What’s your fondest childhood memory? Our camper van, which my dad had converted from an old, French delivery truck. It was lime-green, had brown burlap-like upholstery and white curtains. We held all our children’s parties in that van, and went to France in it on school holidays, travelling the B-roads with Simon and Garfunkel on the car stereo and a little bowl on board in case anyone had to throw up. The atmosphere of those holidays remains vivid, as do a handful of specific memories: my dad teaching me to play badminton, my mum and my sister braiding my hair, my dad with the hair dryer to get the barbeque going. I even recall the van’s smell.
What was family life like? I grew up in Ouderkerk aan de Amstel as the youngest of three kids. My mum stayed at home to look after us, and my dad was as an economist at the University of Amsterdam. Lovely people, both; wouldn’t hurt a fly. They gave us all the attention we needed and never missed our bedtime ritual: dad the tickle monster, mum with a lullaby.
They both went to work for non-profit organisations later on: my dad for the Leprosy Foundation, until his retirement, and my mum for the Postcode Lottery, which has been a blessing for non-profit organisations. It wasn’t until much later that I realised that not everyone’s family life was like ours and I’m grateful for my upbringing, because it instilled certain values in us, such as honesty and a regard for other people’s needs and feelings.