Better late than never

Happy New Year
Now, before you go saying anything..I know, I know..I have been remiss.  I completely failed to take advantage of the perfect opportunity to start the year as I mean to go on.  Namely, I didn’t make the (seemingly) obligatory “Year In Review/Happy New Year” post.

I did plan on writing one…then got busy and put it off for a while..then work was crazy and I never seemed to get beyond the title and intro.  The thing is, 2009 is a year that, well, happened…or at least that’s how it seems from reading a lot of other blogs and talking to friends and family.  Most people I know couldn’t wait for it to end and get a new year started..on a personal level though I seem to have bucked the trend.

Sure, it had it’s difficulties..or at least what appeared to be difficulties to start with.  I was out of work early on, which was really strange as I found myself recovering from levels of stress that I didn’t even realise I had.  What should have been a stressful and worrying time for a Brit living in Germany whilst unemployed, was actually a lot of fun and very cathartic.  I mean, I met CW, had a decent break from working..reconnected with friends and family and then took a job that I didn’t expect anything from except to pay the bills.

As I sit here now, I am still with CW and loving every minute of it, am in regular contact with my kids and my job is going fantastically well.  Life.  Is.  Good.

So for me, 2009 could have carried on as long as it wanted, but equally I am looking forward to what 2010 will bring.

I had the best time over Christmas and New Year.  I went over to the UK just after Christmas Day to spend a week or so with all four of my kids.  It was fantastic..all four, together..I can’t describe how great it felt.  They are all growing up so fast..and growing into great people.

You know how when you meet someone new, and it seems to be heading in the right direction,  and you introduce this person to your family..normally on a relatively slow and steady basis?  Maybe you meet your Mum for a coffee with them..possibly Mum and Dad at the same time for a get together or meal?  It’s kind of exciting and nice and new all at the same time..but you get time to adjust and get used to them all.

Well, that’s how it happened with me and CWs family.  We went for a beer with her Dad, then coffee with her Mum..then I was invited to her Dads birthday, where I got to meet the other members of the family.  It was a slow, steady and very nice introduction.

Fast forward to December 2009 and CW has yet to meet any of my family..trips where one or some of them were planning a visit never quite happened.  We spend a nice Christmas together with her family and then head to Blighty…where she gets to meet my Dad first..at the airport for the 2(ish) hour drive to my parents place..where she then meets my Mum for an hour or so before all of the kids turn up along with the rest of my family.

That’s the same right??

:-D

How was your year and start of 2010?

What in the blue hell??!??

Me, heading to workOK, I know I have been away a while…and I do have a number of blogs in “I should probably finish” mode…but I feel compelled to write a blog’ette this morning.

CW just called and recommended that I look out of the window.  Which I duly did (I am nothing if not good at following orders) and was greeted by a certain whiteness.  Whiteness…SNOW!!! AGAIN!!  This can’t be happening.  I realise I made the largest mistake that a person can make last week, when I commented on how I was glad that the temperature was rising and that the snow had finally cleared….which I guess makes it my fault.

Christ, when I looked out this morning I swear I saw an angry Santa..in his pyjamas, bouncing around and trying to hang on to the sleigh for dear life, screaming at Rudolph about how it’s NOT FUCKING CHRISTMAS!

Right..I better head off to work now, with any luck I will be able to catch a lift with sleepy Santa.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH

2!!!!!

Weihnachtswichtel und Nikolaus
Photo by caruba
…or 3, depending on when you are celebrating Christmas in your country/region.  Days that is, and frankly it is all speeding up here in Frankfurt.  Little things happen, or you go to certain events and you suddenly realise…It’s Christmas.

The Christmas market and annual Feuerzangenbowle consumption is a pretty good clue…along with attending (the first half at least) of a Christmas choir concert featuring ST (she has a fantastic voice…despite the choir leaders best efforts to fuck it up with the composition choices…), some bad acting and cute German kids singing english christmas songs with German pronunciation (sometimes)…they even did the whole sound of a storm with just their bodies…was really good.  I was just too tired to enjoy it properly and had to bail at half time.

Peoples inability to drive in the snow…and CW building the worlds smallest and cutest snowman..then carrying him for a mile to place him on the windowsill of the apartment.  He almost didn’t make it though…I think she made him out of that rarest of stuff…Lemming Snow..as he tried to leap to his escape from her hand, and lost his buttons.  Still, he seems happy on the windowsill…and his suicidal tendencies have deserted him (for now at least.

Also, I got a text from my daughter last night telling me how many days were left until I see her :D

Anyway, onto the main reason for the post…you see, I had it all planned out…my passport was due to expire on the 31st of December.  I had known this for a while and decided to book an appointment for when I was in the UK and get a nice spangly new one by using the same day service they offer.  All fine, all dandy..no need to panic.  That is..until CW actually checked my passport on Friday and informed me that the date of expiry was the 16th of December.

Cue huge panic and phonecalls to the Consulate, Ryanair, the Consulate again and various others.  My conversations went something like this:

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you?

Me:  Helpelphelp!!! I need you to save me from my own stupidity (explains story)..can you do anything for me?

Consulate:  It is perfectly legal to fly into the UK on an expired UK passport.

Me:  Really??  That’s fantastic!!

Consulate:  Who are you flying with?

Me:  Ryanair…why?

Consulate:  ..ah

Me: Whaddya mean..ah??

Consulate:  Yeah, we always have problems with Ryanair…I would call them and check.

Me:  OK, I will call you back asap.

RING RING

Ryanair:  How can I help you?

Me:  Explains story, explains that Consulate advise that travel with an expired UK passport TO the UK is fine, is that a problem for Ryanair.

Ryanair:  That’s illegal, you cannot travel on an expired passport.

Me:  It’s perfectly legal, the Consulate Passport office themselves have told me.  They also told me that pretty much all of the major airlines will accept it.

Ryanair:  No, it’s illegal and you may be arrested for trying to travel with false documents.

Me:  I would be impressed if they could..it isn’t false..just expired.  It is still my picture and details…just the date is wrong

Ryanair:  Well, we don’t accept that for travel

Me:  That’s all I asked..you may want to read up on the law regarding this area…also, I will assume that Ryanairs aspirations to become a “Major” airline are non-existent.  Thanks

RING RING

Consulate:  How can I help you

Me:  Ryanair won’t allow me to travel, what else can I try?

Consulate:  Get here for 9am Monday morning and we will sort your passport out for you…we don’t normally offer a same day service..but in an emergency like this, we will do what we can.

Me:  A passport?  I thought you would just give me an emergency travel passport..

Consulate:  Naah, that’s 102 euros and only gets you into the UK once..I will look to get the full monty for you.

Me:  Fantastic, see you Monday

CHECKS INTERNET FOR RAIL PRICES

Me:  Aaaaaaargh!!!  How Much!!!!!!

RING RING

LA:  Hiya, how are you?

Me:  Not great…TELLS STORY…is your car up and running and available for me to steal on Monday?

LA:  Sure, no problem

Me:  Lifesaver, thanks :)

RING RING

Work:  Hiya, what’s up

Me:  You know how I have Wednesday onwards booked as holiday?

Work:  Yeah

Me:  Can I swap Wednesday to Monday please?  TELLS STORY

Work:  Sure

Cue Monday’s slovenly and snowy arrival and we begin our journey at a very unsociable hour.

Check list..

  • Passport forms – Check
  • Passport photos – Check
  • Car keys – Check
  • Sat Nav – Check
  • iPod and Cassette adaptor for car – Check
  • CW – Check
  • Me – Check
  • Money – Cash.. (you see what I did there?)

We arrive at the car, clear the snow from it, start the engine and wait for it to warm up.  Everything seems fine and we head off once the Pratt Nav finds a signal.  Once we hit the motorway, all the snow, salt and other assorted crap starts hitting the windshield…no problem thinks I, a sharp squirt of the washers and sight will be restored…

PUMP WHIRRING NOISE, WIPERS MOVE AND SMEAR WINDSCREEN

We are now driving with what appears to be a sheet of dirty paper on the windshield..another pull of the washer lever results in more smearing and less visibility…

Arse, thinks I

We pull into a service station and try to clear the blockage – Needle in jets…nothing, Hot water poured over jets…nothing, pulling lever back for a minute or so in an effort for it to clear…nothing.  So, undeterred, we head off.  Repeat this every 15 to 20 minutes and the 250+ kilometers journey did seem to take a lot longer than it should.

A few things to note about yesterday…

#1 Düsseldorf must be a very healthy city, and full of superheroes..seriously, they appear to not even have heard of salt.  The motorways surrounding the city comprised of the sort of snowy mush normally reserved for small villages with little or no traffic and the pavements were designed for a city full of people that can fly…as all of the snow that had been forced off the road…had moved to the bloody paths…that didn’t have salt on them either.

#2 I get all patriotic when in the British Consulate Generals office…don’t ask me why, I really don’t have an explanation.  I told CW on at least 3 occasions that she was standing on British soil now and said “Gawd Bless ‘er” to the picture of the queen.  Additionally, German reception staff with English speech inflection is genius…

#3 I hate snow…my dodgy ankle hates it more.  CW learned all about Karma when having a go at me for almost falling over…She almost fell over herself less than 2 minutes later (no…I didn’t trip her)

#4 I was told that I was a big strong lad and would I fancy clearing the snow..by an old woman walking behind us.

#5 If the option is getting on a tram like a sardine in a can, or wandering aimlessly around…I will wander aimlessly around..despite my previously mentioned ankle issues.

Most importantly of all, the British Consulate General Passport Office is full of absolute genius, friendly and helpful staff..yes yes, I realise it is Christmas and no, I wouldn’t recommend stitching yourself up to test out their helpfulness…all I know is that they could have handed me an emergency passport and a bill for 102 euros…..but they chose to get me a full passport issued in a little under 4 hours…

Gawd bless ’em

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone…no doubt I will post a repeat of this in 10 years when I forget to renew my passport in good time again…

It's Christmas Time…

a christmas warp
Photo by Chewy Chua
… and there’s no need to be afraid.

Or so wrote the inimitable, and not at all tramp like, harpy marrying, ridiculous child naming, humanitarian and all around do-gooder..Bob Geldof

Now yes, I realise that it isn’t Christmas time yet…despite what the shops and TV adverts are telling us.  However, I have now confirmed my Chrimble plans fully.

I will be spending Christmas Day doing…well…I don’t actually know, beyond calling the kids.  The reason?  Well, I am having a German Christmas this year with the W’s…and Germans celebrate their Christmas day on our Christmas Eve.  It’s pretty much the same as ours, big family thing, lots of food and pressies to open…just done the evening before.

It’s more of a family affair than I am used to though, with pretty much the whole W clan arriving to Oma W’s apartment for fun and frivolity.  In our family, and I think this is true of a lot of British families, we do Christmas day with the kids and immediate family…and Boxing day is when we start going around visiting other family members etc.  I am looking forward to it.

Then, a few days later, we are off to Blighty, where I will be having all four of my kids for once, and I am ecstatic about that.  My family will get to meet CW and I know they are looking forward to it…especially the kids.  After talking to Brandon yesterday, he plans to make a special hot chocolate for her…just incase she is feeling sick from the English beer and too much Devils Food Cake :-)

It is also fairly unique for me, in that I will be doing “Christmas 2  – This time it’s personal” for the first time that I can remember.  Normally, I make sure that the kids presents are wherever the kids are on Christmas day.  I prefer it that way and have never really liked the “2 Christmas Days” thing…

This time though, I will have all 4 of my kids together, and I intend to enjoy it properly…so just this once, I will be doing a 2nd Christmas day…and I love the idea of watching them open everything..I know it’s a little selfish, but I want that.  There is another reason though…and that is that I am not quite as organised as I normally am…by now, in a normal year, over half of the presents would already be at my Mums place for wrapping and sending on…as of right now, I haven’t actually bought anything and intend to start a marathon online shop-a-thon shortly.

Yeah yeah, I know…bad Dad, but still..I am pretty confident in getting everything I need in time.

I know we will all have a great time…even my Mum and Dad, who are likely as not stressing about having a houseful of people…yeah see, you thought your house was big Mum….We will see just *how* big it really is

mwaha muahahahaahaaaaa

Or something

What are your plans for Christmas then?

Yippee Kaiyay Muddyfunster

Lope...some time last week - Can you help?Nope, not a Die Hard related post, not even a Bruce Willis related one…but simply and tenuously related to Alan Rickmans classic quote “Do you really think you have a chance against us, Mr Cowboy?”

In a time where the English postal service is voting on yet another strike, my postcard (and letter from the kids to CW) still hasn’t arrived….almost a month after it was sent.   Now, this is some kind of record even for the German “Throw a Six to start” postal system.

I have often likened it to the Wild West (see the reference now?), as depicted in the movies…you know, where a passing cart places a bag full of mail on a hook and then another cart, possibly heading in the right direction, grabs it and moves it further on.   Imagine that on an international scale, and you have what I believe happens when you post something from the UK to Germany.   Just to illustrate this, last year (I think), a Frankfurt postman was jailed for not actually delivering any mail for the last 5 years.   After numerous complaints and a crack investigation..they looked in his apartment and found it all.   So….

Picture the scene: The tireless overworked and underpaid British Postal Service employees, in a non-strike week, deal with the First Class stamped letter in record time and pass it to Postman Pat.   Pat, gives it to his cat Jess, who proceeds to scratch at it until it is open enough to check for any money that might be in there….upon discovering a distinct lack of monetary reward, Jess proceeds to piss on the envelope and pass it back.   Eventually, Pat or Jess remember to check the address and discover that it is destined for Germany.   After chatting to each ozer in ze mok cherman aksent for 2-3 hours, they pass the envelope onto the first person in the street that is able to recognise that Germany is a country and not, in fact, (as stated by Pat) a small town just outside Basingstoke.

The kindly trivia enthusiast is actually (and fortuitously) heading to Dover, so decides to generously give the envelope to someone with a suitcase who appears to be heading in the direction of the port.   Unfortunately, the tourist in question is just someone who bought a new suitcase (12 quid from Tesco…good deal) and heads home for lunch.

After lunch, he takes pity on the folorn looking envelope and takes a stroll to the port, where he hands it on to a ships captain.   In an unfortunate and unforseen twist, the captain is actually a freight captain and is heading to Azerbaijan..still, he takes the envelope with him and it enjoys a sea voyage with many adventures (perhaps for another time).

Upon returning to Dover some 3 weeks later, the freight captain bids a tearful farewell and hands the envelope to a captain that is heading to France…the envelope promises to write often.   After eventually being allowed through the daily Calais blockade, our intrepid envelope is handed off to someone that is supposedly heading to Holland.   Our English (and therefore reserved) envelope is tempted by the many relaxants and ladies of negotiable affection on offer, but is feeling refreshed and decides to push on for his destination.   Disguised as an overdue bill, he sneaks into a post bag with “Deutschland” written on it and waits for arrival in the land of Bier and Bratwurst.   A few hours of movement, and it ends…Lope (I feel we know him well enough now) notices that the bag appears to be swinging to and fro.   Leaping out of the bag, it is apparent that they have indeed been hoisted onto a hook atop a pole…and not in a good way.   The other, somewhat less intelligent, mail simply accept this and go to sleep.   Not so our Lope, using his unnerringly accurate origami skills, he adjusts his scratched envelope exterior into a thumb shape and begins hitch-hiking.

Picked up after only 4 hours of thumbly goodness, our story must end as we lose track of Lope…and he has never been seen again.

Can you help?   Were you on that motorway in Holland last week?   Did you see Lope getting into a truck, innocently believing that the driver was a kindly, helpful soul?   If you have any information, please email youseriouslydonthaveyourpostcardyet@postalservice.eu

And no…Lope still hasn’t arrived.

Damnit

Just when you get used to something….

Fixing the Money Pipeline
Photo by ShellyS
…it all comes to an end.

No, no, this is not a maudlin post about breaking up or getting some sort of terminal disease.   I am referring, of course, to my removal from the unemployed masses and placement directly outside them again.   I have indeed gone and gotten myself gainfully employed again.

I am actually rather pleased about it.   Sure, it is an entry level position and doesn’t pay an awful lot more than the money the Arbeitsamt were giving me, but the entry level side of things is causing me a serious amount of joy at the moment.   I won’t have the levels of stress that I had before and this means that my quality of life can improve to the level that I want.

I will indeed be answering phones and logging calls…the very job that I ran a team of guys doing previously.   A “Phone Monkey” if you will…and frankly I like it.   The company seems really good, and, when I get myself onto the shifts I will have time to do private study…they are pretty relaxed and the team that I met on my trial day seem like the kind of people I can get along with and more importantly, work with.

The best news for me, however, is of course the increased opportunity for blog fodder.   Hence why I have yet to (and won’t) name the company.

The last few months have given me a much needed break, a chance to recover from my stresses and didn’t get me too bored – I was (just about) able to get used to having less money around…which means the salary at the new place won’t be a problem to manage and did I mention the lack of stress?   Sure, there will be pressure…it’s a busy environment and has very tight deadlines…but little stress.   No more bringing work home, going in hours early to get things done.

As a certain PM mentioned, I will also be able to drink again (in moderation of course ;-) )

Enough about my re-entry to civilised society.   It was ZS’s birthday the other day, and IP organised a BierBike.   I made a brief mention of this amazing thing before.   16 of us made the short walk to pick up the “bike” and we were on our way.

I must admit, I fully expected there to be substantially more gears and less actual effort to move the thing…it was pretty hefty as it goes.   The beer becomes more of a requirement than tool for getting drunk.   As we got close to ZS’s place, IP made the call to get him outside…the rest of us stopped pedalling and tried to keep 3 tonnes of BierBike quiet.   It would have worked too until, halfway through IP’s conversation with ZS, W decided to shout at us all to pedal more.   Meh, ZS was still pretty impressed…and so began an alcohol fuelled (literally) whistle stop tour of Frankfurt.

I should point out that after 20 minutes or so of pedalling, someone came up with the idea that we should switch seats at each red light…which would give everyone a chance to rest on the non-pedalling seats from time to time…leading to huge screams of REEEEED (if you were pedalling) and GREEEEN (if you were resting) in an effort to change the lights into your favour.

We took in all of the main areas of Frankfurt…including the Red Light district.   That almost caused a problem with our rotation scheme…. ;-)   Also, whilst we got a decent reception from the girls who try to entice you into the strip joints…one particular lady of negotiable affection didn’t take kindly to our rendition of “Ruby” by the Kaiser Chiefs and decided to flip us “the bird” with a snarly grimace type thing on her face.   Again…meh!

It must have something to do with the consumption of alcohol when combined with exercise, but I was wrecked when we got back to drop off the bike…although I like to think it was the 2 shots of Jagermeister personally…honest…no, really!

Rest assured, even with the nightmare of pain and torture that was heading up hill and over bridges, I still want one for my next birthday….only I think there should be a “Birthday Boy Doesn’t Pedal” rule.   It’s only fair ;-)

Ch..ch..ch..ch..changes

Dr Tom working on my "issue"It has been an interesting couple of months in the life of the Laughing Wolf.   I have been trying to get used to being out of work, and have only recently managed to not get up at 06:30 every morning.   I have also just this past week or so, managed to not refer to any of my ex-colleagues as “xxx from work”.

I have started German lessons in earnest and have been told I am doing quite well.   In reality, my German skills are not as bad as I often tell people, what I lack is the confidence to make a mistake..which in turn makes me clam up and say nothing.   I am pleased to say that the lessons are helping me overcome this.

I have stopped going out drinking almost completely thanks to the need to be careful with my money these days, and the nice side effect of this is that I am losing some weight finally.   I have also taken to sporting a goatee in recent weeks, everyone seems to think it is ok, I am as yet undecided.   This indecision makes me “worse than a woman” according to CW, but *meh*.   Clearly I haven’t blogged in some time, mainly due to the relaxed nature of my life at the moment, nothing is really happening, so I don’t have a lot to write about.

I say relaxed, but in reality I am pretty busy most days.   I have German lessons three times a week, have been doing websites for people, learning Linux (DB0 will be loving that), sorting the apartment out, finally going to the Doctor to try and sort out my dodgy ankle, rebuilding peoples PCs, helping people move and get setup in their new place, writing Shrooms and various other activities.

I finally had a clear out of the apartment last week…well, I say “I”, but in reality CW and HAN cleared it out for me.   I got back and it was like someone had stretched the rooms.   My Dads comment was “You let two women have a clearout in your flat?   I am surprised there is anything left”….yes, he has been to my flat…but no, there is in fact some stuff still left in here.

What I really want to talk about though is assumption, assumption can really bite you in the arse if you are not careful.   I guess there is a reason that they say “To assume is to make an ass out of u and me”.

Take Monday for example.   I had been to see the Doc on Friday about my ankle problem, which has been getting progressively worse and more painful over the last couple of weeks.   I had avoided going to the Doc as, last time I went about it, he said it would need surgery if it got any worse.   On Friday, he seemed surprised that he hadn’t checked my blood for a particular acid level and immediately did so, at the same time making an appointment for me to come back in on Monday.   The Monday appointment was to see a specialist that they have a few times a week in the practise.   We will call him Dr Tom, for that is how he is referred to.

Dr Tom is a big man….actually that’s not strictly true…I am a big man, Dr Tom is a frickin’ monster.   If he were to wander around heavily wooded areas, wearing a dark furry jacket, we would have a series of Sasquatch in Frankfurt news reports.   There aren’t many guys that can make me feel like one of the Borrowers, but Dr Tom certainly can…I think you get the picture.   The impression wasn’t helped when I seemingly ignored his shouts that notified me that it was my turn.

For reasons that escape me, German people (generally) can’t help translating my last name into the German equivelant.   It’s really bizarre and happens regularly, and I am normally listening out for it.   On Monday though, I was in considerable pain and there were around 15 other people in the waiting room…so it took me 2 or 3 yells of my translated last name before I realised he wanted me.   He seemed to be a little upset about this…and upon seeing him. so was I.

From my discussions on Monday with my Doctor, I was under the impression that Dr Tom was an Orthopaedic Doctor (assumption #1), that they would have fully discussed my issue (assumption #2) and that they would have worked out the best method to fix the issue with my ankle (assumption #3).   Assumption #1 was clearly incorrect when, after asking me to stand in front of him, he proceeded to tell me that the left side of my body was “wooden” compared to the right side…and then quickly, without warning, grabbed me in some sort of Full Nelson thing until my back made a rather unpleasant noise.   That said, my back immediately felt better and I thought “This guy could actually fix me”.

He told me to lay on my stomach and lift my foot up to him…there was no discussion of the issue, so assumption #2 was (in my mind at least) confirmed.   When he had my foot in his mahoosive hands, he proceeded to perform a movement, that I can only think was designed to unscrew my foot so that he could get a better look.   He was putting some serious effort into it, and I was putting serious effort into   a) not throwing up and b) not passing out.   Dr Tom then instructs me to lay on my back and performs the same movement, with an added “thumb directly into the ankle” bonus.   I am fairly certain that the table, that I was laying next to, will require a team of highly skilled carpenters to fix.

He drops my foot and instructs me to stand up.   At this point I pretty much can’t, but am a little scared to tell him this.   I make a couple of attempts and then have to sit down and describe the pain.   He umms and aaaahs a few times before giving me a referral slip for an Orthopaedic Doctor.

W

T

F

When I go to the Orthopaedic Doctor, I am going to need to him to provide references, sit a written exam and preferably have his Medical School teachers confirm to me that he is, in fact, an Orthopaedic Doctor.   I may also take a bodyguard and quite possibly a gun.

Right, I am going to hobble off to my German lesson now….

Big trouble in little Bielefeld

Bielefeld by night....apparentlyThere is a conspiracy in Germany that Bielefeld does not exist.   There are even Wikipedia entries about it.   So, for any Germans reading this, it may surprise you to know that I have actually been there, eaten food and drank various soft beverages there and in fact was arrested in that veritable Bermuda Triangle of Germany.

First, the conspiracy:

Apparently it started off as a Usenet joke which took on its own life.   Made much worse some years later when Google Maps misaligned their satellite hybrid view, so that the street overview was placed on a blank forest area.   Apparently the council of Bielefeld even went so far as to create an advertising campain with the slogan “Bielefeld gibt es doch!” (Bielefeld does exist!” and they still recieve calls and emails that doubt the very existence of the City.

There are 3 questions that you need to ask yourself:

Do you know anybody from Bielefeld?
Have you ever been to Bielefeld?
Do you know anyone that has ever been to Bielefeld?

If you answer yes to any of the questions, you are part of the conspiracy…

Based on this, it is my belief that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is based there and not, as people were led to believe, in Kansas.

My personal memories of Bielefeld as a city are somewhat cloudy.   I get glimpses of the place in sort of random 4 second snapshots…Almost as if my memory was wiped in an alien abduction/probe kind of way.

That said, I do clearly remember being there with around 5 other guys, at about 8 in the morning on a Sunday.   I don’t actually know why though, seeing as there a no shops open on a Sunday.   I quite like that, even though I am not religious, you get Sundays as a proper day of rest…unless you work in a Bakery.

Or a restaurant.   Or a bar.   Or cafe.   Of course the Kiosks are open obviously.   Other than that nothing is open.   Oh, mustn’t forget the people that operate public transport.   So other than bakeries, restaurants, cafes, bars, kiosks and public transport…everything is.. wait, swimming pools.   And fitness centers.   Almost forgot cinemas…oh and the souveneir shops.   As you can see, they feel really strongly about making sure that the Germans get their day of rest…you can even get in trouble for washing your car!

Anyway, back to Bielefeld…so myself and 5 others were wandering through Bielefeld playing Def Leppard at a reasonable volume (if we were deaf) when the police arrived and asked us very politely to turn it down arrested us.   It might have been OK if we had simply turned it down when they turned up and spoke to them, instead of scattering like cockroaches when you turn the light on.   Apparently, the police don’t like getting exercise that early in the morning…especially before they have had their morning doughnuts and coffee.

It took them around 20 minutes to round us up.   We were slowed down considerably by not knowing where the hell we were running to..although let’s face it, where we were running from was more important at the time.   We, of course, played the dumb English card to try and get away with it…the 2 German lads that were with us did this too, albeit somewhat less convincingly.   Unfortunately English is a little more widely spoken than we gave credit for and we were well in the shite.   Well…as in the shite as 6 kids can be when facing a noise pollution charge…it’s not like we robbed a bank or anything.   I am pretty sure they were just trying to shock us.   The problem was that we were cocky little bleeders…at least I was.   I may have even tried to tell them we had diplomatic immunity *cough*

Still…we got away with it and our parents were none the wiser.

Actually, speaking of the German lads trying to pretend they were English..   A loooong time ago, I was heading to visit my folks in my battered Morris Marina when I remembered that I needed to get some cash out of the bank.   I left work early and headed into Newark to do just this.

I was in holiday mode and not really concentrating too much…so much so that I just followed the traffic into the Market Square.   I pulled up outside the bank and nipped inside.   I left the keys in the car as it was impossible to start without knowing how.   I got to the cashiers desk and was waiting for my money when I heard the distinctive sound of my car trying to start.   A quick glance out of the door and I suddenly notice the world.   A world in which the Market Square is full of Market traders…on Market day no less.   I had followed market traders onto the market square and had parked in just the right position to stop any of them moving their vans around to pack up and leave.

Thinking quickly, I whip off my work ID badge, pickup my money, put on my sunglasses and head outside.   It is fair to say that the guy trying to start my car, along with his 10 friends…were not happy.   He immediately starts swearing at me to move my “fucking car”.   Panicked, I put on my stereotypical German accent and pretend to speak broken English.   I am left with the image of my getting into the car, starting it up and then being guided whilst reversing by a load of market traders talking loudly and in very simple English words.   Trying to explain where to head and making sure everyone was out of my way…   I got my karmic retribution though, a 3 hour journey took 9 hours thanks to an accident on the motorway…

Accents are fun…and can get you out of the odd sticky situation I guess…just try and using them for good

Valentines Day

Saint ValentineSo this Saturday is the official made up day of lurve.   I say made up as it does seem to be a little too commercialised..looking into the whole “St Valentine” thing just results in admittance that there was nothing romantic in it at all.

As Barry White once said “I’m gonna love you, love you; Love you just a little bit more baby”

Obviously Barry can’t have been married, otherwise his lyrics would have referred to his “Non-Birthday blowjob, providing you don’t have a headache…baby” or something.

Over here in Germany, it is nowhere near as big as the UK…but, as with Halloween, they are catching up…fast.   Expectations will soon be raised and guys all over the country will be waking up on that fateful 14th February and heading down to the nearest petrol station to pick up a bunch of wilted flowers and a box of Ferrero Rocher, or be faced with the wrath of their nearest and dearest.   Restaurants will be double booked and charging double the price.   At least here they don’t appear to have reached the level of the UK, which translates into parents sending their kids Valentines cards, just in case.   I know that Mums and Nans are just trying to help and ensure that their special little boy/girl isn’t left cardless and leperlike at school…but when you get older, and start to recognise the writing…the only card you will need then is the card for the therapist appointment hotline.   Tantamount to child abuse that is…in the long term obviously.

I think Jimmy Carr said it best:

“Valentines day is the only day of the year where you can recieve an unsigned card from a complete stranger saying they want to fuck you, and you go…Aaawww”

Why do valentines cards have to be unsigned?   Surely that defeats the purpose of expressing your underlying stalker nature love to someone.   The idea of spending money (in a recession no less) on a card, possibly flowers and maybe chocolates..then sending them to someone signed “your secret admirer”, seems more than a little dim to me.

Also, if the person happens to be with someone (which is the only logical reason to not announce yourself), and you believe this person isn’t worthy of their love, because they are an arsehole or something….the chances are that they have forgotten to send anything…and you sending an unsigned gift allows them to instantly get credit (and the blowjob) for your purchase.

Far from show this person what life could be like without this arsehole, you just made him look good… Not the brightest idea you could ever have.   Sure, signing your name on a card/flowers/chocolate combo to Sue in accounting, knowing that she is seeing Psycho the Bouncer (and former kick boxing champion)..who happens to know exactly where you live…might be a little scary.   I understand that but, think of the adrenalin rush…and the possible interesting sexy times that might ensue after you get out of hospital and physio..

For my part I am doing the modern thing this year, I will be cooking for CW…we will probably settle in to watch a chick flick, drink wine and talk about our feelings..wait, hang on.   Let me try again… I will be cooking for CW..there may be a movie comedy to watch, some alcohol and who knows what else.   There will be a Do Not Disturb sign on my front door, and the paramedics just outside in case of gastronomical disaster.   I am nothing if not thoughtful.

Right, I am off down to the shops to stock up on Rennie, Gaviscon and Peptobismal.

Enjoy your very own night of luuuurve.

Gotta get back in time

Clothes discarded earlier today…. as Huey Lewis and the News once sang.

I have been spotting a disturbing trend around Frankfurt recently from a certain group of people.   Well, I say recently, but in reality I just kept forgetting about it…you know, how the mind blocks out traumatic events to protect our fragile little minds.

Basically, teenagers of a certain decent in Frankfurt seem to be modelling themselves on a combination of Robert Smith/B52 Girls   hair styles (the Girls), MC Hammer trousers (the girls) and Chris Isaak mullets (the guys).   Additional styles include Skinny drainpipe jeans (the guys) and black jackets with the sleeves rolled up (the guys).   Of course, I couldn’t forget the fact that the jeans will be black, slightly too short and will be finished off with white socks and black shoes.

It is like something out of Don’t mess with the Zohan…honestly, either that or from some hip, cool and groovy pop video circa 1983.   Actually, the guys with the black jackets look like a sort of Gothic Miami Vice…

The guys will invariably have half a ton of Brylcream in their hair and bum fluff mustaches, whereas the women will be wearing some spangly faux gold/diamond pair of shoes that give you an epileptic fit whenever they start walking.   Oh, and bum fluff mustaches.

They will all be wandering aimlessly and normally near/around the local internet cafe.   If found on trams/tubes they will be listening to music (probably 2 Unlimited) by utilising their mobile phone as a stereo…shit music being played through a single shit speaker.   Based on their look, I can only feel blessed that we aren’t forced to listen to the MIDI version, as you can almost reasonably expect their phones to be as dated as their look.

If they were in England, they would be wearing Burberry clothing, drinking 20-20 behind the school bikesheds and smoking Lambert and Butler cigs.   They would live on a council estate and drive around in a Mk.1 Fiesta (1.1 poplar) with a wooden spoiler hoisted on the back that was made out of wooden pallets.   In short, these people are Germanys very own Chavs.

In the spirit of education, I present to you two classic music videos that really captures the essence of the Chav.   Enjoy first, “In Me Burberry”:-

And now the classic “Chavhemian Rhapsody”

I’ll be the one getting his head kicked in outside the kebab shop later…