Tags: göttingen


I Meet Mustelids

Last night we went out and came home in a taxi (not an ambulance). That's when I saw them, sat on the side of the road. At first I thought that they were 2 small cats, but then my brain started to click and whir as I thought, "Hmmm... Not quite cat-shaped. Cats don't come in russet with cream bibs. Cats don't move like that. They're..." "Martens," the cab-driver supplied. beech martens, to be precise. Oh! Never seen those before... Plenty of trees and undergrowth and mice and birds for them hereabouts, but this was hitherto unsuspected weaselage for me.

This is where we owe a previous taxi-driver a sort of apology. One night, a long while back, we came across Mr. Crazy Taxi-Driver. Now, the majority of taxi-drivers here come from the former USSR or Afghanistan or Iraq. Naff all appear to come from Germany. An awful lot of taxi-drivers tell us their life stories and about 90% have a degree in Electrical Engineering or somesuch but, due to being relatively new in Germany and needing to sort out their German and get practical placements, they drive cabs. Among the rare breed of German cabbie, notable specimens here in Gö are For-Crying-Out-Loud-Sit-Up-Straight-And-Remove-Your-i-Pod Boy and Mr. Everything-I-Wear-Is-Made-Of-Leather-Down-To-My-Jaunty-Cap (who is actually a good driver, but boy! does he look kinky!). Mr. Crazy is also German.

Mr Crazy hared through the streets of Göttingen at Autobahn speeds, cackling madly to himself. It was a tarmac-kissing experience. The exception to the all-new Hockenheim recreation was at the bottom of our hill, where he slammed on the brakes and swerved to one side. He turned to us and said, "It's the martens! They run all over the road and I don't want to squish them!". I weakly returned something to the effect that this was indeed a noble sentiment and nodded approvingly. Getting home, we both turned to one another and vowed never to get in a cab with Mr. Crazy ever again, so bad was his driving and so unnerving had his cackling been. "And," I said, "he might have been on drugs. He was hallucinating weasels running all over the road..."

To be fair to me, he did appear to be a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. Additionally, martens are practically unheard of in the UK, where I've never seen so much as a stoat, so I'd never considered that they are fairly widespread in Germany. So, Mr. Crazy, I'd like to apologise to you now for the inference which I made that you may be a druggie or prone to hallucinations, merely because I had never managed to spot any martens until now. I would, however, ask you to kill your speed a tad and STOP CACKLING or else drivers who don't love the martens so much will get all of your custom and their demise shall be on your conscience.

Witterings From A Small Mind

Just because the world is a scary place full of bad and serious things happening, very occasionally to me, I now see fit to boast of my relaxing afternoon (well, post 4pm). Alone, save for a good book, a bottle of water and some bun thing with ham and cheese on it. Yes, I heaved my fish-belly blue-white carcass into the sunshine, or at least that portion of it represented by the Johanniskirchhof. It's nice there, if one ignores the 1950's jumble of concrete shops to the left and just concentrate upon the nice mediaeval church to the right. There are lots of benches set out under various trees, so all in all a good place to go for a bit of fresh air and relaxation.

Of course, 9 out of 10 winoes in the town think this too, as it turns out. Who knew? There were plenty of benches and it was just sheer bad luck that a coterie of the perpetually pissed decided to plonk themselves down on the bench cati-corner to me and to start arguing about...? Beer? Jenniver? Korn? Who knows, but there was some kind of berating going on with a Greek chorus of supporters of either side. It appeared that a friend of the group had... something... and there was some dispute as to who was going with him for that something. It was loud, it was staggery and I found myself wondering if they would notice and take it ill that the girl on the next bench suddenly left for another bench. Man-with-something got up and strode across to another bench as wino number one followed him. There was shouting. Wino number one scuttled back. Wino number two then started to follow Man-with-something. There was shouting again and #2 scuttled back only to be replaced by #1 in the process. Then they all joined him. I settled back down to my book once I was satisfied that they hadn't all decamped for a scrap (this has been known to happen).

The next person to come along and bother me was a young woman in an islamic headscarf. She smiled, I smiled and then she offered me a pice of paper bearing the image of a small child with a request for money to help care for said small child. Suffice to say, the message was printed, the picture was photocopied and the whole card was laminated. This kind of thing screams 'con' to me. She asked for money; I told her that I had none. She asked again; I repeated that I had none. She sat down next to me and asked me for money; I repeated, politely but firmly, that I was very sorry, but I didn't have any money. She then asked if I would go and buy some Pampers for the baby. Oh. Moral qualms came up then and I wondered if I should just fork over 50 cents and be done with it or go and buy nappies any old how... but evil, child-of-Thatcher Marjory won out and I said again that I was broke. She then suggested that I could pay with a card... I said that I didn't have a card because... I was a foreigner. I suggested that she could go to the manse (handily located behind the church) and she poo-pooed the idea before asking me for money again. Several times more I attempted to persuade her that I was a financially impecunious individual with no EC Geldkarte, before she got the message and left. Maybe she was honest and I am a cynical and twisted soul, but...

The next person who happened along was a guy who wanted to know if I had a bottle opener for his beer. Erm... no. I did have a lighter, however, and this sufficed for his purpose.

The pigeons got some of my bun. It was easier, quicker and less painful that way.

I did get some reading done and had some quality time in the sun and was quite relaxed and happy before I got on the bus to go and see Mitch and go home. Aside from the obvious, it was a good afternoon. And it appears that I left in the nick of time, as about the time my bus arrived, so did an ambulance and some policemen heading wino-wards as apparently some entente or other had broken down.

I need a good, safe park, methinks.

Still Banal

Well, I took a different early bus this week and it was absolutely packed with grannies. However these grannies behaved themselves quite well. I may have to revise my opinions re little old ladies on public transport, even to the extent that perhaps one experiences a better class of such on the 2 than on the 4.

Of course, my experience of people smiling, saying excuse me, lack of elbow-induced abrasions etc. was somewhat counterbalanced by the presence on the bus of the woman who thinks I am a witch. Oh goody. Next week I'll try the 12.

Then it turned out that my client had cancelled anyway.

If you listen very carefully, you will hear a muffled thudding sound. That would be me banging my head against the wall...

One Lovely Black Eye

Humph! It appears that I am not safe to be let out on my own...

Today's adventure was yukky, to say the least. I was supposed to meet my Mitch downtown in order to flesh out my lifestyle - that being of an international jetsetter - and to go hence into a common person's supermarket in order to purchase fine viandes for the coming week and then... it happened.

Picture one ...erm... me innocently disembarking the bus and then... well... I felt a terrible thud in my right eyebrow and then, before I'd taken that on board, I found myself spawled in an undignified heap on the pavement. I hadn't actually been shot, but rather a young gentleman had decided to run for the bus I was getting off and had sideswiped me with his accelerating forehead as he went. Fun.

The result involved a) my glasses being broken b) me being somewhat stunned c) lots of bystanders running to my rescue d)me having a weeping fit, this being the first resort of Marjorys who don't really know where they are nor yet what they are doing and yet who are expected to answer such complicated questions as, "Are you okay?" in foreign.

Gentle reader, please rest assured that the citizenry of Göttingen are really a caring bunch at heart, that I was subsequently able to buy victuals, that I have a spare pair of specs at home and that purple is still my favourite colour even when emblazoned across my right eye (as seems, inevitably, to be the case with my right eye for now. But we did buy steak. Le sigh.).

I bet that bloke won't be running for anything in a hurry...

(Ouch and double ouch)

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells

My bah-humbuggery extends its squamous tendrils to the Weihnachtsmarkt of Göttingen. Actually, I quite like our little Christmas Market. It is not grandiose in the least, but I can skitter through it quite happily. There's a ferris wheel, there are stalls selling all kinds of foodstuffs from chesnuts to half metre-long bratwurst, there is a glassblower's stall and a fossil stall which I have to march past averting my eyes as I go (because what our overstuffed flat really needs is it's own reenactment of a mesozoic seabed and a homage to the joys of perimineralisation. Part Deux.), to name but a few. What I can't stand are the Glühwein stalls.

Actually, that is unfair of me. Really, what I can't stand are the people who feel obliged to hit said stalls from the moment they come out of work until the market shuts down at 9:30pm or so. They are menaces. Hundreds of the buggers stand around in huddles imbibing far more alcohol than they are accustomed to, breathing out cheap wine fumes and dropping glasses. Occasionally, some of them will go off and purchase some manner of sausagery and then proceed to yark it up again. I generally am a fan of the colour purple, but there are limits, y'know...

Actually, the yarkers and smashers are just about okay by me. I can steer well clear of their yarking grounds (mostly) and yarkers tend to head home (as that sort of thing puts a crimp on one's evening, I am given to believe). What I really don't like are the people who have downed half a dozen or so mulled-wine beverages, who then decide to hit the pubs en masse and round off the evening with half a dozen or so beers or glasses of schnapps. It's a natural reaction to succumb to the thirst brought on by alcohol consumption, Lord knows I know that. But SERIOUS GLÜHWEIN+BEER/SCHNAPPS=UGLINESS! Don't mix yer piggin' drinks! Lots of drunken people together in confined spaces tend to make for trouble and excessive misbehaviour as people get shovey, miserable, pukey, mildly psychotic or just plain crass as the admixture of doom hits their beleaguered synapses. And, of a morning, spotting the legion of poor souls with growly hangovers also tends to brighten the festive season...

Soapbox now dismounted (before someone either vomits on it or decides to attack it).