Heil to the Busführer.



Hail to the bus driver is a song which softens the heart when sung. When heard in England, that is. In the primary school charts it was second only to The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round but was a clear forerunner of Old MacDonald Had a Farm – on account of their over usage of vowels in general. The melody may be whistled, hummed or sung on the way back from school, lunchbox swinging in hand. Not a problem. But what about when you hear the same tune in Germany? Well I’ll tell you: it’s a completely different kettle of sausages. If you consider for a minute that “driver” translates to Führer! and “hail” translates to…well…Heil!, these once naïve notes take on a sinister shape and thus loses this innocent charm. I’m not suggesting that my neighbour in the changing room was advocating a return to nationalist indoctrine, but it certainly sent a shiver up my spine as I prepared my towel to use as a symbol of ownership over my chosen deckchair – I’ve become one of them! I will consider writing about “How to swim like a German”.

This year it hasn’t been appropriate to blog about my work; you don’t become the most successful premium automotive manufacturer in the globe ten years running if your interns are spilling the beans and sharing secrets on the world wide web. Nevertheless, in this post I will make a small exception because what I witnessed needs to be written about. Last week we were shooting around town organising the BMW Marketing Workshop 2013 which was a success all round. The content of the workshop will remain top secret but what I can inform the reader of is the great participation and the visit to the BMW Driving Academy in Maisach.

In a normal job you’d be annoyed at working for 12 hours without sitting down. Luckily for me, my military training kicked in and I was able to stay concentrated on the tasks in hand whilst staying on my feet for a day. Guillaume was not so forgiving and seemed mildly traumatised after giving an Audi Q7 a quick scrub a dub dub. He had a good time overall though, of course and was thrilled later in the day as you are about to find out.

The final day of the workshop took place in Fürstenfeldbruck, an old airbase which has provided the stage for a lot of interesting history in modern times. Breaking Faulty Towers’ regola numero uno, I feel obliged to explain that during the war it was a military airport belonging to the Luftwaffe. As my Dad always says: “A German joke iz no laughing matter!” a colleague did insist “Zis is ver ze Führer used to keep his toy planes”. Not sure whether to laugh or cry, I opted to follow the masses and chuckled off this humour even though it was very much on the political edge of what is wright and what is not. In fairness though, I suppose the Luftwaffe are now hilarious – in the sense that all known events, however sinister or tragic, will eventually become so caricatured in the present to the extent that they come full circle and are inevitably remembered as comical at least in part; David Mitchell cleverly uses the vikings raping and pillaging their way through Northern Europe as an example. But in all seriousness if the Luftwaffe being there wasn’t enough to tickle your historical armpit: there is also even more history to behold.

A camouflaged aircraft hanger with sign reading: “Fire and Smoking Forbidden”

Munich hosted the 1972 Olympic Games and there is a legacy of green spaces and sports that lives on in this fantastic city. Unfortunately, what the Games came to be remembered for were the tragic events which took place, I am refering to the kidnap and murder of Israeli athletes. The old air base was site of the Munich Massacre in which nine Israeli athletes were kidnapped  from the Olympic Village and flown via helicopter to Fürstenfeldbruck, where the terrorists believed they would be flown to a friendly Arab nation. After a botched rescue attempt by Bavarian Federal Police and Munich City Officers the majority of the athletes would not only never compete again, they would be tragically killed. As I stood on Friday marveling at the BMW M3 skidding around what is effectively our very own Top Gear track, I was expecting the Stig to pop out of the car and Clarkson to make a witty remark. Instead I was  I was struck by the thought of fighter jets taking off preparing to rain hell fire down on Great Britain and I took time to remember that less than thirty years after the Americans took control of West Germany, terror reigned again as Palestinian terrorists executed their captives and incinerated a helicopter containing four athletes. It’s certainly an airport that has drawn the attention of the world more than once.


Guillaume did manage to get a video of us in a BMW M3 driven by one of the nutty instructors and a video is available, but I’ve had a bit of an digital dysfunction and I can’t seem to get it up. Uploaded, that is. TO be honest, the video doesn’t really do justice to the experience at all, so in a way there’s no huge loss.

When you get back from a long day, all that you need in life is an Italian girl to cook you up a dreamy pasta. On Friday evening Susanna decided to take pity on the fact that I had no food in, and my extreme fatigue and she resurrected me with her traditional tuna pasta. We went for drinks with Pierre, Davide, Viviana and Julie which meant that I was outnumbered completely, but somehow the lingua franca remained English. The night was 100% Made in Munich as we trotted on down to Pascha in Sonnenstraße, here is where you find a goldmine of Schicki-Micki partygoers, or Munich’s elite. Some of the most horrific people in the world but in fairness they look bloody good. The only problem is: don’t they know it. We then were introduced to a friend of Davide’s: Federico from Torino and this man just walked the lot of us straight into the club without any money changing hands, that is because he regularly spends thousands per week in the establishment. Alright for some. As usual more French came crawling out of the woodworks like little termites but despite the stench of garlic, the night was deemed a success.

On Saturday, I eventually awoke from my slumber and met Nath and Ludo as well as some other international biffs in my gardens (Englischer Garten) and sort of invited myself to Ludo’s where he cooked a good pasta dish. Whilst gobbling down our carbohydrate for the night ahead, we witnessed a lady performing what I can only describe as a webcam dance in front of a laptop. Of course, in retaliation I felt it polite to dance back, which she seemed to find hilarious until Marlon (the son of the parents that Ludo lives with) decided it would be a good idea to shoot at her with a BB gun. I may have joined in. She was still laughing though, she understood that the gun was not intended to harm her, a promise which the weapon fulfilled. Our quest for happiness led us to a filthy corner of Hauptbahnhof, following Jess who was to be our Napoleon for the evening. She lead disappointingly more like Bonaparte’s Six Days Campaign as opposed to his First Italian Campaign. Saddened and dismayed by the percentage of clueless Australian backpackers in this youth hostel we had just arrived in who were lecturing us about “how we should travel the world and see all the nature that it’s got to offa'”, I decided it wasn’t Made in Munich enough for me and gave the reliable Pierre a ring who happened to be in Neuraum with the French (again). This is a club in which I always seem to find myself going to, but not out of choice.

On Sunday morning we left Neuraum and I was still surrounded by the frogs, at one stage even foolishly resorting to dusting off the GCSE skills in a bid to familiarise myself with my captors. We eventually had enough Call Me Maybe for one night and left the discotheque where we proceeded to stroll into town to satisfy Pierre’s undying urge to enjoy Weißwürstfrühstück at 7am. On the way from Hauptbahnhof (imagine a French person trying to enunciate that word, considering they don’t regard “h” as a consonant) I suggested it to Allison that we should run through the fountain at Karlplatz as a joke, but she took it seriously and we did it. She then called me a “coureur du jupon” which I didn’t understand but took as a compliment.

Eventually our hunger just about outweighed our fatigue and we settled for McDonald’s breakfast.

Unsurprisingly, my bewitching British accent continues to mean I face an onslaught of European attention which I am desperately trying to fight off with sticks and other assorted weaponry but I am becoming less and less successful in doing so. Such issues were delved into in more detail during a skype conference with Alex and Angus surely a highlight of the week so far. Those two – what are they like.

In online news, I have found a website which combines three things which I love: cars, comedy and caffeine. My website of the week is comediansincarsgettingcoffee.com which combines all three. Michael Richards takes a classic car, picks up a famous comedian and takes them for coffee. Even Ricky Gervais was given a good run for his money.


This post is written for my Grandpa Andrew Paul Fabian who is celebrating his 83rd birthday  in Devon the way everyone should: with good friends. With Grandpa’s experience, who could possibly doubt that visiting good friends is always a satisfying way to spend your time?

In terms of my dear old roommate Techno Tilmann, he and I are still getting on like an Apartmenthaus on fire and are a recipe for trouble when let loose on the Bavarian capital. Really looking forward to celebrating my birthday tomorrow, it should be a good turnout providing it doesn’t get rained off. I guess I will find out who my real friends are.
And that was the last blog post I shall write at the age of 20. Until next time.

Munich Half Marathon.


Ein Schriftsteller ist ein Mann, dem das Schreiben schwerer fällt als allen anderen Leuten.

~Thomas Mann

Good old Thomas – he knew a thing or two. The reason I have started with this quote is because it perfectly encompasses what I feel about writing. It explains how writing is more difficult for a writer than for everyone else but if you want a slightly more literal translation – it would go something like this: “A writer is a man for whom writing is more difficult than it is for all others”. Regardless of this I’ve got down to writing the blog this week and will be informing the reader of the main event, being the Marathon.

But first I would like to make an observation about luck. “That was lucky” you’re thinking – it’s just what I want to read about. The reason I want to write about this word is that it interests me greatly. There’s much talk in life of luck but noone agrees on what it is. People who are lucky seem also to be happy. Does that just depend on your perception? Does even feeling lucky, even if you aren’t, make you somehow more lucky? Either way, it’s happiness that most people seem to be trying to achieve. If you make your own luck, then does that mean you are also responsible for your own happiness too? What got me thinking about this was the Germans don’t distinguish between the two. Well, of course, it depends on the context, but the word for luck and happiness is the same: Glück. Naturally this was a pain for the translators of the film Happy-Go-Lucky  which ended up with the hopeless title of Unbeschwert, Sorglos, Leichtlebig (lit. blithe, carefree, easygoing).

I’ve also been very lucky in my life and I’m glad that I was lucky enough to participate in the Munich Half Marathon, something which I didn’t expect myself to want to do. Sometimes you meet people in life who inspire you and make you want to be a better person. You could say this has happened to me.

The big run.

On Sunday morning Ludo and I arose to run the Half Marathon. To our surprise, the weather was glorious and Munich was alive with colour for the first time since I can remember. The Germans were taking things quite seriously and were well kitted out, many choosing to sport tight running-wear, bright colours, Lara Croft-style belts with navigation systems, water bottles and lots of unnecessarily technology strapped onto them. It was at this moment in time when I realised, to my disappointment, that my socks weren’t matching. Awkward.

True to form, Ludo was one of these very well prepared people in lycra and a fluorescent top shining brighter than the sun. There was no worry of losing sight of him at least!

Highlights of the run included running into Ludo as he started to walk and pushing him until he began to run again. I also remember getting carried away in the moment and bellowing “Das Leben ist ein Marathon!” at some spectators in a bid to hype myself up for the final lap. The most mixed emotion I felt during the run occurred when I was overtaken by a man who must have been in his seventies who was brandishing crutches and screamed words of encouragement at me as he sprang haphazardly past me like a fearless mountain goat.

The run was harder than expected and my biggest challenge came when I tried to speed up on the final lap, I had zero gas left. I have utmost respect for those who have completed twice the distance the London Marathon etc. My time of 2hrs 6 minutes is distinctly unimpressive but I met my challenge which was not to walk at any point. Anyway I guess it’s all about the taking part that counts and the money raised for GOSH. Thanks again to all those kind donations from family and close friends, it means a lot. The page is still live so if you still feel like parting with a few pennies then head straight to http://www.justgiving.com/marcus-fabian.

Thanks go out especially to Angus who gave me great advice for training and to Anna who (albeit coincidentally) supported on the day. Thanks guys.

We are in Germany so it was almost inevitable that the run would be sponsored by a beer, even if it was a non-alcoholic one.

What better excuse to head down to the last evening of the München Frühlingsfest, the fourth beer festival of the year. Ludo and I had planned to celebrate with a couple of Maß in the Augustiner Zelt. Amazingly, Ludo and I managed to not see each other at Oktoberfest at all, not even once. Despite being there simultaneously we were both too inebriated to meet, at one point even both being in the same tent and still failing to coordinate a successful RV. The spring festival is of course much smaller than the Wies’n, but nevertheless we got a load of people down to the fest and celebrated our achievement the only way the Bavarians know; with litres of beer and an awful band. The Sunday evening was unbelievable, certainly a day to remember.

Man hört sich, man sieht sich” – Friends section:

Narnia Nath’s parents were in town and I was invited along to “meet the parents” because Nath is single. I always love meeting people’s parents, Nath and his Dad have all the same mannerisms. Great stuff. I hope they had a great time in Austria this weekend and thanks again for the grub!

Techno Tillman is my newest roommate and by far the most normal. Being from Berlin he listens to techno but not only to prepare him for a night out, we also have the pleasure of breakfast techno to ease us into the day as well as work techno to keep us productive during the day. At around 5pm a decision must be made as to whether we eventually graduate either to party techno if we’re partying or bedtime techno to prepare us for sleeping. Sweet electronic dreams. He also loves motorbikes, bikes, mountain biking. Basically if it involves two wheels he’s interested. He has taken part in some pretty brutal downhill races, has stories of injuries, jumps and accidents. He took part in an intense downhill race in the Alpe d’Huez called MegaAvalanche 2012 and recorded this video with a chest camera. It’s worth a watch just to see how suicidal the conditions are. What isn’t included in the video is the part where he breaks a pedal and goes down the mountain using one foot. He’s a madman but in a good way.

Since my last post I have learnt how to prepare and cook Schnitzel, the highlight of which was watching him tendering the meat and seeing his face as he used the full force of a frying pan to guarantee the bits of turkey he had purchased were in fact completely dead. Having experienced Disco David’s methodical process, I like to think I am now fully qualified to prepare and cook an authentic Bavarian delicacy.

Emmanuel (Mannu Malade) has finished his internship and is now doing bad things in Paris en famille, starting a degree in Real Estate Management at the rather swanky sounding “L’Institut Supérieur de Commerce et Gestion” in September.

Maintaining the unwritten rule of always having at least one very extrovert French friend to go out with until their placement ends. Jean-Rémy was replaced by Rémi who was replaced by Emmanuel. Guillaume has introduced me to “the two Pierres” who I believe will provide adequate Francophone fun for the next few months.

The biggest surprise in May has been that my friendship group is nicely still expanding and I’m still having such a great time in Munich.

Skandal in Stuttgart.

My lovely mother described me as a “fluffy bunny that has just arrived from another planet and started bumping into things” and with that I begin my first blog of the month of May. But first we must hark back to April, at the end of which two harrowing accounts of the weekend have been written by good friends Nath and Adam. Both blog posts are definitely worth a read if you want to gain more depth to the weekend. Links to these can be found at the end of this post.



Friday > Travel to Stuttgart

Nothing finishes off a week quite like a leisurely lunch at the astonishing BMW-Vierzylinder building. Wolfgang, Emmanuel and I opted for a five-star burger and chips, after we’d eaten our fill we went for a stroll as the sun was finally shining unashamedly in manufacturing heart of our beautiful city. Wishing Wolfgang well on his holiday in France and wishing Mannu a good rest of the afternoon, I left my colleagues and headed for the U3 Olympiazentrum with a spring in my step. A hop, skip and a jump and I was sitting in Marienplatz with Nath who had gathered necessary supplies for the weekend, namely sunglasses, sure for men/fauns, sausages and bread. This shopping basket was in many ways very predictable. Perhaps with hindsight, the purchase of sunglasses was tempting fate and in accordance with Sod’s Law the clouds began to darken as we embarked on our journey West across the border into the next federal state.

The transfer from Munich’s coach station (Hackerbrücke) to Stuttgart Flughafen was comfortable even if we were travelling on some stinky commuter bus with a bunch of plebs. During the journey we almost managed to convince Simon that Nath had been involved in a scuffle with police and was being held in custody in Munich over drugs charges and had consequently not been able to travel thereby tragically missing the connection and waving goodbye to a 15€ for DeinBus.de. “Was any of that actually true?” interrogated Simon knowingly and before we knew it the story had fallen apart.

I’d be lying if I wrote that beer hadn’t played a central role in brewing of the Year Abroad adventure. Some are now coming to then end of their placement years and their stories will come to an end. This group of German studying friends are called The Berlin Six. We’re a team and just like in all teams, substitutions have been made along the way as members have fallen by the wayside, but in spite of this we remain a sturdy sextet. Members of the Berlin 6 are strewn across the Fatherland living in major cities or at the very least in their suburbs, with the exception of Adam in Blankenburg and perhaps also Euan, although Wolfsburg will always be well-known as long as the headquarters of Volkswagen.

As part and parcel of the Year Abroad experience we, the six, can whole-heartedly say we’ve participated in lavish reunions starting in Munich, taking us to Hamburg and of course Berlin, and as of last weekend, what I assume was the last of our “great reunions” to celebrate Simon’s 21st at the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart. For those who don’t know, the Wasen (pronounced “vaah-zun”) is Baden-Württemberg’s feeble attempt at mimicking the world famous and unbeatably original Wies’n (pronounced “vee-zun”) know to most as the Oktoberfest. The rivalry between Bavaria and Baden-W is clear, the two states being similar both culturally and geographically by which I mean both are predominantly catholic and together make up the south of Germany. Baden-Württemberg can be described as a New Mexico, if Bavaria was the Texas of Deutschland. As an honorary Bavarian, I am supposed to turn my nose up at the mention of Baden-Württemberg disregarding the lot of them as a worthless inferior bunch of losers. But I’m nice so I don’t mention anything. However, competition is rife and competition is life: Stuttgart is the home of both Menacing Mercedes and Pretentious Porsche so I took my BMW keyring with me to keep me safe.

If I’m honest we didn’t feel welcome amongst the Swabians (don’t worry Simon this post will get positive at some stage, I promise) we were greeted  by disgruntled weather very soon after we left the heavenly Holy Free State of Bavaria and slipped into the marsh that is Baden-Württemberg. Perhaps the Gods were taking revenge on me for the sheer havoc Ludo and I wreaked in Tübingen during our school exchange way back during the Easter of 2009, the upshot of which being that along with an inexcusable number of our peers were raided by Polizei as we partied on an island in the middle of a river, causing one of our friends to be found too drunk and then being hospitalised and diagnosed with alcohol poisoning. In light of this desperate story, in which no-one appeared more heroic than John Hewitt-Jones, I was determined to show the Schwabens that we were ready to behave now, having spent five years on the naughty step.

After a pleasant journey, we arrived at the airport. Nath was first to look out of the coach window and spot Simon, whom again seemed to be pursing his lips and looking like a man with a plan. The way Simon was dressed in black and clutching his rucksack and looking at his shiny watch, I deduced that the weekend would involve a high frequency of “quick turnarounds”, “chivvying” and many a “rendez-vous”.

We checked into the hotel, where Simon had placed chocolates on our pillows in anticipation of our arrival, reinforcing my Mum’s belief that he will make a great husband. It looks like she might be onto something. We were introduced to Simon’s friends, Colin, Joey and the Italian girl, Mazza was it or Mazzi. Sorry Italian girl you were important to me but I forgot your name because it wasn’t an easy one to remember. Colin and Joey kept us entertained with their stories involving Simon speeding in Switzerland and with occasional updates about Stuart the office melt. Who actually, even though we were fed propaganda to persuade us that he was a volatile personality, he actually turned out to be a really nice guy who needed a bit of a hug. We were impressed with all of Simon’s lovely friends and we all knew that if we’d been in Stuttgart with him, we would have got to know them really well.

Simon managed to maintain a comfortable balance between sticking religiously to the timetable thereby making sure we met the objectives outlined and also at the same time his gentle nature ensured we Gentiles were all able to enjoy ourselves, even if some members of the group didn’t know where to draw the line and wound up sleeping in a bed of pringles (Adam Shaw, I’m looking at you). Unexpectedly but thankfully, Sara would also make an appearance and act as the Robin to Simon’s Batman for the course of the weekend, radioing in different sections, establishing ERV’s and coordinating attacks on some of the city’s most visited cocktail bars.

Saturday > on the Wasen

As previously mentioned it’s sort of like a post-apocalyptic take on Oktoberfest, or Oktoby as Barney lovingly calls it. Adam said it reminded him more of Hannover Volksfest in terms of size and I think I vaguely remember Euan nodding in agreement. That said the rides were extraordinary, noteworthy was an astonishing haunted house with a fountain of blood in the front garden. The weather was pretty dreary if we’re honest but Simon didn’t let that dampen spirits. He led us to our tent: the Göckelsmaier tent which had some inexplicable fetish involving chicken, which then justified decorating the entire place with them. Beer was flowing, music was being played and the atmosphere was starting to pick up. The best thing about these festivals are the difference between people drinking their first beer and people drinking their second. During the first many were still cursing themselves and nursing the hangover, but during the second we were all dancing on the tables as if it was perfectly acceptable, which of course it was. Then came the strange conversations. At one point we got onto the topic of Harry Potter, no-one dared question that Nonie would have been in Gryffindor, and Sara seemed to fit nicely into Ravenclaw which was all completely reasonable. I then almost dropped my Maß and looked around me in horror as I heard that everyone, everyone was synonymous when they agreed I would be in Slytherin. Upsetting stuff indeed, although I took it as a slight compliment, I mean, hey, at least I wasn’t in Hufflepuff with Euan.

Eventually, German punctuality gave us the boot and we were kicked off our tables like common criminals because our tables were strictly reserved from 11am until 4pm. Shortly afterwards we became caught in a sea of people and Scouse, Adam and I clung to each other like lions caught in a stampede of wilder beast  When we floated out the other end we were greeted with a cold shower but nevertheless pumped full of desire to ride rollercoasters. Dodgems were a highlight as Adam was flung about, eventually realising that reverse wasn’t the only gear that could be utilised. We then thought it would be a great idea to go very high up on some swings which was the equivalent of paying 5€ to be put into the heart of a tornado. Which is quite good value the more I think about it, but we were very cold as the wind and rain ripped into our skin and our leather shorts began to chafe.

A few missed calls, a train journey and a walk later, Scouse, Adam and managed to find the rest of the group Adam making only a slight detour to kick a pigeon that took a quick dislike to him (fair enough). With a little help from Simon and Sara, winners of Mr. & Mrs. Stuttgart 2013, we found ourselves sitting comfortably in a tapas bar in the city centre. We made the natural transition to the place to be in Stuttgart on a Saturday night: a cocktail bar called Mauritius, where Adam angered some nearby Muslim women having purchased some ham from LIDL and started to fashion different varieties of jewelry with said slices of pork. What he was doing was far from halal, but the ladies can’t have been all that religious sipping cocktails at 4,99€. Shortly afterwards our drinks we then briefly returned to the ‘fest and those who had missed out on roller-coasting were able to scream their heads off once again.

Sunday > Back to MUC

All to quickly the weekend was over. We checked out of the hotel and the next stop was Vapiano’s. Afterwards we had time for a little sightseeing and what better tour guides to have than Simon and Sara.

Many thanks to Simon for literally sorting everyone out and buying us presents even though it was his birthday, what a man. A very happy birthday to a great man and a fantastic friend, we’re lucky to have him. Thanks to his friends for integrating us nicely into the group and a massive apology to the pigeons of Stuttgart, we promise Adam will not be thinking up any more ways to practice avian athletics.

As promised the links to my friends’ accounts of the same weekend 26th-28th April 2013.

Snonie White & the Seven Dorks” ~Nath Thorpe 02.05.2013

Simply the Fest” ~Adam Shaw  30.04.2013

Go East: Life is simple there.

This post was written by guest writer Adam Shaw.



Last weekend I finally got a visit from Marcus. Naturally he had expressed a desire to venture East throughout the year but due to various ski-trips/beer festivals/driving lessons, rarely had the time or the funds to reach me. However, a few weeks back we had settled on a date in mid-April and after the standard umming and ahing, made the collective decision that if Marcus was to grace Blankenburg, it was now or never.

Throughout the year, whenever I have had to travel further afield, I have often complained about the sheer hassle involved in getting from A to B. I like to think that having done the journey in reverse, Marcus can now appreciate that although not physically draining, it requires a fair degree of planning and mental effort.

Anyway, he set off from Munich in fantastic spirits, resembling a Furby that had just been fed. After a quick joke where he pretended that the guy taking him to Halle had cancelled at the last minute (which I must admit, well and truly fooled me), we buoyantly shared a phone call and promised to speak before the next leg of his journey.

A few hours later and Marcus was in Halle. Everything had gone smoothly but due to the timetabling, he would have to wait at the station for a couple of hours. Here he was to first experience the downside of visiting someone who lives in the middle of nowhere. I needn’t have worried however as Marcus was absolutely fascinated with East Germany. As soon as he crossed the border from Bavaria, he acted as if he were Columbus discovering the New World. He highlighted the beautiful countryside as if Bavaria was just one giant city, marvelled at the lack of people and general greyness and came to realise that although being situated in the western part of the former East Germany, the whole region has a different mentality, regardless of geographical position.

This mentality was explored further on the way up to Blankenburg. Speaking to anyone and everyone, Marcus was particularly intrigued by those who had experienced life in the GDR and some of the restrictions they had faced. Seriousness soon vanished however when he was on part three of the journey in a taxi from Halberstadt to my temporary home. By this stage several beers had been sunk and although technically we were drinking alone, there was some sort of connection that made it seem as if we were in fact sharing a beer together. After an excitable conversation Marcus explained how he had ended up at the infamous Coma, Blankenburg’s one and only bar.

I met Marcus and after much jubilation at having seen one another, introduced him to some fellow Blankenburgers. He had heard much about the football team I had joined for the year and, inevitably, there was one of my teammates nearby. Coincidentally he was also called Marcus (with a C!) which created an immediate and unbreakable bond between the two. Even when German Marcus’ drunk friend came in and starting causing a minor fuss, leading English Marcus to confront the two of them, the recently blossomed friendship could not be harmed.

We drank and drank and drank. The highlight (aside from the beer) had to be how nice it was for us to sit around a table speaking endless German. Marcus and I only broke from this when we needed to say something serious about someone else. The company was great, including German Marcus, Max who I had previously met and on this occasion discovered he was a former German Luge Youth Champion and Marco who had an uncanny resemblance to a Who from The Grinch. The only negative part, for me at least, was drinking a shot prepared by Marcus, not knowing it contained an unhealthy amount of Tabasco and as a result spent five minutes mimicking a dog, panting with my tongue hanging out, desperate for it to cool down.

We left at closing time, which was somewhere around 4.30 and despite being small and no more than a bar; I like to think Coma gave all it’s got and that Marcus had a good time. In a rush of excitement, we felt the most suitable thing to do next would be to visit the Castle which overlooks the town. Although it looks fairly close, it is a steep climb to the top. However, when drunk and hyper, everything becomes easier. Aside from the abandoned buildings, they just become creepier. We headed up with a couple of beers each and took in the views as Blankenburg twinkled below us. Unfortunately coldness and tiredness overcame us quite quickly and as a result only drank about half a beer each and missed the sunrise. It had been a long day and an eventful evening but above all, it was great to have Marcus in the Harz.

We woke up late the next day and I for one felt hideous. After a lazy morning, we finally got ourselves together and headed out for some lunch. As with all my visitors, I recommended the Potato House as the top place to eat. I further advised Marcus to try the fried potatoes with bacon, onions and fried eggs which he took and enjoyed immensely. I opted for soup due to a somewhat delicate stomach and after a coke or two, felt a lot better. Marcus now has a theory that cola is to me what spinach is to Popeye. If Popeye got hangovers.

Again, as with most of my visitors, we headed for Thale. Marcus continued to be in awe of rural East Germany as we wound through the country roads on the bus. We headed up the craggy mountain via the cable car and after a few snaps, made our way towards the Harzbob. The Harzbob is a toboggan run through the woods which is surprisingly lengthy and allows you to get up to a decent speed. Marcus and I had perhaps a bit too much fun on it and had we not checked the time, would have missed the last car down. Still, it was worth the rush to experience hurtling down the shoot separately and together – even if Marcus did insist I drove blind during the latter.

With the sun setting over the peaks, Marcus again found himself stumped by the beauty of the Harz region although in this instance, it was more than justified. At dusk we headed over to Saunawelt to relax having convinced ourselves that it wouldn’t be awkward. It turned out not to be although all German liberalism on display in the saunas goes out the window once two men are spotted together. We got a fair few confused looks, even when we weren’t speaking English, but despite all this came out feeling relaxed. As on previous trips to the sauna complex, the highlight was the Witches’ Sauna. Here we experienced a menthol session during the ‘Good Night Sauna’ and despite almost blinding us, was extremely cleansing. We paid our bills (Marcus racking up 22 Euros including a whisky and ginger ale and half a litre of tomato juice) and took a taxi back to Blankenburg.

The ride back gave Marcus the chance to pick the brains of another former GDR resident. He was a great bloke, explaining how the restriction on travel he experienced years ago pretty much remains the same due to his financial situation. He also mentioned that life was simpler during Socialist times, overcome with the ‘Ostalgie’ phenomenon. Despite mild hints of racism leading to a few awkward pauses, it was a great journey back which rounded off a great day. There was still time for epic Skype sessions with Angus and Mahmood before we were once again crippled by tiredness and decided to give another night at Coma a miss having done more than enough that day.

We realised Sunday would be a case of getting up and heading off to Halle. I decided to accompany Marcus and after another chilled morning, we reached the former state capital and found somewhere for lunch. As if an evening at Saunawelt hadn’t been enough, we settled on an Italian restaurant decorated with false street lamps and large paintings with romantic music softly playing in the background. To further the mood the waiter immediately lit a candle for us as we made the decision to eat the pizzas we were so desperately craving before quickly getting back to the station.

The pizzas were superb, Marcus rewarded my loyalty in travelling with him by paying for my meal and as we headed back in the sun, it was clear that the time had gone too quickly. We parted ways at the platform and from what I could tell; Marcus had had a great time. He certainly didn’t seem to mind taking the time and effort to get here and as we frequently said, he would have surely regretted it had he not. I have no doubts that Marcus is in love with Munich. If he knew he was going to have money, it would certainly be a place he could consider for permanent residence. Yet I also sense that he appreciated what living in an unknown area can be like. It might not have thousands of people walking the streets or be dotted with major landmarks but for different reasons, it’s certainly likable.

~By Adam Shaw

To read my version of events on Adam’s blog click here.

Licence to become Führer: access denied.



Gone are the days of the weekly update but fear not: Marcus’ digital diary recommences. In this post I will be including a bit about Easter (admittedly overdue) instructions of how to fail a driving test in German as well as touching on my new roommate, but not like that.

Far-Eastern Felix has gone back to Karlsruhe Insitute for Technology to write his Master thesis. I imagine our paths cross in the future, we certainly became great friends and learnt a lot from each other. What do I mean by a lot? Well, he  introduced me to Germo-Chinese cuisine and taught me to love Chairman Mau.

Interesting to note is that the Chinese apparently still seem to think of the British as we used to be in the 19th Century, kitted out with top hats, pipes and what have you. Felix learnt of the hazards associated with eating bacon and eggs with chopsticks and that it is possible to watch entertainment which doesn’t involve either the Japanese or anime. A truly great man.


Easter in the Isle of Wight

All of a sudden it was Easter and I was happy to be able to spend it with my family. Managing to tear myself away from Justin Bieber’s promising concert in the Olympic Park, I made my way to the airport. I’m not someone who has ever had a problem whilst travelling, not that I can remember at least so you can imagine my surprise when two minutes before boarding I heard my name over the tannoy in not one but two languages. As I stood up and made my way over to the desk, the crowd parted like the red sea. They were clearly wondering whether I was a criminal on the run or guessing how many explosives I had sewn into my jacket. Travelling with two passports at the time didn’t exactly help live down this fugitive aspect of my character. I thought I was done for. Where are the police, take me away, I thought. I was expecting to appear on the front page headlines the morning after and I cursed myself for being so accommodating to that charming Albanian chap who asked if there was space in my suitcase for him and his family.

The reality was rather unexciting and the BA staff had “deleted my travel details” so I struck up a conversation with the nice lady whose son was also doing a Year Abroad, in the hope that my fellow passengers would see that I was clean to fly. I boarded a plane and flew back to London from chilly Munich. Auntie Sue played a cameo role and was to be our chauffeur for the evening. We headed back to a brand new refurbished house in a sleepy London suburb for quiche. It was perfect. Mum even managed to get hold of some Weihenstephan (a Bavarian beer), presumably she had assumed that I would refuse anything less than German-brewed beverages. She was right. The purpose of the visit was to visit my slightly nutty but adorable family at Fabian Regis (the Isle of Wight homestead) to see pater, mater and my three not so l little brothers Fabians Major, Minor and Minimus. I couldn’t wait to catch up with my family and have a good old chin wag. Hopefully I would still be clinging onto the title of tallest brother. Against stiff competition, titles such as cleverest brother and sportiest brother, as well as most musical brother and even best-looking brother have all slipped through my fingers, however I am glad to report that tallest I do remain.  I suppose we’re a bit like the spice girls. Sort of. I mean there’s a few fundamental differences like gender before we even get into performance ability. During the bank holiday weekend, a fab time was had by all, racing demon seemed to be a somewhat compulsory activity as was fine dining and of course it wouldn’t have been Easter without the traditional Easter egg hunt in the garden.


That’s what Dads are for.

New roommate

In accordance with the communist theme, my new roommate comes from Russia, not with love but rather with two suitcases. If you’ve read a fair bit of the blog you’ll know that my housemates obtained nicknames to flesh out their characters. A reminder to those who might have missed out on the fun, I started off living with Macbook Matthias (proud to say that he was the fifth person into the Apple store in Regent Street) Reini der Schweini who was often naked when I came home from work, Bavarian Ben was the most conservative and most stereotypically German housemate, next in the running came Far-Eastern Felix a successful mechanical engineer from China who referred to Mau as “The Chairman” making him sound more like a wrestler than a dictator. For consistency, the bestowing of nicknames will continue, I was more than happy to welcome my new roommate Soviet Serguei (Cоветский Сергей) to Motorstraße or as my boss refers to it: Mordor. Managing the transition from Far-Eastern Felix to Soviet Serguei has been simple. The first thing Serguei did was cover the light spot on the wall where Felix’s portrait of Mau had previously shone with a portrait of Vladimir Putin who looks simultaneously intimidating and yet forgiving. here is the image for your enjoyment.

Putin sa mere.

Back to Munich

Having ventured back from the UK, I arrived to find that Niklas was back from his adventures in Italy and Helena was also in Munich, being an utter Trojan and pretending to fight off various attackers but ending up letting her fortress get invaded by suitors who have pledged to wed her. She partakes in a great night out and never fails to seduce our friends which makes for a great spectator sport. Ten out of ten.

And now some sad news to report: the German Driving licence looks like it’s gone down the drain which is a shame really – it would have sat nicely alongside my Iranian marriage certificate and Taiwanese tax return. Maybe another time. It did make me think though, you’re asking for problems, politically speaking, if you make it available to attain a licence to become Führer. Will the Germans ever change?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of blaming it all on a nasty driving instructor, I just genuinely drove awfully during the test. “But what went wrong?” people asked, amazed that I hadn’t passed. For example, things got off to a bad start, when I drove off with the handbrake on. From then on I knew it was going to take some seriously good driving to pass. It was more a question of what did I do right, than what I did wrong. Lesson learnt: do not argue with the driving instructor about theory even if you are right. He may fail you to show you he can. I didn’t crash, or cause a crash, so surely that’s a pass? But unlike the forgiving DVLA in the UK, where learners are prohibited from driving on the motorway, in Germany, an ability to drive safely on the Autobahn is considered paramount to learning to drive. Thus it is a part of the training and rears its head in the practical test. Essentially, learning to drive in Germany is like learning to play Mario Kart on Rainbow Road.  I was penalised for not hitting 80 quick enough, and also cruising at 75 for a small stretch where I thought, since it was the test, I’d be on the safe side. Understandably, driving too slow is actually worse than driving too fast because it could cause rear traffic to brake creating a domino effect of breaking and resulting in accidents and traffic. No-one’s impressed by it of course, but the Grandparents reassured me and explained that those who don’t pass first time are better drivers for it. Definitely not a positive moment in my Year Abroad but a highlight nonetheless. Probably karma of some form. Obviously I would have preferred to pass first time, but I guess that’s just karma. Cold chicken karma.

The people that know me well knew that I would only react to comedy, and told me their best stories of relatives who had failed five times. The most reassuring of which had to be David’s, he was told to drive back five minutes into his test having smashed the wing mirror off another car as he was passing it. Oh well, I guess I’ll just do the licence in the UK then, providing I get used to driving on the left…

Important weather update: Angela Merkel decided to cut costs by removing spring from 2013 and extending the brutal winter, to compensate for the lovely weather in Southern Europe. The only thing this has meant is that we have gone straight from Weimar Winter to Sri-Lankan Summer in a matter of hours. That what happens when the “problem countries” refused to sacrifice their sunshine. The result of this weather is that everyone is out and about and grilling meat whenever they find an excuse to do so.

Some of you might know already, I am undertaking to run the Munich Half Marathon on the 5th of May with my friend Ludo and training is going superbly. I’m up at 5am twice a week to run 15-20km, cycling 50km a week and swimming a bit just to keep the body is ticking over. I’m looking to raise £1000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital to which there is an important emotional connection. We’re 10% of the way there, but with only 20 days to go, it would be great if we could get a bit closer to the target. If you would like to read more you can do so by clicking on the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/marcus-fabian.

“We need to raise £50 million each year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund essential research. Amazing things happen at Great Ormond Street Hospital every day. With your help we can keep the magic alive for our very ill children & their families.”


Barney’s Birthday Bonanza.



It’s always good to start with a quote, this one is from one of my favourite songs. Don’t worry I haven’t set up a tumblr account and gone vegan, it just started playing on my iPod as I left Berlin on Sunday afternoon and I thought it would be a good way to start this post which will describe the people and events from last weekend.

No persuasion whatsoever has ever been needed to get me travelling to Berlin, a city that I can now boast to have visited just under ten times since I first went with Ludo in 2009. Notably, my mate Simon even managed to persuade me to go on a whim one Sunday evening following a lunch at the Royal Park Pub. As soon as I received the call from Barney, it was on. Swanky restaurants, meeting new people and lots of birthday celebration was in order. Over the weekend our leader set a cracking pace, both in terms of walking speed and event management. After two nights in Berlin I woke up with more stamps on my hands than there are days in the week. It is true; Berlin never disappoints, but for that you pay a physical price. In spite of this, a week on, you start to miss the relaxed lifestyle they have in the Wild Wild East. This story begins Friday 15th March or Independence Day, for the Hungarians amongst you.


Thanks to a hiccup from Nath, I took the ICE (Inter-City-Express train) from Munich to Berlin. As cliché as it sounds, trains here in Germany run more smoothly and are just generally more efficient, which I admit is an obvious and boring fact to state, especially given the poor (albeit improving) state of affairs in the UK. As Inglorious Ingo always used to say, the best thing about travelling with the Deutsche Bahn is that they make occasional announcements in English. These consist of polite greetings such as: “Lädies end Gentellmen, velcom on board zee I-C-E to Stralsund, vee vish you a pläsent journey”. Other than that, not much happened on the journey, other than some fairly attractive girls got on at Augsburg. For the time being, we’ll refer to them as Augsbabes. In my experience these girls are all foam and no Weißbier. Having said that, my experience is based almost exclusively on a volleyball player of Lithuanian origin, but still. They overheard me speaking British English on the phone and had a huge debate about which British actors sounded the best. Predictably, Hugh Grant came out on top.

I won’t bother translating the title. You’re better off not knowing.

But my sense of flattery was about to come to an abrupt halt when we stopped at Nuremberg. The seat next to me suddenly became occupied by a portly lady and things took a turn for the worse. For a short while everything appeared to be normal. She poured herself into her seat, took out a book and began to read. Perfectly legit, I thought to myself, nothing wrong with that. This was until she started getting slightly too interactive with the book, stroking the pages as she read, caressing them as she breathlessly soared through the novel. When she took a break to catch her breath, I realised from the title and strange picture of the author that it was a curious sort of book (see right).

The journey continued. After a few more hours of gorgeous fields, we started to ascend and suddenly the trees became increasingly coniferous and a few pretty inches of snow covered the rocky outcrops. Having spotted a Netto with both SCHEISSE and FREIHEIT carefully spray-painted onto it, followed by two youths stood next to a tractor watching a bonfire, I presumed we had arrived in the former East Germany and as it turned out I was right. We weren’t far from Leipzig.

Berliner Barney.

Eventually I arrived in the country’s capital and marvelled at the architecture of Hauptbahnhof as I took about seven escalators up to find the S-Bahn. How can one station have so many levels, I wondered. I have clearly turned into a small town mouse during my time in Munich. As I tried to get over my initial astonishment, I began to think of which train station the Germans would have converted into their extravagant Londoner Hauptbahnhof, had they been successful seventy years ago. Waterloo seems like the obvious choice? Or perhaps Victoria? King’s Cross seems unlikely, though , whereas Stratford seems like a clear contenter for Ostbahnhof. Or would they have just started from scratch? These were all questions that sprang to mind as I took my seat on the S-Bahn to Charlottenburg, West Berlin, home to Prosecco Barney. Gloriously, this part of town also happens to be twinned with Lewisham in South London. This dawned upon me after I read that two streets away from the flat ran a long thoroughfare called Lewishamstraße. Initially, I reckoned I was either experiencing some kind of optical illusion or last night’s Jäger was still talking. However, it was the real deal: the areas are twinned! Citing the infallible wikipedia as my source, let’s take a moment to appreciate the London borough’s other other international ties; namely with Antony, France and Matagalpa, Nicaragua. Fascinating stuff, I think you’ll agree.

Having rang Barney upon my arrival I was given a slightly worrying set of orders. I was told to meet him in LIDL, near the Russian Supermarket – the sort of directions that would make even urban heavyweights such as Liam Neeson take a second look at Google Maps. Having eventually found a sufficiently suspicious Russian cafe, I cleverly put two and two together, rounded the corner to find the gangster grocery. Clearly every Mafia boss’ wife had sent out her hubby and son to fetch groceries in a Mercedes M-Class, the perfect midsize SUV for the family mobster. I looked marginally out of place as I waited outside. If this was some sort of Oxford initiation then it wasn’t very funny.

Barney and two friends Josh & Ed kindly came to pick me up as I had resorted to asking passers-by if they knew where LIDL was. One clueless Frenchwoman had no intention of helping me and also made no attempt to hide that she was offended that I’d asked her. We then did a quick shop at said budget supermarket to get a few essentials in. Beer and crisps seemed to be fairly high on the agenda, as well as some outrageously cheap wine which would soon unimpress the girls. After brief introductions and a few drinks it was time to head off to one of Berlin’s most exclusive restaurants, Spindler & Klatt. We ate fantastically, I personally opted for Sushi which was good and the whole group seemed to enjoy the food. The coolest thing (literally) about this eaterie were a) the DJ whose unfortunate choice of T-shirt meant that he looked both serious and naked and b) the loos. They were large walk-in boxes made out of corrugated iron, and in the gents the urinal was full to the brim with kilos upon kilos of ice. I think this says it all, really. As well as being strangely satisfying, pissing on ice makes you feel quite important. That was my first time pissing on ice and I can definitely recommend it. Although, sadly I don’t think Phillip Schofield would feel comfortable presenting such a show. Perhaps on Channel 5, but it certainly wouldn’t be up to ITV’s standard.

We then headed to Warschauer Straße, in East Berlin and where the word “edgy” was thrown around almost without justification. The bar we were heading to happened to be having a Hungarian Folk Dancing evening and we sort of just joined in with it as if it was the most normal thing in the world. It appeared to be a sort of Hungarian flash mob, but it transpired that the 15th of March is an annual celebration commemorating the revolution of 1848. After a round of shots which didn’t taste like any of the flavours they had promised to reflect, Ella and I agreed it was time to kick off the dancing. A few minutes later and we were hands on shoulders dancing round in circles with some friendly Hungarians. Eventually everyone came over to our way of thinking, and the whole team were all dancing some form of jig involving turning and simultaneously stamping whilst holding hands and moving round in circles. By the time we’d stamped our last stamp, we were on our way to the club opposite, the infamous Cassiopeia. This is a club which brought back many memories for me. After all, Berlin was the city in which I experienced the concept of clubbing for the first time. It has a simple layout, two dancefloors up- and downstairs, complete with table football and a large outside area which increases the capacity five-fold during the warm summer evenings.

By this stage in the evening I started to feel as if I had a good enough rapport with the group and I was honoured that I had been accepted into their midst, despite being a martyr and insisting on taking photos of “the real team”. It sort of felt like I knew them quite well, as if I had started as a Fresher at Somerville in 2010 and was one of those basket cases you hear about who takes a load of drugs and ends up in a coma, having woken up missing both first, second and most of third year (buddy). It was sort of like I’d known the group for ages even though I couldn’t relate to any of the stories they were telling or any of the characters that featured. It occurred to me that it is perhaps a good exercise to join a tight-knit friendship group, it offers perspective which you wouldn’t normally be able to experience when surrounded by the comfort of your own friends. Sort of like a documentary by Louis Theroux. The team included Katy, Sam, Liv, Ed, Molly, Ella, Josh and of course the man of the moment: Barney. And I think they were some of the most charming people I ever met, there must be an compulsory charm seminar that you take at Oxford. To them I was effectively a complete outsider to the group, because they all studied together at university but in spite of this they made a big effort to include me, explaining different terminology specific to Oxford: including “Crew dates” where they would end up “sconcing” their friends. The most spoken of whom was Stephane, German by blood by British in his heart. Story after story was told about him, without end. More on him later – now back to the content.

After a good stint at Cassiopeia, we then proceeded to an inconspicuous club round the corner in the same complex, but alas our platoon had been decimated and only a mere section remained. All the rest had made the sensible decision and retreated before dawn. Casualties that remained included Barney, Katy, Liv and myself. The day after we were all so shattered we got nothing done, but it was good to just have a lazy day. I think if I hadn’t already done Berlin 100 times I would have been keen to get about but otherwise we were good to vegetate in the flat, only to step out blinking into the daylight to eat currywurst, withdraw more cash and nip into the Jaguar-Land Rover Showroom.

The big event.

Saturday night was the main event, the moment we had all been waiting for. With a bit of help from pop star Finn Martin (a contender to be Germany’s entry for the Eurovision song contest, if I understood him correctly) Barney had managed to organise a series of visits to the city’s most exclusive restaurants and clubs. The highlight of which, unanimously agreed, was the official Birthday Meal; a private dining function at member’s club, Soho House Berlin. Interesting to comment here, is that although the Kaufhaus Jonaß is now occupied by the club, previous tenants included The Hitler Youth and later the Institute for Marxism & Leninism. But I still like to think we made history, to an extent. We were almost certainly better behaved than both parties. Well, definitely no worse than the Hitler Youth, but yet not quite as dull the Marxists must have been.

It was a shame that Nonie couldn’t make it, because she was in Budapest but there was still much to talk about as we got to know her friend Alice. It was really interesting to hear from her about her experience at St. Andrew’s and their crazy Harry Potter-style traditions (for want of a less coarse phrase) in contrast to her life as a language assistant in Europe’s second largest city. The meal was of course extravagant and everyone seemed very impressed with the dining indeed. We enjoyed five-star food, wine and of course vibrant and captivating company. Ed also confirmed it was a successful evening, announcing at one point that he “didn’t feel stressed”, so I guess it was a success all round, despite Josh’s best efforts to send crockery flying in all directions.

Barney then co-ordinated a perfectly smooth transition to our next destination. A convoy of taxis to Cookiesthe Schicki-Micki club in the capital) where we would meet Finn the German pop star. People were more excited for the arrival of the infamous Stephane and, after a hectic day of voyaging back from a skiing holiday via Hamburg, the chap eventually managed to meet us outside the club. After a good spell of dancing and drinking, I ended the time in the club randomly winning a porcelain camel as part of a promotion. Camel in hand, we set off to a bar near Moritzplatz, Kreuzberg and despite pumping ourselves full of complex carbohydrates en route, the alcohol meant that some members of the team were starting to show signs of fatigue. But Berlin refused to let us sleep. Once we were done in the “edgy bar”, we set off to our third event of the evening/morning. After a quick tour of a nearby roundabout in arctic conditions, we found ourselves stood outside the club in Ritterstraße at around 5.30am. On the walk there Sam felt it was time to voice his concerns, understandably referring to the sketchy area as being akin to “some sort of dystopian nightmare”.

“Camel, camel on the wall. Who is the edgiest of them all?”

At 8am on a Sunday morning, you really need to summon up all the motivation you possibly can, in order to party on. I’m not sure what’s more ridiculous, taking a camel into a club or the someone actually offered to buy my camel for 11€. I seem to remember having a couple of shots of Jägermeister with Ed and then fist pumping my camel at randomers in the club. Who’s edgy now, Mr. East Berlin?


Berlin taxi drivers understandably didn’t want to lose their licences just because we wanted to get home, so I manned up and took one for the team, taking the U-Bahn and S-Bahn home solo, and getting some disapproving looks from roughly 84% of people I came into contact with. All too soon the weekend was over and despite The Bank of Fabian losing it’s AAA rating I’m of course overjoyed that I was invited to such a prestigious and key event in Barney’s calender. Thanks to everyone who made it a fab weekend, especially to Barney for a fantastic weekend of unbeatable generosity and hospitality, I am confident he enjoyed it, too which is of course the main thing. Now I need to start thinking about my own 21st.

Arsenal Expects.



Arsenal 2 – 0 Bayern (agg 3-3)*

Arsenal expected every player will do his duty. Just like Admiral Lord Nelson coughing out his last breaths after being brought down by a firearm, the Gunners kept their promise until the dying minutes.

Wednesday 13th March 2013

Here is a brief run-down of Wednesday’s events, a match report and of course a lash report. Also included are photos and a brief summary from Bavarian Ben. On the Wednesday, Sam flew down from Hamburg in the morning and by the afternoon he was in the office. He met my boss and a colleague and we got the expensive coffees in, which I pretended was completely standard even though it’s only my second nice coffee. Said colleague, namely Jan, had a car spare and offered to take Sam for a spin in the BMW 3 Series Touring Sport Line Edition, kitted out with all M accessories. We got up to 240kmph on the Autobahn Richtung Freising, impressed to see that it accelerated smoothly up to 80kmph. We were able to enjoy that Sheer Driving Pleasure that comes only from driving a BMW and show Sam  a bit about the features that our cars have. It’s only two litres though so it does struggle to accelerate upwards from 130kmph. My boss gave me the nod and I was allowed to leave work early. Then the magic key began to glow…

At the Hofbräuhaus our livers were about to take a battering and little did we know FC Bayern would also be subjected to a football-shaped battering of their own. What the Arsenal support may have lacked in manners, they more than made up for in queuing performance. It’s true, we Brits know how to queue and in London we have our most seasoned queuers and queueees.

Despite being a massive Palace fan, I was happy to associate with the boys from North London. All it took was to pull Sam’s scarf over my shoulders and like that I had pulled the wool over their eyes. It was great to fulfil the Germans view of us as being 80% hooligans. If you’ve been keeping fairly up to date with the blog, then you might have noticed a pattern that fulfilling stereotypes seems to be becoming a somewhat worryingly regular occurrence in my life now.


My favourite quote of the night came from an unsightly ruffian stood behind me who, not afraid to voice his frustration, spontaneously declared:

Fa two years he’s dan nuffin. Naaffin! Give it ta Gervinho“.~ Anonymous yet charismatic Arsenal Fan.

If there was any logic connecting these two concepts, then I was blissfully unaware of any and began to do what all well-to-do South Londoners know how to do: blend in with the Great Unwashed. I turned round and nodded vigorously at the man, desperately trying to give us some common ground in the hope that he would think I was saying “I was just thinking that myself” and subsequently wouldn’t growl at me. However, it was as if the poor man’s shouts fell on deaf ears as he struggled to make himself understood. Wenger didn’t bat an eyelid and play continued.

There was a mutual respect between the fans of the two teams after the game, in line with UEFA’s campaign. But I guess Bayern were just so shocked to be beaten at home. And rightly so. It was unanimously appreciated that Arsenal had earned their consolation win, yet real celebration couldn’t be justified as on paper they had technically been knocked out another team brought low by the bloody away goal. Although I think more factors need to be taken into account. Any goals that Brits score away should take into account a) how much stronger our currency is than theirs and b) how much atmosphere a team creates. Still, at least they managed to wipe off any smug grins off precious Bavarian faces.

I spent my lunch break with Jan and his mate Eddy. Eddy happened to have got hold of a BMW 7 Series which is a great car because the seats have a back massage mode. This year I’ve become akin to some sort of Saudi Prince you is shocked when his translator informs him that some people drive cars without being simultaneously massaged by a robot. We have some new cars at work soon after my test in April so we shall see, in the meantime I still need to pass my theory test next week before I even have a shot at the practical part. Wish me luck!

After the match.

Yesterday morning, I was getting funny looks in the office and I was told I had a suspiciously happy air about me, for a Thursday morning. Have I mentioned the Germans are poignantly observant? I had what I can only describe as that “je ne sais quoi”  that one can only acquire when one’s team has been victorious the day before. To watch Arsenal soar to victory was really the stuff of dreams and we couldn’t have hoped for any better for the boys from North London. Obviously, it would have been ideal for them to slot another goal and progress to the quarter final, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m not sure who I hate more, Bayern or United. Bavarian Ben of course supports both teams which makes him a crime to football. In response to my inquiry about the outcome he writes with bias, understatement and condescension about  how Bayern didn’t deliver the best performance and that he was disappointed with the result. He went on to express how I should be glad that I saw the most beautiful stadium in the world, and at least I got to see a game. He concludes with slightly barbed wishes hoping that I enjoy the rest of my time in Germany.

“Servus, naja also gestern hat Bayern nicht gerade die beste Leistung abgeliefert. Ich war eher enttäuscht. Na dann hast du wenigstens mal das schönste Stadion der Welt von sehen können und auch ein Spiel erleben dürfen Mir geht es gut danke. Hoffe bei dir ist auch alles bestens und du geniesst noch deine Zeit hier in Deutschland” ~Bayerischer Ben

Arsenal are fantastic away supporters, they never gave up. Da Boiz, vey dun us praad, san. I wish Sam and Natalie a great trip to Barcelona and look forward now to Simon’s 21st at the Frühlingsfest in Stuttgart. Time to sleep, Berlin calls!