“Did you know there are bees under the lawn?” I ask anxiously as I have a cup of coffee with Keanu Reeves. He has come round to do the gardening again, and I feel that he is an appropriate person with whom to share my recent fears about the current bee invasion in Leopoldsburg.
“Biz?” he asks uncertainly. “I do not know this ‘biz’ you say.”
Keanu does not speak very much English.
“You know, bees,” I explain, as if putting emphasis on the word will make up for its absence in his vocabularly. “Bzzzzzzz!” I continue helpfully, making fluttering gestures with my hands. “Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!”
The gardener looks disturbed and slightly nervous at my best bee impression. I am a little put out. Never one to have the sense to quit while I’m ahead, I draw a bee on the back of the scribbled notes I have been making for some work that I’m doing. “Bee!” I say determinedly, tapping the page. “Bzzzzzz!”
Understanding dawns on Keanu’s face. “Ah!” he says happily, “Bee!”
“What is it in Dutch?” I ask, always keen to add to my already slightly ridiculous mental store of words in foreign languages.
He looks blankly at me. “How do you say ‘bee’?” I ask slowly, pointing unnecessarily at him and then at my excellent bee doodle.
“Bee,” he repeats.
“Yes,” I agree, beginning to regret ever mentioning this, “yes, ‘bee’. But what is the Dutch word for ‘bee’?”
“Bee,” he insists. I give up, smile encouragingly, and make a remark about the weather to indicate that we are through with the whole bee discussion.
Out of curiosity, I’ve just looked it up. The Dutch word for bee is ‘bij’. Pronounced ‘bee’.