Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The place: Bordar House Cafe, Masham, North Yorkshire.

The year: 2003.

The time: 11:00.

Sunray and I are both enjoying a 10 000 calories belly-buster.  If you want to eat well in England, eat cooked breakfast three times a day.

brekkie

A random stranger walks in, decides he is God’s gift to comedy.

Looks like you two are enjoying that!  Is that your third one of today?

I look at Sunray.  Sunray looks back at me.  He nods and winks to me.  Mr Comedian wants to have some fun at us.  We’ll have some fun with him.

I am wearing my DDR (German Democratic Republic t-shirt).

DDRtop

I speak:

Wie bitte?  Ich hab’ überhaupt keine Ahnung was Sie sagen.  Tut mir leid.

Mr Comedian:

Oh, you don’t speak English.  Foreigner, yeah?

I point to my DDR logo:

Ja ja ja!  Bear-leen, Cher-mun-ee, ja.  Sorry, my English ist not gut.

Mr Comedian:

Oh right, bloody krauts, yeah?

G in G:

Ja, ja, crowd of chermans here, ja.  Big crowd at ze market place, ja!

Our man finally leaves us to our maple-cured bacon, baked beans and black pudding and sup our tea in peace.

Two minutes later…

Mornin’, Sunray!  Mornin’, Ginge in Germany!  How are you doin’, fellas?

Ron, one of the locals, had just walked in to order his Saturday bacon sandwich and had decided to greet us.

Sunray replies:

Morning, Ron!  Good to see you.  Come and sit down with us.

Mr Comedian hears Sunray, me and Ron chatting away (in English).  He realises the laugh is on him.  He scowls.  He purses his lips so tightly, that they look a cat’s anus.  He curses us as he leaves the cafe.

You two tw*ts think you’re so clever, don’t you!

Sunray and I laugh uncontrollably.  Ron asks:

Er, what’s the joke, fellas?

Have a Teutonic day, won’t you!

 

 

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Pack die Badehose ein…

Pack Your Swimming Trunks is the title of a German-language song from the 1950s.  Last weekend Schatz and I did not need to pack them.

We decided to spend Saturday, a glorious, sunny, day (28 degrees celsius) at Unterbacher See, a beauty spot to the south of Düsseldorf.  Specifically, the south beach, where the FKK (naturist/nudist/au naturel) section is to be found.

I had been two or three times before, and I liked it.  Clear water in the lake, very friendly people.  Schatz had seen some of my pictures from Unterbacher See.  She had visited its website.  She, too, wanted to try the place out.

G in G:

Schatz, are you sure you’re happy to go to the FKK section?

Schatz:

Yeah, what’s the big deal?  I’ve sat in the Tecaldarium sauna before.  No problem at all to go there.

G in G:

Fair enough.  Let’s do it then.

One hour and €4 each later we arrive at Unterbacher See.

Schatz:

G in G, you will need to wear one thing here.

G in G:

My glasses?

Schatz:

Yes, and your hat.

We reach the FKK area.  Schatz picks a suitable spot in a slightly shaded area next to a row of trees.

We drop off our things.  Towel, goggles… clothes.

All of them. Every. Single. Piece.  (Except for my hat, of course.)

Schatz gets undressed as casually if she were about to jump into the shower, totally un-bothered about being in her birthday suit (Adamskostüm) with what seems to be half the population of Düsseldorf.  (Well, let’s just say, hundreds of people there.  But only one redhead there – namely, me, Ginge in Germany.)

We both lie down on our beach towels, pretty much oblivious to all the other birthday suits surrounding us.  Schatz rolls over.  I spray sun cream over her body from head to foot.

 

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

 

The sun cream is a bit cold.  Probably not a bad thing when it’s nearly 30oc.  One side, then the other.  (Now Schatz has a good idea how it is to be a rotisserie chicken.)

Schatz gets her e-book out and starts reading as if she were on her living room couch.  I do the same with my book on Russian grammar… as one does.

After a few pages, Schatz suggests going for a (skinny) dip in the lake.  We go ankle-deep.  It’s slightly cold.  By no means a complaint.  It’s what you need.  Schatz is the first to immerse herself in the water.  Like a coward, I walk into the water up to my armpits.  I then take the plunge.  Literally.

Whoooooar!  That is nice and cooling.  Good job we have waterproof sun cream on.  We swim for a good twenty minutes.  It’s too nice to come back to dry land.  Sailing boats and kayaks cruise by, waving to the people in their bathing birthday suits.  The  bathing birthday suits wave back.

Schatz comes back to our spot, borrows my rucksack to use as a pillow, rolls over and has a power nap.  I read my Russian grammar book.  Schatz is happy and content.

So, overall impression?

  • There is nothing at all erotic about an FKK beach.  If getting a thrill from naked flesh is your “thang,” then visit the internet, not the FKK beach.
  • Everybody there had body confidence.  There were people of all shapes and sizes there, from pensioners to single people, to families with children of all ages, all happily lying there or strolling around.
  • One thing: piercings.  Let’s just say, why would you want to place a bumper sticker on Ferrrari?  Why?  Why?  Why?
  • Nobody stares at you, not even at the only redhead there.  They’re all either reading their newspaper (handy in lieu of sun cream, I guess), their e-reader, or their Russian grammar book.
  • There is nothing as nice and as cooling as swimming au naturel in the lake (temperature: 21oc).
  • Schatz loved the place.  She was happy to lie there without any clothes – or the slightest hint of embarrassment.
  • She loved the coffee and the bratwurst at the snack kiosk.
  • Schatz herself actually mentioned there were no posers in the FKK section, but there were lots of them in the non-FKK section, preening themselves, worrying about their looks, planning the next bleaching of their nasal hair, etc.
  • We both plan to go again.  Next time I will plunge straight into the water, and not just tip-toe up to my shoulders and shiver.  Just take the plunge – literally.
  • From a health point of view, we both got our daily dose of vitamin D and no sunburn.  Bingo!

Have a textilfrei day, won’t you!

fkksignage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rule, Britannia!

So, main event completed: visit to my Dad’s grave.  Dead and buried, as he would himself doubtless say have said.  What did Schatz and I do on our four days in England?

Quite a lot in a short amount of time.  Fortunately the weather was remarkably on all four days.  Only when visiting the cemetery did we experience any precipitation – the right weather for such a visit.

Our base was Saltburn-by-the-Sea.  This time a 4-star hotel, a bit of a step up from when I lived in the town in the early 90’s: a bedsit.  The views!  Huntcliff.  The pier!  Redcar steelworks.  The beach, full of dog walkers and their dogs, happy as anything, tails wagging away for England.  I think I even caught the sun… (Not too difficult for a redhead…)

Saturday morning meeting with my ex-maths teacher and fellow church warden, Mr N.  “Call me Rob, not sir.”  Yes, sir.

Saturday dinner in the Thai restaurant, where the Thai waitress spoke surprisingly good German, having overheard me and Schatz speaking in Schatz’ native language.

Sunday morning stroll through the town down the cliff path, along the beach, taking hundreds of photos on the pier, then the hike back up the cliff path (someone maybe needed an oxygen cylinder in their rucksack).  Then our sore feet took us back to Emmanuel Church and the chip shop opposite, just as it opened.  Small cod and chips for Schatz; jumbo battered sausage, chips and curry sauce for me.  All consumed while seated on the church wall.

Finally, fed and watered, thanks to England’s liberal Sunday trading laws, back to our hotel room for a shower, followed by a lie down to let our feet cool off.  Not so much strength through joy, as sweat, through joy…

Have a joyful day, won’t you!

view

“We need to talk…”

First of all, your Bible quote du jour.

Matthew 18:15-17

Dealing With Sin in the Church

15 “If your brother or sister[a] sins,[b] go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[c] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Since coming out of hospital a month or so ago, I had bitten the bullet and asked Billy to give me some space.  In other words, please stay away from me.  Like in the Jewish momma joke:

  • Don’t phone
  • Don’t visit
  • Don’t talk to me
  • Don’t Whatsapp me
  • Don’t email me
  • Don’t SMS

I had become fed-up of his:

  • Unsolicited hospital visit
  • Late-night starting arguments in his self-created Whatsapp groups
  • Interfering in everything from the colour of the toilet paper in the church toilets to how German funerals should be conducted
  • Etc etc etc
  • Ad nauseum

Last Sunday Billy asked to meet up with me for a coffee “to bury the hatchet” (sic).  I acquiesced.  I had a feeling the meet-up would be a bit pointless but we can but hope and pray, I guess.  And besides, I thought this could be my chance to tell him to his face what others had been saying behind his back.

We meet at the appointed hour, at the appointed place, a public place with plenty of people around.  I had prepared bullet points notes to refer to in case needed.

First ten minutes: stilted conversation.  My mind is thinking on every so slightly weightier matters than Billy’s new flat being near the big shopping arcade.  I am thinking of D, dying of pancreatic cancer.

After 40 minutes, 60 minutes, Billy is still talking about his new flat, like a ten-year-old telling parents what he had done at school today.  I am starting to day-dream.  The washing-up, the laundry, etc.

Finally – after an hour Billy remembers.

Oh yes, you said you wanted to talk to me about a few things to do with why you wanted space from me.

I tell him in a matter-of-fact way, very calmly without raising my voice (for I do not wish to encourage the stereotype of the fiery redhead) that I have serious concerns about his anger management.  I then give him a few examples of when he has exploded with rage.  He says he accepts he has anger management issues.  Good.  That’s a start.  But then at that incident and at this incident, if X hadn’t done this, he wouldn’t have had to scream and shout at them.  Someone else’s fault.  No personal responsibility.  Worrying.

I then ask calmly, like I was on my interrogator’s course again, is it possible that the reason why people have lost their temper with you is that you have provoked them time after time until they can take no more?

By now Billy has started cooking.  He has started hyperventilating, scowling at me, shouting over me:

No!  You listen to me!

All of a sudden, Billy grabs his coat and his daysack and storms out.

Oh, well, Billy has thus proved he has anger management issues.  Next time he sees me, he will probably move to the next step in his cycle of anger management, namely, look at me, puppy eyes and try to latch onto me and others heading off to Sunday fellowship lunch.  He’ll be wasting his time, I’m afraid.  High hedges make good neighbours.

Wer schreit, hat unrecht.

Have an anger-free day, won’t you!

rsz_anger-management

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!

The Trial

I’m more of a factual books reader than a fiction reader.  I have read piles of … for Dummies books.  For a change I decided earlier this year to read Kafka’s The Trial.  That was back in February.  Six months later, I have allowed the book to jump up my backlog of Books to Read.

What can I say?

A real page-turner.  Despite the length of the novel and the small font size in this low-cost copy, I whizzed through it in less than a week, including a mammoth “just one more chapter” session on the past weekend.

My random observations as a non-literary person:

  • If you enjoyed Orwell’s 1984, you’ll love The Trial.
  • Interesting how a new character was introduced in almost every chapter:
    • The housemates
    • The policemen
    • The uncle
    • The court artist
    • The lawyer
    • The prison chaplain
  • The English translation of the title perhaps does not reflect the pun in the German title, Der Prozess, which translates as “The Trial” (as in Nuremberg, Crown Court, etc) and also “The Process” (as in, a series of steps).

Well worth a read, and in my opinion, still very relevant in this day and age.

Have an innocent day, won’t you!

Untranslatable Expressions

Every language has untranslatable words and expressions.

Today’s untranslatable expression is:

“Back-seat driver”

I’m not sure if it’s a British expression.  (Americans, do you use the same expression?)

What does “back-seat driver” actually mean?   Let’s turn to www.urbandictionary.com.

1. A passenger in the back seat of the car who criticises the driver.

2. Anyone who offers unwanted advice.

Two definitions, the first of which is literal, the second is somewhat figurative, and the one that is more frequently used in British English.

I am sometimes asked what the role of church warden is like.  To ex-military people, I tend to explain thus:

It’s a bit like being RSM in a regiment.
To “civvies,” I tend to explain thus:
It’s a bit like being a shop steward.
One of the key tasks of church warden is to deal with the back-seat driver, who has an opinion and “expertise” on most things everything within church.

22:30 on Saturday evening: Beep-beep.  WhatsApp message from Back-Seat Driver (BSD).

“The church website is down for maintenance.  Why?”
My reply:
“Probably because our webmaster is doing some updates.”
Beep-beep.  BSD again:
“But why’s he doing maintenance work on a Saturday evening?”
My reply:
“Because he’s doing it in his spare time, and he’s doing it for free.”
Beep-beep.  It’s now 22:39.  BSD yet again:
“When’s the new-look church website going to be ready?”
Point to note: I am not a fiery redhead, but by now, I was on the verge of acting true to stereotype.  Instead, I remembered that useful phrase from my interrogator course all those years ago.  I decided to “ICATQ” him.
“I cannot answer that question.”
Beep-beep.  BSD yet yet yet again:
“Why not?  You said you were aiming to get the website up and running this month.”
(Ladies, when I use the word “aim,” I mean it in the same sense that men “aim” for the toilet bowl.  It’s very, very approximate.  You get the picture now, don’t you?)

My reply:

“I cannot answer that question.”
I think by 22:47, BSD had got the message.  Literally and figuratively.  Time for me to switch mobile phone off for the night. 

BSD has a habit of advising others on how it should be done better.  In fact, he gives more “on-the-spot guidance” than Kim Jong-un, President of North Korea.

kim
Some “on-the-spot guidance” from BSD…
  • We should use fresh milk instead of UHT milk  for post-service refreshments.
    • “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time?”
  • We should brew decaffeinated coffee as well as caffeinated coffee.
    • Guess what… “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time?”
  • We should provide lactose-free milk in case some visitors are allergic to ordinary milk.
    • “Fine.  Then you go buy some…  Oh, what’s that you say?  You don’t know where you can buy some?”
  • We should update the website to enable the church to do a live broadcast of the Sunday sermon.
    • “Good idea.  Hey, why don’t you do the business analysis, you write the requirements, you meet with the chaplain and the webmaster, you test it, and you launch that new functionality?  What’s that you say?  You don’t have the time or the technical expertise?  Oh, just fancy that.”
  • We should head down to the local train station and talk to people about Christianity.
    • “What a brilliant suggestion.  Many thanks for that.  Tell you what.  You design and print out a load of leaflets, you get yourself over there, you go up to people and speak to them in German… oh, you don’t speak German, eh?”

“We” in this context, in fact, means:

Anybody except for me.

The back-seat driver.  Please, please, please pray for those who have to deal with them…

Have a guidance-free day, won’t you!


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