Barney’s Birthday Bonanza.


madeinberlin

findthetime

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.

ICE ICE Baby.

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?

Hometime.

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.

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Starkbierfest and the Autobahn.


#madeinmunich

#madeinmunich

Starkbierfest is what it says on the Stein.

I don’t want to start off by saying it was better than Oktoberfest, but it was certainly a contender for second-best beer festival. Remi and I planned to go to the Fest as our last big night together in Munich and all was set for the big day when we began to queue outside Paulaner am Nockherberg in the afternoon. Admittedly there were aspects of it that were better than the frankly overcrowded Wies’n. Firstly, I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the absolute babes that turned up. I have honestly never seen more beautiful women in one place. And that’s coming from someone who’s been to Tequila on a Thursday. But as opposed to Tequila’s remarkably low marriage rates, 80% these gorgeous Bavarian princesses were fit to marry, seeming to walk straight out of a fairytale. But it wouldn’t be a fairytale without a few trolls and a couple of ugly sisters to make up the last fifth.

With the exception of the first day, beer can be ordered from 9am onwards at the Oktoberfest. At the Starkbierfest, however, doors don’t even open until the early afternoon. Most beer at Oktoberfest was around the 5% mark, whereas the “Strong-beer-festival” beer is not really beer, it’s almost a wine, with its alcohol concentration hovering dangerously around the 11% mark, this is because it traditionally is the cooked remains of the Oktoberfestbier. Do the maths. If people started drinking this through the morning, they would be more than twice as drunk as at Oktoberfest, for twice as long. That’s fairly annihilated indeed. Thank God then that doors opened at two in the afternoon. Presumably there is some sort of correlation between how many world wars your country has started and what time you let people start drinking. Now I don’t claim to be Bavaria’s answer to Nostradamus, but I’m guessing that shortly after World War III people will get let in perhaps at 1500hrs. And rightly so.

Bavarian Speaking Cash machine.

The day was great, much singing and drinking and cheering etc. The highlight of which was when I took advantage of a quiet crowd to coerce them into singing “Country Roads by John Denver” managing to get enough people to sing along with me such that the and changed their schedule and decided to join in. Having realised our wallets were empty, we embarked on a mission to get cash. There was only one cash machine and of course charged an extortionate rate, but at least it had a language option of Bavarian German (Boarisch) which made me and David (another colleague) chuckle for probably a bit too long. Shortly after this, David and I agreed that heaven would be some form of Bavarian Beer festival. Think about it, what more could you possibly need? Friendly and approachable people to talk to, gorgeous women dancing around in a tasteful fashion. All the beer you could drink in a lifetime. It would  never get boring. It couldn’t. It wouldn’t even be possible. Having sank four Steins, it was pushing eleven o’clock. And with that in mind, Julia (a rather attractive au pair from New York) and I headed to Jan’s house party which was taking place at Theresienwiese, exactly where Oktoberfest takes place. Myself dressed in Lederhosen and my accomplice dressed in a full dirndl, we looked like we had fallen out of a faulty time-machine, arriving at Oktoberfest at the dead of night but at least we were within six months. Not bad time-travelling. After a few drinks with Jan and co it was home time.

The rest of the weekend was spent recovering from Friday and Saturday nights and preparing for the week ahead.

On the evening of Monday the 11th March I had my first driving lesson on the Autobahn. After a nice spell on the country roads (Landstraße), we drove to the airport and onto the Autobahn back to Munich. This system contrasts with the English driving schools where I believe you aren’t permitted to drive on the motorway with a learner plate, however in Germany this is not only encouraged but it is an obligatory part of learning to drive. No speed limits, rapid overtaking and unmarked police cars equipped with cameras are all part of the fun. You just have to strap in a get ready for the ride. I settled into Richgeschwindigkeit of 130kmph pretty comfortably and I took the BMW One Series up to 160kmh which was a great feeling. Forget fifth gear, I though to myself as I shot straight from fourth into sixth. The lesson went well and I only made a couple of mistakes, mainly entering built up areas at twice the speed allowed. Note to self: decelerate to 50kmph before the yellow signs appear. Some of the signposts were hidden by trees though, in my defence. I do need to make sure I don’t get carried away going from 50-60 kmph even though the difference really is minute.

Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to some friends of ours. Philip is going off to start his masters, but also bravely starting a three week trip to Coventry to visit his girlfriend. Lisa is leaving us to go and study in Australia and Rémi is off to join Euan in Wolfsburg at the Automotive Giant that is Volkswagen.

In other news, Sam is preparing for his trip to Munich tomorrow and we are both going to watch the last British team in the Champions League as Arsenal come to the Allianz Arena in a clash against the dominant Bayern Munich. On Friday, the Berlin trip begins along with Barney’s Birthday Bonanza.

Festivities with the Fabulous Fabian Four.


mim

It seems a while since I fell asleep at Franz-Josef Flughafen before making my flight back to London Heathrow for the Christmas break. The holiday was unfortunately just a measly eight days long, but luckily it didn’t fly past. I put this down to what they call in the army “concurrent activity”. In spite of my “kein Urlaubsanspruch” (German: “no right to question why you have zero holiday”) we managed to fit a lot in, despite  constantly ticking of the clock. This post is a summary of the past two weeks of fun in which I stay in London and the Isle of Wight but travel to unknown territories including as far afield as the international towns of Windsor, Henley, Reading and Acton. Put on your reading glasses, you’ll need them. This post is ridiculously long. By the end of it you will be well and truly updated on 16 days of Marcus Fabian.

So this story begins by being abandoned by Greggers on a bench at Terminal 2 Munich Airport, so he could connect to the flight from Singapore to Manchester (that well travelled route). We had decided to go up on the Friday night, because neither of us trusted ourselves to wake up in time to catch the train to the airport. Instead we thought, go the night before, get a few beers in etc. I managed to wake up with plenty of time to board my early morning flight and as I settled down in my seat and listened to the sweet British accents of the flight attendants. As I touched down in London I was looking forward to making use of a private luxury service, namely the Terminal 5/Dulwich shuttle. The USS Land Cruiser Amazon has already undertaken many lunar landings in its time and completed many successful return missions, so I was confident when I stepped into the Toyota. Somewhat co-incidentally it is driven by my Dad!

A truly unbeatable car.

Upon arrival in the British Isles, I was expecting a sea of unhappy faces, kids with cauliflower ears, a faint but sweet waft of BO in the air and of course the dismal dismal weather. I was only right about the latter of these. That’s when I knew I was home. The familiar weather did not disappoint, in the sense that it did, of course, disappoint. I thought gloomy and miserable was bad, but jokes aside, the country had been brought to a standstill due to flooding. The sort of convenient standstill that happened to coincide with the festive season. This weather does seem to be following me wherever I go at the moment. Meanwhile they had the warmest Christmas on record in Munich, it was 21 degrees on Christmas Eve.

Once I was back, I seemed to be out every night with the Fabians. Not your average student house parties, where everyone inexplicably wants to either drink cheap vodka mixed with batter-acid or inhale nitrous-oxide from balloons like annoying clowns. No, this was something très chic, sophisticated: les parties à la Champagne. The first festivity was on the 22nd – it was party time at the Elliott’s!

The Elliott’s. Winners of Putney’s Best Looking Family, four years running!

There was of course much good cheer to be shared around as well as a fantastic and professional Indian-style buffet dinner. Here is a picture of me and my brothers, to prove how fun it was. Apologies for how odd we all look, and thanks to Milo for keeping it together.

The Fabulous Fabian Four. From the left: myself (20) , Ned (14), Alfie (18) and Milo (16).

We managed to do the religious version of a pub crawl; visiting church thrice in two days. Consider my sins well and truly forgiven. I should have made the cut for purgatory now. It was worth it to Thanks to the Kötterings we had another superb Xmas eve. Then the big day came. I was looking forward to the promise of chunky chicken soup, but we had to make do with a brilliant turkey put on by Aunties Sue and Jill. It really was a feast. The turkey was about the size of a Ford Fiesta, except with more birdpower and less horse. It was great to see Grandpa & Eryll, Auntie Sue, Auntie Jill, Gwen, William, Tiffany and all at Granny’s in the gorgeous suburb of Penge-sur-Mer. Many presents were shared around and it was indeed a logistical triumph. Good to catch up with everyone.

During the morning of Boxing Day, the hearty footballing tradition was honoured. This year was an especially muddy occasion. With all the flooding etc, it was an absolute mud bath. I have long since forgotten the score but it was an evenly matched game and fair play was maintained, well refereed by Dad. In the evening, we made our pilgrimage to the Mecca of Hampshire: an island just south of England. When we arrived at the cottage, we discovered that our house had been broken into! My brothers and I unfortunately saw the funny side of the situation, which is that our technology is so far behind the times, that it wasn’t worth stealing. After a few more slightly insensitive jokes e.g. “Wait! Shall we check if they remembered to write in the visitors’ book?” Before we knew what had hit us, we had Hampshire Police in and the whole place was crawling with detectives within a matter of hours. And by crawling I mean , someone even came off a tea break to come and take a “closer look”. And by detectives, I mean one officer. The thing is, at Isle of Wight Police Training college they take most of their classes are mainly accustomed to dealing with toaster fires. Anything more and it’s frankly escalated quickly up to MI5.

If you’re waiting for a series of CSI Seaview, you could be waiting a while.  With utmost professionalism, the police informed us that we could clear up the mess left by the criminal “if we wanted to”. Great advice. Anyway, once that malarkey was sorted (footprints photographed, fingerprints scanned) we could finally enjoy the white Isle. No I’m not referring to Ibiza, but the infamous Isle of Wight, just south of Portsmouth. My parents are very lucky to have a house down there. It means when someone asks you where you summer you can immediately respond in a casual manner: “yar, we usually summer in Seaview”.

The Isle of Wight

An interesting fact about Seaview is that it is the part of the British Isles most recently invaded by the French. I bet you didn’t know that Adam Shaw. Obviously, the French clearly didn’t put up too much of a fight. They landed their ships, started trying to set fire to stuff, at which point the Islanders started wearily opening shutters and wandering out of various drinking holes presumably dressed in grubby brown clothes and throwing “all manner of objects” at the French forces. You can imagine tipsy old men waddling away from their casks of ale hurling pots and pans and peanuts at the French whilst swearing a lot. Fortunately for Britain, the French hadn’t experienced such barbaric fighting for a while and consequently had no idea how to react. As a result, they naturally ended up scarpering back to the land of brioche and brie. Or perhaps a rogue messenger had rushed to them shaking his head and explaining that there were still “no plans to set up a Waitrose par excellence” on the island. Presumably due to this lack of European food, they vanished. Either way, to this day Seaviewers are proud that, whilst the Mary Rose admittedly took a turn for the worse (#awkward, considering how much it costed), they fought off the second sly invasion of the frogs.

A plaque in the village reads:

“During the last invasion of this country hundreds of French troops landed on the foreshore nearby. This armed invasion was bloodily defeated and repulsed by local militia 21st July 1545”.

We watched a few films over the festive period including The Holiday, Blade Runner and Titanic. I would like to share with you Ned’s thought for the day at the time. He grinned at us, completely out of the blue: “There’s a guy at my school who can whistle whilst smiling”. Thanks for that Ned. Now we understand why your nickname at school is Nutty Ned.

On the 28th I travelled up to London to witness 21 years of Brogan O’Neill! She has had such an impact on the universe despite only being alive for a fraction of its existence. Amazing. The location of Bar Rumba did not disappoint. It was a sort of massive basement in Piccadilly Circus with a bar attached to it. Although initially the extravagant London prices took some getting used to, it was great to see all the old housemates and their friends again, especially the girls who I hadn’t seen for ages. It was a good turnout indeed. One memory that sticks in the mind is the look on Angus’ face when he was told that the two sambucas he had spontaneously ordered came to nine pounds and fifty English pence. His reaction was definitely worth more than he paid for the drinks. Shortly after eleven, Angus and I found ourselves a bit strapped for cash (the £19.95 Woo Woos had taken us a bit by surprise) so we ventured outside the club in search of a banking corporation, with which we could negotiate an increased cash injection to fuel the rest of our night. We struggled to find a cash point initially, to our immediate disgust. Then  it dawned upon us. We were near Chinatown. Angus and I looked at each other. Pretty much in unison, we realized we must be just a chopstick’s throw from a branch of HSBC. After all it is the world’s local bank, we thought to ourselves. So we trotted on down to the Far-Eastern themed part of town (Felix would be proud). We punched in our pins and withdrew copious amounts of sterling. You’d have thought that was that. But it wasn’t. By this time, our walking had got the better of us and we both wanted to make use of the “lavatorial facilities” available nearby.

It was the restaurant above the bank that tempted us inside as we stood in a waterfall of wafting ginger. Our sole objective was to utilize the toilet facilities. When Angus suggested a small sit-down, I thought nothing of it. But once we were both sat down and menus were placed into our hands… we shrugged at each other and wrinkled our noses, for we both knew: it was Game Over. Ten hot pancakes, six chicken skewers and a half of duck later (no, that’s not the Chinese version of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”) and we had filled our boots. Half an hour later and we were back in the club. What’s more, it wasn’t even midnight yet! You shall go to the ball Cinderella! But the London ladies inside were no fairytale princesses. After a few more hours of tiresome Gangnam style (how can one video make so many idiots think that they can dance?) a punctual minibus convoy back to Windsor was organized, where a kebab and a hotel room would await us. You know you’ve made it into the big time when you wake up in  Travelodge overlooking Windsor & Eton Central Railway Station. Living the dream! Again, many thanks to beautiful Brogan and her great parents, a fab night was had by all. On Saturday morning, I was lucky enough to be able to accompany Angus to Henley to see Mother Wooding and all the hilarious birds that she keeps. Twit twoo!

Indeed. The steaks were high.

Indeed. And they were also delicious. (Image: courtesy of Angus’ Lumia 920)

By the afternoon we were ready to take the train to London from Reading. Of course we ate at Aberdeen Angus Steak House in Leicester Square. After a witty check-in, within minutes our incisors were chomping through delicious Scottish-reared red meat. The only downside being that unfortunately, they missed the vital ingredient to garlic butter, namely the garlic. But the butter was good. It even had green stuff in it, to distinguish it from normal butter.

Actin’ up in Acton Town

During the day we had been in touch with Alex and Robbie (aka the Kittler Youth) and we were privileged enough to be invited along to one of their mate’s houses for pre-drinks. Just a nice, casual pre-drinks. It of course wasn’t long before drinking games started and absolute chaos ensued. After agreeing that the Russian Vodka was in fact fairly Standard, I could tell we were well on our way. We took the tube somewhere. We weren’t lost, but we just didn’t know where we were at the time. Until our knight in Pakistani armour arrived, that is. A rickshaw driver appeared out of nowhere and just in the nick of time. Long story short, we took a rickshaw to tigertiger. Definitely one of the best touristy things I have ever done in London.

Myself, the Kittler Youth and Sir Angus Wooding of Henley-upon-Thames.

Wooding dusting off his French skills and became the eleventh Englishman to approach a French girl in the history of time. He had a French girlfriend so it comes fairly easily to him. But I didn’t let Angus show the rest of us up. Keen to butt in and shake up the dynamic (no change there then), I opted for a joke which is always a risk when it comes to the French.

“Est-ce qu’il y a des tigres dans l’interieure?” ~Marcus.

And it worked an absolute dream. Within seconds the French girls were giggling away. They loved it. After a good night of unleashing balloons on people and paying £33.20 for two double vodka cranberries and two Jägerbombs (yes, I have got the receipt) we eventually staggered out of the club onto the Circus and did the standard post-club, pre-crib fast food run. Our chain of choice was McDonald’s in this case. Robbie and co finished the night very relaxed indeed and we were all glad for those that came. So the weekend drew to a close as we woke up a bit hungover in Acton Town. I still owe John for the taxi, but I have promised to get the first drinks in when he comes to Leeds next academic year. A tube, a train, a ferry and a lift and I was back on the Isle of Wight.

It was during this train journey that I started to wonder: what made Britain great? The tea, the sugar, the Indians, the double-decker buses, the fox-hunting, the industrial revolution, the slaves, the sandwich, Bond? All of those things. But what stands out for me, having not been around for the past four months, is that we British are unrivalled when it comes to Customer Service. Now whether that’s because we’re basically polite or because we actually care about people or both – remains to be debated. But people selling you things will actively seek to help you out. They will try to get you the best deal, even though they don’t get paid extra for it. Nine times out of ten, they will be genuine and friendly. Of course the Germans have lots to learn when it comes to being nice. This aspect of British culture is something that really stood out when I returned over the Christmas period. No bloody wonder then, that we took over the world. We probably charmed our way into anchoring up in the world’s harbors. Once we’d made clear it was “an imperial thing”, we then started to give people helpful directions in their own countries. Making them do everything on the left, so that we could raise our swords on the right hand side. This management, it’s in our blood. When people look back at the various empires throughout history, I bet the British one will get the best score on TripAdvisor. Oh the great sea-faring, peace-keeping and directional-assisting nation we are.

I realised that when I’ve been in Munich, I’ve missed apologising to people all the time, regardless of whether I am actually sorry or not. I have missed walking in a straight line through crowds. I have missed desperately trying not to make eye contact with people on the tube (and if you accidentally do make contact, you are both shamed into looking away immediately again). I love Britain and I love being a Londoner. What a fabulous multi-cultural city we are privileged to live in. But sometimes the city does get a bit too much. It’s at this point that one retreats to one’s hobbit hole. I was back on the train to Portsmouth Harbour calling at Woking, Guildford, Haslemere, Petersfield, Havant, Fratton, Portsmouth and Southsea and Portsmouth Harbour. A family outing had been planned, we went to watch the The Hobbit in Ryde Cinema.

Martin Freeman captured Bilbo’s split personality perfectly.

So one of the main characters is Thorin Oakenshield (pictured below). He is essentially Middle-Earth’s answer to Spencer from Made in Chelsea (only with Olly’s former haircut). Thorin son of Thráin, son of Thrór, King Under the Mountain is reported to be auditioning for Season 2 of Made in Mordor. His only discredit being he needed to be airlifted out of battle by eagles. You can’t always rely on Ctrl+Alt+Gandalf to bail you out. Come on Thorin, you’re better than that.

Made in Mordor

Thorin son of Thráin, son of Thrór (King Under the Mountain)

After a nice relaxing New Year’s Eve, it was time to plod on back to Munich. The route from the Isle of Wight to Germany is a well trodden one. It is essentially a competition of how many different types of transport you can use in under 12 hours. Ferry > Train > Coach > Shuttle > Plane >S-Bahn > U-Bahn > Walk. And you’re home. It’s as easy as that. You whack on some Jason Derülo, sit back and enjoy the journey. I have to admit, a tear rolled down my cheek as I watched the English countryside rush past before my eyes. The pastures green, the Guildford golfers. Pomp and Circumstance started to play as I watched the quaint cottages, the private schools and the sheep fly past. The journey went well and I eventually made it back to Bavaria.

Since being back in Munich, I have registered at the driving school and started learning the theory. All in German. Went for an Afghani (doesn’t sound great does it) and I was half expecting to read Road-Side orders of potato, spinach or semtex. Hattie and I discussed a potential Double Date at Dachau (not a blog title anyone wants to be subjected to, however convenient its alliteration). And I spent the best part of Sunday 6th Jan performing CPR on a massive black man as part of a first-aid course.

Munich is of course not the same without Rémi and without Jean-Rémy. Or as I call them, “One and a Half Rémys” (the French version of Two and a Half Men). Nevertheless, Monday morning came and the new interns arrived. And what do new interns mean? They mean new nicknames. Guillame is Jean-Rémy’s successor. It didn’t take long to work this one out. He has invaded and his name is the French version of William. Can you hazard a guess as to what it might be? The nickname Guillaume le Conquérant sprang immediately to mind. That’s that sorted then. Guillame le Premier d’Angleterre aka William the Conqueror aka William the Bastard. Not sure how he will respond to this as of yet. I’m sure it will be fine though. The French know how to take a joke, right?

In the meantime I have set Far-Eastern Felix up with a hot Chinese. And I’m not talking about a take-away. I’m talking about a Chinese woman who I met in Starbucks. Having spoken to her briefly I assumed she’d know him in some way. Yes that’s right Marcus. All Chinese people know each other. Just because there’s lots of them does not necessarily make them more sociable. I’m an international matchmaker! Although I may have had a shocker because as Felix explained, Chinese women seem younger than they actually are. She turns out to be a manager of some kind. Oops!

A big thanks to everyone who has helped me out in the past year, it would be unrealistic to hope for a more exciting year than 2012, but let’s just cross our fingers that 2013 is above average rather than below. Even though, the core few were seen, there were a few people I didn’t get to see at the end of December.

All the better to Leeds you with.

There are so many people I look forward to seeing when I’m next back. It was really nice to be reunited with parents, brothers, grandparents, godparents, aunties and friends. If you made it this far down then – thanks for reading. And also get back to what you should be doing.

Weihnachtsmärkte, Weißbier & Woody Allen.


mimIt’s that time of week. Time for another notch on my blog post.

On Friday evening I met up with my Personal Tutor, Mandy who is Director of German Language Teaching at the University of Leeds as well as being a DAAD Lektorin. She is THE persion to know when it comes to the realm of Germanistik. We agreed to meet outside the Apple Store at Marienplatz and go and have a drink (non-alcoholic) somewhere. Upon hearing of our well-planned date, Ed Gallaway (who left without paying for his beer last week) then decided it would be a good idea to third-wheel us. I wasn’t quite sure how he’d got wind of it in the first place, but it was good to catch up with him too, even if he did insist on taking us on some mad wild goose chase around the back streets of the old city centre. Having stepped through a french window at the back entrace of a restaurant, we eventually got ourselves sat down in Paulaner im Thal. Little did I know this wouldn’t be the last time I would visit this place. We had an Apfelschorle (it’s just fizzy apple juice, but the Germans get a bit overexcited about it). I managed to speak almost entirely in German and I was happy to hear that my German has apparently improved a lot. Tick!

Back at the Wohnheim, Remi le Roi cooked a fantastic meal and introduced me to some of his colleagues, Sebastian, Christian (such German names), Melissa and Francis (fairly French names, yet all four admitted to being German – hmm…). He cooked a load of “délicieux” French food and even cracked open a bottle of cognac that his parents had brought him, presumably to really kick the evening off. Upon polishing off a bottle of red, he proudly declared “ca de plus que les bosches n’auront pas” which roughly means: “That’s at least something that the Germans can’t take away from us”.

“Ein echter Pirat sticht auch ins rote Meer” ~Christian.

Having just about finished a three-course meal after ten we headed off to Niklas’ highly anticipated Hau5 Party. After a few minutes of brief interrogation of  Frnehcman (almost always neccessary) Remi was eventually admitted to the event. I had thought this process would run slightly more smoothly, but when in Germany, such administrative tasks become the norm: where are you from, who the hell even are you, why are you here, are you working in the country, are you Greek/Italian/Spanish etc). Niklas eventually handed poor Remi’s ID card back to him and we were admitted to the flat. As we opened the door, Jean-Remy shouted “Mahlzeit Marcuuuus” – and then we knew. We knew that everyone was completely and utterly battered. Prince Charming was pouring red wine into his belly-button (for some reason, and showing off his hairy chest to some LMU girls). He is usually more charming than that. I promise. As per usual, Ingo (wiz zee cool hair) came out with another cracking Sprichwort at the house party:

“Woher nehmen, wenn nicht stehlen?”~Ingo (when opening himself a beer).
Where should I get it if I don’t steal it?

We made our way to Ruby in Stachus and a good night was had by all. Drinks were flying around, shots were all over the shop, Remi was falling all over the place, Jean-Remy was blind drink. All of these memories are hilarious. What I will say to my apprentice Christophe is the following: “Christophe you have learnt much along the road of Babology. Your powers are becoming stronger”.

On Saturday I woke up and recovered from a brutal hangover. The ingredients of the hangover potion are ancient, but contain a modern twist. Force a Frenchman to watch British comedy. We started off with the Inbetweeners, but Remi didn’t warm to it – mainly because he was suspicious of Jay’s British hair.

Sorry Jay, you’re just too British. Especially your hair.

Continuing my Bavarian travels, I visited Nuremburg (Franken) on Sunday, in order to see the world famous Christmas Markets. At Hauptbahnhof we met the MESA Erasmus Group and they sorted out tickets for us. I also happened to bump into my mate who plays Basketball for MTSV Schwabing. They had a match against Bayreuth in the afternoon. This is one of the things I quite like about Munich. It’s a city in its own right, of course, but it’s still small enough that you are constantly bumping into people. On the registration list, I managed to just about scribble down United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a tiny box intended for one word,  which I found pretty hilarious until I saw a column of “Italy, Italy, italia, Italy” , at which point I looked up only to find that there were lots of very confused bearded men looking at me with an air of scepticism. “Eh Marco, why you write so many word for country?” Whilst waiting for the international biffs to eventually put pen to paper, I did what Londoners do on a daily basis – strike up conversation with a Polish person. Medical Maciek (as he was known from the start) is studying Medicine (surprise surprise) here at LMU but is from Krakow.  I could tell me and Maciek were going to get on from the start, as his first impressions of the city were the same as mine. We quickly became friends and planned what we were going to do in Nuremburg. Upon arrival, we were both disappointed with the “English weather” and decided it would be best to hunker down in a Bierkeller somewhere until the dreariness had blown over. So that’s exactly what we did. We headed to the Hofmühl Bierkeller, a stone’s throw from the main Christmas markets.

We exchanged stories and he explained how cheap and awesome everything is in Krakow, whilst we took a look at the menu. Bearing in mind it was coming up to one o’clock, I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to order a beer. Maciek felt otherwise and we both got a Weiß‘ in. Then came the food. I ordered not six, not eight but TEN Nürnberger Würstchen with a side order of Saurkraut. (Andere Länder, andere Sitten). And they were fantastic sausages. After digesting our meals, we felt it would be best to end on a high. So the desert menus were brought to us immediately. Of course we ordered the most Bavarian thing on the menu. Apfelstrudel with custard, pomegranate, laiced in a wild berry sauce. It was to die for. Undoubtedly the best Apfelstrudel that I have ever tasted/ever will taste. During the course of the meal Maicek and I realised we share a love for Woody Allen and Weißbier. After the food we wandered around the markets tasting all the different varieties of Glühwein. It was amazing.

On Monday, Far-Eastern Felix cooked a Chinese (what else?). For someone who is more of an Indian-lover at heart, it was difficult to get that excited about. Having said that, the soup was great and Felix invited his mate Joe (not Farrag) as well. Joe is also a Chinaman (of course) but has slightly more dubious opinions about the communist party and basically thinks that Chairman Mao saved the Chinese people from themselves. To me, this was like waving a Chinese flag at a bull and I refused to accept his rather patronising explanation of how amazing this tyrant eradicated hunger and mobilized Chinese industry such that it has become a leading world power. Some of which is a fair point. Who cares about systematic human rights abuse when you are exporting little McDonald’s toys by the millions.

Tuesday night was the big night. Dreckige Dienstags, Troublesome Tuesdays – call it what you will. We were out, we were about and it was another Tuesday night in Munich. We found ourselves in Paulaner im Thal with a massive table. The Weißbier was flowing and “Other Bethan ” also made a cameo appearance. It wasn’t long after that our good friend Ben turned up. Ben lives in the Bavarian State Parliament as part of an exchange with St. John’s College, Oxford. He very kindly sorted us out with drinks and led us on a candlelit tour of the Bavarian State Parliament. It was fascinating to see the place from an insider’s perspective.

Two lions on the shirt. (Where it all began)

Two lions on the shirt. (Where it all began)

Prosecco Barney and Myself

Prosecco Barney and Myself

Treating German politics with the respect it deserves

Treating German politics with the respect it deserves

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

You know it was a big night when

Enjoying the post so far Bethan?

Wednesday was a night of recovery, but on Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Izzy, Nath, Greggers and Alex Smith (a friend of Ed Gallaway’s also studying German at Leeds). We all went to Tollwood and had a really “toll” time. As per usual plenty of Glühwein was consumed but it was also time to say goodbye to Izzy, who is going to be in Toulouse for the remainder of her Year Abroad.

Tonight (Thursday night) I am on the Tollwood again for a last shindig with Jean-Remy, Juliette, Lena and Sisom, all of whom won’t be with us in January. Sisom is starting a proper job in Frankfurt and we all wish him the best, and Lena is finishing off her Master’s in Kaiserslautern. Maybe we will see each other at Oktoberfest 2013? It will be a shame to say goodbye to all of them but especially JR, who has taught me a lot since I have been here. No more allegorical Allied Table Football competitions where JR would surrender to the Hun as soon as we let in one goal, leaving me (brave old Tommy) all alone to fight the Jerries. Alas, it shouldn’t be the last we see of each other as he is hopefully heading to London with his girlfriend in February! From everyone here we wish them the best of luck in London.

Oktoberfest memories

Oktoberfest memories

JR & Juliette

JR & Juliette. We will miss you!

Speaking of London, I am looking forward to heading home on Saturday morning, even if only for a short while. It will be great to see family and friends again. Greggers and I are heading to the airport Friday night, to make extra sure that we won’t miss our early morning flights. I regret to inform you that we won’t be travelling in leather. We haven’t become completely Bavarian. Yet.

2012: what a year!

London, England. Agenda:

  • sip tea on British Airways flight
  • arrive in LHR
  • use the Royal Mail (even though I have no need)
  • ring someone from a red phonebox (also unneccessary)
  • top up oyster card (unfortunately very neccessary)
  • party at the Elliott’s (22nd)
  • Dad’s birthday (23rd)
  • Xmas eve and Day
  • Boxing Day football
  • drink optimal champagne
  • drink good wine
  • drink awful beer
  • make jokes about the Germans
  • Isle of Wight (26th-27th)
  • Brogan’s 21st (28th)
  • pre-drinks with Prince Harry
  • eat scrambled eggs & bacon sarnies with the Queen
  • Windsor/London
  • New Year’s eve (31st)
  • Fly home (1st)

If you are around in London on the 29th, 20th or 31st and have any ideas, then do get in touch. Nächster Halt: London Heathrow. Bitte zurückbleiben. In the meantime, if anyone would like to feed me, clothe me and put a roof over my head on the 29th, 30th and 31st of December, do let me know – I will be very grateful and also very homeless.

A Merry Christmas to all my readers and a Happy New Year!

Mein Krampf.


Last Wednesday I headed off to Stammtisch with Rémi and his mate Francis at Sausalitos im Thal, round the corner from Marienplatz. It was a good night if a little bit warm, but I guess that’s what you get when you go to a Mexican restaurant. Actual humidity comes free of charge. “It’s actually hot – just like in Mexico!”, exclaim overexcited Germans, probably.

The day after we arranged to visit Niklas because he has a bad foot. It was so good to see him again on Thursday and hear that he’s enjoying being back at University. We all wish him a speedy recovery with his injury, which is on the mend already. The highlight of the evening had to be Lena trying to encourage Esperanza to speak German, in order to learn. With a well-meaning but disastrous translation from German she firmly declared: “Esperanza. You really need to exercise”. This obviously caused a raucous cacophony of domino laughter, realising one after the other, what exactly had happened.

On Friday evening I had found myself craving an Indian. I’m referring to the food of course, not some jolly rickshaw driver. Although that would be useful in terms of commuting. Having said that: Monday morning on the Frankfurter Ring is hectic enough – it would probably go down like a Zeppelin crammed full of Nazi Gold. So Barney had found a great Curry house coincidentally round the corner from Ludo’s (he was in Austria at the time though so unfortunately missed out). Before meeting Barney at Lehel, I bumped into the first colleague, in what was going to be a very colleague-infested weekend. Good old Eric was on his way to Oslo to see his girlfriend. After a brief chat, the infamous Prosecco Barney turned up. We made our way to the restaurant and not only was the service excellent, but the meal went down a treat. Barney also exposed me to the inner workings of the Oxford Crew Dates. Needless to say, the evening wasn’t quite as apocalyptic as these Oxford students sound. Afterwards we were off for a drink in the Fünf Höfe. It was then that I bumped into Mohamed, another colleague from the department. Very random indeed. Barney and I had a few cocktails with JR and Juliette and a couple of Barney’s acquaintances turned up. A fairly early night was had by all as most people had planned to do some form of sport on the Saturday.

On Saturday morning I arose and decided to go for a jog with a springy Frenchman. Jean-Remy destroys most French stereotypes, he doesn’t smoke cigarillos, he doesn’t have one of those Garlic necklaces they’re so fond of, but he is often late. This wasn’t the case on Saturday when we met outside the Olympische Schwimmhalle, located somewhat unsurprisingly, in the Olympic Park (which hosted the 1972 Games) . Unlike many frogs, he doesn’t carry a white flag in his back pocket, not even for emergency use. Comical stereotyping to one side, the French are of course, usually first to surrender. This also wasn’t the case as JR, like some mad Norman warrior started shooting off “up the mountain”. I most certainly didn’t do Her Majesty proud as I stumbled up the hill after him. In fairness, I did have horrific cramp (hence the title of this post).

“You love Munich, Marcus. But your belly, he does not love Munich so much.” ~ Jean-Remy

The run was never going to turn out well because JR is fit as a flea, but at least I turned up. It’s the taking part that counts, right? No, it’s not the taking part the counts, it’s the not-being-last that counts. To make things worse, the the pool was closed for the filming of a dubious German TV show. The best way to explain it is the German equivalent of Dancing on Ice, but rather than dancing on the ice like civilised people, they somehow create a show by forcing C-list celebrities to spontaneously dive. When it comes to ideas for awful TV, the Germans really have thought of everything, including an annoying title to accompany it with: Das große TV Total Turmspringen 2012.

So we jogged to Nordbad, another pool which was “nearby”. It was a pretty well designed pool although had the odd length of 33m indoors. It did also have a heated outdoor section. It turned out to be very similar to Michaelibad, only located just south of the Olympic Park. He was also unsympathetic to my cramp (hence this week’s title). I bumped, or rather swam, into Florian another colleague at Nordbad.

In the evening I arranged to have a couple of drinks at mine and we then went into town to the “Milchbar”. It was a good night involving Barney (without Prosecco), Nath and myself having a few civilised drinks before going home in the early hours.

“Auch die schlechte Tänze müssen getanzt werden.” ~ A German idiom I learnt from Rémi (yet another frog).

Sunday was a very relaxed day with nothing much of interest occurring. But we were all excited for the Christmas markets to open on Monday! Eventually we decided that Tuesday would fit better to all of our timetables and I met Prince Charming, Inglorious Ingo, Schöne Selina and Lovely Lena at “Tollwood” which is an edgy Christmas market with loads of stalls supplying everything from your Native American Indian essentials straight out of a wigwam to massive marquees. Everyone is selling Glühwein for around 3,00€ so it’s a good deal to be had by all.

This morning it has started to snow and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop. The temperature is just above freezing and it looks like it’s set to reach minus 17 degrees Celsius this weekend. Wish me luck!

Fitness and Fits.


The weekend was enjoyable. On Friday evening we decided it would be a good idea to have a few drinks at the Wohnheim. We then got a few beers in from Real and of course, a cheeky bit of that dangerous spirit. Jägermeister. It was good to get a bunch of the interns together and hear about everyone’s different experiences. Here is some vocabulary that I used on the night.

21 Essential German Party Phrases

hast du heute Abend schon etwas vor?
up to much tonight?

könnten mal etwas irgendwo trinken?
we could go and get a drink somewhere?

kommst du heute Abend zum Party?
are you up for getting battered tonight?

dann sag mir Bescheid, ob du zum Real mitfahren willst
let me know if you want a lift to Real (big supermarket with even bigger deals)

weiß noch nicht
not sure yet

muss mal schauen
we’ll have to see

hast du Bock?
are you up for it? (lit. do you have a goat)

ich wollte mal Samstag in der früh ‘ne Runde Sport oder so machen
I was sort of thinking I’d get some sport done on Saturday morning.

naja aber bist du dabei für ein Bier?
yeah but are you up for a beer?

auf gar keinen Fall
NO!

auf keinen Fall
definitley not

vielleicht
maybe

kann sein
potentially

auf jeden Fall
definitely

AKTION! Jägermeister 9,99€
DISCOUNT! Very strong traditional spirit only 8 pounds sterling

du warst total fertig Marcus!
Marcus you were completely finished!

keine Sorge
no worries

kann passieren
it can happen

weißt du was das schlimmste ist?
and you know what the worst thing is?

ich hab’ so einen schlechten Kater
I’ve got such a bad hangover

…und ich muss heute auch ein bisschen Training machen
…and I still need to do some sport today

Saturday was spent mainly lounging around, and teaching one of the natives how we Brits are able to cure a hangover. That’s right, I’m of course referring to God’s greatest gift to cuisine; the hearty English breakfast. I switched theme in the evening to blend in with the Europeans and we opted for pizza in Stiglmaier Platz with Esperanza, Niklas and Nath.

Having neglected excercise in recent months in the pursuit of beer-related activities, I finally decided on Sunday morning it was time to start running off the Oktoberfest belly that I have acquired in the name of “cultural integration”. What better way to kick start a fitness regime with a really unrealistic goal: a triathlon in the Olympic Park! It was of course the appropriate moment to don the London2012 Games Maker shoes – the Olympic spirit lives on. It ended up being a sort of mini-triathlon and thankfully I didn’t bother to measure time spent or distance covered. All I knew was that I was completely ruined afterwards because I kept doing each part until I was well and truly shattered. It’s currently Wednesday afternoon and my legs still haven’t recovered from the beating. The highlight was finishing with a 1.2km swim which was the most I think I have ever swum. I have also discovered that instead of paying 4€ every time like JR has been doing for the past 5 months, it is actually possible to get a Student Pass which is valid for 6 months and only costs 15€. Deal!

On Monday evening like some sort of Channel4 missionary/4OD Jesuit, I introduced Ingo and Rémi to Peep Show. One of the greatest of British TV and a knew series is back on UK screens this Sunday. They understood, enjoyed and most important of all, appreciated the humour. Watching it with them I felt like I was watching it again for the first time.  Although both are more than competent in terms of English, it really highlighted to me so many British words that can’t be easily translated into German or French. And also how much difficulty I would have translating them into French. They reckon that Mark Corrigan is stereotypically British, which had never really occurred to me, but I suppose he is.

On Tuesday I went home and had finished doing my washing, just like any normal Tuesday. When suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard a massive crash. It sounded like someone had poured out the contents of a kitchen out into the landing. At the time I thought it couldn’t be anything serious and part of me was tempted not to check what it was. Until everything went quiet. That was when I knew something wasn’t right. As I made my way upstairs, a spoon came hurtling towards me from above, ricocheting off the railings. I cautiously followed a trail of smashed pieces of plate, with a newfound suspicion for airborne cutlery and crockery. I felt much like Hansel only without Grethel and in a sort of IKEA setting, rather than a woodland trail. Not that they enjoying a weekend in Centreparcs, they obviously had a serious job to do.

There was a bit of commotion and I noticed a bloke completely still lying on the stairs. He was definitely not in a good way. As I took out my phone to ring 112, I noticed that someone else was already speaking with the Emergency Services. All of a sudden the chap that lay still on the floor started having what looked like an epileptic fit. He entered several different episodes, going in and out of consciousness. After around ten minutes, it was apparent that the Paramedics were on their way. Just before they arrived, the man in question picked himself up off the floor and started walking upstairs. Whilst trying to get him to take it easy, we chatted to him about what had happened and he thanked us for our help etc. We then promtply advised him to take a few minutes to rest whilst we got him some water. The patient was of a thin build but was nevertheless at least 6’6″ and weighed a fair amount. At this point the two hundred centimetre tall guy looked blank in the face and fainted. We were only just able to catch him before he hit the ground. Then I decided he needed to be moved to a more secure facility, so that the Paramedics could analyse his situation more easily.  I took a knee and gave some brief orders. Since my bedroom was the closest, we proceeded to evacuate him to my room and laid him on the bed.

By this time his mate had been informed of the situation and came rushing in. As he then sat on the bed and checked if his friend was ok, it became apparent that he was also not in a great way either! It did look extremely suspicious. To the untrained eye, you would have thought that these boys were both high as kites.

Because of patient privacy, I was then advised to leave my own apartment by paramedics as they tended to the patients. I was then given the order to collect the Notarzt. Think Mary Poppins but with fewer umbrellas and more fully equipped BMW X1. I heard the sirens get louder and started to think about any lessons lectures or seminars even vaguely related to Emergencies.

Afterwards when the paramedics and Notartz had left, we had a chat with the two men in question. Partly to make sure they were ok and partly to make sure we never smoked what they were smoking. I did of course what any stoic Brit would have done and supplied a steady stream of superficial jokes to ease the tension. The first patient turned out to be a professional basketballer and explained that he was 100% against smoking of all varieties, apart from shisha, he said, which was just to relax him.  They confessed they had been smoking on a shisha pipe for four hours upstairs together with his mate and had been on his return journey to his room on the ground floor.

Despite the medical dramas, it was a good week and I look forward to Stammtisch tonight.

Bye-Bye Bavarian Ben.


This weekend has been a lot less busy than the last few. Nevertheless, we had plenty of fun on the weekend.  On Friday, I went out with the colleagues. It was obviously a great night, we went to a bar called Cafe Cord near Sendlinger Tor where Sisom and his friend joined us. When they left then the rest of us proceeded to “089 Club” in Sonnenstraße with Jean-Remy, Ingo, his girlfriend, her flatmate, her two friends from home Lea and Pia as well as a fellow student called Michelle. I think everyone had a good night, especially Jean-Remy who was in a perpetual state of celebration the entire night, presumably due to the rapid injection of BECK’s into his bloodstream. Ingo and I – along with a battered JR – amused ourselves by providing a constant flow of songs translated loosely into German. One example was “Bewegen Sie, Hund…geh aus dem Weg. Geh aus dem Weg, Hund, geh aus dem Weg”. This didn’t get tiring for us lads, but the fun started to wear off for the girls pretty quickly. Take note guys; German girls are not easily impressed by such tomfoolery, it must be said. In spite of this, Selina, Lea and Pia were really fun to go out with and hopefully we will see them again in the near future. At the end of the night we all said our goodbyes and myself and Ingo argued about which fast food outlets were the best in terms of value. We parted ways at McDonald’s, after it dawned upon me that I really am more of a Burger King man. The meat is juicier and the service is better, in my humble opinion. My customer loyalty came at a price, however, and after a half hour detour I returned from Hauptbahnhof to catch a bus home. It turned out a couple of days later that poor Ingo had in fact taken a wrong turning and got completely lost and in his desperate panic, he then rang Selina who gave him directions via Google Maps back to his house (which is literally round the corner). Rule number one of drinking: ensure you have hearty meal beforehand. An extension of this notion is “Kein Bier bevor Vier” . This phrases meaning that no beer should be consumed before four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the many German drinking rules I have learnt from Inglorious Ingo.

On Saturday, I was summoned to Starbuck’s by Nath, who was undertaking some important administrative business. Our plan was to then do some of the toursity things which, as semi-professional beer drinkers, we had neglected in the past few months. By a strange coincidence, Selina, Pia and Lea strolled in like zombies to purchase revitalising Frapuccinos or some such other girly drinks. We then joined them on doing a little bit of sightseeing around the city centre. Of course we ended up going to the Chiesischer Turm in the Englischer Garten for a nice mug of Glühwein. The entire afternoon we were cracking jokes and Nath remarked that Germans are actually a really good laugh. Granted that his scope was limited to these three charming girls, but still it was sort of an insight.

Nath, me, Selina and Lea outside the Bayerischer Staatsoper. Photo taken by the lovely Pia.

As many of you will know, I have had the pleasure of living with a Bavarian, namely Ben, for the past six weeks. He has been a great friend to me and we have had a lot of fun together. Any fun that I had on the weekend was sadly overshadowed by yesterday’s news that Ben was planning on moving out. On Thursday (today). The distance from work, the fact that our shower curtain doesn’t work, the uncomfortable location of work, our lack of internet connection and the fact that I was always there, getting in the way of romantic evenings with his girlfriend all became too much for BB and he informed me on Wednesday morning that he was leaving. Before I had time to react, it became clear that he had already signed the contract for the new apartment whcih is closer to work, has internet…and most importantly it is a one person room. The condition was that he had to move in right away, as the had just been refurbished.

Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the fact that this was his first time living away from home let alone living in a big city. Apart from our shared love of both Burger King and KFC, you could say me and Ben were polar opposites. I, being a Londoner who owns a pair of Lederhosen, he being a Bavarian who not only doesn’t own Lederhosen but proudly wears David Beckham’s newest fragrance and sports a Manchester United shirt. Great times together include teaching him the ways of the British student (now an endangered species after the hike in tuition fees). For example, I explained how the main goal of the taxi drivers in Leeds is to secure a deals for the students and thereby hooking in customers. He would then compare their accents to that of German-speaking Raj in is favourite TV show: HowImetyaMazzer. I have learnt huge amounts from the clean and efficient electronics engineer that is and always will be Bavarian. I aspire one day to be more like him.  I want to thank him for being supportive to me as I was finding my footing in Munich – I have now progressed to the level of an Intermediate Form-filler-outer. Ben was only too eager in helping me to sign forms which I had forgotten to fill out and thereby ensuring that some German, in some tax office somewhere in the Bundesrepublik had their “Formular Fetish” satisfied that day. I wish Ben great success for the rest of his internship and indeed his Ausbildung and hope that we will see each other every now and then before he leaves in February.I now wish him all the best as his finds peace and quiet in his own newly furnished apartment with internet and a fully functioning bathroom!

Bavarian Ben

The final theme I will write about today is something I have been putting off for a long time. Learning to drive. Even though I have now realised that I do need to learn to drive pronto (and sort of require it for my job), unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to afford the course that I wish to do in my only week of holiday in the first week of January. Annoyingly enough, the student loan comes in the week after I would be able to take the course and I will have no other holiday for the rest of the year. Since it is also extortionate and difficult to do it in Germany I think I will have to wait until next year to complete it. Financially I’m not far from the total cost of the course, but far enough that the dream probably won’t become a reality. Unfortunately money doesn’t grow on cars.