on my lovingly dry-cleaned suits. The Dutch public are the worst dressed people in Europe and I’m from the UK so that’s really saying something.
You want to talk about culture shock? Well it seems here that:
- Judging by the color combinations they wear, most people appear to dress in the dark to save electricity.
- There must be a law that forces people to wear jeans with everything.
- Women seem to think it’s acceptable to leave the house with hair that is still wet and glistening like the body of a wet rat.
Spotted the usual fashion disasters on the bus, always good to help shock one completely awake.
Spent a fairly typical day at work, with the “thank God it’s Friday” feeling running through my veins. Friday is what we guys at work call “Green Card night.” This means that those poor specimens who live with partners and usually have to beg their better halves for permission to leave the house are given the permission to go out and have a civilized (ho, ho, ho) evening with me, who definitely does not have a woman to answer to.
Friday night is a bit of a blur. Started out in the company bar. McCulloch goes against Dutch society rules by having women who by and large do dress very well. We’re a British partnership with offices in over 20 countries and our Amsterdam office is pretty international, with 30% of the 700 employees not being from the Netherlands. I’m sure that the Dutch women who work for us can’t wait to get home and get out of their smart business wear, mess up their hair and stick on a pair of old jeans with a top that doesn’t match. Anyway, after some pointless flirting with some of the ladies in the office bar I headed to an Eetcafe (brasserie) which, as coincidence would have it, is a three-minute walk from my apartment.
Along for the night out came Richard, another 40 something Brit who I’ve worked with for years. Richard is 165 cm tall, smartly dressed, a SAP expert who has a thing for black women. His current partner doesn’t trust me at all and dislikes him hanging out with me, no idea why, really. Also along is Nathanial, 35-year-old Expat from Toronto. He looks like an American footballer and is a gentle giant. The best way to annoy him is to ask where in the US he comes from! If you look up the term “pussy-whipped’ in a Thesaurus his name and address appear instead of the explanation. The poor sap married his former Dutch secretary, the leggy, skinny (but badly dressed) Haike, who now organizes his private life with savage efficiency. He generally attends the Friday night get-together about once every six to eight weeks due to Haike booking out his social life with endless visits to her parents and other relatives. Like I said, poor sap.
Our token Dutch friend, Koen is an excellent Project Manager and all round party animal. He lives in Den Haag, which is a good 1.5 hours travelling each way daily, but it works for him as property prices there are much cheaper than in Amsterdam. This matters for a man with a fast growing family. He’s the father of three kids and claims (unusually for a Dutchman) that he wears the trousers at home and is not bossed around by his partner.
Anna, the reason I’m writing this diary, also came along. So, as well as a token Dutchman, we also had a token female. Anna is 185 cm tall, blonde, has (at least as far as I can see) spectacular breasts and dresses in what I would describe as a crisply efficient manner, usually in simple elegant business suits at work (she’s an in-house lawyer) and dark trousers and matching shirts outside of it. I’ve known Anna for years. I once did a one-year assignment in our Frankfurt office. She politely but firmly rebuffed my attempts to make a pass at her and we became good friends, which we remain to this day. Anna is 38, divorced and, in spite of what people say about Germans, has a wicked sense of humor. Actually it’s often difficult to tell with her whether she’s laughing with me or at me.
So we had a good meal at De Duvel and the night would have ended in a civilized fashion had we stayed there. Instead, someone (possibly me) suggested that we go onto the Palladium, a bar/club in the tourist center of Amsterdam, Leidesplein. Palladium is full of incredibly hot, ambitious women. By ambitious, I mean that most of them have a single goal, which is to meet a footballer or a guy who is wealthy and stupid enough to put up with them not working so that they can spend their days shopping and living off the guy’s bank balance. Gold Digger central. This bar stands out as it is actually one of the few places in the country where women will actually bother to dress up in something other than jeans and (shockingly) not only wear make-up but do their hair properly as well.
Don’t get me wrong; I have no issues with Gold Diggers as long as they realize that my goal is to get shot of them as quickly as possible.
So we drank, drank, danced and drank some more. Anna, who can’t stand the Palladium, left us at De Duvel to have in-depth conversations about which women were the hottest and the never-ending debate regarding real versus silicone-enhanced boobies.
I vaguely remember walking up to a woman and saying to her “36DD.” “I don’t understand, what do you mean?” she asked me with a confused look on her face. “Well your T-shirt does say Guess.”
It’s amazing how well Dutch women can swear in English. Koen, having to travel the furthest, bailed out at the inappropriately early time of 12.30 am. Nathaniel received several control phone calls from his stricter half, who then ordered him home around 1 am. Richard, being a British real man and hardcore like myself stayed on till at least 3 am. He bravely refused to answer numerous calls from his woman who no doubt wanted to order him home as well. We then stupidly went on to another bar where we left as merry as investment bankers at bonus time and I wandered the streets alone back to the Woolcot palace. Richard, who lives in Jordaan headed off in the direction of the Red Light district. I have hazy memories of how I got home.
Saturdays are pure stress. Woke up, or shall I say got out of bed at 1pm. I think when I got home I tried to watch some porn that I’d downloaded a couple of days before but much to my disgust was American. Nothing against the people of the USA. Love the country and its people but what appalling porn! American porn reflects what I find to be the incredible optimism of the country, as well as the never-ending goal for bigger things. American porn “actresses” don’t just have breasts, they have huge silicone enhanced bazookas that can turn round corners ahead of their owners. They don’t just have orgasms, they scream the place down at the top of their voices even before the actors touch them. No wonder Americans need such big houses; it’s to shield the noise they make during sex.
Anyway, gave up on the film, staggered to bed. Woke up hangover free due to the Simon Woolcot patented hangover avoidance method: one glass of alcohol followed by one glass of water. Works a treat.
Saturdays are always stressful, had to struggle with some major decisions:
1. Where to eat breakfast?
2. PlayStation for a couple of hours or breakfast first?
3. Where to go shopping?
4. Should I go on another date with Irina?
5. Pick up dry cleaning before or after shopping?
Did options 1 and 2 together; simply had a bowl of muesli while playing Call of Duty Black Ops for what turned out to be two hours. Then took a visit to my Tailors, who are in my humble opinion the best clothes shop in Amsterdam if not in the country. The Tailors only sell clothes for men and I normally avoid the shop on a Saturday as it’s full of badly dressed women telling their men what clothes they should be selecting, oh the irony. But as it was in the general direction of the P.C. Hooftstraat shopping street, the area where I had planned to do some shopping, I thought I’d look in. P.C. Hooftstraat is the equivalent of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Bond Street in London and the Rue St Honorare in Paris. It’s the center of exclusive boutiques and brands. Armani, Louis Vuitton and, yes, Chanel all have stores in this street, to name but a few.
My Tailors was packed out with hen-pecked men and their dominant women, so I left and headed for a bit of window-shopping.
Visited Irina, my 34-year-old occasional, incredible, aerobic and intense regular Russian shag. My relationship with Irina could be simply described as: I take her to fabulous restaurants and pick up the bill; in return she shags me within two inches of my life. 177 cm, jet-black hair, a good line of exotic lingerie and skintight dresses make Irina a joy to be with. We’ve been seeing each other on and off since last October and we are supposed to have a no-hassle, no-commitment relationship which suits me perfectly but of course these things never last as planned.
Upon arriving at her pokey apartment on the first floor of a building with a steep, moth-eaten carpet-covered stairway, I waited for her to open her front door with a sense of excitement. In the past she has often greeted me only wearing a pair of high-heeled shoes, or with racy underwear. I was to be disappointed as she was fully dressed in a tight off-the-shoulder black dress cut diagonally across her shapely legs.
I went to give her my usual greeting of a passionate kiss, but she only turned and offered me her cheeks, sadly the ones on her face. She then strutted across her apartment, which gave me the opportunity to take in her hourglass figure and how the dress clung to her arse that was definitely at the top of the Beyoncé Knowles league table of hot backsides.
“Have some wine, Simon,” she said motioning towards the dining table, where an already open bottle of Pinot Grigio stood with two glasses.
“Is everything OK with you, honey?” I asked. “You seem a little frosty today.”
“Sure, why would everything not be OK? I am alone here in Amsterdam, with no family, not many friends. My bitch of a boss hates me, always criticizes my work, my English. I stay in the office sometimes till 9 at night. Does she care? Does she say ‘thank you, Irina, for working so hard’? No, she just negative, negative, negative all the time. I have so much to give work, but she brings me down.”
On and on she whined, as if I don’t have enough of my own problems to deal with and instead I want to listen to hers. Pretending to give a shit, I opened my arms and said: “My poor sweetheart, come here, let me give you a hug.”
She melted into my arms and I hugged her hot body closely against mine, at which point my cock sprang to life. She pulled away from me faster than a Dutch person that’s been asked to leave a tip at a restaurant.
“Why we make only the sex? Why we no spend more time together?” She looked at me with enquiring eyes as she said this. Her voice took on a woeful tone.
“We can’t only fuck. No get me wrong, I love to fuck with you, but I’m not just your whore, you must treat me like lady.”
“Don’t I treat you well?” I responded. “We’re not exactly eating Kebabs and Burgers, are we?” Trying not to laugh, she replied, “Yes, that is true but you never take me to meet friends, we just fuck and eat, eat and fuck.” “Try fucking with the intensity that we have without eating,” I said to her. “Believe me, it wouldn’t be as good or as long. Sweetheart, you know that what we have is hot and good fun, and I just want to keep it the way it is.”
Fixing me with an intense stare, she said, “You want to keep fuck me when you are horny, then eating, then fucking, then fuck some more, with no future for anything more, is that what you want?”
I couldn’t have summed it up any better. “At least for now, let’s just see how things go, but I’m not promising anything. We have a good time, don’t we? Let’s just allow things to develop naturally.” Sighing deeply, she responded, “I’m a lady, I’m getting older, I can’t live like this forever.”
The conversation definitely set alarm bells ringing, but not having vigorous intense sex with her is something I’m not prepared to do at the moment. For a start I’d have to go to the gym more often to make up for the thousands of calories I’d not be burning during our intense sessions. I admit to having a definite weakness for Russian women. In my experience, they are usually incredibly feminine, with painted finger nails, Stiletto heels, tight outfits that display their bodies and (something extremely rare in this age of feminism) they are actually usually not against cooking for their men as well. Win/Win.
As if to prove my point, she growled at me, “I know what you want, you horny bastard.” She then pulled up her dress to reveal a lack of underwear, and then bent over the dining table, where I proceeded to fuck her to a shuddering climax. I made a mental note to make sure never to eat at that table, then, following a shower, we jumped into a taxi and headed off to dinner.
Had dinner at one of my favorite one star Michelin places, the Vinkeles in the Dylan Hotel. My rule is: single Michelin star places for occasional shags and exceptionally hot dates and two stars if I’m in an actual relationship, so I spend most of my time visiting one star establishments. Vinkeles is a stunning place, beautiful décor, dark, sexy, with (amazingly for the Netherlands) excellent service and fine contemporary cuisine. I love good food and I often bring different dates there. The Maître d’ welcomed me by name with a knowing smile at me being there again with another stunning looking woman. Had an exceptional meal for an eye-watering price. Of course Irina didn’t even attempt to offer to contribute to the bill, after all she would be providing dessert.
Spent most of the night and morning being worked out on by Irina. The sheer intensity of sex with that woman is like running a half marathon while being chased by a Rottweiler. An incredible night, her bedside talents never fail to amaze and exhaust me. Escaped from her clutches at 11.30. She left me with a parting statement of: “Why you go always? We must spend time together, not only for the sex.”
Alarm bells were ringing louder and louder. It’s always a relief to be leaving her badly lit, pokey apartment which has a faint musty smell I can’t quite put my finger on. The person who invented the saying “not enough room to swing a cat” was obviously a former lover of Irina’s. Whenever I’m at her place, I’m always bumping into bits of furniture because of the compact layout and the need to maximize the use of space in her studio apartment. Irina lives on the Vijzelstraat, which is about 15 minutes walking distance from my place and is pretty centrally located. This is why she pays a staggering 1350 Euros a month for a place which smells like it would after attempting to swing the cat, that had been buried under the floorboards for good measure.
Had just enough time for a shower and a quick change of clothes before going to meet Anna for lunch.
Anna lives in the next street to me and when we are both in town we usually have lunch or dinner together on Sundays. We met at my local Café, De Duvel. The place was packed out with an assortment of local yuppies, students, yuppies with kids and with a small smattering of clueless tourists who, even though they had an English menu, were looking at the contents as if it were written in Cyrillic.
Being late as I was, Anna had already found a table for two near the entrance and motioned to her watch as I approached. After the obligatory Dutch style greeting of three kisses on the cheeks I sat down. She looked at me curiously up and down and said, “Hi, you look exhausted.”
“Well, you know me; I’ve been working out a lot and running of course.”
“Working out? Is that what they call it now?”
“I have no idea what you mean, I’m a sporty kind of guy, have to keep the temple known as my body in shape, so that’s why I’m tired.”
“Simon, you look tired from the kind of sport that doesn’t involve gyms or running. Look at your eyes and the way you are sitting, you want to go back to bed, don’t you?”
“Is that an offer? I thought you’d never ask”. Rolling her eyes she said, “Come on, be serious, what have you been up to, you naughty boy?” “Anna, my suspicious token hot female friend, I’m as innocent as a politician caught fiddling their expenses.” “Of course you are,” she replied, with the emphasis on the ‘Of course.’ “So what did you do yesterday evening, and was any Russian involved?” “I had a civilized evening with Irina.”
“Natuerlich” she replied triumphantly. “So, that explains the red eyes and the body that looks as if it’s in pain. Was she hard on you? Fitness Russian style, looks tiring.” She laughed at me rather than with me.
Slowly sipping on a Latte I replied, “What you forget, my judgmental Fraeulein, is that it’s not so long ago that people used to marry just so they could have sex; now that’s shallow.”
“At least I make it clear, well I should say reasonably, no, fairly clear that I’m not looking for a serious relationship and just want to have a good time. Look at the divorce rates in the UK, 50%, that’s loads of people who would have been better off just having regular sex and not spoiling it by making a commitment and getting married.”
“You only think this way because of what happened with Lucy,” she replied with a probing stare.
At the mention of my poisonous ex I changed the subject. I asked her about her love life, but she is (of course) very discreet, and getting information out of her is like trying to teach a parrot to quote the works of Shakespeare. Eventually she told me that she’d had plenty of offers recently (no surprise there, you should see her) but had yet to meet anyone interesting.
“Interesting?” I asked. “Your problem is that, having gotten to know me, you’ll never find any man who measures up to my standards.” She laughed and said: “That is true, I don’t think I’ll ever meet anyone quite like you. You are definitely one of a kind.”
Following a pretty mediocre lunch, which consisted of a chicken club sandwich served with a bowl of crisps of all things, Anna then tried to convince me to accompany her to the Van Gogh Museum. What is it with women and museums? I told her that I don’t know any straight men that voluntarily go to museums and one of the great things about not being in a relationship is not being nagged into visiting such places. She repeated her point about me being shallow and then we headed our separate ways.
As I hadn’t drunk any alcohol, I changed into my sports gear and went for my usual long Sunday run. Ran 19 kilometers very slowly. Considering the previous night’s meal and intense sex in multiple positions, multiple times, that wasn’t bad.
Headed afterwards to the gym, which is one of the most exclusive in Amsterdam, full of pretty young and not-so- young things, who seem to spend more time hanging around machines chatting very loudly, rather than doing any actual exercise. I get the impression that Dutch women have hearing problems, as instead of just talking they tend to shout at each other simultaneously. How they understand what is being said is beyond me.
Plenty of eye candy in my gym and I can forgive attractive women almost anything. No conversation between young women nowadays can take place without mentioning Facebook and WhatsApp. It pays to wear my Dr Dre Beats Studio headphones in the gym to drown this nonsense out.
I can forgive beautiful women almost anything. Not including my evil ex Lucy, who actually did some things that I could never forgive, but, that aside, as I said usually I’m full of forgiveness, depending on the looks of the recipient.
This diary-keeping thing is tough and thirsty work! Nothing much more to report about Sunday. Had a good nap, and then had some spicy green curry, delivered courtesy of an iPhone food home delivery app. Then did something that I’d been putting off all week, caught up on my Facebook account, which is a curse of the modern age and requires ever more time to deal with. Was thrilled to hear that Steven, a guy I went to school with in the seventies and eighties and who I haven’t seen face to face since 1989, sent a message saying he is thinking of repainting his apartment. A woman who I’m not even sure how or why I friended is going to have kittens. I think she meant to say that her cat will have kittens, or (who knows) perhaps that is genuine exciting news, she is about to give birth to kittens. No doubt the father is called Tom. He’s not one of my 285 Facebook friends. I should really cancel my account but it’s like the Mafia, once you’re in they don’t let you leave.
The only positive thing I can say about Facebook is that it’s good for keeping an index of morons. In the not-too- distant past you’d actually have to meet, work with or date someone before realizing that they are dumber than a troupe of mime artists. Now all you have to do is Google their Facebook profile and look out for the following indicators of being a moron:
Selfies, photos usually (but not always) taken by women of themselves, often in varying states of undress.
Huge amounts of personal details available on the profile that helpfully advise potential burglars not only of the exact address of where the profile owner lives, but also thoughtfully includes such essential details as when they are going on holiday, or (even better) live photos uploaded from the holiday with exciting commentary such as “ Here’s a photo I’ve taken of myself topless on the beach in Barcelona.” “I’ll be here for another week.”
Lots of photos of the profile owner in fancy dress, drinking large amounts of alcohol and helpful images of them lying drunk on a sofa, in a gutter or with their heads over a toilet bowl after a good night out. Lovely.
My heart froze and hairs stood up all over my body seeing that I had a message from the psychopathic Lucy, an ex-girlfriend. She once used Facebook (or Stalkbook as it should be called) to send a message to two of her successors to ask what I had told them about her.
Lucy was the kind of girl who could start a fight with a nun and she could swear so fluently that even war veterans would burst into tears. The Dalai Lama would want to commit murder within ten minutes of meeting her. She had the kind of temper that would intimidate Mike Tyson. She was short, hot and aggressive. The first time I saw her she was snogging another woman in a bar, it was lust at first sight. What then followed were two years of Hell. Passionate hot sex, screaming arguments, break-ups, break-up sex, reunions, break-ups, broken plates, glasses, records, ripped clothes, damaged furniture, SMS terror, phone calls morning noon and night, tears, wailing, whining and pining. The Police were called several times, and all of our friends told us that we shouldn’t be together, but just like junkies who continue to shoot heroin into their veins knowing full well it could kill them, we couldn’t stop. We were so hot together that London burned in our wake. Birds would see us together, collapse and die on the spot. Hardened gangsters turned to God, blind men would scream, children would run crying for their mothers, plants would wilt in our presence; we were poison.
They say that an alcoholic is never really cured and I’m still afraid of what would happen if we were to see each other. Fortunately, she is now living in Melbourne. The UN intervened and said that it was for the good of mankind that we lived on different continents.
It’s been eight years since we parted yet every time I hear from her my heart jumps. She sent me a message to say that she would be in Amsterdam on business for a week at the end of July. I didn’t reply, will need to think very carefully about my next move.
The book is available to order from BOL.com, Amazon and is also available from the American Book Center. Enjoy.