I can talk…

To Amsterdam in Holland I go and from where I write this post. Did you know that the Dutch are the tallest people on earth and so I imagine that my forebears must have fled Holland for England many years ago, for fear of being trampled on I imagine. I flew here (sorry, Greta but it was £100 45 minute journey against a £400 4 hour train) and so far I have conversed with two Dutch men and have not seen eye to eye with either of them.  Speaking to a ticket guard at Schiphol station, it was more my eye to his navel.

This is a little unsettling and I hope will not be a recurring theme. I need to connect with the good people of Holland since it is they who I will be delivering my first Ted talk to tomorrow.

I don’t need to learn my stand-up. I just do it. By which I mean, that I can use different words and inferences without it losing any of its punch or meaning. But a TED talk is a different prospect entirely. A TED talk needs to have resonance and therefore I need to learn what I written precisely if it is to be worth listening to. And even though it is only 12 minutes or so, learning something exactly for a man of my years is proving to be a stretch. Much practise has been employed with Tessa being the beneficiary of many more walks than she is used to as I plod about various parks talking to myself; making various changes and trying to get it down.

As regular readers will know, Nikki was due to accompany me on this trip but then family life and various other stuff intervened and so I am flying solo now.

I have had much time to prepare and over the months, my talk has gone through so many incarnations and Nikki of course read early drafts but only yesterday, heard it for the first time.

She listened intently. And had notes.

Which I begrudgingly conceded were worthy and so  further changes were made.

Last night in bed, I was sleeping fitfully. At 5am I opened my machine and even with the light on low, it was enough to stir Nikki. But in the throes of the ‘change’, it takes very little these days.

‘What are you doing?’ Nikki asked softly.

‘I am changing the ending.’ I replied.


This is not the response I was looking for and more doubts creep in.

The next morning, Tessa finally puts her paw down and refuses yet another walk. Amazing what a dog can convey with just her eyes.

Really. This speech again.

Anyway, I am here now. On a train now out of Amsterdam bound for the town of Breda. I had an aunt called Breda who I loved very much and I hope I might like this Breda equally.

At least I don’t need to be funny, I assure myself.

But this is not much help because the thousands of hours I have been on stage being listened to, I have been cushioned by laughter. And lots of it. I am not boasting but I would venture that I have garnered a laugh-out-loud at least every minute. So to now stand on a stage now in front of giants who are not laughing at all…

‘It’ll be fine I tell myself.’

Tom and Harry are bound for America tomorrow to begin a new film called Cherry and this evening, the whole family are convening at our house for a send-off meal.

I call Nikki to add my voice to the well wishes.

‘How’s Holland?’ Nikki asks.

‘Tall.’ I reply.

Nikki laughs and I do too.

It’ll be fine and you can see for yourselves when it goes on-line.


30 thoughts on “I can talk…

  1. Maria J says:

    Good luck on your talk! I don’t have calming words of wisdom (sorry ) except “be yourself and have fun!” It’s what I say to my kids when they’re nervous about something so hope it works for grown ups too .

    • A.J. says:

      I’m sure your talk will go well. If I were you, I’d be more concerned about Nikki’s reaction to the “change” comment!

    • M. F says:

      Good luck on your talk! I don’t have calming words of wisdom (sorry ) except “be yourself and have fun!” It’s what I say to my kids when they’re nervous about something so hope it works for grown ups too .

  2. Kat Leroy says:

    I can’t wait to see your TED talk online. I hope it goes well for you. 🙂 Holland must be lovely country, with its beautiful nature and rich history. And super tall people, of course. 😀
    I wonder… do you share your novels in making with Tessa as well? And if so, what is usually her reaction? Does she like them? 🙂
    Anyway, good luck again tomorrow!

  3. Elizabeth B says:

    I’m a new reader to the blog. Just received your book Eclipsed today. Looking forward to reading it as well as hearing your Ted Talk when it’s released. Thank you for sharing your moments with us. The best part is seeing how family-oriented you are even with all the business and distractions, you’re able to find time to spend together. That says a lot about the character you’re instilling in your sons. You’ll do great on your TT. And if something goes wrong, just make a joke.

  4. Charlotte R says:

    Best of luck for your talk! I’m guessing Nikki doesn’t proof read your blog posts too as I’m sure the “change” comment would surely have been cut from the final piece!!

  5. Vicki G says:

    I remember you saying you were hoping to make the most of this trip for your 25th wedding anniversary, so sad to read Nikki could no longer accompany you on your trip! Best of luck for the talk, and hope you’re not missing out on all the fun of the send off! Hope Tom And Harry have a great time in America, looking forward to the film!

    Vicki x

  6. Dan R says:

    Good luck with the TED talk, I’m excited to see it should it become available online! It’s definitely a huge accomplishment to have given one of these talks and although I’m sure your stage presence will be able to translate into a setting without laughter, the impression I get from these blogs tells me that you’ll be able to relay your experience as an entertaining story no matter the outcome!

    • Lorraine says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Nikki couldn’t make the trip with you Dom. It sounds as though you are well rehearsed, according to Tessa’s refusal to walk. Wishing you the best of luck tomorrow, looking forward to catching it online. Best wishes to Tom and Harry, safe travels guys.

  7. Laura says:

    Well I guess I missed my chance! When you first announced you were coming to the Netherlands, the info Ted gave you was a bit vague so I waited to see if there would be more info about ticket sale… come to find out it had sold out quickly. I guess I will just go to uni then tomorrow… sad to have missed you mister Holland! Happy anniversary

  8. Miri says:

    I loved your blog today, it is very beautiful and very realistic. I admire you and your family a lot, everyone strives for their goals and dreams. and if the look of pets is the thing that can change us. I have not had the opportunity to read your books but it is not the distant day that I read them. Good luck ah Tom is a great actor and excellent person and ah Harry that his photographs are exceptional.

  9. Em says:

    I’m from Australia and have only started reading your works. Looking forward to the TED talk. I’ve always been impressed by Tom’s honesty and humility. It’s fabulous to get some insight into fame and “solid” family life. Keep writing. Come tour here!

  10. Becky Z. says:

    To pass on sage advice your son got from RDJ I believe…”Turn nerves into excitement” You’ve got this. We believe in you! I can’t wait to take a listen! Good luck Mr. Holland!

  11. Amy says:

    Good luck on your Ted Talk! Can’t wait to listen to it. But for real…let’s get back to your “the change” comment. I’m just saying, if my husband made that comment he’d better wish he was in Holland doing a Ted Talk! Haha! Brave man.

  12. Pamela says:

    Good luck with your TED talk. I hope to see it once it’s available on-line. Sorry to hear Nikki couldn’t come and celebrate your anniversary! Congratulations on 25 years together! Best of Luck to Tom and Harry as they head to America!!

  13. Sarah Mikes says:

    I hope all goes well! As a reader for a little while now, I’m excited to see the end result of the seemingly long awaited TED talk. Wishing Tom and Harry safe travels and sending my love to the rest of your wonderful family. Thanks for the good reads and can’t wait for more to come.
    Sarah Miles
    Boise, Idaho, USA

  14. Noa says:

    My day just got a little bit better. You’re in Holland! I live close to Rotterdam which is more South from Amsterdam. I hope you enjoy the rest of your stay and if I can give you any advice for your talk; just make the people feel comfortable. Once you’ve taken this step, they will loosen up and love it I’m sure! Oh and, try some stroopwafels! They’re these delicious biscuits! I’m sure your family at home will enjoy them with a cuppa 😉

  15. Patty Donaldson says:

    You will do well… they are lucky people to get to hear from you. You do many things right and this will just be another of them.

  16. Audrey says:

    Congratulations on Ted talk! The Dutch are great long track speed skaters, long legs!
    So much fun following your adventures.

  17. Andra Jenkin says:

    I attempted to find your Ted Talk online but it appears I am too soon, and fell into a Holland-Hole of interviews and stand up routines instead. So thanks for the welcome distraction from writing my novel, and the prof dev for my stand up, a serendipitous intersection.
    I find learning word for word so much easier than the in the moment mix and match of set up and punch when you have limited time to get your best gear out – the difference between your impressive 1000 performances and my measly 50 – 80, I should imagine. I love the instant and undeniable feedback from an audience. Sitting here at 3am thinking, ‘That’s quite good’, once I’ve finished a chapter, just isn’t the same. Especially when I edit later and think, ‘Who snuck in here and wrote this terrible drivel?’
    That output is oxygen was inspiring in that regard (an interview in Dubai?) so thank you for that axiom.
    I’m enjoying the blogs, and eagerly await December’s effort. The longer the better if you’re taking requests, so I can really master the procrastinating process. Appreciate it muchly.

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