Only once did I get a reaction – via resource.wur.nl – to my column. A terse final judgement about a piece in which I indicated that my housemate Mike doesn’t exactly kill himself studying. I quote: ‘what a tear-jerkingly awful column this is...’
In spite of this dubious honour it's precisely this piece that seems to have been most effective. I'm not saying that my other pieces have never made any impact. Somebody once moved house because of my texts (when I had actually taken the trouble to disguise her as X); I've lost more than one friend; and as for my declaration of love a few issues back - I don't even want to talk about that any more. My little piece about Mike, however, is the only text that ever achieved the desired result: Mike has suddenly started to work like a beaver. Every evening when I come home - which is very late - he is still working behind his computer, an old desk lamp and a pile of hefty books by his side. Moreover, he's cut his beer intake by at least 50% and I have discovered something I never knew: Mike can touch-type. The fact that the atmosphere in our student house is markedly less cordial since the life and soul of the place moved out, and that I'm shouldering the blame for that, doesn't bother me one little bit. Mike is focussing on his future and the credit is all mine.
In short, I was in transports of joy. Until Mike told me the real reason last week: 'Oh, I'm only studying because I don't want to be fined by the new government'. I came down with a crash. How on earth is this possible? Not only is he phasing out study grants for Master's students, carving the heart out of the National Ecological Network, abolishing the ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food and the ministry of Housing, Planning and Environment, plus making huge cuts in a whole list of potential employers, but now he has also stolen my thunder. Prime Minister Rutte: thanks a bunch!