“I really believe that everyone should be able to build their own home”

Philip BuckAurelie Gorts statue

Filip Boeke focuses on a game of solitaire by the window in his Amsterdam living room, when his eldest daughter alerts him that a visitor has arrived. He slowly gets up from his chair and walks to the kitchen table, leaning on a cane. With a gentle smile, his head to one side, he silently looks at whoever is sitting next to him. This 100-year-old exudes a serenity and calm that instantly captivates you.

It asks how many people are 100 years old in the Netherlands. When he hears that there are over a thousand people out of a population of over 17 million, he says it is ‘nice’ to be part of such an exceptionally small group. ‘I don’t mind being that old. I can still walk, hear and see very well and my memory is still very good.

What does your average day look like?

I got up a little late, at 11, because I was still sleepy before that. At breakfast, I usually eat the same thing: brintapap. Then I wonder what day of the week it is. Every day has its own color and different clothes to go with it. Today is Tuesday and this is yellow, so I put on a yellow shirt. Wednesday is green, because the two words have “oe,” and then I wear something green. A light-colored day means: light activities. On Tuesdays, for example, I listen to classical music in lighter voices: soprano, violin, and guitar. There are many people around me who play guitar. Sometimes I hear it through the ceiling above me. I have a room there where the conservatory students can practice. There are also occasional house parties.

Enjoying playing music is an important part of my life all day long. On dark days, I do more strenuous activities, such as the elderly gym club twice a week. This is where I walk, it gets slower and slower. I do modern gymnastics; Machine exercises to train my muscles. I also read a lot, but these days not very difficult books, especially detectives.

What kind of family did you grow up in?

I am the youngest in a family of seven children. My father’s first wife died young. He was left with five children. After he married my mother, he had two more sons, Peter and I. He was between the eldest and the youngest in the family twenty years. We lived in Schorl across from the Dutch Reformed Church where my father was a minister.

Did you have to go to church every Sunday?

Older children did not go to church honestly. My father tolerated it well, he released his children and respected their choices, very special at the time. The fact that there is a higher power that determines everything did not appeal to my older brothers. Me too, but I think I stayed closest to my father’s faith out of all the kids. His sermons did not appeal to everyone in the church. They were politically colored, he was a convinced socialist and advocated for workers and women.

What kind of kids you?

“I was a little shy and always was. I had a little bit of courage. My older siblings didn’t help me gain courage. I was doing really well in primary school, I was a good student. It was more difficult in the gym in Alkmaar. I had a problem with Make friends. I also didn’t dare wear it with girls. No, I didn’t feel lonely. We had a close-knit family.

I thought it was important to read a lot. When I was a kid I found the best books on Dick Trum. His personality traits attracted me: honesty and giving others space to think and do what they wanted. I was also interested in music from an early age. My father organized Bach’s cantata performances in the church. Bach is my favorite composer. His music is varied and swings. When I was a child I especially loved the oboe parts of the cantata. I asked my father if I could play this instrument. I went to Amsterdam with my mother, for oboe teacher Haakon Stutgen. He thought I had talent and took lessons with him.

What appealed to you about the oboe?

I loved the oboe because it is a delicate instrument, with not such a sharp, but soft sounds. After the war, she studied oboe and piano at the Conservatory in The Hague. During my studies, I became the oboeist of the Dutch Opera Orchestra. When that stopped years later, I also stopped playing. After that I focused on choral singing.

With his oboe, June 1938, at his home in Schorle.  Aurelie Gorts statue

With his oboe, June 1938, at his home in Schorle.Aurelie Gorts statue

You also dropped out of the conservatory, when music was your passion

(He is silent for a moment.) “I was under the great influence of my brother Peter. He was only 1.5 years older than me, but I looked at him a lot. I think he was jealous of me because I was so musical. I was jealous of him because he had many friends and could Communicating with girls easily.This did not go well for me.Peter studied psychology and thought I should do this too.So I also started studying psychology in Amsterdam.The advantage was that I could easily get a job as a psychologist at school. The fact that Peter was now well known among psychologists undoubtedly worked in my favour.

Has your outgoing big brother had a positive or negative impact on you?

“It didn’t help me get over my shyness. I found out that a lot of what I decided to do was a result of what he did or said. It actually left me in personal development. I told him much later that we should talk about it. I went to him, but the conversation didn’t lead to anything.” He said he didn’t feel the need to talk about it, but I did. I didn’t dare defend myself.

Are the girls still okay?

That’s a good question, but you shouldn’t ask it. I can hardly answer it. In a good moment, I noticed that I had very little contact with other guys, especially girls, and started doing something about it. I even went to dance lessons a few times so I wouldn’t have to stand on the sidelines at school parties. Communication with the girls was limited to casual interaction. Peter already had friends in high school, and he only came to me when I started school. Then I found a friend who got along with me, even though we thought differently about many things. Her name was Dickie, I married her. She died 10 years ago.

Wedding photo with Dickey in The Hague.  Aurelie Gorts statue

Wedding photo with Dickey in The Hague.Aurelie Gorts statue

He takes the photobook his children put together for his 100th birthday. The cover contains black and white passport photos, from its 21st day until recently. He studied them carefully and concluded: “I see a little difference, I have remained the same, only the glasses in the last photos are different, because my eyes have dimmed a little. The part of my hair was always on the left, you’re gay, they used to say.

Browse the book. His gaze was lingering in a family portrait in the late 1920s. He points his finger at the boy with dark hair, glasses and a confident look. “This is Peter.”

And the blond boy with a cute look beside him?

‘It’s me.’

What did you learn about humans during your studies in psychology?

You should be occupied not only with your head, but also with your hands. It is good for your well-being to make something with your fingers.

According to your daughters, you have two right hands

‘I like to mess around.’ After my retirement, I focused on visual arts and carpentry. I started sculpting and built three strands. Spreading the small pieces, the big pieces, it was easy for me. I myself built our house in France, on a river in the Ardèche. It was an old ramshackle farmhouse, in which a floor was laid, bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom were built, doors and window frames put in. This house is important to me, I go to it every summer for a few months, and last summer I was there too. It is in the middle of nature. Man needs nature.

I actually believe that everyone should be able to build their own home. This is perfect for me. You can’t live well in a house you didn’t make yourself because your ideas aren’t in it. The home should be personal. You should have the materials and money for that, of course.

Meditation: “Sometimes I feel like writing down my thoughts, to make sure they don’t get lost. Not that I have such special thoughts, but a few. It is important as a person to be humble. Those who are humble live by their feelings and are diverse, because they do not have to excel at one thing.

Philip Buick

Born: May 25, 1922 in Schorl

Lives: Independently, in Amsterdam

Occupation: Musician and psychiatrist

Family: Three sons and three grandchildren

Widower: Since 2012

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