When I was 11 years old we moved from the south of the Netherlands to the west near The Hague. We considered The Hague, without ever actually having been there, a very aristocratic city. At least that is what we in the south thought it was. Later of course we discovered that it was just like every other middlesize city in the world, namely a collection of a lot of different neighbourhoods where people with different backgrounds live. And yes, there were also parts of the city that were quite dignified.
What we didn’t have in the south though were certain types of stately shops. Shops you would never enter on your own, certainly not as a child. My mother loved these shops in The Hague. I don’t think that she was particulary fond of the stuff they sold. A lot of it was very expensive and to be honest quite tasteless and ugly.
I think what she loved was the ambiance and the adventure of walking around in those expensive shops, of pretending she was a lady that could afford to dress her children there. The last thing wasn’t the case at all since we were with seven children and I mostly wore clothes that were transferred to me by my elder sister who had outgrown them.
Anyway, my mother would sometimes take (some of) us on her adventure to Maison de Bonneterie, one of the most expensive and oldfashioned of the warehouses in The Hague. The sport was to buy something there that we could actually afford and that still had the Maison de Bonneterie feel around it. It would usually be a little piece of soap or a very small towel. In the meantime we would take a good look at the people walking around. On the bus home we would tell eachother about what we had seen and we would make a lot of fun about it.
How I would love to take my mother one more time to the Bonneterie. Sadly neither she nor Maison de Bonneterie are among us anymore.