“Geschichte wird gemacht – es geht voran !”
Band Fehlfarben, song Ein Jahr
And history was made in Wembley when Mr JOSHUA knocked out Mr KLITSCHKO, a clean fight, a clear victory, a generational change. Let’s hope that Vladimir understands the message written on the ring floor, and quits. Enough of this.
Yesterday was the only sunny day in a row, and for the week to come, so I took a stroll on the banks of the river Main. Here is some photographic evidence.
To give a general impression, this is a view from the right river bank towards the left one, lot of mistletoes growing there in the trees.
Nice and sunny, and no, our rivers are not flowing uphill. Of course they could, if they’d decide to.
Communities are generously providing health facilities for free, everyone is invited to a round of Wassertreten, also called Kneippen.
Stepping through cold water is a bit exhausting, so it is time to try the local street furniture.
Franconians, at least many of them, like to decorate their environment. There is always place for some flowers, or stuff. So on your way back to the car you may spot something like this :
And your reward for following me up to here : A short bourée by Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) (Ger., Eng.).
I hope you like the music. May we all have a peaceful week !
The Professor is lucky. Despite his old age (he is over ninety now) he is still in full command of his body and his brains. He is the doyen in my discipline, and of course may smile when some over-enthusiastic scribbler describes him as the one “who single-handedly renovated” our field, because he was not alone – and I think he’s the first to acknowledge this. But without his institute things would have taken a different course.
When he took over the chair of a small institute in a sleepish Suebian provincial town 57 (!) years ago, das Fach was marginalised, not least because of its unfortunate history in those twelve years. When the professor was given the emeritus status some thirty years later the limited “German” horizon was opened towards an European perspective, and the 19th century “Volkskunde” was replaced with “Ethnology”, a different set of methods and approaches – without a doubt results of a process started by his institute in the late sixties.
He saw colleagues come and go, friends and adversaries. And of course it was time to step aside for the next generation, but that would not mean to fall silent, curl up, and die. A university owns this & that, he was given a working place in a dependance of his former institute, a nicely situated house in an up-market neighbourhood with gardens and narrow alley ways. There stands the desk he visits daily, the house (originally a residence house) holds some collections, a library, you get the idea.
The Ghost was nicknamed by neighbours, they called him the Schlossgespenst, the ghost of the castle, seemingly because he spoke to nobody and silently swished by on his bicycle. The Ghost was in his late sixties, and had studied a lot, among other subjects philosophy and history. As it seems, he never graduated.
Academia is not only filled with happy stories and success, there are always people who, well … are not so lucky. Some simply can not stop being a student, some can not get their stuff together and write a Magisterarbeit or a thesis, some struggle with mental problems, some simply meet an ill fate.
Whatever it was with the Ghost, he simply never left the university. He worked in different institutes as “Hilfskraft” over the years, but a “student temp” in his forties or fifties or sixties – alma mater can have a wide heart for their stumbling sons.
He occupied some rooms on the second floor of that old house more than ten years ago. I think he worked for this institute for very small money, and lived from benefits, Sozialhilfe. As I already said, mother Alma may have a big heart, but …
They offered him another flat, several times. They threatened with eviction. Finally it was the job of a bailiff (“Gerichtsvollzieher”) and a man from the Ordnungsamt, the municipal authority responsible for public order, to get him out and clear the rooms.
The Ghost waited for them on the balcony. He took out a gun and shot at them, thankfully hurting no one, but a bullet went through one man’s sleeve. While the two men on the ground covered behind a car they noticed that the Ghost’s flat was burning. He had set fire to the appartement he should leave. They watched as he tried to go back into the rooms, but he finally decided to escape via the balcony. He slipped, and fell six meters to the ground, finally to death.
And while an emergency doctor tried to save his life, the fire brigade tried to reach the house, situated on a hill with nice gardens and narrow alley ways. When they finally arrived the fire was happily munching through the old wood beams, all that nice paper – in the end the building was totally gutted with only the outside walls remaining, declared unsafe by technicians and forbidden to enter.
All this happened last week. As I read the Professor was still travelling, on a voyage in Africa, unaware of what happened, they could not reach him.
The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.
They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.
Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.
Ach … the clothes are in the machine which is quietly rumbling away. The room is cleared, reasonably, at least one can turn around without brushing stuff from tables – as if I had tables here – or move without raising plumes of dust. Things necessary are bought, even some unnecessary stuff, no need to go out then. Dishes washed, kitchen surfaces cleared, oh what a difference this makes ; bottles brought out.
Some things dealt with via computer, so even the desk appears to be less cramped, less paper.
Time to do something serious, like write this damn article. “… you’ll feel even better once you’ve got your article done …”, as IDV remarks absolutely aptly in the comments to the previous post, because only afterwards I can turn to the flotsam & jetsam. Good to learn btw that IDV’s blog is now reachable again, seemingly he has sorted his French troubles out.
“Write an article” – pfff, sounds a bit pompous, doesn’t it ?!
It’s just a very small scribble about a place here in the village. Promised the terrible text months ago to the friendly lady who runs this historical working group (“Arbeitskreis”) that prepares some notes about the must-see-attractions of the village. All in connection with the “Landesgartenschau” that will be held in the neighbouring “city”, and from what the adjacent villages wish to benefit in the form of visitors, tourists etc. This leads to general cleaning and brushing-up, planting of trees, revamping of garden benches, the demarcating of foot trails for avid wanderers including signs so that they don’t get lost in the Franconian wilderness. And when they stand at attractive points of interest they can point their smart phones on a sign with one of these squares that have a special name I forgot, get an internet connection and a smart voice (sometimes mine) explains what the wanderer sees – for example the “Roman Bridge“. Or tells what there is to know about the fountains – I happily got rid of this assignment – or the church, the library, you get the idea.
And I am stuck with the most unrewarding topic imaginable, even worse than the cemetery : Ein Schießplatz ! A military shooting range. Good GOd … I have a problem.
I can not think of one way to make this thing “attractive”. Especially because it is not used now for some years – the visitors will stand in front of a carefully closed metal gate decorated with a bit of rusty barbed wire – of the Nato kind with razor-blades, not the original German one.
The adjacent nice city on the banks of the river Main is today advertising itself with “Baroque” and “wine” – both things are fitting. But the city always had a military side too – remember that the most eye-catching building when you approach the town, is after all a fortress sitting on a hill over the civilian settlement. Through the nineteenth century, as Bavarian town, there was a garrison. And of course the military built-up in the 1930s did not pass the baroque beauty : New barracks, a large new military hospital, some bunkers were built in the area of the city – and a shooting range for small arms, Handfeuerwaffen (weapons you shoot while you hold them in your hands, like pistols and rifles, single action, half-automated, fully automated) was constructed on the Eastern area of this village.
On the Western side was an artillery shooting range that ignored the village’s borders. Now and then the cannoneers missed their targets and fired their grenades into the villagers’ gardens, GOd they had to learn somewhere, n’est-pas ?
The Schießplatz was used by the German Wehrmacht (“Where the fascist forces learnt their trade”- ?) until the end of the Wehrmacht. The place was put in use again by the Bundeswehr sometimes in the late fifties (I think) and at some (unknown) point taken over by the American Forces, until they relocated, reduced their forces and military bases in the whole of Germany and Middle Europe and regrouped worldwide. Then the Schießplatz was handed back via the German Federal State to the community, the village I live in – and since this day the village wonders what to do with that installation : Mountain bike fun arena ? Airsoft-blamm-splatter arena ? Just ignore and let it become a habitat for what-ever-wants-to-live-there ? No clue at all. Accepted all round is only that the public coffers are empty and that private housing is out of question.
And what do I tell the happy wanderers ? Ach …