Meeting a Fellow Blogger

Today I was in the library.  I got chatting to a young lady who I’d seen last week.  She was writing copious notes on an A4 writing pad.

Is that study notes for your university course starting next week?

No.  Notes for my blog, which I’ve recently started.

Wow, a fellow blogger!  Do bloggers do secret handshakes and codewords?  No.  We just swap stories and tips, many of which I had picked up from Blogging for Dummies and Blogging for Creatives, as well as from my lovely Schatz, who introduced me to blogging all those years ago.

Blogging is good.

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Have a creative day, won’t you!

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Interesting Facts about Germany: Teddy on the Road- the History of the Gatso

Useful to know…

THE FLENSBURG FILES

teddy 2

While travelling along the highway visiting some friends in Leipzig a while back, I had a chance to listen to the German news and the traffic report, where they report accidents, speeding and even broken-down vehicles when I was taken aback from a phone call made to a radio station that, like Leipzig, is located in the same German state of Saxony. With my passenger next to me we were snickering when we heard a typical Saxon living near the Ore Mountains (Erzgebirge) calling in by saying the following:

“Auf der B 175 in Glauchau gibt es einen Teddy auf der Fahrbahn zwischen Jerisau und Gesau.”  (EN: On Highway 175, there is a Teddy on the road between Jerisau and Gesau in the City of Glauchau)

A Teddy? My first reaction to my passenger, who is also from the region but nearer to Stollberg was one for the ages:…

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Ex-Pat Life

As a pad’s brat, I’ve been around the world, and also as an adult.  My first ever “proper” graduate job brought me to Bangkok, Thailand, for three months training back in 1995.

BKK is notorious for many things.  The bars.  Their “live entertainment” is somewhat more interesting than bingo, karoake and stand-up comics.  Watch Spalding Grey’s monologue, Swimming to Cambodia if you want to enjoy an analysis of Thailand, filled with dry, dark humour.

I spent my first Saturday in BKK with Brij, a new Indian colleague.  We were down one of the go-go bars of Soi Cowboy (“Soi” being Thai for “alley”).  Brij was by now getting rather “friendly” with one of the staff.

Ginge in Germany:

Er, Brij, I think that’s a lady boy.  They have a rather large Adam’s apple.

Brij, hand over “barmaid’s” chest:

No, don’t be silly.  She’s got a great pair here.

Ginge in Germany:

Yeah, but I think he’s also got a great pair down below…

Brij, hand sliding down somewhat lower:

Rubbish… she’s definitely a… ermmmm… er…

Now, to Brij I dedicate this fine Bee Gees hit.

Have a ladylike day, won’t you!

F-RAN-KK SIDEBOTTOM

Question: Frank Sidebottom: who was he?

Answer: a uniquely British character, in particular, a Northern character.

A man with:

  • a large head papier-mache fibre-glass head
  • a nasal voice
  • a Mancunian (Manchester accent)
  • a love of Altrincham FC football club (whose shirt he is wearing in this pic)
  • a love of singing about “Alty”

He also loved the words “fantastic” and “blimey.”

Here’s a clip from a typical evening’s entertainment with Frankie.

Recognise him now?

I’ve been a fan of his for over thirty years.  Yes, me with my postgraduate education, laughing at daft things like that.  Blimey!

Here are the fantastic lyrics to his Alty fan song, which I think is as good as You’ll Never Walk Alone…

“On Saturday at five to three
There’s only one place to be –
Down at the Moss Lane football ground
The team come out, the crowd all roar
We come, win, lose, or draw
The only team for me is Altrincham FC
Oh the Robins aren’t Bobbins, says me
The Alty!”

So, why the title, F-RAN-KK?  Well, it was a quiet Sunday afternoon today.  I was chatting to my old classmate, “The Roz,” about my recent visit to the naturist section at Unterbacher See.  The Roz is also a Frank Sidebottom fan, being from up the road from Frank’s home town.

Blimey, Ginge!  Well done, but I couldn’t bl00dy well do that.

Then we got talking about what would happen if Frank Sidebottom had come with me to  the naturist section, the FKK-Bereich.  The comedic elements just write themselves…

Imagine the scene…

Frank arrives in his Altrincham FC kit.  To quote the late, great man himself:

The shorts are black,

The shirts are red,

An ace combination, as I’ve said…

Our Frank strips out of his Alty strip.

He exclaims:

Blimey!  They’re all in the nip!

An overzealous parks official comes and tells Frankie S to remove his papier-mache fibre-glass head in order to be fully stripped off.

FranKK explains:

But this is my head.  It is part of me.

Little Frank joins in with protesting.

The official walks off.

Blöder Ausländer…

Frank turns to camera and says:

Oh no!  They’d better not tell me mum!

Frank decides a bit of music is needed to lighten the mood and entertain the hundreds of Germans in their birthday suits.  He gets his organ out.  (Phoar!)  That is, his Hammond electronic organ.  He starts to sing:

“On a Monday at five to three
There is only one place to be –
Down at the Unterbacher See
The clothes come off, we’re in the raw
We come here, and it isn’t a chore
The only place for me is Unterbacher See!
Oh, the Germans aren’t Bobbins, says me…
Altbier!”

Thank you!

Then cut away to Frank Sidebottom interviewing some very confused Germans in English.

Is it nice lying in the sun oh natural?  Back home in Timperley we never have enough sun to go sunbathing.

sidebottom

Have a frank day, won’t you!

FKK’ing Eck!

Nudity.

There!  That’s got your attention, especially if you are a stereotypically repressed, prudish Brit…

And for those who are into puns, let me explain the title of this post.

  • FKK: German word, Freikörperkultur – literally, “free body culture”, or naturist.
  • Eck: shortened form of “Ecke”, German word for “corner”.
    • My Dad was a regular customer of a German pub called “Danziger Eck”.
    • There is a flower shop in Düsseldorf called “Blumen Eck”, which must belong to an Anglophile, “Blumen” the German word for “flowers,” and the shop name being a pun on “Blooming heck” (much beloved of Coronation Street characters).

Soooo, back to the topic…

Today I finally went to Unterbacher See, a local open-air swimming area, typical of Germany: an artificial lake with a park, artificial beaches, changing rooms, toilets, play park, etc, etc.  I’d been meaning to go for the past five summers.  Today I got my swimming kit and a couple of books and headed off there.

It turns  out the Unterbacher See also has an FKK area, also known as a “textilfrei” area at the southern end of the area.  I decided to throw caution to the wind and my clothes to the ground.  I headed off to that section, five minutes stroll from the entrance.  My observations:

  • There were hundreds of people there, of all shapes and sizes.  Most people made me feel anorexic, and the average age was 40+.  I’m guessing that once you’ve hit 40, most people’s pride and vanity have already gone.
  • There were couples there, there were families there, there were single people there.
  • Pretty much everyone was reading a book.  Many were reading newspapers.  I guess the newspapers provided better cover against the intense sun.
  • Nobody seemed to bat an eyelid as the sunbathers strolled around in their birthday suits, heading into the lake for a dip.  Likewise, nobody seemed be looking anyone else up and down.  And even if they had, well, a 46-year-old naked big-bellied German (or Brit) is not exactly erotic.
  • Even the staff at at the nearby kiosk did not react at all to the queue of Germans in the buff.  Let me just state here and now: I ordered a Cornetto ice cream.  I could not bring myself to order a bratwurst.

Two hours and two chapters of Blogging for Creatives later, I showered, dressed and headed back to the city centre, a slightly redder shade of pink, including parts of my “whitey from Blighty” body that do not normally see sunshine.

Would I go again?  Well, put it this way, I won’t be booking two weeks in a naturist resort.  On the other hand, sunbathing among a bunch of salad-dodging middle-aged Germans is actually a pretty mundane experience.  Mostly I would stick to clothing-on areas, rather than head for the FKK area.  At least now I can say, “Been there, done it, not worn the t-shirt.”

fkksign

Have a textilfrei day, won’t you!

 

The Evolving English Language: Part 83

I love seeing how languages evolve.  That’s why I loved CSP (Comparative Slavonic Philology) in final year at university.

  • Why is there an “h” in “ghost”?  Because Caxton employed Dutch typesetters on his printing presses, and they were used to seeing an “h” in their word for “ghost.”  In it went…
  • But then, why do we call the people from the Netherlands the “Dutch”?  Because the people from the Netherlands and the people from modern-day Germany were seen as one and the same people.  Hence “Deutsch” becomes “Dutch.”
  • Ain’t no doubt about that.  But what about the word “ain’t”?  Until the late 1700’s, “ain’t” was, in fact, the perfectly correct shortened form of “[I] am not.”
  • As for “its”, this is a relatively new word in modern English.  Up until the late 1600’s the word “his” was used in relation to both “he” and “it.”
    • That man: his head.
    • That book: his author.
      • Just like in modern German.
        • Dieser Mann: sein Kopf.
        • Dieser Buch: sein Autor.
    • An intermediate step was the “there[proposition] because not everyone liked to use the word its, eg:
      • Parts thereof
      • Therein lies the message
  • Mad as a hatter?  Hatters used mercury to clean dust off hats.  Breathe in mercury vapour, and it’ll cause brain damage.  And why call a hatter a “milner”?  Because Milan in Italy was famous for hat-making.

Finally a clip that may appeal to all the etymologists out there, even if you are not that interested in insects.

Have a lexical day, won’t you!