Things *not* to say at the…

Summer is nearly here in Germany.  It was sunny and 24 degrees cee today.  Out thoughts turn in this part of the world to soaking in the sun, absorbing the vitamin D and hoping to get the freckles on the Celtic skin to join together to form some kind of a tan.  One of our favourite beauty spots is open again.  It also has an FKK section.  That, in plain English, is the nudist/naturist section, for those of you who don’t know about that part of German culture.  (Well, you do now.)

The classic question:

But what if you happen to see your bank manager at the nudist camp?  What should you do?  What should you say to them?

Well, in these internet days, who really knows their bank manager, anyway?  Most of us just do online banking.  It’s much more likely for you to have a chance encounter with your local supermarket manager or your local librarian.

So here’s a list of things for you and your local librarian not to say if you happen to see each other au naturel/in the nuddy/the nip/the nod/the raw/in the buff/, in their birthday suit/wearing nothing but a smile etc.

  • Ooh I say, now there’s a bookworm!
  • I see you’re trying to check me out.  I’m afraid that’s reference only.
  • What a lovely buff cover!
  • Shhhh!  Careful when you slam that book shut!
  • What a lovely hardback.  It must be a limited edition.
  • My, my, what a weighty tome!
  • Oh, you’ve noticed I’m re(a)d all over!  I’ve only my shelf to blame, though.
  • You keep giving me wordy looks…
  • Oops, that looks impossible to put down.
  • You look cold.  Is that due to the draft?
  • How novel seeing you here, not wearing even a book jacket.
  • There’s the librarian.  Dewey think thesaurus just now?
  • Nice manuscript you got there…
  • I’ve noticed your wandering eyes. I guess you must be a fan of Pepys.
  • Don’t get all a-browsed.
  • You seem a bit shy.  Are you perhaps reserved?

Or imagine these conversations:

  • That item is long overdue.  You have an outstanding fine…
  • Oh, thank you very much.  An outstanding, fine what, though?  [Follow that with a Sid James cackle.]


  • Fancy seeing you here!  Do you come here with anyone else from the library?
  • Well, it was bound to happen.  ISBN here a few times.  And yes, I quite often hang out here with a few other members.

Have a specially reserved, day won’t you!

women s yellow long sleeve shirt

Photo by Wendy Wei on



Our Mother Tongue (4)

Russia has Pushkin.

Germany has Brecht.

France has… I haven’t a clue…

England has Shakespeare.  Shakespeare invented lots of words, eg assassin, bump, even the word “elbow” (cf: German: “Elbogen”).

Take a look at these beauties!

And for a bonus, take a look at these Shakespearean insults, thou curmudgeonly apple-worm!

Have an inventive day, won’t you!



Happy World Book Day!

So to deal with the issue of listlessness, here is my favourite books list on World Book Day 2016.

  • 1984, by George Orwell.  The only book I’ve read cover to cover four times.
  • One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Solzhenitsyn.  I’ve read that book three times.
  • Gulag Archipelago, again by Solzhenitsyn.  It took me about three years to read it, mainly on the loo in my flat in Bracknell, but well worth reading.
  • Anything in the Dummies series of books.  (Well, almost anything.)
  • The Bumper Book of Government Waste, by Lee Rotherham.  Very entertaining and informative.
  • The Penguin Russian Course, by JJL Fennell.  It was *the* must-have book till the mid-90’s.
  • The Berlin Wall, by Frederick Taylor.  I bought that at Newcastle Airport while awaiting my flight to Düsseldorf.  Three hours later, I was still reading the book at the passport control queue on arrival in Germany.

Have a literary day, won’t you!

Literary Retail Therapy

Today’s retail therapy involved a trip to Oxford city centre to visit Waterstones and Blackwells bookshops. Bliss. I lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve the smell of napalm books in the morning!

Today’s purchases:

  • The Nose, by Nikolai Gogol’ (translated into English)
    • Penguin classic – bargain at 80p
    • Once I’ve finished with it, I’ll probably give my copy to Düsseldorf International English Library, just like I did with my copy of The Bible for Dummies and Look Who’s Back.  Share the joy.
  • The Writer’s Block, full of ideas for creative writing types.  It’s given me ideas for blog articles.  Watch this space.  Not a bad price at £7.99.
  • Masterclass: Writing Comedy, which, even if I don’t ever become the English Henning Wehn, should prove an interesting read and might even help me with writing blog articles, business analysis documents, postcards home, Facebook posts, etc.   £12.99.  I wasn’t laughing at the price, I can tell you.

Have a bookworming day, won’t you!

Taking up a new/old hobby

So, Reading. A city/town in England, not just something you do with a book. A stroll round the town one Saturday. I see the Oxfam bookshop.  I love my books and my bargains, having in my time bought a copy of Gulag Archipelago, Cancer Ward and some other Russian/Soviet paperbacks… oh, and a biography of Frankie Howerd.  Titter ye not…

Then I saw a packet of stamps for sale, intended for stamp collectors, philatelists.  I decided on impulse to buy the packet.  It was only three pounds, anyway.  Next thing is to buy a book for keeping the stamps in.  They only cost about €2 from Amazon.

All this stamp collecting took me me back to when I was 12 years old and popped into a philately shop in Dorchester, Dorset, and bought my first set of stamps, including a Nauru stamp, which then cost a pound, about a week’s pocket money in those days.  I got a fair old collection after about three years.  Where did my stamp books go?  I’ve no idea.

Then I think of the South Georgia first day covers and British Antarctic Territory stamps that I ordered as a wedding present for an ex-colleague two years ago.

All that exotica, without evening having to leave my flat.

Have an exotic day, won’t you!

Will someone ever forge my diaries?

Fame.  Or notoriety.  Will I ever achieve either?

Probably not.  I’ll probably only ever be a legend in my own bathtime.  (I have been on TV three times, but that’s another story.  Andy Warhol and his Fifteen Minutes of Fame.)

Whenever I think of diaries, I play the word association game and think of:

  • Samuel Pepys (“And so to bed.”  He also wrote on Friday 9 October 1663, “I could neither have a natural stool nor break wind…”)
  • Adrian Mole (“Swedish leather exports.”)
  • Anne Frank (I visited her house in Amsterdam.  Well worth a visit.)
  • The forged Hitler diaries.

Now, this is all terribly, absolutely, typical British toilet humour, but whenever I think of the Hitler diaries, I recall Alexei Sayle on TV, saying in a stage German accent:

Ze teplets I heff bin taking for heartburn have been givink me sahch terrible flatulence.

(“The tablets I have been taking for heartburn have been giving me such terrible flatulence.”)

It’s been a quiet evening on the TV, so I decided to google the original German text.


“Die ständigen Anstrengungen der letzten Wochen verursachen mir Blähungen, und Eva sagt, ich habe Mundgeruch.”

A slight variant, probably adapted for TV.


Have a flatulence-free day, won’t you!