Thursday, December 27, 2007

Undisclosed Xmas Lack of Weight Loss my doctor told me my results were fine but that I could do with losing a little weight. And that one week before Xmas.

Well, it just cannot be done - especially over a Xmas in deepest Bavaria which combines the best of the Bavarian traditions with the best of the English.

I used to think that the way we celebrated Xmas at home in Liverpool was the way everyone celebrated; that it was normal that all the neighbours came into ours on the morning of the 25th for drinks and sandwiches and that having a Scotch with my dad at 10 o'clock before they came 'to make sure we get some of our own booze' was standard.

The various neighbours would come, have a couple of drinks and then we would wander over to their houses for more drinks and then - with an excuse he had prepared days earlier - my dad would say he had to meet someone in the local pub, so we would troop up there and eventually come back to a Xmas dinner - turkey, stuffing, roast taties, sprouts, carrot and turnip, apple sauce and Xmas pud, full of thr'penny bits, all consumed in a haze.

Then the snooze on the couch, the bad head, and finally the Xmas specials on TV, gingerly eating some cheese and crackers or even cold turkey.

I slowly stared to realise that this was not the standard and that in the end the more people I asked the more it seemed as if each family, while sticking to the main outline, actually had very much their own unique Xmas Day.

I noticed this even more when I lived in Greece. There, Xmas is (or perhaps was - for who knows how much our insidious form of Consumeristmas has taken hold there in the meantime) more like a little bit posher-than-usual Sunday. The Greeks go to extremes at Easter but not at Xmas.

And then there's Bavaria...well, here they do it properly. None of this conflated Xmas tradition as in England and America. I recall as a kid HATING Xmas Eve with passion as it was the day which stood between me and my presents. And it was S O L O N G !

The 'tradition' was that Santa came in the night and you had to be asleep otherwise he wouldn't leave any presents. This would lead to kids demanding to go to bed at, say, 2 in the afternoon... and, when they finally could go to bed, not being able to sleep due to intense excitement and then suffering total panic that Santa would not come...

It would also lead to parents being woken from dreamy slumber at 4 in the morning with shouts of "he's been! HE'S BEEN!!!"

This in turn would lead to the consequently bleary-eyed parents unromantically exchanging gifts over the breakfast table in the harsh light of the winter morning.

Finally by about 11 o'clock, this would lead to arguments and tears between parents and kids fuelled by mutual lack of sleep.

Where were these cosy, snow-drifted family Xmas evenings around the Xmas tree unwrapping presents, everyone smiling beatifically, with the dark winter safely outside and the room lit by candles and the flames from the open fire?

They were in Bavaria!

Sensibly, the Bavarians do all the present giving on Xmas Eve, in the evening, around the tree, with the dark winter safely outside and the room lit by candles etc., etc. and it is tremendous! Much better than we did it in England.

It means that if your present is a bottle of good scotch you can actually open it and enjoy its warm mellowness, not wince at it over your bacon and egg.

Anyway, our Xmas now extends over the 3 days of Xmas - from Xmas Eve to Boxing Day...and each day has its characteristics and its food!!

On Xmas Eve we normally have something typically Bavarian. So this year we had Spätzle (sort of egg dumplings) and Bratwurst with Sauerkraut (yummy) washed down with dark beer.

On Xmas Day we had duck with red cabbage and dumplings (mmmmmmm) and on Boxing Day roast pork with stuffing, roast potatoes and veg followed by bread and butter pudding!

Thus I prove my claim that weight cannot be lost over Xmas.

However, starting from tomorrow...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Russian Style Xmas Rush

It looks as though to some extent we will be having a Russian Xmas this year. By this I don't mean some awful pun on 'Russian around at Xmas' - I wouldn't stoop that low, now, would I? No, by 'Russian Xmas' I mean we will probably still be giving presents by January 6th - the Russian Xmas.

This is all due to a cock up on the Amazon front (come on, let's blame them), the fact that I use two different Amazon accounts, a German one and an English one, and the fact that my credit card was renewed in November. This seems to have confused the natives on the Amazon and caused all sorts of delays to the bits and pieces of presents which should already have arrived, been packed and should now be nestling quietly under the Xmas tree.

I haven't yet broken the news to my lot ... I'll have to tell them Santa has a metaphorical flat tyre on his sleigh.

Anyway, I wish both of you out there a very Merry Xmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bon Giorno!

So we have a new manager of the England 'football' team. And guess what - 'e dona speeka dee langwich!

But Mr Capello has declared, quite seriously, that he eeza gonna learna dee eengleesh in a MONTH!!

As they say in Germany: ja, Mahlzeit! (More or less the same as: oh, you THINK so...?!)

Well, Fabio would be fab, it would be fabioso, in fact it would be a bloody miracle!
I hope this is not a measure of how seriously we should take his promises, as it came in the same breath as predicting an Italy v England final in South Africa!!

On the other hand it could mean that he intends to learn just enough English to be able to communicate with our benighted 'footballers'.

In which case, ten minutes should do the trick!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gone to the Doc's the doctor says:

It's bad news I'm afraid - you only have 5 minutes to live.

Oh my god! Can you suggest anything?

Hmm, how about a soft-boiled egg?

My doctor however seems to have found nothing, despite all his pricking, prodding and poking. Nothing, except that he reckons I should lose weight!!

10 kilos!!!

And that just before Xmas!!!!

Pass me the soft-boiled egg...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Going to the Doc's

My, how I hate this - the "annual" visit to the doc's for a check-up. "Annual" because my last check-up was ...erm ...3 years ago?

All this pricking, poking and prodding - ugh ...and always that thought, "are they going to find something?"

And above all, NO COFFEE!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Arthur C. Clarke Turns 90!

Isn't internet brill?

It has just allowed me to wish Arthur C. Clarke birthday wishes from here!

By the way Arthur, my birthday is 16th October...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Not Many People Know This...

..but tomorrow is Augustiner Day.

Not many people know it because I only made it up on Thursday. I am just coming to the end of about 6 weeks of intensive teaching, translating and gigging and I am having tomorrow, Saturday, OFF. I intend to have a couple of Augustiners in the afternoon...and then watch Liverpool down in Reading on the tele ...with a bottle on one side and crisps on the other.
As I was telling my course about it on Thursday, I had the idea of calling it 'Augustiner Day' - the first Saturday after Nikolaus on Dec 6th. The group seemed to take it to heart as a good idea and my kids also favour the introduction of a day on which one has to drink Augustiner.

I am going to do my best to promote it and maybe petition for it to become a regular holiday. After all, Hallowe'en was unknown in Germany till about 5 years ago and now there are parties all over the place every year.

So far Augustiner Day is traditionally:

1) The first Saturday after Nikolaus
2) A day when Augustiner has to be drunk
3) Crisps are an option
4) 'Compulsory' is spelled with an 'A', i.e. 'compulsAry'

More traditions to follow...


"Thirsty Augustiner Day!"

(to which the answer is:

"Thirsty indeed!")