Tag Archives: british

Commenting on royalty and representing the Germans to the French

It’s been a hectic week in Planet Germany. Not only has the Rhineland been turned upside down with Karneval, but the fame of Planet Germany has been spreading.

This week I was asked by Christoph Driessen of dpa why the Germans love the British monarchy so much. Of course that one is easy. The British monarchy is in fact descended almost entirely from German nobility. In a sense, the Germans have merely outsourced its royals to Britain.  As German children grow up and transition from reading about princesses in Grimms Märchen to reading about them in Bunte and Gala, the British Royals take centre stage in the German psyche.

I suspect the Swabians were behind sending the German Royals to Britain though. You see, as Germany gears up excitedly for the royal wedding, it is now the British taxpayer who will foot the bill for the celebrations. Germans everywhere are hoping for a profligate affair – especially the Schwaben.

Mr. Driessen’s article can be found here (in German).

German royalty

I rather fancy moving to Britain darling, what do you think?

Apart from my new-found status as German Royal watcher, I am also now a cultural ambassador to the French apparently. The auswärtiges Amt is featuring Planet Germany on its website at the moment as a fine example of expats loving life in Germany.

I shall await with interest the response of the French to my (British) views on the Germans –  these being three nations that have never been known to see eye to eye on many cultural matters.

Entente Cordiale

Entente Cordiale?

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Filed under About Germany, books, german history, Life in Germany

German versus British beer drinking

I nearly died of a heart attack yesterday.

I was sitting, minding my own business in my office when Birgit suddenly piped up: “We should go down to the Christmas market next week – I’ll buy you a Glühwein.”

Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Frankfurt_Roemer_Weihnachtsmarkt_2004-11-28.JPG

Please observe and witness those words, readers. I’ll buy you a Glühwein. Spoken by a German. Not just any German, either. A Swabian. The legendary race of South German tightwads.

Is it any wonder that I was left reeling on my swivel chair, clutching my chest and gasping for air?

When I recovered the power of speech,  I enquired what had brought on this sudden and unexpected burst of generosity.  The response was no less extraordinary than the original offer.

“It’s my turn.”

Now, given that it’s been Birgit’s turn for the past twenty years, this came completely out of the blue. In the event that she actually goes through with the offer, I won’t know whether to drink the Glühwein or have it inscribed and display it in a cabinet.

You see, readers, there is a huge difference between British and German drinking culture. In Britain, when you go to the pub in a group, everyone takes turns to buy a round. In Germany, everyone buys their own drinks and pays for what they consumed themselves.

The problem for Brits arriving in Germany is that they make the fundamental error of opening the evening by getting a drink for everyone present.  The Germans are delighted. But it never occurs to them to buy you one in return. The British drinker will finish his beer and spend the next twenty minutes waiting in increasing agitation for one of the Germans to stick their hand in their pocket. Peering through the bottom of the empty glass at them will not work. Nor will pointed comments like: “Whose round is it?” Eventually the waiter will bring a beer over for the hapless Brit and mark his beermat with a line which means he will have to pay for that beer too at the end of the evening. He will descend into a sulk, the Germans will judge him a peevish lout and fifty years of improved international relations between Britain and Germany will have been wiped out in one single evening.

Wer soll das bezahlen? Wer hat das bestellt? Wer hat soviel Pinkepinke? Wer hat soviel Geld?

Of course the real reason why the beer-buying system is different in Germany and Britain is that German pubs have waiter service. In Britain, if everyone had to go themselves to the bar and buy their own drink, there would be a permanent rugby-scrum around the counter and nobody would ever get served. The act of buying for a group ensures that not everyone in the pub is permanently crowding around the bar.

In Germany, as the waiter comes to each table, they can mark each beermat quickly and efficiently and at the end of the evening it is simple to add up who drank how many glasses.  There is no pressure to keep up the pace with the heaviest drinkers. Everyone has as much or as little as they fancy.

But now I have Birgit offering against all odds to buy me a Glühwein. What am I to make of this? Is the entire edifice of a thousand years of German drinking culture collapsing around us? Is this the beginning of the end for the Fatherland?

More blog posts by Cathy Dobson can be found on Birds on the Blog

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Filed under About Germany, food, German festivals, Life in Germany