Michael, they have taken you away

Michael K was buried yesterday morning.  He was 50 years old.  Three of his children attended his funeral, together with about fifteen other people who knew him, including his first wife.  I’m not sure if he had other children, but that was all that turned up to a spartan chapel in a local cemetery.

I would like to be glib and say, “It was a nice funeral.”

In a way it was.  The flowers on and around his coffin were beautiful.  The mourners, especially the British – for he had many British friends – were warm and supportive towards the members of his family, saying kind words and offering sympathy and hugs.  We sang one of his favourite hymns well: There Is A Hope.

But it wasn’t a nice “he had a good innings” funeral.  He died too early, alone and lonely and lacking love and hope.  His partner had died slowly and painfully three years ago.  He had been in and out of jobs since then.  When he was working, he was doing shift work and could not get to church to be with his church family.  As for his “blood family” to quote the Prince of Wales’ brother, I think his relationship with them over the years had been strained.

Michael was what we Brits call “a bit Marmite.”  You either loved him or hated him.  I myself enjoyed his company, as long it did not involve endless hours spent on a summer afternoon in an Altstadt Irish pub.  Michael, a German, knew the words to a vast array of Irish rebel songs.  Sometimes he’d tweak the lyrics.  Sean South of Garryowen became Sean South of Gerresheim.  He and I used to sing these songs every now and again together…  All his years working in IT in Scotland and Eire had not gone to waste.  I guess his local pub in Scotland must have been full of Celtic fans, judging by his repertoire.  Oh yes, he also had an encyclopaedic knowledge of East Germany jokes.

We got on well.

We often used to sing Fields of Athenry while strolling through the local park.

Michael, they have taken you away.  May you rest in peace.

Have a peaceful day, wont you!

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The title is a Latin phrase found in the work of the Roman poet Juvenal from his Satires (Satire VI, lines 347–8). It is literally translated as “Who will guard the guards themselves?”

The question in my head at the moment is:

Who cares for the carers?

Sometimes, and I’ll be frank here, I think the answer is: no-one?  I’m a member of my local church council.  I find it rewarding, and I like to serve man and God by doing all this work, whether sorting the church website or hoovering church carpets when the cleaner is on holiday, or spending hours sitting with fellow members of the congregation, listening to them telling me their problems when they are feeling down.

Yet what happens when the “care bear” and the church leader needs a listening ear?  Where are the friends who were there when they were feeling down?

They are either:

  • Not there at al: radio silence
  • They are telling you about what a great time they are having on on their hols
  • Moaning about their latest “playground fight” with a fellow member of congregation, followed by a huge long “mea culpa” session

This weekend got too much for me.  I ended up at Schatz’, lying on the bed and listening to good mood music such as Rule Britannia.  Finally, I decided to stick my shoes on and tell Schatz I was going out for a quick walk to the local bridge over the Autobahn and back to clear my head.  Maybe she thought I was planning to jump off the said bridge.  I wasn’t.  Suicide is Painless, goes the theme tune to M*A*SH.  But I wasn’t aiming to find out.  Instead Schatz suggested we head the local restaurant and have a few drinks.  We did that.  Five glasses of Hugo and a good rant about the Ted Stryker fan club later, and I was feeling better.  We duly waddled back to Schatz’ house, blood pressure somewhat lower than before.

Yamas!

Moral of this story:

  1. Support your local gunfighter.  Support your local church council member.
  2. No matter how down you are feeling, no better how cheery your friend is feeling, ask your friend once in a while how he/she is, especially when you have been told bluntly that said friend is feeling down.

Danke nochmal, Schatz, für deine Geduld!

Have a supportive day, won’t you!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

End of January 2012 I started the latest phase in my ex-pat life, little expecting that I would be “relieved of my duties” three months later.  Like the Murphy’s, I’m not bitter.  It has created a strange chain of events, leading me to be an IT contractor, working in the telecoms industry.  Since December 2014 I have been working on projects within commuting distance of London.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, an’ all that, it pays the bills, gives me experience for the next role, and keeps the brain ticking over.

Then there’s the downside.  The reason I moved to Germany was to, er, stay in Germany.  That is still my plan, and we shall see what happens with one particular project in Düsseldorf come the autumn.  (I have made a note in my diary to contact the relevant people nearer to October).  In the meantime, when life throws lemons at you, make lemonade.  Given that my current project pays embarrassingly good money, I intend to build up a nest egg to enjoy some good holidays with Schatz.

I can cope with the separation far better than Schatz can.  “Train hard, fight easy” is the slogan of the British Army, and that philosophy trickles down to pads brats.  Today: Garrison town A in Germany, tomorrow Garrison town B in England or Hong Kong or Northern Ireland or Brunei.  Today: Wolfenbüttel, tomorrow Sandhurst, the day after Bovington, and then, and then…

Poor Schatz.  She’s too harsh on herself, calling herself “too weak.”  Schatz is not weak.  She’s “just” missing me while dealing with lots of other issues at the same time.  Rest assured, however, once I get my first pay packet (which will make me and my bank manager at the Stadtsparkasse very happy), I’ll be seeing a lot of Heathrow and Düsseldorf airports.  Four weeks and counting till I spend pretty much every weekend back in the Altstadt and the Ruhrpott again.

Singt mit!

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Have a jet-set day, won’t you!

Reasons to be cheerful

Yes, I was a fan of Ian Dury, in case you have that earworm ringing in your head.

Reasons to be cheerful today:

  1. While sitting in the Johanniskirche in DUS this evening, I lit a votive candle and asked God to give me hope on the job front.  Twenty minutes later, I switched my mobile on.  Missed call.  Rang the number back.  “Herr GermanGinge, we’d like to invite you to an interview next Tuesday.  Is that ok?”  Oh yes!
  2. I found out that my Facebook friend, TeesPride, is making a good recovery from cancer, receiving very positive news from her specialist today.  Result!

Have a cheerful day, won’t you!

Year Zero, Day Zero

Actually, Year Zero is not a particularly nice expression.  I’m old enough, at 45 years and one day old, to remember the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_Zero_(political_notion)

Nonetheless, why should the Devil have the best tunes?  Why should a bunch of murderous dictators have the best sound-bites?

My plan for Year Zero: essentially start afresh.  We are where we are.

I like travelling by train.  For one thing I like to sit and listen to my favourite earworms and plot out my things to do list in my head.

So, the plan for the next 24 hours is:

  1. Start on the next translation text for the ex-chaplain.  It’s the only way forward to get closure.  It also gives me some purposeful activity during the day and will help to stop the mental “tap on the shoulder” every time I think of this unfinished work.
  2. Contact the Hausmeister and get him to sort out my leaking toilet.  It’s a mundane, five minute job and will make me – and my Schatz – much happier.
  3. Restart on diet and fitness regime.
    1. Stand on the scales as soon as I emerge from my pit tomorrow morning.  Whatever the weight, we are where we are.  Success is about where you’re going to, not where you’re coming from.
    2. Head off to the shops and buy only healthy food.
    3. Stroll into the Altstadt for an hour or two’s brisk walking.  Like my Grandma used to say, “Get out into the bloody fresh air.  It’ll do you good.”
    4. Daily food diary to my ever-patient personal trainer.
  4. Plan out extra job hunting task.  I think this week may call for time to get suited and booted and call in to a couple of job  agencies on Königsallee.

OK, that’s enough plans for the next 24 hours.  Time to tidy up the living room coffee table, pour a big mug of tea and get the remaining three chaplain translations out and ready to start on in the morning.

In the meantime, enjoy this wonderful piece, sung by Joan Baez.

We Shall Overcome

Have a purposeful day, won’t you!