Well Sir, it does say eat dirt cheap outside.”
Greetings from Göβweinstein! I’m sitting writing this latest blog instalment from the confines of my (comparatively) warm house, where the fire is working in approximately 3rd or 4th gear in a valiant attempt to prevent us all from freezing to death. No, the temperature here has not dropped to the brutal level that some of my year-abroad friends in Russia have been braving, however it most definitely hit -2 yesterday evening (what British weather reporters would call “fresh”). If you need empirical proof then just spend 10 minutes with Charlie the dog (you know how furry he is) who seems to have developed some sort of variation on the annual winter flu, coughing every five minutes noticeably loudly (Heike reckons it’s because he’s been eating wood from the fireplace!). My concern about the lack of snow was dispelled a couple of days ago when we were blessed with a rather generous 3 / 4 centimetres worth of the white stuff one night; although it’s disappearance was almost as swift as it’s arrival. My new jacket is keeping me sufficiently warm, so you guys needn’t worry about me too much for the next couple of months :). Exciting news from England: firstly, the family have just posted a number of Christmas presents to Germany (do you reckon some of them are for me?!), and just as gratefully received, an email from The Times newspaper offering me a week’s worth of work experience on their foreign news desk in July!
Now, if there’s one term I’d normally use to describe myself, then it would probably be “laid back.” Not that generalising is particular popular with our ultra-P.C. world these days, but if you would give me the benefit of the doubt just this once then I’d like to label England also as a rather “laid back” kind of place. Now we all know that the Germans are quite efficient people (definitely more efficient than the English), very much into their cleanliness and their orderliness. Well, I must say that some people around here take this orderliness to its very limits, and frankly I think it’s a bit O.T.T. To elaborate. Last week the hotel received a letter of notification from the Bürgermeister (mayor), making us aware that a local had complained about some gravel laying on the path of the high street which is joined adjacently to the hotel’s car park. Now, bare in mind that the hotel car park has a floor laden with gravel. Furthermore, at least 50 cars drive into and out of the car park every day (it’s a busy and hard working hotel). And lastly, when I looked myself for this ‘runaway’ gravel, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I could see merely 3 feet of the path, looking reasonably in order, with around (I swear I could’ve counted the specks of it on my hands) 22 tiny bits of gravel dispersed. It was unbelievable how little there was. With one sweep of the broom, all of the gravel was gone. How petty (I thought) that somebody had complained about that! A) Who cares? B) Is gravel poisonous? C) Is it affecting anybody (the answer to that is no)?, and D) what normal person has enough time to write to the mayor and complain about such a trivial thing?! These Germans eh!
Anyway, enough of that rant, just needed to get it out of my system! On a pleasanter note, we had a really lovely group of about 50 Berliners come and stay at the hotel for a long weekend last week. They were all a really friendly bunch, and my attempts at being equally as friendly back were vindicated on their departure when they left me a 30 Euro tip. After that weekend of endlessly serving them drinks (by the end of it I could probably guess correctly what most people would order), if my shoe prints are not eternally moulded onto the restaurant carpet, then I’ll eat that 30 Euros. What I reported the other week about that elderly lady (she must have been really old) mistaking me for an East German must have been an anomaly, as no matter how hard I experimented with a Franconian accent to the Berliners, they all guessed that I was English! I always get really annoyed at that, but they all say that it’s good to have a neutral and clean accent, maybe I should just stick with picking up the language :). Two exceptions to the group (in the respect that they weren’t as jovial), was an elderly / VERY GRUMPY couple. If they couldn’t find anything to complain about, then I’d be damned. If it wasn’t the food, it was where they were sitting in the restaurant, if it wasn’t because (speedy) Stefan was too slow, it was that they simply wished that they were back home. To be honest I found it quite funny, I just hope that they couldn’t read what I was saying in my smile: I CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU TO GO HOME EITHER!
A new experience to add to the record book: I’ve discovered what it’s really like (and it’s not brilliant) to be a proper Putzfrau (domestic / house wife / cleaning lady). It all happened this morning when I was asked by Heike to help Magda clean the hotel rooms / suites as a one off because all 50 rooms had been used the night before and Magda needed to get home early to organise her son’s birthday. Now, wanting to keep up this pretence of being the perfect “English gentleman,” I enthusiastically accepted the challenge. How stupid was I. Not that I should have expected anything else, it wasn’t as if I’d be asked to be interviewed on TV or anyway, but basically all I was doing was stripping the beds of the sheets (gross) and hoovering up. Due to the huge number of rooms, it took FOREVER! And it was so boring! I was talking to myself so much that people probably could’ve mistaken me for being a slightly disturbed individual :). So, in conclusion, I really couldn’t hack doing that again! I love the waitering business mind you, but that cleaning task was something else.
I’m not too clued up on politics, but I understand that England and Mr. Cameron have been slowing down Ms. Merkel’s and Mr. Sarkozy’s plans for the future of the European Union of late. All I can say is, is that the Germans here are slightly annoyed at Dave’s reluctance to go along with their economic proposals, and some have even been calling for England to be shunned! Either way, I hope that it’s all resolved fairly soon (without too much blood shed), as I’m worrying that I and my fellow year-abroaders may be kept here as hostages / prisoners-of-war, if tensions soar any higher! Anyway, of slightly lesser importance, Christian is on holiday this week, meaning that it’s Stefan and me in charge of the restaurant (peace of cake). I’m sure that most of you will be breaking up / finishing for the Christmas holidays very soon, so I wish you all the best and a special stay at home :). I’ll be reporting for blogging duty again very soon.