Snigger

At a G20 summit, the Queen asked of Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi: ‘Why does he talk so loudly?’ Philip replied: ‘He is Italian, my dear, how else would he sell his ice creams?’

I’m sure this one is an adaptation of on old radio, possibly even music hall, joke:

In 2006 an official at a Canadian airport asked the Duke: ‘What was your flight like, Your Royal Highness?’
Philip: ‘Have you ever flown in a plane?’
Official: ‘Oh yes, Sir, many times.’
Philip: ‘Well, it was just like that.’


In 2005, a female reporter asked him: ‘I wondered if you might like to talk to me?’ He replied: ‘You can carry on wondering.’

And that could be an adaptation of a Calvin Coolidge line (“I bet my husband I could get more than two words out of you” “You lose”).

Still, he has adapted well to what is, umm, his third? after Greek and German, language, no?

How very, very, German

A grieving mother has received a final demand to pay up for the damage to a tree caused when her daughter died after colliding into it.
Nineteen-year-old Franziska was killed in the car crash in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia on August 16 when her vehicle hit the tree.
But German authorities have invoiced her mother €548 for a 50cm by 35cm ‘wound’ in the tree.
The girl, who was studying to become a zookeeper in a nearby town, was on her way home in the afternoon when the accident happened.
She was between the towns of Stokkem and Jakobwuellesheim, when for unknown reasons her Volkswagen Polo swung off the carriageway and crashed into the tree.

Authorities never determined out the cause of the accident.
Yet the German authorities have blamed her for damaging the tree in the accident.
Local media report that the ‘wound’ of the tree is merely 50 by 35 centimetres big, which resulted in a 20 percent loss of functionality.
The authorities sent an invoice of €548 to Franziska’s shocked mother to pay for the costs.
She said: ‘The wounds of the tree will heal. Ours will not.’

But according to the the German bureaucrats, the case was clear and they have refused to back down.
Gerhard Decker, the manager of the state company for road construction, said: ‘If there is damage to a tree or crash barrier caused by a car, we will charge the person that caused it and their insurer. It is always like that.
‘In this case I am really sorry. I have a 19-year-old son myself. But the rules are the rules.’

Rules is rules, see?

Now, get on that train to Poland.

Well, this makes sense

When it comes to their love lives, the study found Germans are reassuringly conservative, with 60 per cent sticking to the missionary position, and only 4 per cent claiming to be in “open relationships”.
One stereotype that did prove true was Germany’s enduring romance with das Auto, with 69 per cent saying their loved their car.
Among women, the figure was even higher, at 71 per cent.

The car, presumably, being more interesting than the sex. After all, it goes more places.

Language fail

Guten Tag. This weekend sees me in Basel.

That’s German not Swiss German.

Sigh.

But there’s no point in getting Swiss francs, my friends assure me, as Basel’s unique position, in a niche between France and Germany, means we’ll be paying in euros when we head over the French border for dinner tonight. That’s after doing the grocery shopping in Germany, where it’s not only cheaper but, by filling in a few forms at the border, my friends get the tax back. How EU-tastic is that?

And Switzerland’s not in the EU, which is why the get the tax back.

Bloody Hell, Germany\’s a strange country

So here I am in Freiberg, getting stuff sorted out. Rent a flat, buy a bed, get lamps in, all this sort of stuff. Yesterday, went and bought desk, kitchen table, shelves.

Well, I say desk and kitchen table. Two cheap doors on four trestles, no point in wasting the shareholders\’ money.

So I\’d wandered up the hill (3, 4 clicks away), bought them for delivery. They give me the noon to 6pm delivery slot.

It is now exactly noon at pixel time. And the man turned up 20 minutes ago, unloaded, said thanks and I\’ve already got the desk up and running.

There\’s something terribly wrong with this picture isn\’t there? Delivery early, but early enough to be really on time?

Or yesterday, I had to register in Germany (and no, I won\’t be here more than 183 days a year!) So off to the Rathaus (yes, that and Ratskeller do still make me laugh) and the Tuesday afternoon possibility for you to register. And we have no common language. My German extends to \”Wo ist\” sort of stuff, where you speak English but with a heavy accent, no more. Their English was at a similar level and we weren\’t going to get anywhere with schoolboy French or supermarket Portuguese, not in this corner of Europe. My Russian\’s very rusty and I have a feeling that it\’s still impolitic to use it around here.

But still, we got the registration done with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of embarassed smiles as we stumbled through various mistakes (no, you can\’t put down my citizenship as Irish, that all rather changed around 1920 or so whatever g-grandpops thought about it). 15 minutes all told. Then round to the bank, with the registration, to open an account.

Only person there who spoke English (other than a very cute and pneumatic girl who backed out saying she was still studying English and therefore didn\’t feel up to it) was the branch manager so he opened the account.

He made me a cup of coffee and by the time I had drunk it we were done: card and PIN on the way.

How the hell did any country ever end up with bureaucracy that works?