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Full name: Erica Alexandra van Nieuwkoop

Date of birth: December 27th 1973

Nationality: Dutch

Current location: Langley Mill, near Nottingham, UK

Born in: Dordrecht, the Netherlands. I moved to the UK in August of 1999 to live with my boyfriend Chris.

Favourite foods: Anything really, I'm a bit of a food junkie (or hobbit, if you like). The only things I don't like are beans (kidney, baked or brown, I do like green and flat beans), spinach and beetroot. I love curries, Indonesian food, home-made spaghetti (the sauce, not the spaghetti), Mexican food, lots of garlic... Oh, forget it. I just like food in general.

Favourite flowers: Most blue or purple flowers. My absolute favourites are columbine and wysteria, but I also like foxglove, irises, lilac, bluebells, roses, lobelias, forget-me-nots and others I can't think of right now. I hate chrysanthemums, carnations, geraniums, begonias, petunias and virtually any other flower that you see in thirteen out of a dozen gardens. Number one on my hate-list is lavender though, since the smell of it literally makes me sick.

Favourite music: I used to be a big fan of the Cure, but it's died down over the years, though I still like them. Other favourite bands are Hedningarna, Värttinä, Laïs, Depeche Mode, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Adam (and the) Ant(s), Sisters of Mercy, Yazoo and most synthesizer poppy stuff that was out in the eighties. I'm not too fond of most music nowadays I'm afraid, especially not rap and r&b. I could happily drink the blood of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, the three of them should seek a new job as air-raid sirens. As far as classical goes my undisputed favourite is Chopin. I hate Mozart with a vengeance, all his stuff is nothing but finger practice strung together in an appealing way. (And believe me, I know. I've had to play it.)

Favourite films:
The Lord of the Rings - That's Peter Jackson's masterpiece, not the Bakshi thing, thank you. I cannot praise this film enough: meticulous attention to detail, very faithful to the book insofar as actually possible (and I would even say it actually improves upon the book), beautiful visualisation, perfect casting and of course Pippin.
The Fifth Element - Great in its difference. It's over the top, way out there, just unlike any other Science Fiction film I've ever seen.
Crocodile Dundee (I and II) - Old favourites. Uncomplicated fun with no strings attached. You just gotta love lines like 'That's not a knife! This is a knife.'
The Matrix - Ah, what do you say about the Matrix? Even Keanu Reeves gives a decent performance! Great effects, great fighting scenes, great coat. 'Nuff said.
Toy Story 2 - One was funny, two was better. Can't wait for Monsters Inc. to be released; Pixar don't seem to be able to deliver something bad.
Braveheart - This film has everything: romance, comedy, epic fights, drama... Plus any film where the Scots are the heroes will get an extra point from me. Scotland is one of the most beautiful places on earth and Scottish accents just melt me.
In general I like comical stuff as well as action movies, I have no problems whatsoever with Disney sweetness and happy endings and never dislike a film because the plot is improbable or because things simply aren't possible. Hey, if that's a problem, don't bother going to any films, right? The only films that don't go well with me are really scary thrillers and horror films, but that's because I'm a coward and would need to sleep with the lights on (in the entire house) afterwards. Oh, and they may be classics, but I hated E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Both boring as hell.
I used to have no real favourite actors or actresses (though I really like Alan Rickman and Harrison Ford), but recently I have fallen for Billy Boyd as Pippin in the Lord of the Rings. The man is a God. I have also been lucky enough to meet him at the I-Con sci-fi convention, of which you can read the full account here.
As far as looks go, George Clooney is quite yummy, Harrison Ford is pretty sexy for his age and Tom Cruise had me drooling throughout Mission: Impossible II (he never did much for me before, but it was the smouldering shots, honest). I can't stand William Shatner (whaddaya mean Kirk is better than Picard???) and Julia Roberts (too much mouth). I tend to dislike Jim Carrey too, but that's mainly because any film he's in seems to rely too much on his facial antics (though Liar Liar was pretty funny).

Favourite television series:
Robin of Sherwood
- Michael Praed is (or was, haven't seen him recently) the most handsome man alive. Really. Go look.
Babylon 5 - Incredible depth and an epic story, with brilliant characters such as Marcus (can't believe they killed him!) and Bester (nasty piece of work, yet you can't truly hate him).
The A-Team - I never truly appreciated how cheesy it was as a child, but with the recent reruns on UK Gold I'm a convert. (BA: I ain't going on no plane! Hannibal: Of course not, BA. Here, have some milk. BA: Oh, thank you.)
Star Trek - Not as deep and real as Babylon 5, but entertaining nonetheless, provided it's Next Generation or Voyager. I can't watch original Star Trek because I really (and I mean really) hate Kirk's guts and Deep Space Nine never drew me in.
Dark Angel - Still waiting for the second series here (don't you dare give me any spoilers!) and I really like it so far. Great action, and you gotta love the tension throughout this series - are they gonna kiss? Plus, Logan is just too cute.
Stargate SG-1 - Nice, fluffy and Sci-Fi. I love Daniel Jackson's character, though the series could do with Richard Dean Anderson being a tad less annoying.

Favourite colours: Black, red, blue shades of purple (and there you have pretty much the extent of my wardrobe). My life revolves around the eternal dilemma: do I want something in red or in purple? Sometimes I really wish these colours didn't clash. Yeah, life is difficult, isn't it?

Favourite books/authors:
Terry Pratchett - My two favourite Discworld characters are Granny Weatherwax and Sam Vimes, my favourite books in the series are Witches Abroad and Small Gods.
Jack Vance - Want to build up your vocabulary? Read Jack Vance, though he may be difficult to get hold of. Also has the unmatched ability to describe an entire culture, complete with quirks and oddities, in a paragraph of two or three sentences. Favourites are Planet of Adventure and the Cadwal Chronicles.
Piers Anthony - Especially the Incarnations of Immortality. I must admit that there's a certain something in his books that vaguely annoys me, but I can't for the life of me put my finger on it, and it doesn't really put me off his books either.
Tanith Lee - Before her horror stuff. Try and get hold of Volkhavaar. The books on the Demon Pinces are really good too.
Other books I really enjoyed reading are The Last of the Renshai by Mickey Zucker Reichert (plus the five sequels, The Western Wizard, Child of Thunder, Beyond Ragnarok, Prince of Demons and The Children of Wrath). Loosely based on Norse mythology, this series centres around the tribe of the Renshai, fierce warriors whose children learn to wield a sword before they learn to walk and whose only goal in life is to die gloriously in battle and go to Valhalla.
I'd also recommend the Dragon Prince and Dragon Star trilogies by Melanie Rawn (Dragon Prince, The Star Scroll, Sunrunner's Fire, Stronghold, The Dragon Token and Skybowl). The trilogies follow after each other, so don't pick up the Dragon Star books first, you won't have a clue what's going on. One of my friends called this series a refreshing change from the 'insignificant person goes on big quest to find/destroy world-saving/destroying magical object' books (as someone else said: that has been done once, and hasn't been bettered since). The books center on Rohan and his wife Sioned (and later on their son Pol), prince and princess of the desert, and their struggles to build a world for everyone governed by law rather than the rules of war and conquest. This may sound dull, but it isn't. There's plenty of intrigue, bad guys, magic in the form of 'sunrunning' and lots of romance. Great books.

Things I love: Cats, especially my own two cats Sivesh and Azrael. Sivesh was named after the lover of the demon prince Azhrarn from Tanith Lee's book 'Night's Master', Azrael was named after Gargamel's cat in the Smurfs. Other than that I love Chris (duh!), reading, travelling and languages.

Things I really, really hate: Don't think there aren't plenty of things I really love. Strangely enough I just find it a lot easier in general to get really passionate about things I hate, so here's the endless (and likely expanding) list of them:
People who do not lift their feet when they walk. I guess I should blame my mother for this, since she's the one who hammered it into me to pick up my feet. Suffice to say that I really have to restrain myself from staying silent whenever I have someone shuffling behind me. It's worse when it's women wearing heels: if you aren't able to walk properly on them, don't bloody wear them!
People who chew with their mouths open. Even worse than not lifting your feet, and again my mother's fault. Kids doing it is bad enough, but fully grown, mature, often even middle-aged adults really should have learned to keep their gob shut while chewing things. If you really want to drive me up the wall, chew as loudly as you can while shuffling your feet as you walk. Just don't do it if you value your life.
Chewing gum. This sorta ties in with the point above, since I have yet to find someone who manages to chew gum with their mouths closed, but apart from that I really do not see the appeal of the stuff. I used to chew it as a kid, until one day I realised that it has flavour for the first five minutes, but you keep mindlessly chewing it for at least ten minutes afterwards when it has lost any semblance of being edible. Yuk.
Pigeons. Flying rats. Vermin of the sky. The only good pigeon is a dead pigeon. They're so mindless, they don't even have the wits to fly away if you try to kick them. Homing pigeons are even worse, since their owners often don't shy away from poisoning the neighbourhood cats to protect their stupid birds.
The majority of people who call Customer Services every day. The customer services where I work that is, though I doubt it'll be much different at other customer service places. For the record, I work at the place that organises all driving tests in the UK, and I get lots of whinging idiots on the phone each day who have failed their driving test and think themselves the best drivers in the world so how could they possibly have failed? Apart from that there's people who call you so you can tell them what they want to hear and then get angry when you don't do that and tell them how things really work instead (usually to do with legal requirements), people who are simply too stupid to understand what you're saying ("I want to book a driving test." "Theory or practical?" "Uh... A driving test." "Yes, do you want to book a theory or a practical test?" "Uh... The written one." Yes, that is called a theory test, git. The variation on this conversation is "I want to book a driving test." "Theory or practical?" "Yeah.") To quote Userfriendly.org: There are no stupid questions, only stupid people.
Orange and baby pink. Hideous colours. The one downside to being Dutch is that orange is the national colour, so with every international football game the shops fill up with all kinds of orange paraphernalia. Giant orange hats in the form of clogs or Statue of Liberty crowns. Little orange balls to put on your car antenna. Orange t-shirts with the slogan 'Hup Holland Hup!" Orange cakes, orange vla (= sorta like custard). And baby pink is just disgusting.
Mobile phones. The bane of modern existence. Wherever you go, wherever you are, there's always someone yapping away in one of the damned things. "Beep!" "Yeah?... No, I'm on the bus. Yeah, I'm on my way home." Fifteen minutes later: "Beep!" "Yeah?.... Yeah, I'm still on the bus." Such meaningless conversations that are being held on these things! Is it really so damned important to be available every single minute of the day? Over my dead body will I ever get a mobile phone, though I'm enough of a hypocrite to admit that I'd have a hard time getting used to Chris not having one anymore if he got rid of his for any reason.
Kids with mobile phones. This is irritating enough that it warrants a separate entry. What the bloody hell does a thirteen year old need a mobile phone for? Apparently there are kids on the streets because they can't pay their mobile phone bills! Either that or mummy and daddy pay the bills for their darling kiddo, which they can't really afford either, but god forbid that their precious baby would have to do without his mobile phone.
Kids in general. Or, more particularly, badly raised kids, which unfortunately seems to be most kids these days. Some parents are actually consistent in what they want their kids to do and don't spoil them rotten, which makes for infinitely more tolerable offspring (although I still don't really know how to relate to them), but the annoying little brats that just run riot everywhere without any form of parental guidance... I say that anyone wanting kids should follow a course of 'How to raise a child' first.
AOL. God I hate AOL... Chris admires my instinctive reaction to free AOL CDs that arrive through the mail, which is the same reaction that some people have to spiders and mice. It figures that the stupidest e-mails we receive at work invariably come from aol addresses. And I'll never forgive them for screwing up Netscape.
Dubbed films/television programmes. How on earth am I supposed to practise my languages when I can hear only the first three words of anything anyone says in any language before their voice is turned down and an immaculately spoken English voice takes over and recites what is being said? Have these people never heard of subtitles? How do you think the Dutch can speak English so well? We only dub for little kiddies. And even then (if it's a film) you can see the original version with subtitles if you want to.
Spelling and/or grammar mistakes. Anywhere, but especially gits who can't write coherent e-mails and seem to be totally ignorant of punctuation or the use of the 'Shift' key. (Interestingly, again, many of these people have aol addresses.) I'm not saying my site doesn't have any typos, but anything spelt wrong here is just that: a typo. I make an effort to be intelligible. Worst offenders: people who spell weird as wierd (as well as people who spell Kahvi as Khavi, Teir as Tier and Leetah as Leetha), who don't know the difference between lose and loose, who don't know the difference between their and they're or its and it's, who don't know the difference between whether and weather and people who write things like 'I could of done that.' No you couldn't, you could have done that. Someone once summarised it very nicely: "I'm a foreigner and I went through the effort of learning to spell English correctly, so native speakers can bloody well do so too." I wish I remembered who said that.

Can't think of anything more right now, but rest assured that I will later.

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Created 7 January 2002 at 16:21. Amended 1 May 2002 at 11:29 (added link to my I-Con report).
E-mail me: erica@ratauvan.co.uk
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