Tag Archives: Bacon

As happy as a pig in shit

Well, I’ve done it. I’ve finally cracked the German language. It turns out it’s not as difficult as everyone makes out either.

It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that Germans really love pork – in fact, they eat approximately 0.15kg of pork a day. Therefore, I guess it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that so many porky expressions permeate the language.

So now, instead of spending years trying to learn the vagaries of the German language, I’ve decided to communicate mainly through the use of piggy expressions.

Elvis the Pig has been helping me with my extensive research.
Elvis the Pig has been helping me with my extensive research.

Here are my top eight pig-related German expressions (or, to be more correct, the only eight I know).

8. Alles hat ein Ende, nur die Wurst hat zwei

Everything has an end, only the sausage has two. Pretty self-explanatory and quite profound in a porky sort of way.

7. Unter aller Sau

The literal translation of this one would be “under all pig (or sow)”, which doesn’t really make much sense to the average English speaker. However, when you imagine what usually lies  under all pigs, then it starts to become a little clearer. I guess you could translate it as “everything is in total shit or chaos” – something Germans do not like.

6. Ich habe die Schnauze voll

I believe the original version of this one was “Ich habe die Nase voll” but, naturally, the Germans had to porkify it. And so, “I have the full nose” became “I have the full snout”, which does not mean that your nose is blocked. No, it means that you’ve had enough of something.

5. Eierlegendewollmilchsau

Ah, one of those brilliant German compound nouns, but what on earth does it mean? Translating it doesn’t provide much help either – an egg-laying wool milk sow.

???

???
German engineering gone mad?

I can’t even think of an English equivalent for this one but the basic idea is that you’ve got one animal that can lay eggs, grow wool, produce milk, and even give you bacon and sausages. So, for example, if someone is asking you to do more work than you can cope with, you could yell, “For God’s sake! I’m not an egg-laying wool milk sow! There’s only so much I can do!” At least I think that’s how you could use it…

4. Ich glaube, mein Schwein pfeift

Literally, “I think my pig is whistling.” Obviously, pigs don’t normally whistle, not even German pigs, so this one expresses great surprise.

3. Der Kummerspeck

Grief bacon. Initially a bit of an oxymoron to me as bacon induces anything but grief in me. More accurately, it’s the excess weight that you gain from comfort eating in times of heartache. (Snigger.)

2. Es ist mir Wurst

If you translate it word for word, it means “It is to me total sausage”, or to put it into words that people can understand, it means “I don’t care about this at all”.

Combining Irish and German culture
Combining Irish and German culture

And my absolute, all-time favourite:

1. Jetzt geht es um die Wurst

Or “Now it gets about the sausage”, which means “Now it’s time to get serious” or “It’s now or never”. As I’ve mentioned before, Germans take their sausages very seriously so if a German says this to you, you might want to start running.

So, you’ve seen my top eight porky German idioms, but maybe you’re struggling to see how I could get by communicating through porky idioms alone. Well, for example, imagine that I’m breaking up with my imaginary German boyfriend. This is how that conversation could go:

Me: I have a full snout. It’s over.

Dagobert: But why? We’re so good together, baby! 

Me: Everything has an end. Only the sausage has two. 

Dagobert: But I don’t want this to end! 

Me: Huh. Our relationship is under all pig. I think you know that.

Dagobert: But I thought everything was perfect! 

Me: You expect too much. I’m not an egg-laying wool milk sow, you know. 

Dagobert: I think my pig is whistling. I wasn’t expecting this.

Me: It’s all sausage to me. 

Dagobert: But why now??

Me: Now it gets about the sausage.

Dagobert: But, but…

Me: Oh, just leave me in peace. I need to get my grief bacon on. 

Hopefully it’s now clear how my new approach to German language-learning will work. Or maybe I’m just throwing my pearls before swine?

The image of the egg-laying wool milk sow was taken from here.

Non, je ne regrette rien

Or whatever that is in German.

After the last few drama-filled weeks, you’d be forgiven for wondering if I’m regretting my decision to move to Berlin. If so, you’d be nuts. A little drama never killed anybody. It’s perfectly possible that psychotic Swedes did, but, fortunately for me and my blood pressure, I’m out of that situation now.

Bye bye bunnies. Take care Bjorn doesn't boil you.
Bye bye bunnies. Take care Bjorn doesn’t boil you.

So, why don’t I regret moving to Berlin? Well, aside from a psychotic Swede, a horny Hermann and an insane registration system, Berlin is fantastic. Most days I have to pinch myself to make myself believe that I’m actually living in one of my favourite cities in the world.

Even Queenie likes it.
Even Queenie likes it.

Here are just some of the reasons I’m happy I moved from Latvia to Germany (or Berlin, for those who insist that Berlin is Berlin, and not “real” Germany).

  • German drivers don’t act like they want to kill you.
  • German pedestrians don’t act like they want to kill you, either.
  • Germans are not as punctual as you might think. This is, in fact, rather annoying but it’s nice to know that Germans aren’t as perfect as everyone thinks they are. They do, however, treat long distance bus journeys in much the same way as they treat sun loungers in Majorca. On a recent trip to Hamburg, I arrived fifteen minutes early for the bus. I got on and thought that all of the seats were empty. Silly me. No, the Germans had probably got there at 4am, left their jackets and snacks, and gone home to bed for a few hours.
  • Even homeless people have high standards. I started teaching at one of the major banks in Berlin last Monday. The student was late (sigh), so I waited in the ATM vestibule. While I was phoning the school trying to find out where my student was, I woke up a young woman who had been sleeping behind the ATM machines. “Have you got €20 for me?” “€20??? No, I don’t.” “But you just took out money.” “Yeah, for me, not you.” I waited outside after that.
  • The fashion. Or lack thereof. I’m pretty sure you could dance down the street naked in Berlin and nobody would bat an eyelid. On one of the rare occasions I’ve seen someone wearing heels, it was a dude. Refreshing after all of the falsity in Latvia.
His 'n' hers lovely sensible German footwear
His ‘n’ hers lovely sensible German footwear
  • German people are friendly and helpful. No, it’s really true. They strike up conversations with total strangers on public transport; they help people with heavy suitcases. In fact, I think I’ve had more help from the few Germans I’ve met over the last four or five weeks than I had from the Latvians in four years. I don’t know where the cold, unsmiling German stereotype comes from, but nothing could be further from the truth.
  • German people are amazingly sociable. While I hear rumours that Germans like rummaging about in the forest for mushrooms, I haven’t seen that in person. What I have seen is every café and bar (and that’s a lot) full to the brim with shiny happy Germans holding hands talking and laughing like it’s the most normal thing in the world – which it is.
Shiny happy Germans holding hands. And dancing.
Shiny happy Germans holding hands. And dancing.
  • Germans aren’t shy about drinking on the streets. In Latvia, when you see somebody walking around with a beer in their hand, they’re usually the lowest of the low. Here, it’s the same as walking around with a bottle of water.
  • Germans work. And I mean WORK. There’s no faffing about. You will never see five or six Germans standing around looking at a hole in the ground the way you would in Latvia (or Ireland). They’re there to do a job, and they do it. In Latvia, a bar maid will grunt at you because you’ve interrupted her Youtube marathon. In Germany, a bar maid will come running from wiping down tables, sweeping floors, emptying ashtrays… they just don’t stop.
  • In Germany, if something is shit (and really, there aren’t that many things), you get the feeling that people are trying to improve it. Latvians would rather bitch and moan and, ideally, blame the Russians. (I doubt I’ll live long enough to see this change.)
  • Pretty much everything is cheaper in Berlin.
  • Food – oh wow, the food. First of all, you don’t have to pick your way through 254 mouldy onions in supermarkets to find the one good one – everything is shiny and fresh. The quality of everything is just better. And the variety – you can buy pretty much anything you want in the supermarkets, and I don’t think there’s a single cuisine that’s not taken care of in the restaurant market.
  • They have English bacon, Irish cheddar AND Heinz baked beans. Now I won’t need to bring back an extra suitcase from Ireland at Christmas. I have access to everything I need.
  • I don’t need to wipe down toilet seats everywhere I go. German women pee like women, not like dogs. However, one thing I cannot wrap my head around is the German “poo shelf”. Why anyone would want to examine their poo that closely is beyond me.
Dear god, why?
Dear god, why?
  •  I’m now living with two very hot German women – proof that not all German women are complete munters. And, more importantly, they’re über nice.
They even put sweets on my pillow - all together now, AWWWWW
They even put sweets on my pillow – all together now, AWWWWW

So, do I regret leaving Latvia? Not for a second.

Mad Men and Mother Teresa

So, where to begin? It seems like my perfectly ordered German life is unravelling slightly. I mainly put this down to my flatmate’s rapidly disintegrating mental state.

Yes, it appears that what I’d taken for (sort of) charming eccentricity is, in fact, stark raving looniness. The repeated (empty) promises to clear out the fridge, the bathroom and a cupboard in the living room were mere annoyances. The shaking and the sweating, while off-putting, could be viewed as semi-entertaining. The delusional babbling could be tuned out. Everything would be OK as he was going back to Sweden for almost two weeks, and I could sort things out here, while his parents hopefully had him committed in Sweden.

We now collect maps too seemingly. Because y'know, one can never have too many maps. Umm.
We now collect maps too seemingly. Because y’know, one can never have too many maps, right? Right??

Wednesday rolled around and I clung to my last shreds of patience as Bjorn crashed around the apartment, banging off things, breaking things, flooding the bathroom, eventually ending up with a packed bag. He also offered me the use of his laptop which I knew he’d already packed. By the time he was ready to leave, he was really late so he had to call a taxi. I breathed a sigh of relief as he finally bashed his way out of the apartment, almost taking the door off its hinges in the process.

At 1.30am, I was sound asleep when he crashed his way back in again. There was a lot of muttering and pacing, something about humiliation, something about losing his laptop “under the lights” and then a lot of shouting into his phone. By 2.30, I’d had enough and did a bit of shouting and stomping myself.

At 5.30, I dragged myself out of bed. I was covering four lessons for another teacher, and had to get to the other side of the city for 9.15. Unfortunately, Bjorn woke up too. Now, while I’m not generally known for my patience, I can keep myself in check in most situations. It turns out that a Swede in pajamas, rambling about how he’s Mother Teresa is not one of them.

Anyway, after a lot of shouting (and eating bacon), I made it out of the apartment. I got the metro to the next train and hopped on. I was actually early – yes, I’m that organised, even in the face of madness. Unfortunately, the transport system did not reward me. Works on the line meant finding a replacement bus to another train station, getting back on the train, but ultimately missing the last bus I had to take. A dash in a taxi meant that I arrived at 9.15 on the dot.

I sat down and waited. And waited. The students never showed up. The second group were 15 (very unGerman) minutes late. I had 45 minutes to scoff a bit of lunch and then two more groups – neither of which turned up. Then it was back to the bus-train-bus-train-train game. Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was not in a particularly good mood.

Bjorn was still talking like I’d been there the whole time. But it was OK – he’d be heading to the airport again in an hour or so. They’d managed to book him on another flight. I tuned him out as best I could and waited. Finally, he left. Oh, the sweet blessed relief! I took myself out to a local Greek restaurant and revelled in the lovely normal Germans, indulging in lovely normal conversations all around me.

Food had never tasted so good
Food had never tasted so good

I danced home, cracked open a bottle of wine, and was just toasting my blissful solitude when Bjorn walked back in. Now, one of the main reasons this apartment appealed to me was that my flatmate would be travelling a lot. I just didn’t realise that when he said “travelling”, he meant travelling to the airport and NEVER getting on a f****** plane.

So, when you realise your flatmate is a nutter, you’ve got two courses of action as I see it – try to help him, or avoid him as much as humanly possible. As I’m no psychiatrist, I went for the latter. Or, as the old saying goes, if life gives you lemons, go and drink wine and eat cake.

Technically it's a waffle, but that works too.
Technically it’s a waffle, but that works too.

On Friday, I took myself off to pretty Potsdam and had a wonderful day.

And one for the ladies...
And one for the ladies…

I watched Germans playing a game I don’t know the name of, but I like to call, “Germans throwing sticks at sticks while drinking beer”.

Germans throwing sticks at sticks while drinking beer.
Germans throwing sticks at sticks while drinking beer.

I went to the flea market at Tiergarten… and didn’t buy anything.

Nein. Just NEIN.
Nein. Just NEIN.

I experienced my first Flammkuchen…

Gott, it was gut!
Gott, it was gut!

and went for a wander around the park with my childhood friend. I didn’t even know he was living in Berlin until he read in the Latvian blog that I was moving here and got in touch.

My photography skills don't do it justice.
Tiergarten –  my photography skills don’t do it justice.

And so, life goes on. Bjorn has calmed down a bit. It seems that telling someone who’s acting like a total nutjob that he’s acting like a total nutjob has an oddly calming effect. Maybe I should have been a psychiatrist after all?

Interesting times…