German lessons

Stop smiling

Stop smiling!

"There are three things in life you must learn", my Swiss-German friend confides to me, suddenly serious.

Or rather, more serious than usual, as the distance between easy and hard-going is, in his particular case, shorter than a trip across the Elbe.

To compound cultural stereotypes further, he is more German than Swiss, well-meaning but with a Bismarckian bluntness in manner.

To my German readers, let me by way of immediate reparation admit that I am on occasion mistaken for being German. Which I mean as a compliment! Complete strangers, presumably secure in my apparent Germanic character, have more than on one occasion started conversations with me in "Deutsch". Very funny indeed to my definitely not German sense of humour (I don't get cabaret either), which on occasion perpetuates itself through barked sideways commands in gatherings of my inexplicably kindred non-countrymen ("stille!"), amusement gained in watching them snap to sudden attention. "Ja, ist es verrückt!"

To borrow a maxim from the public relations industry, they say bad press is better than no press. Intrigued at the thought of three hither-to unknown life-lessons, I'm a glutton for attention, and all ears.

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