I was catching the bus home from the station yesterday, staring out of the window into oblivion as usual, when something unusual happened.
Normally, I stare off into space and daydream about something odd like: why is there still a dative tense in German? or what would I do if that guy over there was a zombie? This level of daydreaming is second nature to me now, because everyone else barely speaks on public transport, there’s nothing else to do.
But then I did hear someone talking. Two people, in a peculiar language. I wondered if it was Low German… Then I thought it could be Dutch… Finally it dawned on me that it was English.
So we got talking:
Hello, are you English?
Crikey, Toodle-Pip God save the Queen, Bacon and Eggs, what?
Monty Python Alfred Hitchcock? Bangers and Mash Dig for Victory.
Quite. Roast Beef Margaret Thatcher, Apples and Pears.
Ha Ha, you simply must Magna Carta Oxford University.
Richard Branson Alan Sugar! Only Fools and Horses.
Yes, this is my stop. Give me a call some time. Kippers?
Kippers, mate. Chicken Tikka Masala.
I think I made a friend.
I now have two friends!
Well, the baptism was two weeks ago and was a great success. My parents and my brother Jack were here to see the proceedings, and Jack also read in church, as did I. It was Jack’s first time in Germany, I think he enjoyed chatting up the girls, the beer, the sausages, the weather and being ‘the godfather’.
When Andrea’s parent’s met mine there was a disappointing lack of comical misunderstandings, but this was compensated for by goodwill and general amusement. The baptism itself (Taufe in German) was in the same lovely church which Andrea was baptised in. Aurelia slept soundly through it all, with a brief squawk when the water went over her head. To be honest, I don’t think that it was the only thing that went over her head, or those of the English speakers’, but there you go.
Following the Taufe we had dinner at a lovely restaurant. The white asparagus (a German specialty) with pork medallions in bacon was especially notable, as was the strawberry tiramisu.
Aurelia got a nice gold ring on a necklace with the date of her baptism on it, a silver bracelet, and a heavy silver acorn on a leather band for when she’s older (acorns have become her symbol– it’s a long story).
Other than that it’s been business as usual, and I’m busy writing the exams for Uni Dortmund.
This has been an uplifting week, Andrea’s birthday (on the 9th), Mother’s day(13th), and Aurelia has learned to smile.
Aurelia now weighs about five and a half kilograms and you can really tell that she’s grown by comparing her to the photographs of when she first came. she’s two centimetres longer, much heavier and a bit chubbier too. The biggest growth has been her personality. She’s quite content to lie down and stare at the ceiling or windows (which fascinate her), play on her play mat, dribble copiously and gurgle at anything colourful. She’s sleeping a lot better and crying a lot less. She’s learned to smile, which I will try not to gush too much about but, it’s just. lovely.
She’s to be christened next weekend, I’ll write something about it later.
I got Andrea some pearl earrings for her birthday and Aurelia made her a card (I may have helped slightly).
In other news, my German course has begun and it’s going well. There are about twelve participants and eight of them are Polish, which was rather amusing in the introductory session. (Ich komme aus England, Ich komme aus Russland, Ich komme aus Polen, Ich komme aus Polen, Ich komme aus Polen, Ich komme aus Polen Polen, Polen, Polen, Polen…)
There is also another English speaker, she’s from
We’ve been inundated with all manner of small pink things since Aurelia arrived, but there have also been a few presents for the parents too. Here’s one that may interest you: Scho-ka-kola.
It’s basically chocolate with kola nut and coffee in it, that’s rather a lot of caffeine. Anyway, I didn’t know this when a friend dropped over some chocolates ‘to keep you awake’. Well, I’ll be damned if I didn’t just eat three of them straight off, and a fourth a little later on (I’m not good with sweets of any kind).
Predictably, I spent a very productive afternoon zooming about with high motivation. Then a shaky evening with the jitters. Then a long and tedious night without sleep. Then a tired and flaky morning, which was much improved with a far more frugal dose of Scho-ka-kola.
I’m serious, this stuff really works. In the war it was given to Luftwaffe pilots to improve their performance, but if they had the jitters like I did then it’s no wonder that the Battle of Britain turned out like it did.
In fact, I had one on a Friday afternoon whilst teaching a client.
“Drugs!” he said with a knowing wink.
“Would you like one?” I said.
“No thank you…” he said, indicating his Coca-Cola.
He’s certainly no fool.
Lectures are going well at the university, work is going well with
accelingua Educom and freelance work is going well with my private students. A student from one of the above sources recently sidled up to me at the end of the session with a guilty look on his face.
‘uh-oh’ I thought.
He came closer, with a look on his face that said ‘I have something very important to say, but I don’t know if you’re going to like it’.
This is what he actually said.
Him: “You are British, yes?”
Him: “So you know about the Britain?”
Me: “Yes. Quite a lot, actually.” (Thinks: ‘He’s going to ask me if I know the Queen, isn’t he?’)
Him: “Do you know…” (edging closer)
Him: “Do you know…” (in a conspiratorial whisper)
Him: “…Craig David?”
I do know Craig David, as it happens. Know of him, rather.
He’s a rather underrated singer who, much to the disappointment of my student, no German has ever heard of apart from him. We had a quick chat about Craig David and what a good singer he is.
This caused me to have a flashback, twenty minutes later, to a comedy series called Bo Selecta, in which a crazy bloke did many bad impressions of various celebrities. Craig David was one of them. I was smiling all the way home at this rather strange memory.
On the 21st, our daughter Aurelia joined the world. Words can’t properly express the amazing and profound feelings that becoming a parent evokes.
Life has changed in a way so subtle, yet so obvious. She’s such a small addition, but the impact she has made is huge.
The last nine days have been such a busy adjustment that updating the blog, working, anything and everything else really, has been impossible.
She’s beautiful, funny and with a surprising amount of personality for someone in just their second week of life. She likes classical and rock music, she doesn’t like the cold, she’s not sure what to make of the basil plant in the kitchen (but the smell of it makes her pull a most adorable face).
I will return to work next week.
The time seems to slow down more and more the longer we wait for the baby. On one hand this is maddeningly dull, on the other it’s a good opportunity to get some work done.
I’ve been working on the resources page of the website, mainly. the changes are not finished and haven’t gone live yet. But I’m adding a lot of materials. Mainly on the theme of travelling in English. There’s material on asking for and giving directions, info about airports and also some stuff on business fairs which may be useful to some.
The material is eclectic, to be sure, but once formed part of a larger syllabus – much of it is from the lectures I gave at Dortmund Uni last semester. Speaking of which, my work with them this semester is on hold until the baby is here and well.
I’ve picked up another course from the internet, a man living in Recklinghausen. The new URL might be pulling it’s weight already. It’s the sole reason I chose such an odd name; ‘www.englishrecklinghausen.com’ will hopefully increase my visibility for search engine queries for ‘English in Recklinghausen’, or similar.
Today is Mother’s Day, in Britain at least. My brother and I got Mum some flowers which she likes. Soon enough there’ll be another ‘Mother’s Day’ of sorts, but until then I’ll just have to hold on…