“And then I thought I was an octopus.”

This was my surreal contribution to the weekly German lesson today. We were each adding saying a sentence with the general aim of putting together a coherent story. My sentence was developed so it could stand alone in any context. Besides, my abilities are limited.

Our story creation was followed by the comparison and contrasting of smartphones. Which comes equipped with the most megapixels? Which can play the music the loudest on its internal speakers? Which can be dropped from the highest point without smashing? – OK, not the last one, but Herr G. did suggest it.

Herr G. is a joy to listen to, as long as you can cope with not understanding. I think that the human brain struggles with listening to something attentively that it cannot understand; it’s frustrated and angered – the anger directed at the talker, not its own lack of understanding ability. German sentences can be ended with the dropping of a verb – an audible full stop. Herr G. uses verbs that I don’t understand, but they make his sentences sound interesting and wholly engaging. The weight of his words sound unexpected.

Music today was very gechilled – “chilled”, you might have guessed. The Cup Song, which, despite having been around since the 1930s, seems to be known by every musically inclined teenager today, was taught. I, of course, was fairly hopeless at the beginning. By the end of it I was at least not sending plastic cups flying across the room. But it’s the last week before a two week holiday – the chances of teaching complicated elements of musical theory are diminished.

The Cup Song involves manipulating a cup on a hard surface while maintaining a good sense of rhythm. It’s one of those things that can be made to look very easy. Meanwhile, if you don’t know what I’m talking about it, I suggest a short visit to YouTube; not that any visit to YouTube is short – it’s a place where five minutes becomes three hours.

It’s interesting to note, though, that most of the songs they’re singing are in English. I wonder whether this is in conjunction with the English department to assist in the teaching and learning of English. Expose the buggers to English and hopefully they’ll pick some of it up, they think here, perhaps.



They pronounce the names with more confidence and conviction. Even the crappiest newspaper here prints opera listings – it’s only natural that the Germans know how to say the composers’ names.

Tchaikovsky is spelt with a “w” instead of a “v” – this in Germany, remember – and the beginning of Beethoven doesn’t rhyme with the end of a broad sounding “debate”.

I’ve avoided talking about composers. The names are the same, but my pronunciation would ensure misunderstanding. Not that it’s hard to avoid talking about composers – it’s really no trouble.

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