Tuesday, March 30, 2010


You know how there are some mornings when you are glad to hear the alarm go off so that you can finally stop your desperate attempts to get to sleep...?

Do the birds of the air have the same problems sleeping? Do they tuck their heads under their wings and then metaphorically toss and turn all night, wondering where the next worm is going to come from?

When rosy-fingered dawn stains the eastern sky do they think, "oh bugger, more bloody tweeting - bloody dawn chorus..."?

Ho hum.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Belated Happy Paddy's Day Wishes

I will assume you all realised it was St Patrick's Day (patron saint of Irish pub owners) yesterday.

This is how I celebrated it:

05.30 - yes, a.m. - alarm rings. I creak out of bed, mumbling foul curses under my breath.

05.45 - 06.15 - slumped over coffee and muesli, peering bleary-eyed at the laptop.

06.30 - drive to a company whose engineers insist that 07.30 is a great time for an English lesson (they all get up at ridiculous times like 4 in the morning which they see as a badge of honour instead of what it really is - total insanity!)

07.30 - first student arrives, followed swiftly by the rest. I "teach" them.

08.30 - drive back home to pick up TM and take her to work.

11.00 - back in aforementioned company doing some translation before "teaching" the next group.

13.00 - feeling totally knackered, eyes starting to droop catastrophically. I discover I have nodded off in the middle of scrolling a page of text.

14.00 - a student arrives, followed swiftly etc etc. They tell me about the engines they are working on... this induces in me rolly-eye syndrome.

15.30 - they leave, more translation.

17.00 - pick up TM and drive home.

18.00 - jump on my bike an cycle into Munich for the sound check.

18.30 - arrive at Kilians Irish Pub; it's totally packed with drunken, dancing, shouting Irish and other assorted nationalities.

18.45 - abandon attempts to do sound check, the public is just too loud.

18.50 - EAT for the first time since the long digested muesli!

20.00 - 01.15 diddly -for example - plus copious amounts of excruciating feedback thanks to abandoned soundcheck.

01.30 - fight my way through admiring fans to the back of pub where I have an urgent appointment with an Augustiner.

01.36 - that magnificent and incomparable first Schluck - glug glug. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

01.40 - 03.30 - get better acquainted with the finer points of this wonderful beer. During this time I got talking to an American marine on the next table - they can be scary people. This guy had been in Afghanistan and Iraq. He made a machine gun shooting gesture and said "ah shucks, we only do it for the paycheck". At that moment my daughter came in and started telling us about one of the guys at the pub who is on holiday - in Vietnam. I did a throat cut gesture to stop her, I leaned over to her and rolling my eyes in the direction of the marine said "don't mention Vietnam - I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it".

03.45ish - pub closes and ejects the stunned and dazed leftover rabble into the sweet fresh air in Frauenplatz.

03.55ish - I climb onto my bike and cycle home with a noticeable touch of the slalom.

04.30 - home. Quick cuppa and...

04.50 - bed.

Didn't quite manage the full 24 hours but it was a brave attempt.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I met someone from Siberia yesterday (more about that later) - I don't know if there's a connection but look at this temperature:

That's here in Deepest Bavaria, by the way. There's snow outside too...

(UPDATE: This morning it's -16°C. I may have to write in and complain.)

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

O2 and Hot Air

Having spent hours on the O2 website trying and failing miserably to work out which tariff would be the best for me and what it would cost, how many free minutes here and smses there and so on and so forth, I decided to pop into the local O2 shop instead and see if a human could enlighten me.

I put my faithful old mobile down on the counter and said I wanted a new tariff.

The human didn't reply - he was too busy staring in wonder or perhaps disbelief at my mobile (ok, it was disbelief). Yes, it is old and yes, you can't see the numbers any more and yes I do need a fair amount of guesswork when I am writing an sms (I find it's best not to look or even think about where the letters may be - my fingers seem to know by themselves, if I don't interfere).

Rousing himself, the human asked me what tariff I had at the moment.

I said, "O2 Select".

If he thought that my mobile had been one of a pair which had been invited on board the ark, he clearly felt that my tariff extended back to one Planck length after the Big Bang.

It seems that O2 Select is ancient, it predates O2 even.

Anyway, I now have no basic monthly fee and only pay for the calls I make. Walking back through the pale March sunshine I was looking at how many people were carrying on conversations on their mobile phones. How many of these conversations were really necessary and how many consisted of people basically just telling each other where they were at that moment and when they would be somewhere else?

I remember as a kid hearing some cynic say that one day they will charge us for the air that we breathe and although we haven't yet got to that point, they do seem at least to have found a way to charge us for our hot air.