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.

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Bundesbrüder, Bier & Blades.


mim

So it’s official. Taylor Swift and thingy from One Direction have officially broken up. But the lad knew exactly where his first stop was after leaving the British Virgin Islands, the best place to be single if you are wanting to mingle: Leeds, West Yorkshire. What it may lack in virgins, it certainly makes up for with pouring rain and chips and beer and curry. All mixed together. The shocking news of the death of Olympic and Paralymic hero Oscar Pistorius’ girlfriend at his home has thrown South Africa into the limelight., let’s be honest though he doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

But you are probably reading this post because you wan’t to hear about another celebrity, that celeb being Marvellous Marcus, know to some as Multilingual Marcus or even sometimes Mischievous Marcus.

The adventures start here. On Wednesday night we paid a visit to cosmogrill, where the burgers were good, but just not quite big enough. It would be a stretch to say it was disappointing, but uplifting it was not.

The first of February offered greetings to the new month and also the discovery of the racism engrained in European bakeries. On the menu is “la tête-de-nègre” (FR) also refered to as “der Mohrenkopf ” (GER). The  phrases respectively translate as “head of the nigger” and “Nigger head”. The Swiss, French and German colleagues all seemed to be fine with this and asked me what we called it in England, expecting to hear an appropriately outrageous name. I was glad I could reply innocently, explaining how we call it a “Chocolate Marshmallow”. Good old England.

Friday night was good fun. The pre-lash was planned at Wealthy Wolfgang’s, a fantastic colleague from Switzerland. He is also the first “native” I have met with an impecable knowledge of English comedy shows and a solid grasp of the humour. Of course, we headed into town after a well-hosted gathering. It was unfortunate that we parted ways due to some taxi mis-communications. Some big names featured such as Guillaume le Conquérant, Northern Niklas and of course Rémi le Roi.

A poster in Wolfie’s apartment.

Saturday night was the real highlight of the past couple of weeks. Thinking of myself as a rather dashing young Ian Fleming I rushed out of the house at five to meet Rémi le Roi for a drink in town. Soon after, the time had come for my appointment  to take place. Having been summoned by HRH Prince Charming’s invitation to the Hofbräuhaus to partake in the first official black tie event of the year with the infamous Studentenverbindung. A Studentenverbindung is like a fraternity, for those who weren’t aware. For more information regarding this very German concept, click here  Beer by the barrel, plus weaponry plus the German National Anthem all in the location of the VIP section of the Hofbräuhaus. I felt like Jay-Z when he was on his Year Abroad in Paris. It couldn’t have been any more exclusive and authentic. The Germanophile in me was excited beyond words (not like that). I was watching German history in the making. As I walked into the Kneipe*, I remembered past evenings shared here, first with my parents the week after Oktoberfest and evenings with Prosecco Barney** and the like.

The format of these events is comparable to military events in the British Army in the sense that it involves copious amounts of music, speeches, National Anthems whilst maintaining a multitude of strange traditions and rules.

  • you can’t go to the toilet at any point during the meal
  • you must refer to everyone as “Bundesbruder “.
  • if at any point/many points you should run out of beer you must lay your empty glass flat on the table and wait for it to be filled up appropriately. If this is not done in good time, you may shout “Bierversorgung!” This is then understood by one of the juniors to mean “I need beer replenishment NOW” and they will get up form their seat, take your glass. Rush to the barrel. Fill uip your glass and rush back with a fresh premium lager.
  • only one type of beer is on offer, traditionally Hofbräu beer is drunk in the Hofbräuhaus. Which makes sense when you think about it.
  • if you couldn’t make the event you must send a message to be read out in your absence with an accompanying amount of money (usually based on what it would have cost you to travel there) to be spent on beer. For example, some chap was so gutted he missed it that he donated 500,00€ to the cause, the cost of return flights from Hamburg with Lufthansa (booked last minute/perhaps first class)
  • when drinking your beer you must initially raise your glass and preferably find someone to drink to something with. If not then you drink and then raise your glass after you have had a swig.

As one of the “Füchse“, Prince Charming was among one of the more junior members of the fraternity yet despite his meagre rank, he seemed enormously popular with young and old members of the Verbindung, and he had us literally in tears with comments about his various conquests although, some of them must be mere fairytales.

After the various rules have been understood. unnecessary badges, ceremonial swords, colourful flags, odd bits of metal that clipped to your glass. Having experience this sometimes controversially perceived event first hand, I can honestly say it was an absolute pleasure to take part in such it was fantastically rich tradition.

Grandpa always said you should keep the Germans at a sword’s length.

We drank a few to Kaiser Friedrich (or Freddy as his mates used to call him), the sheer mention of his name causing incessant applause and much knocking on the table. I thought to myself…

A little later in the evening, we had all had a fair amount to drink, and it turned out worse for one of the chaps (who will remain nameless). The Bundesbrüder had a Bundes-chunderunder the table, I managed to kick the blue bucket over to him just in the nick of time, and luckily came away without any clumpy frothy beery sick attached to my foot. The evening wrapped up, and as an esteemed guest i was obliged to pay nothing for drink all night. naturally we progressed to a few gentlemen’s clubs afterwards for a few drinks and pleasant company and a great night was had by all.

It was also a massive weekend for Far-Eastern Felix as you can see from the photo below.

Far-Eastern, Chinese Babe #1, Tschi Bing, Chinese Babe #2 and Joe.

Felix likes nothing better than relaxing with a cup of coke in the evening. I got in from work one evening and saw him at the table with his head in the bowl. Thinking to myself that perhaps the British Imperialism had gotten too much, I speculated he might have topped himself. Dreading the inevitable mountain of paperwork that comes with roommate suicides, I was relieved to find that he had run out of clean mugs and was simply using the bowl to drink out of. Sipping the cool dark liquid directly from inside from the bowl and unfortunately soaking his glasses in caffeine in the process. He did look very cat-like at the time. Feline Felix is now a strong contender for his facelift nickname.

In other news, Newsman Nath aka Tumnus aka Bilbo aka Nath Thorpe is currently match reporting about 1860 München football club for the Munich Eye. Perks of the job include free food, interviewing players and being in the Allianz Arean! And all this alongside his internship. What a man. Such a big name in Munich. Watch his reporting debut here. And for the latest updates on his blog, click here. He’s got a new haircut since, though. Don’t be put off.

The news was ridiculous this past week or so. Richard the Third has been dug up in a car park in Leicester? How much must the parking fine have costed. 1435-2013, in years, not hours and minutes. Unbelievable.

My favourite expression in Bavarian German has to be: “Des isch mi’ Würschd!” (Das ist mir Würst) literally meaning, “That is a sausage to me”, the implied meaning being – “I don’t even care!” I’m assuming this is due to the plentiful amount of sausage consumed every day, therefore making it a very ordinary product, so when you use this phrase oyu are essentially saying that it is “nothing particularly special”.

My driving instructor comes out with some fantastic lines sometimes: “Schmeis den Panzer ein, Marcus!”, ordering me to turn the MINI Cooper on and refering to is as a tank. As soon as I change up into second, he would shout “und……FEUER!” Expecting me to lay my foot on the gas and bring up into third and just below the speed limit of 50kmph. At which point he would look at me and say “langsam mit der Kupplung Marcus, es ist wie eine Frau. Du musst zuerst sanft sein und danach show it who’s boss!” Thanks for the advice Florian.

erasmus

This Thursday evening, having given up on Valentine’s day with Far-Eastern, Nath and I organised a little meet up with some Erasmus friends at the Bierstube, along with David and his girlfriend. It was a good night, cheap food and beer – what more do you need. And after a swim you really feel like you’ve earnt it.

Adam expressed his love for Van Persie: “I’ve never felt this way about a player”and Alfie is clearly having the time of his life in Oxford, pictured with lots of ladies. But in the automotive world there is plenty being discussed. Take this concept car for example. Look at its beauty, its modernity and its timeless character.

BMW 328 Hommage: Concept Cars

It just looks like it should be driven by Batman. This is potentially the most stunning car I have ever had the privelege to lay my eyes upon.

For the big Champion’s League Match Real Madrid vs. Manchester United, we selected the Champion’s Bar as our harbour of choice. Here we were impressed by the burgers as well as Danny Wellbeck’s golden header.

I have another driving lesson tonight which should be good, although the last three driving lessons I have taken part it, it has either already snow and ice on the ground, snowed just beforehand or snowed during the lesson itself. This makes the conditions for learning even more hazardous. Wish me luck!

Footnotes:

*Kneipe translates as pub in day-to-day German but in the context of the Fraternity it refers specifically to the event at the pub as opposed to the concept of the pub itself. A little bit of “How’s your Fatherland?”

**Barney has since moved to Berlin and is getting on really well there. We have many plans for the coming months, most of which are centred around consumption of alcohol.

Sex, Saufen und Skifahren.


mimIt’s been a while since the last post, because I have been pretty busy. Apologies to anyone who has been sitting on the edge of their seats. Here is the update of the past three weeks or so.

Let’s start from the beginning. I’m back in Munich where I belong and I’m not wasting any time. First item on the agenda: single-handedly sorting out the economy, trying desperately to give it that kick it needs, like a mad surgeon thrusting a shot of adrenaline into Europe’s economic heart. As you may be aware from the news, there’s still a long way to go. Thanks for shaking things by the way up Dave, I’m getting a lot of stick because of you. “Marcus vot ees heppaning viz zee European Union. Vot did vee do rong zis time?”  The question remains: will Great Britain choose to go it alone? Anyway let’s immediately put that on the backburner and think about it again in 2015. Let’s just hope that there aren’t any ancient civilisations predicting our demise this year. That’s enough Mayan practical jokes for the time being, thank you very much.

This blog covers the period of time from present day all the way back to Wednesday the 9th January 2013 AD. Wednesday before last, Niklas organized a cheeky few drinks at the swanky Vanilla Lounge at Münchner Freiheit. A quiet evening was had and we learnt that Niklas’ great-grandfather was a Brit who immigrated to Finland and created the “Domino” a biscuit similar to the “Oreo” and a successful biscuit business which still runs to this day. Also it means that one of his names is “Domino”. I suppose, at the end of the day, there are worse things you could be named after.

After a hard working week, the young professionals of Munich want to let their hair down. On Friday evening it was time to tuck in dinner with colleagues. Of course, Planne-Charlotte made the reservation. What would we do without her? The reservation was at Ocui, an Italian restaurant at Sendlinger Tor similar to Vapiano’s (German version of Pizza Express) but far superior because Vapiano’ (whoever he is) is in my opinion overrated. Discussions about traffic, parking and other amazingly interesting topics were covered as well as a lot of talk about London from Espa, who met her boyfriend on her Year Abroad.

12.01.2013 Skiing Saturday @ Bayrischzell

There aren’t many things that get me up at 5am on a Saturday morning. Skiing, however, is one of the few things that can. Our resort of choice was Bayrischzell which is about an hour from Munich on the train (Bayerische Oberlandsbahn). Some of us brought skis, some of us didn’t, those who didn’t were able rent skis from the Skischule Bayrischzell for the very reasonable price of 20€. As an extra option you could rent sunglasses, goggles or helmets for 3€ each. It was really good value and undoubtedly a good deal overall. Then we got down to the actual skiing. Sudelfeld isn’t the biggest of resorts, but it did make for an interesting day of navigation as the visibility wasn’t great. I’ve been very privileged to have learnt to ski at a young age. I’ve skied as far north as Norway and as far south as Italy, as well as a lot in France (Puy Saint-Vincent). This snow, however, was like nothing I had ever experienced. Pure Bavarian snowflakes settled on the piste and created a fresh layer of sheer velocity. When pressing down on your skis, you could enjoy a smooth descent and as you turned them, they didn’t dig in or complain as you rounded the piste. The blades simply sliced through the snow like a knife through whipped cream. A few pushy Bavarian parents shouted at their children for not skiing fast enough or with sufficient technique, keen to make them professional skiers by the age of eight. Achtung – petrified kids with tunnel vision hurtling down the mountain for the next 200 metres!

Despite Maciek giving it the big talk on the train (or “givin’ it the large one” as Tom Margetson would say) he basically panicked at the idea of skiing off piste. He expressed a reasonable concern of danger so we decided to follow the piste down. Surprised by this change of tune, we continued down to the lift. As we sat on the two-man chair, the cliff face beyond the trees came into view and where I had pointed out a fun bit of skiing, we would have both surely disappeared down the side of the mountain, our backs broken on the rocks below and we would never have been seen again. From then on Maciek was trusted with the decision making. Late in the afternoon the visibility began to get even worse. Knackered from the skiing, Maciek and I felt like a snack was in order. Low on supplies, we sought out an eatery that we had seen on the map. As I once again led Maciek off into the abyss, trudging through snow, I felt like the great OA, Sir Ernest Shackleton. Unlike Captain Scott who reached the pole, but in doing so doomed his men to certain death, I decided to take more of an Ernie angle and put the safety of my men first. The map turned out to be useless, but our desperation to resupply was so overwhelming that we started to imagine figures walking in front of us towards a hut which would appear suddenly vivid and then promptly disappear in a cloud of snow.

The weather eventually cleared and we found ourselves a wooden panelled pub where we could shelter from the elements. We ordered bread and sausage, so we weren’t exactly expecting miracles, but when we got a mouldy crust of bread and two Frankfurters you could say we were downhearted. Still, the mustard masked all flavour, thank God. Also with us on the trip was a lovey dovey couple who didn’t make too much of an impression on us. There was a British girl and a Norwegian guy who were both horrendously smiley people. They kept on bizarrely grinning at each other and dramatically embracing each other. When we tried to make conversation, Maciek didn’t exactly help by starting literally every sentence with “So”.

Couple: “Are you a student?”
Maciek: “So I am studying at LMU.”
Couple: “Oh, right, what do you study?”
Maciek: “So I am studying medicine.”
Couple: “That’s great do you enjoy it?”
Maciek: “So I like it very much. Yes.”

Having polished off our disappointing meal, we opted to get back on the slopes as the weather cleared up. The resort wasn’t huge, but we all know it’s not size that matters. It seemed great for young families, lots of drag-lifts and shallow gradients. And for a day of skiing you certainly couldn’t complain. On a clear day the view from the top of the mountain is apparently fantastic. By the evening we were back in Munich and tucked up in our beds. Here are a few things I learnt along the way from my polish friend.

The world according to Medical Maciek. (Pole Position)

  • “The British love to make these ‘stag parties’ in Krakow, you know these parties, Marcus?”
  • “Belvedere is best vodka in world but very expensive.”
  • “Polish girls are most beautiful in world.” ~ Eastern European girls in Munich have been a letdown so far for the boy.
  • “These English and Irish football fans were very very well-behaved during UEFA Euro 2012.” ~ Well done boys.  You’re a credit to us all.

On Thursday it was Nath’s 21st and he opted for some quiet drinks at Kennedy’s Irish Pub. If you’ve been reading the blog from the start, you’ll know that Nath is a fellow Leeds student. Not only that though, he happens to be the newly appointed Match Reporter for 1860 München, the second biggest football club in Munich. As part of his job he gets to interview players and managers. Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to get former England manager Sven Goran-Eriksson out for a few beers as he is longer running for the job of manager. As the evening progressed, so did the propensity to sing. Yes, there was Karaoke services available and yes, we did partake. I lead the charge with a hearty rendition of Country Roads – West Yorkshire. As I approached the stage, I shot past a waitress a bit too enthusiastically and rather embarrassingly smashed an entire tray of empty pint glasses onto the floor. This dramatic introduction spurred me on to even greater things and after I had finished this world première I had an Irishman and a Yorkshireman approach me. The latter gentleman, claiming to hail from Wakefield, approached me and had incorrectly but understandably assumed I was from God’s own county and cut to the chase: “So wha’ parta Yarkshire ya fram?” Thinking that “London” would be too cheeky an answer, I refrained. Instead, I politely explained how I had studied the past two years in Leeds. Having exposed me for the Southerner I am and with that unable to hide his disappointment, the man in question gave me a brief synopsis of his current employment in a software company and soon after was on his way. The highlight of the night was yet to come: it turns out Nath does a great “Wherever you will go” by The Calling. I remember shouting: “Don’t forget to start off low!” Needless to say he did start stir the crowd with his husky recitation: “So lately, I’ve been wonderin'”.

20.01.2013 Skiing Sunday @ Garmisch-Partenkirchen

On Sunday, I travelled faster than the speed of leather to GarmischPartenkirchen alongside colleagues Snowball Sascha and Teutonic Tilman for my second skiing experience of 2013. Sascha works for BMW Bank and Tilman is an expert on the motorbikes we sell, how they are put together etc. Two great lads. We left from our Wohnheim at around 9am and we were on the slopes by 10am. This is because in Germany, instead of having a maximum speed limit, on some roads they actually have a minimum speed limit, some sections of road where you must travel at least 80km/h for example. This was perfect as Tilly had rented a BMW 330d which ripped down the Autobahn at 160km/h leaving nothing but a few grams of CO2 and a thin trail of diesel in its wake. I love how this country has stretches of road with literally no limit on the speed. Think about that for a minute. Limitless speed. What does it feel like? Well I don’t know exactly but I can tell you whatever it feels like it is made more comfortable nestled in the leather of a premium Bavarian automobile.

We arrived at Garmisch and we needed to rent skis. Everyone knows the standard German stereotypes, but do they hold any truth at all? Yes. Yes they do. The Germans have an airport-style system when it comes to ski rental. Why? Because “skiing iz no laughing matter”. It must be “so efficient like possible”.

  • Step 1: Rental check-in.
  • Step 2: Payment and Identification
  • Step 3: Ski fitting and collection

Lunch is expensive at these sort of resorts so naturally for our lunch break we ate our packed-lunches and listened to Schläger (German hits) outside a cafe on the slopes: “Da wo früher mein Leber war ist jetzt ein Minibar” being a personal lyrical highlight. After a few beers and we were skiing even better in the afternoon.

I wasn’t in the most international of moods and grew weary of overhearing Americans regaling stories among their friends, a significant proportion of whom were invariably called Brett. I bumped into Bilingual Brian who I went skiing with the week before with Maciek and the Erasmus lot and who acts as an antidote to the poisonous American stereotypes. He was there with Ludo, very randomly. At the end of the day, we met at the Schwegelift. A few people turned up late including an out of breath Peruvian snowboarder who was desperately searching for his friend. When he found that his mate was settling down ready to sip a warm hot chocolate he started shouting:

“Why did you left me alone, man. I almost died”. (sic)

On our return journey the sun did that thing it usually does and sank beneath the mountain, leaving only a dark silhouette of the jagged peak visible. Our BMW xDrive day out was brilliant, utilising the features of the car and just sitting back and relaxing. To see the dynamic lighting system Fernlicht (full beam) is an amazing step forward in technology. The motion sensor allows the adaptive LED headlights to automatically follow the curve in the road and turns a section of the light off when it senses a car is coming in the other direction. Thus the oncoming vehicle isn’t affected by your beam, enhancing the comfort of your own vehicle whilst improving the safety of other road users. In a decade or so this feature will likely be standard across the board in the automotive industry and may even be obligatory, but it really is fascinating to be witnessing the cutting edge technology of tomorrow, today. On our journey back I spotted that the village of Oberammergau is in possession of one of our beloved red phone boxes. They either stole it or it was yet another object that fell out of the sky during WWII. Either way, they now keep it outside their pub, perhaps as a sort of trophy.

One evening in the week I was cycling to the driving school when I bumped into a Ghostly Greggers who had been sent on a mission by one of his housemates. The objective being to replenish the supply of washing liquid which he had plundered (presumably without the neccessary permissions), or else. I pointed him in the direction of Lidl and Aldi and wished him the best of luck. I really hope he found what he was looking for. On Thursday evening we all headed to Lardy in Münchner Freiheit for a couple of drinks with the team. It was time to decide, are you a Praktikant, or a Prakti-can?

25.01.-27.01.2013. Skiing Weekend @ Lenggries.

This past weekend has to be one of the highlights of my Year Abroad so far. We were very lucky to be invited to a skiing trip with the university. We boarded the coach at Universität and withing minutes we were on our way into the mountains. During the journey Good Deal came on twice so I took that as a good omen that the weather would be great. The group leaders were swigging Augustiners on the bus to the resort.

Hostile Hostel. We arrived at the hostel which was clean, well built, I’d even go so far as to say it was pleasant. The only thing was that we were ordered to remove our footwear as we came in. Only the Germans amongst us had remembered to bring their house shoes, the rest of us were left barefoot or in damp socks for the rest of the weekend. The first evening was spent night skiing after which we  used a snowboard as a minibar on top of a

Maciek, Marcus and Nath @ Lenggries 2013.

A stunning view from the top.

Here are the boys, up to no good as usual.

Sandwiched by Joe and Nath.

A little bit of dancing did take place.

Ludo’s moves.

Apres ski on the slopes.

“Do you know who’s a great dancer, Marcus? Kirstie Boulton. She is a cracking dancer, she’s got some unreal moves.” ~ Nath Thorpe

A good deal of apres ski was fitted in, sometimes paradoxically even before any skiing had been done.

OAs on tour.

Korean man hit the dancefloor so enthusiastically when Gangnam Style came on I cannot even explain.

The Team.

In the club, I decided despite being dressed in a loose shirt, jeans and snow boots, it would be a good idea to approach a table of Germans, to see how long I could last, so to speak. The aim was to have a chat, you know. Since 90% of countries in the world have been invaded by the British party due to our determination to seek out good weather, I was quietly confident in my task. I took a deep breath. And I plucked up the courage to go up to the table. Three blondes, one brunette and two serious and “cool” chaps. I assumed a seat next to what my agreed to be the most attractive of the pack but I was dealt the “boyfriend card” all too soon in the conversation, little did she mention that he was on his way to the club. “He plays for the German national Ice-hockey team, you know”, she explained and as I looked up, the guy was stood right in front of me. Feeling a bit like an extra in Wheatus’ Teenage Dirtbag, I tried to plan an exit so I could scuttle away. But it was far too late. Having imagined him to be big through word of mouth, he turned out rather disappointingly small but he did have a scary tatoo on his neck which I thought might make him more the fighting type. I could see his girlfriend desperately trying to explain that I was just some guy who had randomly come up to her. The ice-hockey player was clearly angry and confused, but thankfully he wasn’t at the time in possession of any sticks or blades. He was completely unarmed apart from the cap on his head. Time for plan B: neutralise the target. I extended a friendly handshake for what felt like an eternity but alas, it was completely overlooked. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Nath and the others keeling over with laughter as they watched the painful drama unfold from the balcony seats. When champagne arrived and I noticed there weren’t enough glasses for me, I knew then that I had been officially rejected from the group. An Englishman knows when he isn’t welcome as soon as he stops being offered drink. There was only one option left : I had to get out of there. Still managed to defy Nath and Co. Half an hour on the clock, though. Not bad.

In the duration of the evening, Nath and Phil somehow managed to fall out with a fairly dangerous Estonian man who claimed he had a gun and the morning after we awoke to a rather biblical message on our door threatening to do nasty things to the “British guy with glasses”. You might think that the description fits me but it was actually referring to Phil the Canadaian who ahd been wearing glasses that evening, but been unfortunately mistaken for a Brit. This story is made all the more confusing because I am a Brit and a Canadian who wears glasses. Anyway, no Canadians or Brits were harmed in the making of this low-budget Estonian horror film. The trip was well organised, although it was worrying to see that most of the organisers seemed to have some form of alcohol problem. I suppose that’s what made the trip such a success. Apart from the occasional mishap, a great weekend was had by all. We were back in Munich by dark and looked forward to resting after the hectic weekend of drinking and skiing.

Workwise, I have the unfortunate news of announcing that Ingo, Anne-Charlotte and Prince Charming are leaving us this month. Such sad times. but we will always have the memories from Oktoberfest, Austria, Hamburg and other trips around the city. Ingo will be remembered for his fabulous idiomatic phrases (Sprüche/Sprichwörter). We will try to plan as well just like Anne-Charlotte did, in the process earning herself the nickname Planne-Charlotte. Prince Charming will be remembered for his love of partying, princesses and Porsches. I look forward to making a trip to see how he’s getting on in Prague in the coming months.

Why am I learning to drive…

  • in a foreign country
  • on the right hand side
  • in the snow
  • where they have no speed limit

…I’m not quite sure. Maybe this will all become apparent in the future. I have now had my first driving lesson. I’m being taught by a Jäger on a Mini Cooper. His title translates roughly as rifleman or fighter but literally he is one of the elite German “hunter” troops. He was stationed in Northern Afghanistan for 4.5 months and he seems to be quite a good teacher.

In other news, Far-Eastern Felix has a new Chinese friend (aww Chinese friend) is called Tschi Bing (what like the search engine? Yes, just like the search engine). Rémi le Roi is back in Munich this week, returning to destroy some job interviews and we have very big things planned for the weekend. That said, a big week lies ahead in Bavaria starting with a reservation for fourteen at Cosmogrill, voted Munich’s best burger house by American Airlines.

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.