“No man is an island…”
Unless you live in Gutenberg Land.
Where, at the moment,
Harald and I,
having just gotten home from Pitlochry,
washed about 16 loads of still rain-damp laundry,
and having a marvelous time looking at pictures we snapped
while pretending not to be tourists-
fat chance in a German southwester
and wearing a German rucksack-
we realized a few of the obvious things in life.
With a bang.
- no fresh fruit or veg in the house,
- our coffee machine had a leak,
3. we had appointments in the city,
(which idiot makes appointments for the first day you are back? Oops)
and still had enough time, if we ran,
to just barely catch a tram
and still have time to grab hard rolls and cheese-
who also likes pigs ears, chili in everything,
and black pudding.
Did I mention he’s German?
So, off we went.
Beautiful tram ride through the country,
only squished to half-size by the students on their way to the U,
(instead of the usual quarter-size)
down to the train station,
where they had guaranteed the work on the tram line would by now be finished,
only to discover:
the work was nearly finished-
all but the bit in front of the train station,
so we couldn’t change to a bus or different tram,
sound the trumpets, beat the drums, cheer out loud,
they forgot to publish in the paper,
as we discovered,
when set out the five miles on foot we had to walk to get to our appointments,
that the avuncular and cheerful, and “hey stranger, sit down here with us” Gutenburger
were now as insular as the Brits,
both before and after Brexit,
get ready for this,
on November 9th, 1989,
the Wall in Berlin fell.
the Germans started celebrating the third of October
as day of German Unity.
A large holiday here-
everyone with a long weekend,
lots of football fans, who can’t get to the stadium,
texting to each other to congregate in the Reduit-
an ancient castle in the town called Kastell,
or even Castel,
depending on the age of the place you find the words-
with large sailing ships moored in front of it,
and outside restaurants,
and loud loud music.
just for a moment,
keep in mind the fatal,
and by many planning their days off over -looked words:
on the OTHER side of the Rhine river.
Reachable only by one of the two Gutenberg City to outside world bridges
one of which is under repair,
after three years,
and the other,
which is on the OTHER side of the city.
you can’t get through the city
to get to the bridge,
to get to the other side of the Rhine,
which is necessary to get to the Reduit.
And to the beautiful hiking areas in the Rhinegau,
with all their vineyards, and hills, and museums, and churches,
or the Cloister where they filmed the Name of the Rose,
where there are always exquisite music concerts.
You get the picture.
And the reason why we are all to be locked into the city,
or outside of it, as the case may be
waiting for Tuesday to be over,
is the fact that…
the day of German unification
is celebrated in a different state of the German republic each year-
Last year, for example, in Dresden,
capital of Saxony.
And this year,
here in Gutenberg land,
capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate,
there will be speeches,
and politicians by the score,
all of the country’s radio and tv stations doing interviews,
Just not for us Gutenberger.
Because the main artery through the city,
has been cordoned off for two days,
and is now filled with large festival tents,
and glass and steel fast-erect building shells,
and will remain that way until the fourth of October-
admission only with security pass,
and diplomatic passport,
when those of us who work here,
or live here,
or pay taxes here,
can get far enough into the city
to take a train to the other side.
And if that isn’t the ultimate irony about German unification,
I don’t know what is.
Not that it matters.
In true Gutenberg fashion,
Harald and I,
and the majority of the people we know,
will take a tram in the OTHER direction,
where we will have a meal at a Chinese restaurant so good
none of the politicians know what they are missing,
before continuing on out into the hills,
for a walk,
and then back, on a student dinky train
no politician would be caught dead on
(their problem- it’s a lot of fun)
and overnight in a beautiful little bed and breakfast,
with fresh from the freezer rolls for breakfast,
and the chance to sleep as long as we want,
before we sing a little, walk in the fields behind the b and b,
and maybe even watch a Midsomer murder mystery.
The best little B and B in Germany.
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