Monthly Archives: May 2008

Planet Germany as a set school text!

I was sent some lovely emails today which came from the pupils and staff of the Maria Theresia Gymnasium in Augsburg, where class 11b have been reading Planet Germany as a set text.

This is, of course a moment of mixed emotions for me. To start with, looking back on my own school days, I wonder what I would have written at the time to the authors of most of the books we had to read.

To William Shakespeare, I’d probably have penned a stern note, requesting that he be less obtuse: “Dear Will, Come off it. I mean…Lend me your ears… what’s that supposed to mean. Huh?”

To Honoré de Balzac: “Sir, I would kindly request that you make any future novels around 300 pages shorter, as you have seen fit to write them in difficult French, especially in consideration of the fact that I have to complete my essay by Thursday and have been unable to wangle a copy of the Penguin translation from the school library.”

To Kafka: “The entire sixth form would like to request information regarding the psychedelic substances which so clearly played a role in the creative process…”

The pupils and teachers of the Maria Theresia Gymnasium, however, obviously take their schoolwork more seriously. Their teacher wrote:

Despite our initial suspicions that it might be one of those books which only deals in a superficial way with the most famous prejudices against the German like wearing “Lederhosen” or drinking beer, we soon realized that “Planet Germany” is different and gives also a different -but quite true- insight into the real German behaviour, such as the “grill mania”. The author has got extraordinary ideas concerning the topics she decides to write about.
Although the instructions not being very original and sometimes too full with enumerations, like the one of “The Life Expectancy of a German Pig”, the pleasant way these short stories are written and their length, makes everybody read on.
All in all, we, the MTG inspectors of the 11b J tested this book in the last few weeks and came to the conclusion that it passed with bravura!

Christian in 11b wrote:

The content is very interesting as you get to know the view of a English family living in Germany and their attitude towards several issues. After having read this book, you sometimes things from a different point of view. Ther are no intems or elements in the book, that I really dislked. My favourite chapter is probably “The live expectancy of a pig”, where the enormous meat consumption of the Germans can be seen very well.

Sabine thought:

The texts always make me laugh and are really written in a funny way.They treat typical human vices that are very common and which everybody knows.Like this you are familiar with the situations and you can share your own experiences.So while reading them, you connect the text with special situations and simply have to laugh. The language fits perfectly to the content and the way some phenomenes are described are close to reality. So the language is entertaining, too. Otherwise the texts don´t contain complicate words, but they are described by (very funny) expressions, so everybody is able to understand the content.

Another teacher wrote:

I have to tell you she really gets to the point of German habits and daily routines. The very personal way she describes “her” Meerbusch and the way how only a foreigner can make fun of the traditions of an other country is done quite impressive. She didn’t treat the typical German habits in a rough way, but develops a friendship with them by giving them a little smile. Only in some paragraphs she really exaggerates.

When I received all these emails, I was absolutely bowled over. How wonderful! Get this… literary criticism of my bemused ramblings on the quirks and foibles of the German nation. And written by Germans, who actually enjoyed the book – even though it was a school set text.

So I would like to say a big public all-over-the-internet thank you to the pupils and staff of the Maria Theresia Gymnasium. You have absolutely made my day. And I am sending you a special thank-you in the post.


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All the fun of the circus

At last! The photos are here from my youngest daughter’s circus project week. Here are some of the highlights… just see what a set of primary school kids can achieve in a week!

Roll up roll up!

Ribbon dancing in ultraviolet light…

Lion taming…

Clowning about….

Trick cycling…

Trapeze artistry…

Tightrope tricks….

Tightrope gymnastics…

Bed of nails…

Fire stunts….

Exploding heads… no sorry, fire eating…

…and one happy set of kids!

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Kittens exploring the garden

We decided to keep three of the kittens in the end. This week they had their debut in the big wide outdoor world.

It’s been wonderful watching them explore their new domain. The sheds and woodstores have been popular – there are some great hiding places.

Helping (ahem) with the gardening is also a new favourite pastime.

And of course… whenever a plantpot gets knocked over, or a bag of potting compost ripped….

…it wasn’t me! Honest!


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German drivers who cut you up…

Do you ever have days when all the other vehicles on the road seem to be driven by Dumköpfe?

I was out and about in Meerbusch the other day when a bus overtook me and pulled in directly ahead of me, causing me to brake sharply. Normally I’m not the type of person who is in the slightest prone to road rage… I’m serene in the face of idiocy. I laugh at teutonic rudeness.

But this vehicle’s manoeuvre left me spluttering with anger as I tried to find the right insult to shout out of the window.

Unfortunately nothing much sprang to mind. Anyone got any ideas?


Filed under Life in Germany

A safety conscious nation

certainly knows how to make Health and Safety films.

See Klaus’s first day as a fork-lift truck driver. (Note: unsuitable for those of a nervous disposition, children, old people, folks eating their lunch etc. etc.)

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Filed under comedy, German video, Life in Germany

Bloggink in German

OK – up to now I’ve only blogged here in English. But actually German is a pretty easy language to pick up – at least it is the way I speak it!

So let me tell you about my day yesterday in German:

Ich wontten schoppen gehen. Ist regenning, zo ich mit mein auto schoppen gehen. Dammundblast die flippenflappen windskrinnwipper kapputten.

Zo ich zu gefukkenautoficksershoppen. Ich saggen: “Die blüddifuckenflippenflappen windskrinnwipper kapputten. Du ficksen bitte.”

Der gefukkenautofickser saggen: “Neue flippenflappen windskrinnwipper kosten lotsenlotseneuros. Hier ist Uppentottenreckning.”

Ich saggen: “Das ist blüddifuckink heiwei Robbering.” Ich given flippenflappen windskrinnwipper backken getten auto en püttenfuttdownen buggeroffheim.


Filed under German language, Life in Germany

Telephone banking

is absolutely not a great leap forward for mankind. I’m just saying….

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Fish and chips at the fairground

I already mentioned that Whitsun in Meerbusch is not complete without a trip to the fair.

Apart from all the rides, it’s fun to browse the wonderfully kitschy stalls, with their strange array of things to eat…. popcorn, candy floss, toffee apples, lebkuchen-hearts…

Of course there’s one stall which we Brits always make a beeline for. The Backfischbude. This is the one place and time when you can get proper English-style Fish ‘n’ Chips in Germany.

The only secret the the Germans haven’t discovered about Fish ‘n’ Chips (nobody breathe a word, OK) is you need to add proper malt vinegar. This is impossible to find in German supermarkets. We import it ourselves from Britain.

So on Saturday, we went along for our Fish ‘n’ Chips with a secret stash of our precious malt vinegar carefully decanted into a miniature whisky bottle.

As we sat down to enjoy the feast, we did get some odd looks from Germans as we all appeared to pour a generous measure of Scotch onto our fish… in fact I could almost hear the clunk of jaws dropping when not only we adults but also our children followed suit.

Finally, I have to share with you this couple of slot machines I found lurking over near the dodgems. They don’t make ’em like that any more!


Filed under food, German festivals, Life in Germany

Living with German neighbours…

… can be a bundle of laughs!

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Summer has arrived!

For months we’ve all been dreaming about it… even our neo-nazi-lookalike cat has spent a long Winter of the soul waiting for the Summer to arrive again.

Well now it’s here (even if only temporarily) … and our entire family life has moved outside. Not just the tables and chairs… but also the washing, bicycles, the grill and all the trappings of a large and disorganised, highly un-Germanic family. It’s just as well that we can live in the open air really. My chronic inability to get on with the gardening means that the house is disappearing under wisteria, ivy, honeysuckle and a lunatic grapevine. In another month we probably won’t know there’s a building there at all, and we’ll have to sleep in the farmyard too.

When the weather is lovely like this, one of the great joys is grilling every evening. The Germans plough their way through kilos of sausages and steaks at this time of the year. But I’m enjoying learning how to make all sorts of grilled vegetables at the moment. Last week I acquired a sort of mesh-pan which makes it a lot easier because you can turn them by giving the pan a good shake. Drizzled with a basil, olive oil, garlic and lemon dressing they’re wonderful.


Filed under cats, Life in Germany