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.
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?