Friday, October 30, 2009
For example, one day recently in the supermarket I heard one assistant saying to another, "Nyoff?" and I knew immediately that she'd said, "When are you off?" meaning "What time do you finish this evening?"
And yesterday one student remarked to another, "Lay eeay i'." To translate: "I'll hae to hae it" or "I'll have to have it".
No wonder I didn't understand every word I heard in Berlin if the Germans were speaking like this.
Cat language is much simpler. Feed me, let me in, let me out, stroke me, put me down.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Can I tell you a bit about Berlin? (The non-toothache aspect.)
My generation grew up thinking of East Germany and especially East Berlin as a sort of badland full of grey concrete and anxious people. As it quite possibly was to some extent. I certainly never thought I'd visit it or stay in a hotel on the east side. Nowadays, however, some of it's not terribly different from lots of other cities and the visitor isn't really aware - or I wasn't anyway - of passing from East to West - apart from where there are bits of wall standing isolated and gloomy-looking as historical landmarks.
And the Jewish Museum - we didn't go in. I don't think that would have been a cheery experience. And we wandered through the Tiergarten and in and out of various shops and churches.
Friday, October 23, 2009
We stayed in former East Berlin - which seemed very odd - near this television tower in the picture above. And then we went up the tower - which was quite a remarkable thing for me to do, since I don't at all care for heights. You go up to the big ball bit and the views are extensive - see below. I hope you're impressed by my daring.
Berlin was very interesting in various ways, but the big snag for us was that I had gone to the dentist the previous Thursday for some treatment to a tooth which was causing me no trouble (but which showed problems on an x-ray). This was on the Thursday. "It might be a bit tender tomorrow," said my lovely young Irish dentist. And it was. So I thought nothing of it. It was worse on the Saturday but we were off to Berlin on the Sunday at 4.30 am so I took lots of paracetamol and ibuprofen and crossed my fingers and went.
And the tooth got worse and worse. We were due to come back on the Friday - today - and my dentist doesn't work on Friday afternoons. So this meant that I wouldn't be seen till Monday, and I have a full teaching day on Monday... so... we changed our flights and came back on Wednesday instead. When I say that we changed our flights, I mean we had to book new ones. Mr Life had to book new ones, to be more accurate. And the dentist saw me and things are now greatly improved.
Mr Life is a saint. Never a word of complaint. Even when I fainted on the plane and had to be laid out along three seats with an oxygen mask and "Is there a doctor on board?" and all that. Cringe.
Well, we did see quite a lot of Berlin in the three days we were there.
And I'll tell you more about it another day.
Unfortunately, my vocabulary is not good. I kept being able to translate things up to a point, such as: "It is very important that you should something the something, so that something something isn't somethinged." Menus were much the same: being a vegetarian, I kept understanding that that dishes contained potatoes, cheese, beans and something.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
And the tender plants - not for much longer.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Have you seen this girl?
Then please tell her she is perfect *
[then in handwriting at the bottom]
* and that I'm sorry.
I hope it worked. I think.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
When I first arrived in Scotland, I expected to see bagpipers on every corner and men in quilts walking along the street like you see on postcards.
Admit it, Thimbleanna - that's your fantasy, isn't it?
Friday, October 09, 2009
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
I don't feel like that now, 40 years on. Autumn has its charms but Spring - that's the season that lifts the heart. Thrusting shoots, fresh leaves, baby birds, lengthening days, renewed hope. Autumn - well, I wouldn't go so far as to say that it brings thoughts of death but it does remind me how fast time is passing. Whoosh.
Monday, October 05, 2009
We were reading a newspaper article and considering the writer's style. We discussed his word choice, his use of sentence structure and imagery, the effect of the headline, the impact of the opening paragraph, the neatness of the closing paragraph, his use of repetition and humour and allusion and so on.
"Now write a paragraph on how effective you find his writing," I said.
And I got, from one student: "The language of this piece is short and simple but worth every penny."
Saturday, October 03, 2009
Although work continues unrelenting with loads of marking and preparation to do at home, and I feel SO out of touch with all your doubtless interesting lives, there have been two pieces of excitement in the Life household. One of these is that Daughter 2 has got the keys to the flat she's just bought - more of that another time - and the other is that the great, the wonderful, the talented and famous Shauna, aka Dietgirl, came to tea on Thursday. As did the also-very-nice Zanna.
Shauna, as many people know, is a shining star in the universe of Blog. She writes hilariously and touchingly and perceptively about her life and her travels in two blogs: What's New, Pussycat? (www.pussycat.shauny.org/) and The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl (www.dietgirl.org/).
(By the way, does anyone know why I can no longer cut and paste on to my blog? It's very annoying.)
She has many, many readers. She recently also wrote a fantastic book called "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl" about how she became overweight and then slim and lots more besides. Hers was one of the first blogs I read, on the recommendation of Daughter 1. Shauna's writing combines humour and observation and information and wisdom - an old head on young shoulders if ever I met one - and now I have met her. It was such a pleasure. I knew what she'd be like - perfectly lovely - and she was.
This was thanks to Zanna. Confusingly, Zanna (http://zanyzanna.blogspot.com/) is a Scot living in Australia and Shauna is an Australian living in Scotland. Zanna is a keen traveller, currently visiting her family in the middle of a European tour, and she suggested we meet up. So we did. Daughter 1 came along too. I provided an unimpressive salady meal - I can cook but I didn't know what they liked, work has been so busy that my brain has given out and anyway I didn't want to be responsible for making Dietgirl gain weight...