Last night we went to one of those ancient historical culture phenomena,
no, not Bavarian dancing in dirndl dresses and short leather pants
and hat with goat’s beard, like you always see on the news,
or on shows like NCIS,
whose local production staff took them all the way to Berlin,
and embarrassingly showed Bavarian dancing and deliberately wrong folklore
(Germans have a real chip on their shoulder that we don’t know anything about them,
a fact they love to try to prove. Not that they’re totally wrong.)
No, the ancient cultural phenomenon I’m writing about,
so to speak fresh from the press after a night out,
is the English Speakers’ club/
German-American Friendship club/
English Round Table, Women’s English Speakers, etc etc.
They are all over the place,
and since I haven’t been to all of them,
in this highly English-speaking area,
if you are reading this, and your club is mentioned,
(or isn’t mentioned- we have had that situation too)
of course I am not talking about any of you.
(And certainly not about the University’s ‘Authentic Voices’- a socializing choir)
What I am talking about,
is those that date from the times of the first English speakers here in Gutenberg Land.
Probably about the time that Boniface got stabbed through the Bible he was holding
(by Germanic tribesmen,)
and the country in and around the Cathedral
became a holding pen-
for soldiers, Celt and otherwise,
from good old Brittanorum,
which always meant Brittain,
until a couple of years ago
when some local historians decided
they were named after a Frankonian clan leader
Britt the Frankonian,
of the clan the McBritt The Frankonians.
(This discovery was somehow suspiciously near the time of Brexit,
which would make the locals definitely Germanic,
and definitely not British.)
And if you hear someone laughing, indeeeed, it is perhaps I.
So anyway, last night we went to one of those traditional folk meetings.
Where everyone who wants to polish their English meets
in a Greek restaurant-
hey, the food is good,
and tries to find a translation for fish roe salad,
which isn’t in the dictionary
of the first five thousand words you have to learn when you learn English here.
Then, everyone talks about where they are going on vacation,
England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Mallorca, the German film studio Park, Wanne Eickel,
hey, someone has to go there. Maybe they have family…
and then they talk about their bus card
and card to the swimming pool,
(Gutenberger are fixated with the stability of having a card for something.-
Would you like that put on your loyalty card? Would you like bonus points,
a bottle of water, the tenth meal free if you buy nine. Would you like our free bus map)
And then we settle down to the nitty-gritty.
Everyone is polite.
(Well nearly everyone- except the one American in an extremely small club here,
who joined for business reasons, and is now in the steering committee,
and wants no competition from other Americans,
or- if the club is as big as the one we joined- over 300 members, all nations,
all kinds of fascinating backgrounds-
you get the good the bad, the sweet, the busy,
and the wacko who insists on pulling out an i-phone
and playing reports from the news,
while dissing Trump.
As people studiously avoid him.
After which the meal is served,
and then everyone settles down to the two ends of the table,
those with family living at home on one end,
retired on the other,
and in the middle those who want to play politics in the club-
(there is none in the one last night, thank heavens,
since there is no steering committee,
or those who believe in affecting world politics,
and think their side will win a revolution if you just turn up the flame enough.)
Like I said,
typical club life in Gutenberg land.
(And if you don’t believe me, come over here for a week and join a club:
the rabbit raisers,
trout fishers, sons of Charlemagne,
fans of the Gutenberg 05, in their bright yellow shirts.
Learn the club songs:
(‘She’ll be comin’ round the mountain’ is sung here-
as ‘I come from the blue blue mountains’)
Especially ‘You’ll never walk alone’ with an amazingly interesting text-
(The English version, but everyone sings, even if they had Latin at school instead of English
Hey, I find ‘Yule Nevi works alone’ a pretty fascinating thought, don’t you?
Does he keep canaries that bother people when they chirp?
Or is he a glass blower?
Sorry, not really making fun,
the song doesn’t actually sound that bad,
and the camaraderie of the 05 is actually pretty nice.
As is the atmosphere at the English clubs.
Just that they aren’t English.
Or American, for that matter.
But they definitely are a piece of living German history.
Sort of like the fellowships of the Prussians, or Silesians, or Pomeranians
(people, not dogs)
who were driven out of their homelands during WWII,
and who meet several times per year
to cook the old meals,
and sing the old songs,
and wear the Sunday going out historical costumes.
Which reminds me:
there were some pretty hefty hints dropped last night about needing someone,
a ‘real American’
to make the two, count them two, turkeys for Thanksgiving this year.
I think there surely must be an 05 soccer game that night.
Hey, maybe they even need someone to lead the singing?
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Teacher, Musician, Composer, Conductor, Writer. Sometimes the one, sometimes all. Life is good.