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!


Sunray at Seventy

Sunray should be seeing the big seven-oh, his seventieth birthday, at the end of this month.

Task for this weekend, besides having the commuter’s lie-in and do my laundry (living out of a suitcase precludes having a huge pile of dirty laundry to do) is to buy Sunray a birthday card and a present.

Fortunately I know what I intend to send him:

  1. A 70th birthday card.  A quick trip to the supermarket or Hallmark should sort that out.
  2. A tenner in his card.
  3. Special bonus present: a laughing sack.  I can save giving the pedometer some hammer by ordering one online from Amazon.co.uk.  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Party-Discount-Laughter-bag-mini/dp/B00FFW9QWG/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1429270628&sr=8-12&keywords=laughter+bag  This looks the ideal gift for Sunray, and will keep him amused for hours and days, just like the Best of Ricky King double CD album I bought him in 2009, to remind him of how he used to deal with noisy neighbours’ offspring in the married quarters back in the 1970’s.

The laughing sack was always a family in-joke in the 1970’s and 1980’s, together with:

  • Mattierzoll “Erste kommt der kleine Bunker, und dann kommt der große Bunker” quote (you had to be there)
  • Who ate the next-door neighbour’s Christmas cake in 1962? (We never did find out.)
  • Who lives at Stubbing Nook?  (It turns out, the answer was Clarence Pask.)
  • Who is the smelliest postman in North Yorkshire (ICATQ: I cannot answer that question)

and another 94 one-liners.

Little things amuse little minds, I guess…

Have a laughter-filled day, won’t you!

WF – WTF????

So, all in all, a most enjoyable trip to Wolfenbüttel last weekend, visiting childhood, pads brat haunts in the days when the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) (“Besatzungsarmee”) were resident at BFPO 33.

More later as I warm up into reminisce mode.  But first of all, switch on rant mode.  Stand by for the next bit to sound like a clip from That’s Life.

After settling in at our hotel, I asked reception to order me a taxi to Danziger Strasse, where our family’s old pad was.  The miserable, sullen taxi driver from Altstadt Alt-Twat Taxis (turned up ten minutes later, barking orders at someone on his mobile.  He drove me and the Lovely Doctor C to said destination.  €20.  The journey seemed a bit longer than the last time I visited WF in April 2001, but I was aware of the road closure.  Maybe that was the reason.  Anyway I was more interested in visting the old married quarters, strolling round the old barracks, enjoying the glorious sunshine, etc.

Return journey – somewhat shorter, fare: €7.40.  The Lovely Dr C and I were amazed.  We told the taxi driver what we had paid on the outbound leg, €13 more than “on the flip-flop” (early 80’s CB radio-speak).  He, too, was stunned.  So, too was the taxi driver who drove us back from the cocktail bar that evening.  Who needs the internet when you have taxi drivers?  I’m sure tongues will be wagging back at the office.  Guess who I told about the incident?

  • A whole regiment of online 16th/5th Lancers
  • The driver who took us back to Braunschweig on the Sunday morning, who apologised most profusely for the Alt-Twat Taxis’ driver’s action
  • The cocktail stand owner, who is going to tell a group of 40 old soldiers (who come every year to WF for a reunion)
  • Last, but by no means, οὐ µή (ou ), least, hotel reception, who immediately placed Alt-Twat Taxis on a black list.

Herr Taxifahrer, you may have fleeced me of €13, but the last laugh is on you, my friend.

(To quote Esther Rantzen, “Cyril…”)

Dance, Dance, Wherever You May Be, for the Scarlet Lancers in Germany

Not quite Ostalgie, but on the border, so to speak. This song became the unofficial theme song of the 16th/5th the Queen’s Royal Lancers, my Dad’s regiment, in 1978, when it was stationed in Northampton Barracks, Wolfenbüttel, Germany.

Quite an Ohrwurm, even now.



So, nothing much on TV, and today’s DVD afternoon having been postponed. Time to look through the photo album. Found a good ‘un. Christmas 1992 on a visit to Magdeburg and Halle to visit a friend I’d got to know on my year abroad in Voronezh, Russia. Here it is. A Trabant, classic DDR car, being used for delivering pizzas.

OK, so let’s roll out those DDR jokes…

Q. How do you double the value of a Trabant?
A. Fill up the tank!

Q. How many workers does it take to build a Trabi?
A. Three, one to cut, one to fold and one to paste.

Q. How do you measure the acceleration of a Trabant?
A. With a diary.

Q. Why do some Trabants have heated rear windows?
A. To keep your hands warm when pushing.

Q. What’s the difference between a Jehovah’s Witness and a Trabant?
A. You can shut the door on a Jehovah’s Witness.

Q. When does a Trabi reach its top speed?
A. When it’s being towed.

During a visit to the Leipzig Trade Fair a filthy rich oil sheik heard that there was a car with a delivery time of over ten years. Since Rolls Royce usually delivered more quickly than that, he thought it must be quite an exceptional car, which he would certainly have to have in his collection. Sight unseen, he made a request to order this Trabant. In Zwickau they were aware of this great honour, and the potential PR coup, so they immediately changed the running “Five-Year Plan” and arranged to send him the very next car off the line. The car reached the Emirates in a matter of weeks, instead of years. The happy oil sheik immediately called his friends together, opened the container, and exclaimed in surprise: “Gosh! They may have incredibly long delivery times, but at least they send you a plastic model in advance — and the best thing is you can even drive it!”

A man went into a Trabant dealership and said to the salesman: “I’d like to buy a Trabant with a two-tone color scheme please? The salesman replied: “Certainly sir, we have one with that colour scheme, plus power steering, cruise control, adjustable power seats, air conditioning, and a digital instrument panel”. The man replied: “You’re joking!”. The dealer responded: “Well, you started it!”

A cow pat asked a Trabant: “What are you?” The Trabant replied: “A car!”
The cow pat responded: “If you’re a car, then I’m a pizza!”

Finally, there’s the man who goes to buy a car in East Berlin, pays for it, and is told by the salesman that he can collect it on a particular date in 10 years’ time. The buyer thinks for a moment and then asks: ‘Morning or afternoon?’
The salesman, astonished by the question, asks: ‘What difference does it make?’
And the buyer answers: ‘Well, the plumber is coming in the morning.’ (Or should that be, “The pizza I ordered”?)

Well, I did buy that book on creative writing a few years ago…

So, ladies and gentlemen, Ginge here.  OK, so for those of you who have worked in G2, here are the Big Six:

Number: Mobile or landline?

Rank: LCpl (well, I served Queen and Country on weekends and a fortnight a year a few years ago and reached those dizzy heights.)

Name: Ginge (Hey, I need a bit of anonymity about me, else I’d just be writing status updates on Facebook.)

Blood group: A+ ( I think)

Religion: Practising Anglican (one day I’ll get it right)

Date of birth: 6 October, and I’m not saying which year.

Oh, and I’m male and a redhead.

So, what are my interests?  Quite diverse:

Comedy (the darker, the better)

Long live Henning Wehn, long live the BBC Radio Tees headline challenge, long live Soviet and DDR jokes, long live those who make prank calls to TV and radio stations.

Ostalgie, borders, tripoints.  All due to my years as a pads’ brat.  Geographically I’m into islands, being from one.  One day I’d like to visit Heligoland (Why?  Because it’s there.)  As a linguist (Russian to degree level, fluent German, rusty Serbian and Croatian and night school Italian), I’m into foreign lands and travel.  One day I will go back to Russia.  One day I will travel the Trans-Siberian.  One day…

I have my opinions, I am opinionated, on education theory, having benefited from the worst and the best of the English education system.  I won’t tolerate people who open their mouths without having checked their facts.  Argue anything you like, as like as you’ve checked your facts, eg check the Hoax-Slayer website.  I also avoid narrow-minded prejudiced individuals, so if you rant on about how IYFEGians are scum, keep away from me.

I love cycling, but I am not a fitness fanatic.  I love the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Moors.  One day I’d love to do a spot of stand-up comedy or maybe some comedy writing.  Like Henning Wehn, I find the difference between the Brits and the Germans great comedy material.

“Sorry, excuse me, please!” translates into German as, “Fahr doch, du Penner!”

I love my radio, my Kindle and my mp3 player.  You cannot beat Radio 4, Radio 5, The World Tonight, The Shipping Forecast and Farming Today.  Oh yes, there’s BBC Radio Tees, who like to read out emails from my Kindle while I’m lying in bed enjoying their weekend programmes.

Ramblings over.  Mach’s gut!