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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Machmallauter: Boney M

I was always a fan of of Boney M.  I had no choice really.  When I was pads brat living in Wolfenbüttel, Germany 1975-78, their music was on BFBS all the time.  Every hour.  Every day.

This was my favourite Boney M number: 137, to be exact.  Psalm 137, otherwise known as…

By the Rivers of Babylon

Have a psalmodic day, won’t you!

Scope Creep

What is scope creep?  Click here, or see the following extract:

Scope creep refers to a project that has seen its original goals expand while it’s in progress. As the term suggests, scope creep is a subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished. Even if the project is completed, scope creep can result in final deliverables that look nothing like what was originally envisioned.

Scope creep may also be called creep of scope.

Think:

  • Death by a thousand cuts
  • Boiling a frog

Then you probably have a good idea about what this article is about.

Those of us who work in projects know what scope creep is.

Build me a car.  Here are the specifications.

Then five hours before planned delivery date:

Oh, and can the car also have a kettle built in?  And it should be blue.

Scope creep also happens in our daily lives.

At church:

G in G, can you organise the annual cricket match in a fortnight.  Our team captain is on a business trip and can’t organise it.

Sharp intake of breath.

Yes, I will.

(Passive aggressive British “tut” and shrug of shoulders.)

Then two days before said match…

And can you pop over to church to load the cricket kit into the church car?

(Strange, I thought I was organising, not doing…)

Then one day before the match…

Can we [= you] put the TV on in the church so that the cricket players can watch the England games straight after the football match?  Can you also let the cricketers know that they need to start one hour earlier?  Also, can you come to church on Saturday to mow the church lawn so that the visitors get a good impression of church?  [And fourteen other requests.]

So from organising to being literally hands-on.

Voom!  Pup!  Pup!  Pup!  Lawnmower starts on a scorching hot, redhead-unfriendly morning.  Schatz, patient as ever, is sitting in the shade.  Mrs Busybody is standing over me.

Why have I set the blades at this level?

Why don’t I empty the lawnmower bin more often, like I do?

Why haven’t I mown the grass behind the church?

I bite my tongue.  I grit my teeth.

I finish the mowing.  I come back to Schatz.  I turn into stereotypical fiery redhead.

A dictionary’s worth of expletives leave my mouth.

I tell Mrs Busybody:

I have done everything you asked.

I add:

I am sorry.  I cannot help you any further.

This is a British euphemism for:

Now get lost and leave me alone!!!!!

I head off to cricket and drink a pint of Pimms in the shade.

Howzat!

Have an un-creepy day, won’t you!

howzat

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conrad Schumann

Do you like quizzes?

Q: What happened on 13 August 1961?

A: The Berlin Wall went up.  (Pretty much overnight.  German efficiency.)

Next question.

Q: Who was Conrad Schumann?

A: A picture describes a thousands words.

ConradSchuhmann

So, he managed to escape from East Berlin into the West.  Was it a happy ending?  No.  Yes, it was good news at first.  He had escaped to freedom.  But 37 years later, after difficulties with his family still living in Saxony, Eastern Germany, the iconic freedom icon committed suicide.  A very unhappy, tragic, ending.

Have an iconic day, won’t you!

 

Scrapbook

I’m not high up enough in the food chain to have my memoirs published or to have my diaries forged.  I do, however, have many a quiet evening on my own.  Occasionally I’ll get the glue out and stick a few items in my scrapbook.

Where did I get this habit?  Sunray started it all back in 1978, when he was posted to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS).  He was constantly cutting and pasting gluing into his Ministry of Defence A4 hard-backed book:

  • Article after article from the Camberley News
  • The occasional Northern Echo clipping about his elder brother, who was in the habit of arguing with North Yorkshire Police and ending up the loser in court
  • Ah yes… every now and again, local non-news articles that mother would post to him from the Darlington and Stockton Times, eg “TRUCK BREAKS DOWN ON A1 BY LEEMING BAR.  NO-ONE INJURED.”

Fast-forward to 1998, and I am visiting Sunray, having been estranged from him for nearly a decade.  There among his photo albums is his RMAS scrapbook.

Dad, can I have a look at your scrapbook, please?

Aye, feel free, son.  I’ve not had a look at it myself for years.

Flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick, flick…

  • Sovereign’s Parade 1979
  • Sovereign’s Parade 1980
  • Sovereign’s Parade, guess what, 1981
  • Bellerby Sub-Post Office without 2nd Class Stamps for over Two Weeks in summer of 1981 – local butcher fuming
  • Elder brother up before Thirsk Magistrates 1978: £75 fine
  • Brother up before Thirsk Magistrates 1979: £60 fine
  • Brother up before Northallerton Magistrates 1981: £80 fine
    • He must have moved house in 1980, I guess..
  • Most recent clipping – brother up before Richmond Magistrates 1991: £800 fine
    • Goodness – I’ll put that £800 down to inflation…

I resolve to go start myself a scrapbook the very next day…  Ahem…  Well, at least, the intent was there.

1 November 2003: I finally get round to buying a suitable scrapbook.   Masham post office (which also did have 2nd class stamps).  I also buy a small bottle of PVA glue, so beloved in British primary schools (where it normally comes poured out of huge gallon bottles).

pvaglue

Come on, you must have used gallons of this in your school days!

Within two years I had filled my scrapbook with, well, er scrap.  I took a leaf out of Sunray’s book.  I just had to collect local non-news articles from the local paper, such as the following two horror stories:

carcass

Oh, the sleepless nights…

rubbish

A very unhappy pub landlord, scowling for the camera…

Not only the local news items, but also the souvenirs of travels (address redacted).

postcard

Sunray was enjoying himself in Berlin.  His return air fare just £40 – bargain!

 

But if you can’t take the plane, let the train take the strain.  £6 there and back: another bargain.

ticket

 

And finally… no newspaper clippings of Sovereign’s Parade, but this headline mocking a Sandhurst graduate, Mr Ian Duncan Smith MP (ex-Guards), one-time “leader” of the Conservative Party, who was about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

IDS

Who remembers Comical Ali from Gulf War II?

The people come and go, but thanks to the scrapbook, the memories remain.  Oh, the winter (and summer) evenings are going to just absolutely fly by, I’m sure.

Have a scrappy day, won’t you!

Don’t Do Your Business in…

Sunray served 22 years in the British Army’s Royal Armoured Corps.  But he was also a PARA.  Not Parachute Regiment.  PARA-noid.

His motto (which he repeated to me on a regular basis):

Don’t do your business in the place where you live.  (That’s what Captain Benn told me back in 1973.)

A pearl of wisdom no doubt.

I actually suspect it was my Grandmother who got Sunray into the habit, not Captain Benn.  Grandma lived in a tiny hamlet, Burrill, a good five kilometres from the nearest town.  Her nearest (sub-)Post Office?  Three ( yes – 3, drei) doors down from her, at Number 8.  Did she ever go there, even to buy a stamp?

Nope.

I’m not having Margaret H knowing I’ve just bought a 2nd-class stamp and gossiping that I’m too bl00dy poor or tight-fisted to buy a 1st-class stamp.

I’m not taking my letters to my son to her sub-post office .  She’ll know where he’s stationed and she’ll end up gossiping about it.

I’m not cashing my pension at Burrill post office.  She’ll then know how much old age pension I get each week.  I’m not bl00dy having that!

So every week, in all weathers, Grandma would waddle to the end of the hamlet, board the bus to Bedale, and do her post office business there, buying stamps, paying her bills and swapping gossip with all the other OAP’s.  As for actually posting letters, she’d send them from the hamlet post box, conveniently located in the bustling heart of the hamlet, next to the phone box, which Sunray would occasionally daily ring while guarding enemies of the British state twiddling his thumbs at the Maze Prison.  (You can see a picture of the bustling heart of the hamlet at the end of this article.)

As for Sunray himself, most of his post-Army life he spent living in villages in the Yorkshire Dales.  He would drive for miles and miles around to obscure village post offices – in rotation – to prevent over-familiarity and postmasters knowing his business.  He even had a laminated A4 sheet to tell him the opening times and locations of about twenty village post offices.

You can’t be too careful, son!

Have a paranoid day, won’t you!

burrillPBox

The bustling centre of Burrill