It is time again to leave this town. To go. I will miss Amsterdam and her whims. I will miss the shops that never open. The waiters who stand behind the bar, chatting, never knowing that you are there. Or at least, doing a very good job to pretend. I will miss plates of cheese and deep-fried things. I will miss a country that understands beer. And not the crap that SABMiller make, but beer. Nectar of the gods. The drink they serve in Valhalla and all places holy. A beer made just for autumn. A beer made just for spring. And another 100 for the times in between. I will miss my bicycle and the quietest rush hour a man never heard. I will miss the kids in boxes wheeling by. The dogs who stand proud in baskets like Nelson on the bow. I will miss my house built when my ancestors were still ferreting down an English coalmine. I will miss the lean and the bend of the canalhouses. The wooden bridges on their pulleys. The locks and the lanes. I will miss the houseboats that don’t look anything like boats. The scabby coots that build nests of jetsam on old bits of flotsam. I will miss the herons poking about. I will miss Apple pie made right. I will miss shops that sell just one thing. The button shop, the stamp store and the toothbrush shop with its toothbrush ferris wheel. I will miss movies with big yellow subtitles. The old brown bars that were last redecorated when Napoleon was mooching about town. I will miss the old people who smoke outside the hospital. The smell of marijuana in the morning. I will miss the tourist lost on mushrooms. The space-cadets in the frites line. The stag weekenders asking how much to come right under the red light. I will miss the 101 different types of expat. The Swedes with their skinny jeans and snus. I will miss the gleaming grins of the Americans and the non-ironic use of y’all. I’ll miss the English, morbid, dry and happy. The Germans and their psychologies. The Spanish, the only people who can pull off a mono-dread and still look cool. And of course, I will miss the Dutch. Their honesty, their socialist bent, their sing-song greetings, their appreciation of personal time, and their obsession with orange. I will miss riding in the snow. The crunch under tyre of a fresh lay. The warm yellow glow of the best street lighting of any city I have ever been. I will miss the oliebollen and ice skating on Dam Square. I will miss the Paradiso, the bands who come to smoke pot and fumble their sets. I will miss seeing the Pixies one night, Nick Cave the next and LCD soundsystem the week after. I will miss a Broodje Hema rookworst met mosterd. Where else in the world does a shop sell household appliances and fat hotdogs?

Amsterdam I’ll miss you, but it is time to go.

Hello Durban!


  • David Smith is a world famous artist and a British Olympic hammer thrower. He is a curler for Scotland and Manitoba. A pro wrestler fondly known as the British Bulldog. A Canadian economist and a Mormon missionary they call the Sweet Singer of Israel. He is a British historian and a bishop. David Smith is the biographer of HG Wells, a professor of physics, a composer and a music teacher at Yale. He played rugby for Samoa, England and New Zealand. He created the Melissa worm, a deadly computer virus. He is the Guardian's man in Africa, he starred in a reality TV show and shot his way to silver in the 600m military rifle prone position at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp. But this isn't that David Smith. This is the blog of the other David Smith. David J Smith. The one from Durban by the Sea. The one who lives in Amsterdam. Yes, him. The David Smith who likes to write about himself in the third person. To learn about all the other David Smiths: To contact this David Smith: [email protected]


David J Smith

David Smith is a world famous artist and a British Olympic hammer thrower. He is a curler for Scotland and Manitoba. A pro wrestler fondly known as the British Bulldog. A Canadian economist and a Mormon...

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