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Martin Bril RIP [April 24, 2009]

Two days ago a much respected Dutch writer and columnist called Martin Bril died of cancer at the age of 49. Bril was an Amsterdammer through and through - he wrote about the city and his life in the Parool and later the Volkskrant. As a foreigner I probably never appreciated the nuances of what he wrote but I used to see him occasionally walking a dog.

So he's dead and the Dutch press have pulled out all the stops. His death was headline news and generated pages of articles in Thursday's Parool and an overload of the Volkskrant website - which set up an online condoleance register, as is now the fashion.

Today, Friday, the Parool's birth marriages and deaths section has nine separate paid-for advertisments pointing out that Bril is dead. His close family have a small, simple one, the next bit of family have a bigger one, then comes a double column announcement from the Parool, a short one from friends and neighbours, then a long column from the Volkskrant signed by the editor....etc etc

The Dutch practise of advertising your grief in the papers - at considerable cost - is an odd one indeed. Bril did very well. It would have been nice to read his comments on the tradition.

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