Category Archives: living with Germans

Moving in with a German

Earlier this year, Manfredas asked me to move in with him. This was actually a brave move on his part as I’d previously told him that I’d set fire to my kitchen while making a ham and cheese toastie. Twice.

Still, from my point of view, it was a great idea for a number of reasons:

  1. Germans have better insurance than I do – i.e. they have insurance.
  2. I’d accidentally flashed my boobs at my elderly neighbour while I was getting dressed and he was having a smoke on his balcony. He’d been very unfriendly to begin with, but it turned out that all it took was an impromptu peep show to lead to daily invitations to his apartment for a drink. I politely (then not so politely) declined.
  3. I’d managed to clog my shower drain with hair beyond what my questionable abilities as a plumber could cope with. Loath to go and tell the Hausmeister and watch him pull a yeti out of there, I tried (and failed) to use my own methods.
Not to be confused.

I decided to leave my slightly blackened oven, randy neighbour and hirsute shower drain behind and accept Manfredas’ offer. (Sometimes I can be just as romantic as the Germans.)

Manfredas lent me some boxes from when he’d last moved and I assured him I would be packed up and ready to go that weekend. Unfortunately, it seemed that my box-putting-together skills were about as developed as my cooking and plumbing skills. Never fear – after about half an hour of arsing around on youtube, I found what I was looking for, put my first box together (with a lot of pause/play/swearing) and it was plain sailing from there.

Utilising a woman’s touch I didn’t know I possessed, I adorned Manfredas’ (sorry, OUR) flat with cardboard boxes, clothes and shoes, cosmetics, toiletries, and four wineglasses and a packet of Bisto – the only things worth taking from my old kitchen.

Me: (upon closer inspection of my new kitchen) I’m afraid I have to move out.

Manfredas: You just moved in! What’s wrong? 

Me: I can’t reach the wineglasses. This could be a deal-breaker.

German kitchens are not made for Irish people.

Luckily Manfredas – being the resourceful sort that he is – quickly remedied the situation and disaster was averted.

The Linda shelf!

While I could cope with living out of a suitcase for a week or so, I kind of needed to hit the ground running on the work front so the first priority was a desk, chair and shelving unit for my brand new home office. Yes, home office. I am now fancy.

An hour or so in Sconto and I was the proud owner of all of the above. In flat-pack form.

Urgh.

While Manfredas was happy enough to let me bash a dowel (I just had to ask him what the word is for “the little wooden things that you hammer into other things to make furniture stick together”) every now and then, it was decided that my unique skill-set would probably be better put to use in keeping the music going and the wine flowing.

Manfredas: Hmm, I don’t think the tools given are good enough for this bit. I need a drill. (Produces a rather nice Black & Decker drill set.)

Me: Bah haha! You own drills! 

Manfredas: Well, of course I own drills. How else do you think things get on walls? 

Me: Oh yes. Right. That makes sense.

Sometimes I forget that I’m a grown-up dating a grown-up.

Anyway, in a few short hours – for me, at any rate – the office was complete.

Don’t worry – the screwdriver is just for show.

Once I had everything in place, it was time for the next phase – showing me how to use the TV, the heating, the dishwasher, the washing machine and various other gadgets that Germans love. Amazingly, Manfredas has undertaken to do most of the cooking so a cooker tutorial didn’t really come into play.

This probably explains why the flat is still standing and we’re rubbing along nicely together. I guess he should probably put the ham and cheese on the top shelf of the fridge though…

 

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There is something worse than naked neighbours

The last thing on earth I wanted to see on Tuesday morning was an angry Hildeberta with a pen and paper in her hands. Groan. Was the dreaded cleaning rota finally going to materialise? I ventured a little closer with a cheery “Good morning!”, and peered at what she was writing. “Lieber Nachbar…” Phew, it seemed I was off the hook.

Me: What’s happening? 

Hildeberta: DID YOU HEAR ME LAST NIGHT? 

Me: (backing slowly away) Ummmm… 

It emerged that, in a fit of rage, she’d stomped upstairs in her pajamas to deal with our insanely noisy neighbours. I had actually heard our front door opening at around 1am but as I was nice and warm in my bed, I just thought, “Sod it. Let the bloody burglars come to me. I’m not moving.” I nodded off again a few minutes later.

Meanwhile, Hildeberta had been banging away on the neighbours’ door, determined to have it out with them. She said she could hear them talking in rather coarse German, tiptoeing around for a bit, and then all was quiet. So she came back downstairs and went to bed again. Having got no satisfaction (duh nuh nuh) the night before, she was now writing a note to them in VERY SHOUTY LETTERS.

The truth is, this has been going on for months now but, as Germans are oh so polite, we didn’t do anything about it. I had previously offered to be the short, silent, crazy-eyed sidekick to Hildeberta’s dignified lead – think Joe Pesci and Robert de Niro in Casino – but my flatmates had turned me down.

You see, there are laws against this sort of thing in Germany. Between 10pm and 6am, you’re not supposed to do anything that could disturb your neighbours in any way. This includes, but is not limited to, hoovering, turning on your washing machine, blaring your TV, and revving your car engine. I have even heard of the police being called on a crying baby. And while Berlin is generally rather lax with this sort of stuff, our neighbours are a pretty extreme case.

I put forward several theories as to what could be going on up there, but as my macabre imagination freaked out Hildeberta and Hildegard, I’ve toned it down to what is probably the most likely one. So here it is – Gebhard’s Guide to Driving your Neighbours Crazy:

1. Look at your watch and realise that it’s around midnight.

2. Put on your hobnail boots.

3. Proceed to line dance for 30 – 40 minutes.

4. When you’re good and warmed up, move every piece of furniture in your flat to a new position.

5. Jump off every piece of furniture while still wearing your hobnail boots.

6. Repeat.

Luckily for Gebhard, Hildeberta and Hildegard are extremely well-mannered individuals with the patience of saints. I, on the other hand, am not. This has led to me jumping up and down, banging on the ceiling with a sweeping brush in my hand while roaring obscenities at night, and “treating” Gebhard to my version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” at the top of my voice first thing in the morning. However, it seems that none of this has had any effect whatsoever.

Hildeberta dropped the note up on Tuesday morning. As I sit here writing this, 2 Unlimited are blaring from on high, and Gebhard is having what sounds like multiple seizures (in hobnail boots) directly above my head. (Although, if I were forced to listen to 2 Unlimited at that volume, I’d probably have a seizure too.)

So it seems he’s not just an inconsiderate moron, he’s an inconsiderate moron with embarrassingly poor taste in music. It’s now around 9.30. At 10.01, I’m going up there. Now, where’s my pen…