Moin Moin meine Lieben!
I apologise for a little absence from blogging (it’s only been 10 days, but it feels like a lot longer). In fact, as I’ve been doing my best to keep my head above water out here in Hamburg, I’ve been walking around and thinking to myself when I see or hear interesting things, ‘that’s going in the blog,’ ‘that’s in, too,’ ‘that’s definitely blogworthy!’
And so I make little notes to myself on my iPhone, with the intention of coming back to it later and incorporating tiny tidbits into my blog. But, my dear Reader, Apple has dashed those dreams by giving me an iPhone which spontaneously deletes its notes. For whatever reason, my phone thinks I peaked in my note-writing abilities on 16th September, with the short but powerful message which I wrote to myself on that day, which simply says,
‘My dad suggested I mace him, but hopefully it won’t come to that.’
Now, I can only assume that this note was also destined for a blog at some stage, so much so that my phone decided everything since then has been insignificant, and that the mace message finally deserved air-time. Well, there you go, Apple. Can you stop auto-deleting my notes now, please?
Anyway, last time we spoke I told you all about my weekend in lovely little Luxembourg, and since then I’ve not left Germany, but I’ve certainly been busy.
Speaking of Luxembourg, before I forget again, in my last post I meant to include some pearls of cynicism which Jade imparted while we were watching TV in the hotel room. We managed to get BBC1, and the John Lewis Christmas ad was played. Now, anyone on any sort of social network would have seen that this ad came out a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t seen it yet. So I was quite excited to finally watch it, when all of a sudden Jade piped up, ‘THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN. THE SHOCK OF WAKING UP THE BEAR WOULD HAVE BEEN TOO MUCH STRAIN ON ITS HEART AND IT WOULD’VE DIED.’
I’d like to add that those weren’t her exact words, but I wrote what she said down on my notes app and, well, Apple pissed all over that parade. But you get the gist.
So, this last weekend I had a visitor! Sarah is a friend from uni who is also an ELA, but down in Niedersachsen. She’s a future housemate for my final year of uni at Nottingham, and we have now firmly decided that it’s necessary for one wall of our future house to be dedicated to the beautiful face of none other than Michael Fassbender (an actor who is half Irish, half German. This is the best mix ever, you just need to look at him and listen to him to see that.) Here I am with Michael:
Anyway, while she was here I wanted her to see as much of this lovely city as possible, so on the first evening we went to the Hamburger Dom, which is a tri-annual funfair here, and indeed the biggest funfair in Northern Germany, to watch the fireworks. Of course we had a Bratwurst each while we were there; it would’ve been rude not to!
We went back again the second evening, this time with Ellie and Ed, having been for dinner at Blockhouse by the city centre. Everything was going well, SO well, dear Reader. So something had to go wrong, of course.
It was absolutely packed as it was a Saturday evening, but when we passed the dodgems, I piped up that it would be SUCH fun if we had a go, too. So far, so good. Ellie and Ed got into theirs, while Sarah and I waited for out turn. We watched as Ellie and Ed drove almost exclusively round the edge of the rink, while everyone else was getting stuck in and putting the ‘bump’ into Bumper Cars.
In hindsight though, I think Ex2 were on to something with avoiding collisions. Sarah and I finally got our turn and ran over to a sparkly pink car, popped our token into its bonnet, and waited for the cars to come back to life.
I’d like to add at this point that Sarah said she would go in the car as long as she didn’t have to drive. ‘I’ll do it!’ I piped up, having never driven one before. How hard could it be? Surely not too bad, I thought. I did only get 10 minors in my driving test three years ago, I thought.
Well, I was wrong. Some of our time in the car included going in circles backwards in the middle of the rink, quite simply because I just can’t drive one of those cars. What I didn’t expect, however, was for one of the collisions to put the brakes on my half-marathon training.
We hit another car head on, and when we did, my right knee smacked into the steering wheel with full force, sort of in between the knee-cap area and the start of the outer quad sweep. Ouch. I knew straightaway that something was wrong, since, quite simply, it hurt like hell. I hobbled home eventually and iced it; the area was swollen, hot and red by this time. To cut a long story short, five days on it still hurts, so my training is on hold, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it when I can! I’ve been R.I.C.Eing it since, though.
While we’re on the topic of the Hamburger Dom, Ex2 were also unimpressed by their win of ‘dusty pens’ (that’s a direct quotation) at the booth where you knock over cans in the hope of winning things:
Ed definitely didn’t throw his one under an S-Bahn train. Nope.
While Sarah was here I also asked if she wanted to have a quick walk down the Reeperbahn on the Friday evening as we were right next to it at the Dom, just so I could show her what this legendary place of depravity is all about. She said yes, and we strolled down it until we reached the Große Freiheit, a street which comes off the Reeperbahn and is actually where The Beatles played their first gig in Hamburg (thus the area just before the street is called Beatles Platz). This area also houses the most frequently used ATM machine in all of Germany. The fact that there are many strip clubs and fine establishments there such as places called Funky Pussy, is probably nothing to do with that.
We walked down Große Freiheit until we reached the 99 Cent Bar, where, funnily enough, every drink costs 99 cents, yet the entry fee is 1 Euro. Well, dear Reader, you certainly get the quality of alcohol you pay for here. As we were approaching it I said to Sarah that this is where some of us go often as part of a night out, but before I had even finished my sentence I spotted a familiar face, and then another, and another, and another. It was Georgia’s (another ELA) belated birthday celebration, and some of the others had decided a night out was in order, which by default incorporates the 99 Cent Bar. So, I certainly wasn’t telling Sarah any lies!
The rest of her visit included a trip to Miniatur Wunderland, which is any model train enthusiast’s dream, as well as a walk around Sternschanze, the Alster and a quick trip up to the 20Up bar with its beautiful view across the harbour.
Sarah was lost in the magic of Miniatur Wunderland, so she didn’t notice this photo being taken at first!
Once we had said our goodbyes on Sunday, I started getting ready for the working week, which on Monday would include a ‘catch up’ session with all the other assistants. This, as expected, was not the most riveting of days, but it was good to hear from some of the others that they’d had some of the same experiences as me.
The real excitement of the last few days, however, came on Tuesday. I had a meeting with one of the Head of Departments who I hadn’t met yet, which was exhausting enough as it was all in German. I hoped I would be able to go home and relax a bit before seeing The 1975 later that evening (eek! More about that in a bit), but I got back to the building, put my key in the door, and it just wouldn’t turn. It became clear that there was a bit more wrong than I had thought at first, because there was damage to the doorframe, which looked like crowbar marks, and the door itself wouldn’t sit properly against the frame anymore. As it turns out, someone had tried to get in sometime during the night.
I was quite relieved that they hadn’t changed the locks on me, though.
The post-woman turned up at that point, who also has a key, but of course hers didn’t work either. We buzzed everyone in the building until someone let us in, and then I went up to the flat of the elderly couple who live above me, to let them know what was going on. Trying to explain this to them took a very long time, not least because A-levels and university courses rarely equip you with the vocabulary necessary to explain that someone tried to break in with a crowbar, and that there are marks on the door frame, just to let you know.
They called me ‘Frau Barnard’ which I found totally bizarre, but that was the least of my linguistic difficulties at that point!
Anyway, after calls to the Hausmeister, the door was fixed at some point during the day, so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to get in after seeing The 1975 that evening. Which leads me to my final part of this blog; well done if you’ve made it this far!
A few of us headed to The Bunker, which has a tiny music venue/club inside it, called Uebel und Gefährlich (which translates as Evil and Dangerous). I had no idea it would be so small inside, but we got there fairly early which meant that we were about five people from the front, more or less within crazy-fan-lunging distance.
The warm-up act were brilliant native Hamburgers called Pool, but everyone was itching for The 1975 to come out as soon as possible. While they were setting up a girl sort of passed out in front of us (‘sort of’ because I’m not really sure what happened), and someone went and got help. Next thing I knew, a tall tattooed man with long blond hair came past us and took the girl out of the crowd. ‘It’s Thor!’ I said (seemed topical), before Phil actually said that he and his friends call him ‘Techno Legolas’ because in a club night at The Bunker a few weeks previously, this man had been in the lift the entire night, playing techno music to revellers for 4-5 hours. Techno Legolas it is.
Anyway, eventually the band came on, and everyone went mad. Matt Healy (the lead singer) was wearing a coat and roll-neck, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one amongst the hot and sweaty crowd who thought this was a poor choice of attire. Well, eventually the coat came off, and then the roll-neck too, to reveal a tattoo on his chest which at first looked like the crest of Gryffindor. It probably wasn’t, though.
My dear Reader, the concert was epic, especially when they played my favourite song ‘Robbers’. They were fantastic and the atmosphere was amazing in such a small venue. At one point between songs, one guy in our group shouted out ‘DENISE WELCH’ at Matt Healy (of Loose Women fame; she’s his mum) and all us Brits in the crowd had a poorly-concealed giggle at this. Poor Matt must get it all the time.
Anyway, well done again if you’ve made it this far! And I’ll stop talking about The 1975 now, Pete 🙂