Sauna, So What?

Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.  Germany.

What do you think of when when you think of Germany?

  • Wurst
  • Beer
  • A pretty successful national football team
  • That bloke with a funny-looking moustache and haircut… cough, cough
  • Come on now, admit it… Nudity

Germany is famous/notorious for “everyone getting their kit off at the first opportunity.”  Actually, that’s not quite the truth.  Walk down any German high street, and everyone is fully clothed.  Sit on any German train, and they are all fully clothed, even during a heatwave like we have today, temperatures of 30+ degrees c.

Whereas Germany does have the FKK (Freikörperkultur – “free body culture”) beaches and sections of the park, it’s still the minority of Germans who do go there.  (Well, as far as I am aware.  I admit, I have not done a scientific survey of my colleagues and neighbours.)  Most Germans will still wear their swimming costume, bikini or trunks on when they go sunbathing.

There is, however, one exception.  Woe betide you if you break this rule.  Germans go au naturel when they sit in the sauna.  Now it’s time for me to answer all the FAQ’s that I get from Brits.

  1. Phew phoar!  No, I have never got, cough, cough, “excited” in the sauna.
  2. No, it is not at all erotic.
  3. No, after my first visit to a German sauna, I did not rush out to buy a season ticket.
  4. Sex gods and goddesses do not visit the sauna.  Most German sauna-goers are not by any means salad-dodgers.  However, they tend to eat those salads on top of their cheeseburger, large Pommis mit weiss, bratwurst, and washed down with a few gallons of beer, followed by a large piece of Black Forest gateau.  Most of them make me look slightly anorexic.
  5. No, I have never met my bank manager/next-door neighbour/that lady who works down the local cafe, while sitting minding my own business down the sauna.
  6. No, I do not make sure I have a good look, phoar…

What impressese me is how businesslike, practical and logical Germans are about the whole business of sitting in the sauna:

  • in the buff
  • in your birthday suit
  • in the nip (Irish English expression)
  • au naturel
  • starkers
  • insert your favourite euphemism

My favourite sauna is the infra-red sauna at mine and Schatz’ favourite health farm.  45 degrees warmth and the infrared warms those sore joints.  Next to it is the Tecaldarium, with tiles rather than wooden slats.  Ideal if you have back or joint pains.

So what happens if you do enter the sauna in clothes, eg bikini or swim shorts?

Answer: One of the workers will rush into the sauna at the speed of a thousand leaping gazelles, shout at you, double you out of the sauna and tell you that you are to:

  • Undress immediately
  • Shower
  • Re-enter the sauna

…which has to be much more embarrassing than being seen naked in the sauna would have been.

Oh yes, once you do enter the sauna, you must-  by tradition – call out a mighty, cheery “Halloooooooooo!” to all the gathered textilfreie people on the slats (or tiles).

I have to say I find the German attitude to be a lot more mature than the British, rather giggly-girl, attitude towards people taking all their clothes off.  And believe me, after the first three nanoseconds, you really, really don’t bat an eyelid.  You just end up sitting in silence if everyone else is silent, or you join in the conversation about the weather, Brexit, Helmut Kohl, etc.

Have a textilfreier day, won’t you!

sauna-sign

When the debt collector just will not leave you in peace…

Vocab point for native German-speakers: debt collector = der Inkassobeauftragte or der Schuldeneintreiber.  They are people whose job it is to knock on your door and get the debtor to pay their debts.  I think you get the idea, especially if one these people hass ever paid you a visit.

What I wonder is this:

  • Train driver
  • Army officer
  • Policeman
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Bricklayer

I can understand why youngsters will tell the careers adviser that they would like to, would love to, would dream of becoming one.  But has any careers adviser ever had a year 11 student ever say:

Please, Sir, my career ambition is to become a debt collector.

My first experience of dealing with a debt collector hammering on the door was back in 2003.

The place: a village in North Yorkshire, England.

The time: tea-time on a Friday evening.

Boom, boom, boom, tap, tap, tap, thump, thump, rattle, rattle on letter box.

I leave the sofa and the ITV news to head to the door, while my Dad enjoys his tea, for I was visiting him for the weekend  NB: Chain is on door.  Old HM Forces habits of being security-conscious.

At the door – a man looking like a stereotypical night club doorman.

Good evening, sir.  Are you John Barleycorn?

Who?

John Barleycorn.

An unfriendly scowl from the visitor, holding his clipboard.

Never heard of him, I’m afraid.

Yeah, yeah, everyone tells me that.  Are you Mr John Barleycorn?

Nope.

Well, who are you?

Well, who are you, first of all.  Can I see some form of ID, please?

Tut and humph and sigh, and ID badge with name, Nick H***, on it.  Acme Recovery Services.  “Recovery” being a euphemism for “debt collectors.”

Can you produce some form of ID then?

No.  I don’t have to.

Well, do you know where John Barleycorn has moved to? 

Time for a bit of fun (for me, at least)…

Actually, I do know where he lives.  John Barleycorn, you say?  Now, hang on a minute.  He did leave a note, giving a forwarding address.  Now, I had a tidy-up yesterday.  I can’t find the piece of paper right now, but it’ll be somewhere in my study.  Tell you what, I don’t want to have people knocking on my door again, wasting my time and their time.  If you could give me your mobile number, I can give you a bell and give you his new address.  I think it’s somewhere in Northallerton.

Would you?  That would be much appreciated, mate.  Here’s my calling card, with my mobile on.

Conversation ends.  Our man walks off back to his 4WD.

Two minutes later a quick phone call to my old boss.

Mike, you’re not exactly interested in the opposite sex.  Can you give me an address of a good gay dating website, please,?  Oh, and some good buzzwords to use.  I’ll explain later.

Er, yeah, whatever.  Try www….

Thanks!

Within ten minutes I have registered a profile for our visitor on the website, including his mobile number.

25 year old bi-curious guy in London seeks new adventures, etc etc.

Fast forward two weeks.  A payphone in a Yorkshire village.  Insert coins of the realm.  Dial 07… etc, the debt collector’s mobile.

I get voicemail.  A gem.  Ein Knaller.

A grumpy, annoyed and altogether unhappy-sounding voice announces:

This is Nick H.  Unfortunately I have had to change my mobile number.  Please leave me your number, and I will ring you back from my new number.

(I wonder why he changed his mobile number…)

anger-management1

Have a mischievious day, won’t you!

 

Blood sugar diet: day 21 of 56

So, slightly disappointing news to report.

  • Starting weight: 122.4kg
  • One week ago: 119.9kg
  • Today: 120.7kg

What went wrong?  Too many Haribos and Balisto snacks.  These things happen.  I am treating this as a blip.  I slackened off slightly on the weekend while at Schatz’, albeit less slackly than before.  Today I have been back on track.

One tweak I need to make to the regime – certainly, while the sun shines during this week’s heatwave in “Drizzledorf.”  I will be going out for an hours’s cycle ride tonight and tomorrow to get some fresh air and spend time away from surfing the net.  Burn a few calories and get some cardio-vascular training in.  Oh, and fly the flag. 🙂

Give up the diet?  No way at all!  This is a setback, not a failure.

Forwards to victory!

ForwardToVictory

Have a victorious day, won’t you!

Blood sugar diet: day 10 of 56

Today was a checkpoint day.  Nothing to do with the diet per se.  On day 1 of the diet I had my quarterly blood sugar sample taken.  Today I came back to see my GP to get the results.

  • Last reading: 7.1 units.
  • Today’s reading: 7.8 units.

An increase of 0.7 units, or 10, something I had anticipated as over the past few months, I had been overeating and less active than previous.  I won’t bore you with the reason.  (I should ideally be at 6.5 units.)

However, my GP had been briefed by his “civilian” staff (the army-speak never leaves you) that I had started the Low Blood Sugar Diet.  So, instead of slapping my wrist, our man was most positive about the diet, my efforts and results.  (He complimented me on my Redhead Days t-shirt which I was wearing.  Normally he wears a top with a witty slogan in English, eg “Cool story, bro.”  Today he did not, but I did.)

I digress.

Next steps…

  • No need to see him at the four-week point in the diet, unless I was constantly going hypoglaecemic and had lost a lot of weight.
  • Carry on, and don’t worry about all carbs, but do avoid the bad carbs, eg white bread, rice etc.

Fifteen minutes later, I left his surgery, and we shook hands.

Next weigh-in is in two days time.  Watch this space.

Have a healthy day, won’t you!

I love to travel (2)

I love to travel, even if only on the local-stopping train round England.

June 1998.  I’d been to Gavin’s leaving do.  I’d had a few drinks.  I was merry, slightly drunk.  I board the last train back to Bracknell from Reading.

I sit in one carriage.  It’s nearly empty, with just me and a couple of other men.  I start to flick through the newspaper for a few minutes.  Meantime, I listen in on the two other men sitting opposite me.

Foreigners…

Slavonic…

Ah, Russian.

I decide to spend the next few minutes listening to them.  Time to kill before I reach Bracknell.

One fancies a girl off his course.  The other had had a McDonalds for breakfast.  Interesting stuff.  A good chance for me to practise my language schools.  (Three years at sixth form college and four years at university.)

Three minutes before Bracknell, I put the newspaper down.

One minute before Bracknell, Our Boris says to Our Ivan:

Попроси газету у этого толстого козла.

(For those not fluent in Russian: “Ask that fat bloke if you can have his paper.”)

Ginge in Germany, holding his copy of the Evening Standard replies very nonchalantly:

Почему ты сам не спросишь?

Translation: “Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

Suddenly two very embarrassed and surprised Russians, their faces now as red as the old hammer and sickle flag.

My train stops.  I get off.

One word: satisfaction.

Have a multi-lingual day, won’t you!