I copied this following quote from some media piece, which ran during the Scottish referendum frenzy. I believe that the author wanted to explain why France would not leave the EU. (Underlining is mine.) Unfortunately, I did not note the source nor can I recall. Nevertheless, I find that it rather nicely sums up the success/reason for being of the euro and the European Union.
“For the French, the euro is not some bureaucratic notion dreamed up in Brussels. It is a catastrophic life-insurance policy that France, and the rest of Europe, has written for itself against the possibility of a revived German nationalism. (The crucial number to keep in mind is not the value of the currency but the number of European deaths in the thirty years between 1914 and 1944: thirty million.) A forward-moving European Union has created an extraordinary island of prosperity and peace in the thousands of years of European war.”
September in Germany means one thing: Oktoberfest.
Don’t ask me why a festival—actually an excuse to drink a lot of beer—with October in its name always begins in September. At least it ends in October. Germans, who are orderly and logical people, must have an explanation, but I’m not going looking for it.
My only goal is to inform people that beer is flowing in Munich, although the smallest draft costs 10 euros. The sun always rises in the east and beer price always rises in September.
The link below provides photos, courtesy of London’s Daily Mail. The English seem to have thing about Germans enjoying themselves and about beer.
I have never been to Oktoberfest and have no intention of breaking that tradition! I can enjoy beer anywhere and at anytime for much less.
I have never had an urge to visit Scotland. The landscape is unattractive, the weather is mostly bad, and the traditional food is unappealing (Deep-fried Mars bars!). There are too many places that are more-appealing and more-attractive for me to waste any of the short time I have on this earth.
Scotland is mentioned often in the news these days, especially on those channels emanating from the “United” Kingdom, of which Scotland is a (partly) unwilling member. The current “royal” family owns a lot of real estate, which their ancestors plundered from the local people, not unlike what Americans did to the original owners of the country. Native Americans seems to have been given less rights and powers than the folks in Scotland, who are being given the chance to decide their future with or without English overlords. It is surprising that two peoples that hate each so much have been able to live in relative harmony for so long. Many English are deluded in believing that members of the “royal” family looking silly in kilts and tartans have endeared them to their neighbours to the north.
If Scotland leaves the “United” Kingdom, how great will “Great” Britain be? Not that it ever was. Or, at least, not for a long time. Perhaps, the split will send signals to people in other countries. Will the Flemish and Walloons, who dislike each other more than the Scots dislike the English, finally kill Belgium…which no one would miss. Will Catalonia split from Spain? Or will Bavaria become an independent country? Bavarians already feel superior to other Germans and think that they can go it alone. The list is long and the future uncertain…
The European Common Market was conceived, I believe, to prevent France and Germany from continually fighting wars. History had proved that these two liked to squabble with the latest military weaponry. Now, their economies have become so intertwined that war is (almost) unthinkable.
Something similar happened after the Iron Curtain disintegrated: trade links between former enemies mushroomed. Many thought that war would no longer be possible in Northern Europe. Sadly, they failed to reckon with the hopes and dreams of weapons manufacturers and jingo politicians. Although many countries are trying to salvage their own interests, while mouthing platitudes about justice for Ukraine, it seems that war is more attractive than commercial interests, especially for those living at a distance.
I will be interested to see if we will have gas to heat the house in the winter, since a large portion of German fuel supply comes from Russia and must transit Ukraine. Being selfish, I am more interested in my comfort (and survival) than the politics/freedom of Ukraine. Sad, but true.
Nations tend to go ape upon winning the World Cup (soccer/football variety), so one can forgive Germans for leaving their shells to celebrate the recent event in Rio de Janeiro. Such emotion is usually displayed only at Fasching, when all inhibitions are legally cast aside.
Hundreds of thousands flocked to Berlin to welcome the team, which arrived on a specially painted Lufthansa 747 and then progressed in a foot-faced procession—atop a specially designed Mercedes truck—to the Brandenburg Gate, where the crowd had been waiting as long as 8 hours to ensure a good spot. That merely see—from a distance—some young men that are able to kick a ball better than most. The rest of the nation remained glued to a television, despite the two hour delay in arrival. (A baggage cart collided with the plane at Rio airport, perhaps as revenge for the Brazil-Germany debacle.) Football/soccer unites nations, unlike the divisions caused by football/baseball/basketball in the United States, which do not have national teams.
For years—decades even—Germans feared showing too much exuberance and never displayed the flag outside official buildings. Lately, the (ugly) red/black/gold are seen everywhere, including being worn as a cape. Everything American was copied, except public-display-of-affection for the national flag: that has soccer/football to thank for its growth.
Winning is great and adulation is gratifying, but now the pressure is on to perform equally well at the upcoming (2016) European Championship and the next World Cup competition (2018). And, all these guys start playing for their respective professional clubs soon, where no one cares about nationality. There is never any rest for the weary in the world of top level football/soccer.
Anyone with half a brain should have known that the World Cup final would be between Germany and Argentina, even before the competition began. There are two popes, aren’t there?
What is more difficult to surmise is which one their lord and master will favor on the day. Having a big statue of a fictional character did not help Brazil against Germany; then again, Brazil has never had a pope.
Although the North Atlantic Oscillation is delivering “normal” German summer weather--rain and cool temperatures--which contributes to usual German moodiness, a wave of joy has rolled over the land. The first hint of a mood swing occurred the moment Thomas Müller scored the first (of many) goals in the Brazil-German game last night. Naturally, shock was mixed with joy, because no one--and I mean no one alive on this planet--could have predicted such an outcome. Too many illusions, prejudices, and even sound judgment prevented even hinting at such German dominance and Brazilian collapse.
In some cases, Americans have been clever in appropriating professional sports global championships: World Series, Super Bowl, NBA crown (whatever it’s called), etc. With the exception of the Olympic Games, the honour of the nation is never piled on the shoulders of one athlete or even a team.
Soccer/football (notice how multi-lingual I am and how considerate of non-Americans) is different. The World Cup competition brings out the worst of nationalism. People, who are rarely interested in sport, come out of the woodwork and from beneath stones to rave about something about which they know little. The main criteria is to root for one’s own.
Germans never fly the national flag, especially in one’s yard, except during the World Cup. For a short time, cars are adorned with flags, mirror decorations, and hood covers in the national colours. During games of the national team, streets are devoid of cars; bars are full, and something known as “public viewing” overflows with people seeking their like to cheer or suffer. Fears that nationalism might remind people of World War II are forgotten for the duration. The hopes of the nation ride on every game/match. Angie even flew to Brazil for the opening game and was back in the office the next day. Can you imagine Obama doing that? For soccer? Angie knew that voters would expect this and would appreciate her effort. No one questioned the cost of the fuel or her neglecting the crisis in Ukraine or battles with the UK over the European leadership issue.
Of course, similar scenes are repeated around the world in countries lucky enough to qualify for the competition. As teams fall be the wayside, countries will suffer psychological damage and spend the next four years analysing what went wrong and who is to blame. (If you don’t believe, check English newspapers, who lament or criticise their team’s early demise, the worst showing in 60 years.) Coaches are fired. Players, of course, return to highly paid jobs with professional clubs/teams.
Life goes on…
We had a surprise last night. I turned on a water faucet and...nothing. This has never happened before, without notification from the water company about work to be done.
Water is not like electricity, which occasionally fails. The water company does not have an emergency number, because there are never emergencies.
At some point during the night, water pressure was restored.
This morning, I wanted to make tea, but air in line made the flow sputter. It looked a bit cloudy, so I put some in a glass to check. The muddy look reminded my of reports from third world countries without water systems. I thought of the poor souls, who must walk miles to a well and carry water jars on their heads. I fuss about an hours without water pressure and a bit of cloudy water from one or our many faucets.
Still, this is Germany and life is supposed to be perfect...
For some reason, while lying in bed this morning, I thought about the difference between residential property in Germany and where grew up. I have no recall as to what sparked this thought...and it does not matter.
During my youth, I roamed free throughout the neighborhood and beyond. No one’s property was immune from my wandering. Friends and I played games that required much space. Fences were rare and easily surmounted. I do not recall ever being scolded by adults.
Germany is a land of fences and walls. Each plot is meticulously fenced in, many with additional hedge rows. No child is able to wander freely and would be chastised, if he or she set foot on a neighbor’s land. Children are allowed to play in their yard or a friend’s with invitation and at public playground during official opening times. Many open spaces have signs forbidding play.
I see in this a metaphor for comparative life. American children roam free, as did early settlers. German kids suffer the restrictions of a country continually overrun throughout history by invading armies. Freedom vs. protection.
Of course, kids these days in the United States must worry about the proliferations of guns and stand-your-ground laws. If those had been a feature of my young days, I would probably not have survived my youth.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.