“Ich bin zu schwach”

Even when John Denver was not trendy, I still liked him and his easy-listening music.  Mind, I like Jürgen Marcus and Eine Neue Liebe Ist Wie Ein Neues Leben.  (Hey, I’m a natural redhead.  I’ve always been the un-trendy outsider.)

My favourite John Denver song is Leaving on a Jet Plane.  Since early April, I’ve been working and staying in London, while Schatz, my friends, my mountain bike, my books, house group, etc, etc, are all back in Düsseldorf.  (Actually, Schatz lives up the road from DUS, but that is by the by.)

It’s a compliment, in many a way, but Schatz often has a bit of a cry in the evening after we’ve said goodbye each time she drops me of at DUS airport for my Sunday PM flight back to Heathrow (bis zum nächsten Mal).  (She’s not British, so wasn’t born with our stiff upper lip.)

Incidentally, to digress a bit.  Two days too late for Yorkshire Day, I like this picture.

British by birth.  Yorkshire by Grace of God.

British by birth. Yorkshire by Grace of God.

Enough patriotism.  (God Save Yorkshire!)

Sometimes Schatz will tell me, “I am too weak.”

Nein, Schatz, ‘bist Du gar nicht.  It’s just that we pads brats have trained for years in the nomadic lifestyle and taking it all in the chin.  Freemasons have secret handshakes.  Pads brats: probably the secret shoulder shrug to say, “Well, we are where we are.  Fancy a brew, anyone?”

Somehow, instinctively, I feel my time to be “back at base,” in DUS is round the corner.

Have a strong day, won’t you!


“New Year, New Me”

So, a copy and paste from last year?  Yes, probably.  But to quote from the grafitti in the men’s toilets,

“Man without target hits nothing.”

This year’s resolutions…

1. To lose weight.  Got to be done.  “The same procedure as every year,” to quote from Dinner for One.  Who wants to live forever?  Well, who wants to die early?  Not me.

2. Pay off the overdraft.  Making good progress, I am pleased to say.

3. Build up savings.  Germans are big savers, and I think it is a commendable habit to be a saver.  I still have my Postbank Sparbuch.  This week I’ll pay a few € into my account.

4. Travel.  I think it is over two years since I called in on my folks.  Oh well.  Maybe this year.  However, my main destinations are:

  1. Wolfenbuettel to take the Lovely Doctor along and show her old stomping grounds, the old pad and the barracks
  2. Berda in the Netherlands and attend the redheads jamboree.  Got to be done.  I promise to bring my personal favourite brunette along. 🙂
  3. The UK, even if only for a flying visit.  London, maybe even Yorkshire (God’s Country)

5. Job security.  Oh please, God, I know I’m a sinner, but would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a moderately well-off man.

6. Address book clean-up.  A purge is always cathartic.  Ditto Facebook.  Ditto Linkedin.

7. Take part in the stand-up comedy course.  (Joking aside, it should help with developing general public speaking skills.)

8. Keep a daily diary.  So far, so good this year.  A5 seems to be the right size for me.

9. Join a chess club in the warmer, lighter months.

10. Can we do it?  Yes, we can.  Will we do it?  We can but try.

Bullsh1t?  Well in army-speak bullsh1t is about putting in that extra bit of extra to achieve the highest standards.

Tales (Mails) from (or to) the Dales

Johnny P was a scrap dealer living next to Mrs Woodbine in the hamlet of Burrill.  Victor and Alpha were sons of MAW, serving in HM Forces.  In the days before spam, there was “proper” post, brought by the postman (or postwoman).  Burrill had a postman.  In bygone days of yore, there was no Sunday shopping in the UK, except for the newspapers.

Victor and Alpha used to read the Sunday papers from cover to cover.  There was little else to do on Sundays in those days.  Well, except, clip out the adverts, especially for holiday brochures and goods on approval.

Fast-forward to the following week.

A conversation across the dry stone wall.

Mrs Woodbine: Now then, Johnny.  

Johnny P: Now then, Mrs Woodbine.  ‘Ow are you?

Mrs Woodbine: Alreet thanks.  I see t’postman brought you a big package this morning.  ‘Ave you ordered summat f’ t’wedding anniversary?

Mrs Woodbine: Nay, some bugger ‘as gone an’ ordered me a pair of size 15 wellies.

As Victor  would say: And I laughed.

The Importance of Being Earnest: More Tales from the Dales

Our Glorious Yorkshire Flag.  Long live the White Rose County!

Our Glorious Yorkshire Flag. Long live the White Rose County!

Earnest was a Yorkshire Dales farmer, now long gone.  The British, especially the English, have a reputation for being somewhat indirect and perhaps excessively polite and understated.  A few examples…

English: “I’m not entirely convinced you’re factually accurate.”

German: “Quatsch!”


English: “Excuse me, please, can I just get past you on my bike?”

German: “Aus dem Weg, du Arsch!!!!!!  Mensch!”


Exceptionally among the British, Yorkshiremen have a reputation for being blunt, direct and forthright.  Earnest certainly was.  Earnest was a man of few words, and none of those words was small talk or particularly cute and cuddly.  Picture a 6ft (181cm) tall man, immaculately dressed from head to toe, shoes looking like black glass (he never did any of the manual labour on the farm), leaning on the rails at Leyburn market, an expression on his face to say, “Don’t you ever speak to me unless I speak to you first.”

After a few minutes a sales rep, all very hopeful of seeing a bit of commission, approaches Earnest.

Good morning, Mr G.  How are you?

Earnest (scowling at having had his peace disturbed):

None of your business.

Sales rep:

Do you require cattle feed?

Earnest, scowling:

I have sufficient.

Sales rep:



I speak to Mr S. when I wish to place an order.

Sales rep:

Very well, Mr G.


Good day to you.

When Earnest wanted to order cattle feed he would catch the eye of Mr S, his usual sales rep, point in his direction with his walking stick as if it were an RSM’s pace stick to summon said rep over to him and then bark,

The same type and amount as last time.

(Vocabulary points: 1. RSM – Regimental Sergeant-Major, nicknamed “Regimental Scarey Monster”, the senior soldier in a British Army regiment; 2. Pace stick: a long stick carried by warrant officer and non-commissioned officers in the British armed forces as a symbol of authority.)

Later that evening, a visitor calls at Earnest’s farm and knocks at the door.


There’s someone at the door, Grandad.

Earnest, not even lifting his head momentarily from his copy of The Northern Echo newspaper:

They’ll go away… eventually.

Five minutes later, the visitor, who has still not got the message, is still at the door.


Grandad, Grandad, that man is still there, and it’s raining.  That poor man is getting wet.

Earnest (nose still in his newspaper):

Your eyes are not failing you.  May the Lord place eternal shame on him for his conceit in believing that I should permit him egress to my dwelling without prior appointment or invitation.  The rain is but an expression of the Lord’s anger at his shamelessness.

Earnest was also a Methodist lay preacher and would travel round all the local Methodist churches and chapels with his six-year-old grandson in tow.  Fast forward to one Sunday in a frozen cold chapel somewhere in the Dales.

Earnest standing at the lectern in his Sunday best:

Let us pray.


But Grandad, there’s nobody here, just you and me.


Nonetheless let us pray.

On that note, please be upstanding for our glorious Yorkshire national anthem.  Sithee!