Moin Moin dear Reader,
I certainly hope that this post finds you well, wherever you are in the world. Maybe you’re just back from an evening stroll, or perhaps you’re about to head out for dinner under starry, yet clear skies. Do you know where I am, dear Reader? In my flat. Do you know why? Because the weather fairies thought it would be hilarious to send a hideous storm to Northern Germany today.
My Thursday evening was supposed to be comprised of showing the lovely Charlotte Horne around this beautiful city, a cheeky Gluehwein or three included, having picked her up from the airport this afternoon. But if you perchance watched the news here in Hamburg this evening, you will have seen the unthinkable, namely the dismantling of some of the Christmas market stalls. Shit just got serious. Up until that point this whole storm thing hadn’t seemed that severe, aside from the cancelled flights (Charlotte’s not here- I wouldn’t be ignoring her and writing a new post if she were!), the rain and the slightly-windier-than-normal conditions.
But when I saw that footage on my little TV, I realised that things may well be a little more grave than anticipated. I didn’t even know that a storm was brewing until yesterday, when my mentor teacher mentioned it off-hand. What I hadn’t reckoned with was the possibility of the water levels in this harbour city rising by six metres (higher than the storm barriers can cope with- reassuring stuff, I know), which is what we’re expecting tomorrow, apparently.
But once I caught the sad sight of neon stars being removed from the top of festive tents, that was when I started to notice how loud the wind was against the window, how I could hear the rain on the pavement three floors below, and when I opened my curtains, how the lightning flashed across the dark violet sky. So I write this against the soundtrack of thunder outside, and in increasingly cabin-feverish conditions.
What I have noticed today, however, is the following: whenever there was any sign of the slightest bit of snow or heavy-ish rain in England, all the students would be restless in anticipation of a day off school. I had assumed that in Germany, especially up here in the north, they might be more used to severe weather, and thus they would persevere in the face of adversity, and so this whole day-off school possibility might not be as big a deal.
I was wrong, dear Reader.
The first thing I heard when I got to work today was along the lines of an optimistic, ‘School’s cancelled, yeah?’ Which was met with a firm, ‘no.’ This carried on throughout my lessons today, and my last one was actually cut short due to increasing pressure from very antsy students. If you didn’t know this already, then most of the students I work with are in their 20s, proving that potential time-off from study never gets any less attractive, apparently!
The other thing which has been cemented in my mind today is that Germans are some of the most determined smokers I know. England has the smoking ban in public places, so when you come across to this country, the seemingly ubiquitous smoking can be quite the culture-shock. But, come hell or high water (quite appropriate today, really. Hopefully not the hell bit.), nothing will tear the German from his or her cigarette.
More than once I’ve seen a hooded figure standing in the grey afternoon drizzle which Hamburg seems to specialise in, with smoke billowing from the place where their face used to be, and presumably still is. It’s like some sort of Dementor air-freshener, releasing a cloud of mist every now and then. Apologies if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, the last sentence won’t make any sense if you’re not.
But the status as most-determined-smokers was definitely secured about an hour ago in my mind when, out of curiosity, I opened the window to my balcony to check how things were going outside. Once I had regained my vision after the wind smacked me in the face, I glanced at the block of flats opposite and noticed a lone figure on a balcony much like mine, dark against the brickwork, the only point of light against their body being the glowing tip of a cigarette.
WE’RE IN A STORM, NAY A HURRICANE (honestly- they’ve named it hurricane Xaver), AND YOU’RE STANDING OUTSIDE SMOKING.
I’m not sure about you, but I thought some priorities might need to be revaluated over on the other side of the street. Each to their own though, I suppose. But should Xaver pull them over the edge of the balcony mid-puff, it’s probably the way they’d want to go.
Sorry, that’s really quite morbid. It’s just, it doesn’t feel much like Christmas right now. I’ve even taken off Michael Buble’s Christmas album and am now playing Adele on repeat. This may explain the mood. I still love her, though.
Anyway, I will give you an update on Xaver in my next post, when I’m sure I’ll have more observations, post-‘hurricane’, which is Orkan auf Deutsch.
This is a quick message to Xaver:
In the mean time, stay warm wherever you are, see if you can secure yourself a lie-in tomorrow, and don’t stand on any raised surfaces to have a cigarette. I hear my beloved UK is being battered, too, so stay safe all you Brits!