Monthly Archives: November 2008

Furry Germans, uncultured Brits

What do you remember about German music in the early 1980s?

I’ve tried this question on a number of Germans and Brits… and the answer which both groups have in common is usually Nena.

But what do people remember about Nena? Well… the Germans remember Nena as the beautiful singer of the 99 Luftballons who they all secretly had a crush on. Here’s the video in case you haven’t seen it – I’ve pasted the German version because it’s better than the English 99 Red Balloons.

When you ask the Brits what they remember Nena for, the answer is invariably: Hairy armpits.

Beautiful hair...

Beautiful hair...

No mention of the siren voice, the stage presence, the energy and dance routines…. no, just hairy armpits.

I wonder how I will go down in posterity? No… on second thoughts I’d rather not know.


Filed under Life in Germany

What do you call a German electrician?

I was taken aback the other day when a critic reckoned I’d used “silly pseudonymic names” for some of the characters in Planet Germany.

The thing is… all of the names in the book were given for a very specific reason. So our local beer-delivery man, known as Dr. Bier in the book, I can actually reveal as really being called Mr. Beier. In fact he’s one of two Mr. Beiers… because he runs the business with his brother. Appropriately their van sports the slogan Keine Feier ohne Beier (no party without Beier) – which is absolutely correct. We wouldn’t even attempt one!

Another apparently silly name was Frau Grimm the headmistress. I admit – the real lady on whom the character was based does not have that name. But her school does…. and pretty much everything they do is labelled as Grimm. So why ever not?

Zirkus Grimm on the school playground

Zirkus Grimm on the school playground

Anyway… more importantly, the truth of the matter is that Germans very often have funny names. No really they do.

On the main street of Meerbusch there is a provider of fine grave stones who always makes me laugh because his name is Fucken – I hope not too many of his clients are forced to complain: The Fucken inscription’s wrong on Gran’s grave.

Our local garden centre is called Bogies… which I feel fits admirably with their slogan exhorting us to “experience the greenness.”

And of course, imagine my delight when the local electrician called the other day. His name is Mr. Dose – and appropriately Dose is the German word for an electric socket.

The German word Dose means electric socket

The German word Dose means electric socket

Of course, I now know that in any future writing I really ought to anonymise these people by calling them Herr. Schmidt or something. But wouldn’t that make life just that little bit less weird?


Filed under books, German language, Life in Germany

You know it’s a slow news day when…

the headline in the local paper advises you that there is no change to the date of a local festival.

Slow news day in Meerbusch Büderich

Slow news day in Meerbusch Büderich

I checked the other local papers… but nothing much is happening there either.

Ho hum….

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Filed under German festivals, Life in Germany