Copper work presents a challenge to the “cool” conscious young man. It presents questions. These questions are not of, ‘How do I make this damn bowl round?’; or, ‘How can I get rid of this problematic lump?’; or even, ‘How do I get that massive ding out of the bowl since I dropped in on hard floor when it was red hot?’

No, the questions are more along the lines of, ‘How do I look cool using a hammer?’; ‘Do I look good holding this blowtorch?’; and, ‘Is the way that I lean on things – anvils, benches, extremely hot insulating bricks, stools – a good thing to do, huh ladies?’

But the main question that these concerned youths are asking themselves is, ‘How do I put the “cool” in “copper”?’ Then they realise that that was a pretty awful pun – because, mainly it doesn’t work at all as there isn’t “cool” in “copper” in the first place.



In this city – where France can be viewed from the vantage point of certain hills and where Switzerland is something like 30kms away – people reckon 30 minutes in a car is a very long time. “It’s bloody ages,” I was told today, by someone who also revealed the first thing he did with his new English-German dictionary was look up our swear words.

Talk about instant gratification, folks. People here have no idea about distance. Real distance. No wonder people in Europe thought during the dark, middle and whatever else ages that the end of the earth would be reached in a few days.



Prior to a lesson about “Popularmusik in Kontext”1 (Edith Piaf and others of a similar vintage from France), we had maths – maths that’s similar, but just not quite right. Alice in Wonderland-maths.

First off, the German word for perimeter – umfang – is also circumference. So when there are figures involving circles, circumferences and perimeters and a half-understood question wants you to find u (which isn’t hard, because u’re sitting there doing maths), then I have no choice: find both u and u and write both.

And then – and then! – algebra here has a dot instead of an x for multiplication. (x – as in “find x” is still the same. Except they don’t write “find x”.) So you can’t just write a string of letters together and know that everyone will know what you mean. You have to put a dot between all of them. And this same dot replaces x in all other circumstances, too.

Plus, there’s a comma for a decimal point, and a space for thousands. That has also been doing my head in.

But at least it isn’t eurythmy, I suppose.



I’m not in Cuba remember, so cigarettes are, of course, going to be more common. But I didn’t realise how common.

Being born in an age of anti-smoking campaigns and an acute lack of tobacco advertising, to see a country where this hasn’t really taken off yet is enlightening.

Marlboro’s wide, red, isosceles triangle is a common sight, and if you’d like a small cardboard box – perfect for holding sticks of chalk – with this triangle for your collection you can buy one at the nearest street corner vending machine. No wonder some kids come into class smelling like the twenty-year-old carpet from the house of a smoker. They don’t have to make fake shaving cuts to appear old enough to a shady shop keeper to buy the things.

The major poster advertising campaign here at the moment is for a cigarettes in purple and pink boxes, “For Ladies”. And today I saw an ad for a pack of smokes  for EU3.50 (about $AU 5.34). Insanity.

But it’s all OK, for a small message, without the graphic pictures we have in Australia, says, in no-nonsense German, “Smoking can cause death.” Well, at least they had the foresight to set in in bold.



1Well, I got that the music was popular. I just didn’t really understand the context.


  1. Maths in my time had spaces for thousands, and then it got changed. Back to the future!

  2. Jasper old chap, keep up the blog. Disregard the critics who don't understand avante garde grammer. Chelle and I are experiencing Germany vicariously. But I do think your pie chart could also break out time spent sleeping and awake. Keep it up and make sure you digest every single experience of life in Germany before you take up your time honoured position in the jar with the yellow lid; if indeed such a jar can contain a worldly traveller such as you.

    1. Thank you! Although, I think if I did put together an updated pie chart there would be a revelation of how late I may or may not be staying up...

  3. I had to read the explanation of the maths issues you had twice. Confusing. Then I got to the last line of that one and cracked up again. I thought you might come to like eurythmy eventually ;-)

    1. Eurythmy is totally crazy, and today I was told that I do it very well. With feeling in my arms, or something. Had to try very hard not to laugh.