Tag Archives: Rant

Acting German

Having been told, on more than one occasion, that I have a flair for the dramatic – it wasn’t meant as a compliment – this week, I decided to put this theory to the test and try out “German with Theatre Games”.

The lesson was to take place at 77 Kastanienallee, which is right at the opposite end of the city. I left myself plenty of time (as usual), found 75, walked past 77, which is a cinema, and hit 79. Huh. Guess it must be down that dark alley somewhere. So I trotted through the darkness until I came to a courtyard. Nope, nothing to see here. So I headed through the second dark alley until I came to the second dark courtyard.

Bingo.
Bingo.

I followed the signs to the third floor and pushed at the door. Locked. I had managed to arrive before the teacher even got there. I stood for a couple of minutes admiring what I hoped was my artistically mysterious, all-black clothing, shoving at the door every now and then.

Knock, knock...
Knock, knock…

The teacher showed up right on time, but I wasn’t allowed in until I had removed my boots. Crap. This was about the time “artistically mysterious” went awry.

Don't you judge me - it's winter...
Don’t you judge me – it’s winter…

When I walked in, Traudl the Teacher had also removed her socks. Great. A hippy. And I hate feet. Still, I tried to make polite conversation for a few minutes until, finally, Claudio showed up. With two people, we could get started. The theme of the “lesson” was drinks and restaurants, something I felt I could get on board with.

But first, we had to move “freestyle” around the room to music, which, as I’m sure you can imagine, is one of my all-time favourite activities…

I chose to shuffle around glaring accusingly at my non-mysterious pink socks. As the room was roughly the same temperature as the streets (0 Celsius), this activity was probably more for survival purposes than anything else.

Next Traudl put a “Ja” card in one corner, and a “NEIN” card in another. We had to ask each other questions to get to know each other a bit.

Me: Können sie singen? (Can you sing?) 

Traudl: No, no, there’s no “sie” in this space, only “du”. (The informal “you” in German.)

Me: OK, but I’m asking two of you so then it would be the plural, “ihr”. “Du” doesn’t make any sense. 

Traudl: Please use “du” in this space. 

Me: Mutter… 

We threw a massive workout ball around for a bit with me trying not to aim for Traudl’s head. Two more girls had shown up in the meantime.

Run free...
Run free…

Next up was a “game” where we had to pretend to be something else. Traudl showed off her acting skills by pretending to be a worm and lying on the floor, wriggling. I wondered why she wasn’t in Hollywood. Claudio ran over and pretended to be a bird and another girl became a tree. The bird took the worm and it was game over. Seemingly we were practising our article forms. This continued for some time and, while I’m not sure it helped my articles much, I’m pretty sure I could be a convincing worm now…

Traudl gathered us all into a circle and it was time to shout, “JA, NEIN AND DOCH”, with various hand gestures,  at each other. After a while, these three words were replaced with DIE heiße Schokolade, DER frischgepresste Orangensaft, and DAS alkoholfreie Getränk. The shouting and gesturing continued for a further ten minutes or so. Admittedly, I’ll never forget the articles that go with these drinks, but can this really be counted as learning the language in any sort of meaningful way?

After what seemed like an eternity, we were put into groups of three (two more people had shown up 30 and 40 minutes late) and instructed to write a drinks menu. After a while, Traudl bare-footedly bounced over to inspect ours.

Traudl: But wait, what’s this? 

Me: Weißbier.

Traudl: Oh no, that’s not a thing. You mean light beer. 

Me: No. I don’t. 

Traudl: (Scribbling out my word) 

Me: No, obviously you have light beer and dark beer but Weißbier is something different. 

Traudl: No, no, you mean light beer. 

Me: Sure. And “DU” can kiss my white Irish Arsch.

It wasn’t like I needed much convincing at this point, but seriously, what can I possibly learn from a GERMAN who knows nothing about BEER? She’d also never heard of Hoegaarden.

Yes, that also exists, you numpty.
Oh look! Things you’ve never heard of DO exist…

Finally, we had to act out a couple of “ordering in a restaurant” scenes, which luckily, we all knew how to do anyway as we’d had zero input in this respect in the preceding 75 minutes.

Seemingly it had taken Traudel – professional actress and German teacher – three years to “perfect” this teaching technique. I’m pretty sure I could have beaten her by 2 years, 364 days and 23.5 hours. She even made two spelling mistakes AND an article mistake in the “useful language” .pdf she posted the next day.

Clearly, I would not recommend “German with Theatre Games”, unless maybe you have a foot fetish. However, Hollywood, you there? If you’re ever looking for a convincing worm, I’ve got just the woman…

 

 

 

 

Hit me with your selfie stick

Go on. I dare you. It’s not that I think people need an excuse to take down anybody seen with a selfie stick, but German law enforcement might look on me a bit more kindly if I were (properly) provoked.

OK, so this isn’t limited to Berlin; it could apply to any city that attracts a decent amount of tourists. But Berlin is my city and with 12 million visitors in 2014, I thought it might be about time to share my feelings with the twatty tourist who thinks that his or her idiotic face in front of some monument/building they haven’t even looked at is more important than me going about my daily business. (Clue: it isn’t.)

NEIN.
NEIN.

Back when I was earning rather a stupid amount of money for doing a not very important job, I used to travel by myself quite a lot. While I’m not a huge fan of seeing myself in photographs, after a while I began to realise that I had all of these amazing photos and I hadn’t appeared in one of them. I could have just downloaded them off the internet and pretended I’d been to all of those places – if I was that way inclined.

In the (good) old days, this was where some random helpful soul would step into your life. In halting “insert language here”, you’d attempt to communicate while pointing first at the camera and then at some attraction you wanted to ruin by standing in front of it. As a lone traveller, these little exchanges could make your day. To be fair, you probably still looked like a bit of a tool, but at least there was some kind of human interaction involved. And brightening up some auld lad’s holiday by convincing him that the blurry mess you were looking at was “really good! No, really! Perfect!” just added to the experience.

It seems that those days are gone though. Selfie sticks and pointless posing are taking over the world and it offends me enough to have caused the odd rant to those within earshot.

Me: God, I HATE selfie sticks. 

Poor long-suffering Nigel: I don’t know. They have their uses. 

Me: WHAT?! We can no longer be friends. 

PL-SN: No, wait. Hear me out. 

Me: (picking up handbag and preparing to vacate in dramatic fashion) Go on… 

PL-SN: Well, when I see someone with a selfie stick, I instantly know that they’re a total penis and I don’t have to waste any time on them. 

Me: Huh. You might actually have a point there. 

PL-SN: What are you doing? 

Me: Writing down “selfie stick = total penis” – I might use it in a blog post some day. 

PL-SN: You’re weird. 

Total penis. And me.
Total penis. And me.

Yes, I have been known to take the odd silly photo but at least I wasn’t in anyone’s way at the time. And I’d rather photograph a penis any day than look like one. Who’s with me?