News - February 28, 2013


It will be four years this spring since the death of Dutch columnist Martin Bril. Four years already; it is hard to believe. He wrote regular columns about nature and landscape and because he was a relative outsider, his reflections were often stimulating and original. I always had a soft spot for Martin Bril, just as I do for Kees Fens, Jan Blokker, Remco Campert and Bert Wagendorp.

With these language virtuosos it's all about observing, making connections and expressing them. Two years ago I quoted Martin Bril during the introduction to the Victor Westhoff lecture by ANWB director Guido van Woerkom. In confrontational mood Bril declared that Van Woerkum shouldn't think he could have a vision on landscape. 'The ANWB is there to publish De Kampioen, to run the Lyon support centre and get cars that have broken down on the road again. Beyond that, the director should keep his mouth shut.' On this occasion I did not agree with Bril, and Van Woerkum's vision matched mine. I have a soft spot for Guido van Woerkum too.
It is now nearly two years down the line and the same director was front page news again with his statement that nature conservation organizations in our country could easily be merged, doing away with about 1500 superfluous jobs and thus saving a lot of money. On the radio I heard him say the only good solution to the traffic jams is more asphalt. How would Martin Bril have responded to that? Personally I would favour sweeping these proposals under the asphalt.