Wunderbar!

I’m a fan of Germany.  I tell Brits, Germany is like Britain… just better-run.  Germany is a wonderful land.  And so is this instrumental by The Shadows.  (Hank Marvin is like Ricky King – but better.)

Have a wonderful day, won’t you!

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Am Dreizehnten August…

The Thirteenth of August is a significant date.

  1. International Left-Handers Day.
  2. The Berlin Wall was built on this date in 1961.

Here’s a joke to take you through this date.

Günter Schabowski has passed away today. On arriving at the gates of heaven, St Peter tells him,

“You will be getting into heaven.”

Schabowski asks St Peter,

“When?”

St Peter shuffles his papers and says,

“Das tritt nach meiner Kenntnis… ist das sofort, unverzüglich.”

 

Have an august day, won’t you!

yellow plush toy

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A better class of vandal…

I don’t normally like grafitti.  I will admit that.  However, when I was a student at Nottingham University in the early 1990’s, the gents toilets in the science library had some highly entertaining writings on the cubicle walls.

Sociology degrees: please take one.

Written on one cubicle wall:

To play toilet tennis, please look at the other wall.

Written on the other cubicle wall:

To play toilet tennis, please look at the other wall.

(Note the use of correct punctuation, upper and lower cases and spelling.)

The same joker used to put some joke comments in the science library suggestions book.  Here was one classic.

Name: J R Hartley.

Department: Marine Biology.

Question: Have you any books on fly-fishing?

Fortunately, the library staff had a sense of humour.  Their reply:

No.  Try Yellow Pages!

male and female signage on wall

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Have an entertaining day, won’t you!

We got it licked…

We got it licked… but only partially.  Some of my stamps are self-adhesive.

In Germany, Deutsche Post postage rates increased on 1 July.  Were the new stamps for sale on that day?  After all, they had been telling everyone for months in advance about the new rates.  Teutonic efficiency, and all that…

No.  Nope.  Nein. Нет.

Not to worry.

British.  And less of your Johnny Foreigner nonsense!

I just took the Stückelung approach.  July 1st was also the day when new commemorative stamps came out.  Astronomy seems to be the current theme. My budget did not stretch to the 3.70€ Moon landing, however.

astro2

I decided to kill two birds with one stone.

  1. Stock up on stamps at the new rate, eg international postage starting at 1.10€ instead of 0.90€.
  2. Use the old stamps, and add some smaller-value stamps to plug the gap.
astro1

L-R: National postcard rate, international letter rate, national letter rate

If I’m going to have to pay more for postage, I may as well stick more stamps on my letters and postcards, especially as my Uncle A in Yorkshire is a born-again stamp collector.

stk1

Stamps with Stückelung: 9 stamps on an international letter – result!

stk2

A large letter: birthday card, albeit with “only” four stamps on – must try harder!

stk

Two large letters, with a nice array of postage stamps – es lebe die Stückelung!

Have a philatelic day, won’t you!

Amnesty International Letters

Shortly after the Tiananmen Square massacre in the summer of 1989, I decided to join Amnesty International.  Once a month I’d receive their magazine.  I’d always open up at the centrefold.

The centrefold consisted of six cases (prisoners of conscience) that Amnesty International had adopted.  I used to write to the governments and embassies of every single one of  the cases without exception, month in, month out.

I never received a reply.

Actually that’s not quite true.

The Israeli Embassy in London did reply.  It was a very courteous letter, in an A4 envelope with several pages of detail.  (I wish I had kept a copy for me scrapbook, I really do.)

I wrote back to the author of the letter, a Boaz Modai.  I invited him up to Redcar, where I was living at the time, recommended he visit the Redcar Rock Shop, treat himself to a lemon top ice cream and informed him that there was a synagogue in Middlesbrough, just up the road.

Boaz Modai did not reply.

Last week I google Boaz Modai.  (t’s a name that you don’t forget.)  Blimey, he has a pedigree, and he’s had a good career.  He ended up as Israeli Ambassador to Ireland later in his career.

I still wonder if he ever planned to visit Redcar on his days off, though.

amnesty.png

Have a diplomatic day, won’t you!

“I never get any post”

Back in 2004 I used to send, Marco, my friend in Düsseldorf, a postcard every time I’d go to the Saturday market at Masham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

It’s the only post I get these days, apart from bank statements.

I paid attention to Marco’s comment.  I resolved the following week to change this situation for him.

The United Kingdom has a lot of universities, from Aberdeen and Aberystwyth to York.  I googled “List of all British universities.”  I went through that list methodically.  It took a day or so.  I ordered Marco a prospectus from pretty much every UK university.  Every single one.

A fortnight later I rang Marco.

Marco thanked me profusely for his collection of reading material.  He had to go to his local post office to collect half of the items.  He had piled them up in his living room next to the TV.  One university had a translation and interpreting course that interested him.

He never complained about receiving very little “proper post” after this avalanche of prospectuses.  I don’t know why.

Have a voluminous day, won’t you!

brown envelopes in mail box

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Call the social workers!

The year 1977.  For me, that was the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.  Street parties, Union Flag bowler hats, bunting across the streets, a massive military parade staged by the BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) at Sennelager.  Things were different then.  The price of a 1st class stamp was 9p.

jubilee

(Above is a first day cover to mark that jubilee.)

How much does a first class stamp cost nowadays?  Having lived aboard for several years now, I had to google it.  Ulp!  Drum roll…

70p.

But what else has changed since then?  Let’s take this case study.

1977: the school secretary at Wolfenbüttel Primary School phones the Guardroom at the barracks, 5 minutes walk away.

Hello, Cpl Sunray.  School secretary here.  Can one of the Regimental Police pop over to the school?  One of the youngsters has got his head stuck in the back of a chair while messing about with his mates.

Cpl Sunray arrives in the classroom.  Little Charlie, aged 5, is standing near teacher’s desk, looking all sheepish.  His classmates are watching him.

Gentle tugging and twisting does not help.  Cpl Sunray decides the only way is to saw the plastic back off the chair.  But he has to have a bit of fun.  At Charlie’s expense.

Cpl Sunray takes his hacksaw.  He holds it in front of Charlie’s eyes.  He winks to teacher.  Very deadpan he sighs:

It’s no good, Charlie.  We’ll just have to cut your head off.

Charlie screams.  Loudly.

No, no, no, please, no!

His classmates, teacher, and Cpl Sunray laugh.  Also loudly.  And for a good minute.

Cpl Sunray then manages to saw the back of the chair off.  Much to Charlie’s relief.

Now, fast forward 40+ years.  What would happen?

  • Cpl Sunray would be severely reprimanded, perhaps dismissed.
  • Charlie would be diagnosed with PTSD and offered counselling.
  • Maybe his classmates, too.
  • And teacher…
man cutting tress using chainsaw

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Have a sawn-off day, won’t you!