Joop van der Hor, born in 1954 in Rotterdam, is a committed resident of Spijkenisse. In addition to being a columnist, he is also a wedding officiant, presenter, writer, ambassador for Villa Joep, and he picks up even more things that come his way. He worked as a press officer for the police, is married and now lives with his wife Gina in an apartment in Spijkenisse. In 2018, he received the Nissewaard Medal from Mayor Salet for his efforts. He looks around a lot and writes about all sorts of things in his columns.
The music stops, mixed and the pounding stops. The silence is deafeningly audible, disturbed only by a stifled cough and a few footsteps from stragglers. Mortals await the dead!
Bram Peper’s face smiles at us from all sides. No corner, no niche, no column, no wall, but there is a large television screen with the portrait of a mischievously grinning Bram on it. Not to keep an eye on us, but to let him enjoy all the people who came to Grote- or Sint Laurenskerk especially for him. How many of them would be sitting there feeling a little burdened, I wonder? How many hypocrites can there be in a church? I recognize quite a few of them, more than I could imagine. People who only began to believe in Bram’s innocence when it was actually too late. The ‘Bonnetjes affair’ has taken a toll. The former mayor/minister Bram Peper was rejected by many and not least by the media as a thief, a fraud, someone who enriched himself by stealing the municipal cupboard in an unlawful way.
And light shuffling slowly takes over from the silence that seems to last for hours but actually only lasted 3 minutes. People look curiously over their shoulders at the large door that opens. I also look back and look into the bright light. Or should I perhaps use the word “heavenly light” in connection with the death of a great man? Then the recently retired city organist Geert Bierling begins to touch the keys of Laurenskerk’s majestic organ. First with a few quiet notes, but soon after the almost all-consuming melody ‘Ases Tod’ Peer Gynt Suite Np.1 by the composer Edvard Grieg cuts through the nave. I associate the name of the composer Grieg with ‘der Krieg’. My knowledge of the German language has never been very good. This is what the organ must have sounded like on May 4, 1940, when German planes dropped their deadly bombs on the defenseless city below, almost completely reducing the center to ashes. Will Bram, like his beloved rebuilt city, ever rise from the ashes like a phoenix? Less than 5 minutes later the answer comes as he steps into the pulpit and begins to speak. No, it is not Bram, but his son with the same name, the same posture and the same villainous humor, who addresses the guests. Then the song ‘Street Fighting Man’ by the Stones echoes through the church, a direct statement!
But first the hundreds of mortals who have not yet died see the simple, almost simple Rotterdam coffin unadorned, carried by six grandchildren of Grandfather Bram. They are literally carrying a heavy burden on their shoulders, even though their grandfather had lost 20 kilos in recent months. Behind the coffin are the children and Maria. Not the saint, but the heathen. Bram’s loyal friend Maria Heiden, the woman he first met in the bookstore of the same name on the Oude Binnenweg, looks frail, frail and sad. But when, after a whole procession of speakers, she is the last to speak, Mary speaks in a loud, powerful voice and caresses, which she must caress and whip without naming names.
Afterwards we spoke briefly with Lee Towers and his lovely wife Laura. Leen is affected, he can’t stand it. I don’t either, because the ceremony results in a networking meeting of people who are seen and want to be seen. When the church is empty, Maria is left in the fridge with her grief, memories and a large liver sausage bought for her friend. I also say goodbye to a special person who once saved my neck by literally standing in front of me! Hello friend Brad. Bye born in Amsterdam and raised in Rotterdam street fighter. The city, me, even the hypocrites will miss you!