Home Members Poppy Eveling News from A Broad A Kerfuffle, in German

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  • Addiction
    10 July 2014

    How shall I put this? I am an addict.

  • Magical Thinking
    6 May 2014

    It's a sign...

  • Avoidance tactics or should that be antics
    2 May 2014

    Hang on a minute, I just have to go and put the kettle on before I start writing….

  • A Kerfuffle, in German
    17 April 2014

    Which involves keys, bowel cancer and some new vocabulary

  • My Flat
    15 April 2014

    My flat is tiny. There is no other way to say it.

  • Standing still for a bit
    10 April 2014

    Well, here I am, and here I will be for at least six months, which is a sort of relief. Here is Cologne and more specifically, a very small flat (about which, more later) in the no-man’s land between Weidenpesch and Longerich, neither of which places is a heaving mass of people, culture and excitement, but it’s green and with an U-Bahn round the corner, everything is accessible, sort of.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

A Kerfuffle, in German

Which involves keys, bowel cancer and some new vocabulary

Today I decided to go swimming. Nothing unusual in that. I thought it would be a good idea as next week I am starting my German course and there won’t be enough time for this swimming malarkey. It is a lovely, sunny day and I set off all happy and feeling very virtuous about the exercise thing.

I managed a lovely swim and then set off back for home and my planned couple of hours with the grammar and vocabulary books in preparation for the course next week. Now this may give you the impression I am a swot, all this preparation, and to some extent you would be right, but the main reason for this swot-like work is that I am getting increasing frustrated by the reduction of my participation in conversations to much head nodding, looking puzzled and agreeing with whatever outrageous statements are being made because my vocabulary does not extend to informing my interlocutor that they are a pig-ignorant peasant with liberality of Genghis Khan (can’t say Hitler here, for very obvious reasons, but I wonder - perhaps when my German is better). Hence the German course….

Anyways, there I was, strolling back to my tiny flat in the sunshine, only to discover that my main door key was refusing to open the door. Petra, from whom I am renting the flat, had warned me about this, but I hadn’t had any problems to date.  There I stood, trying to get the door open to no avail. Finally, and am quite ashamed at how long it took me to think of this, I decided to ring one of the other doorbells in the building and ask to be let in. This I duly did and was duly let in and duly explained on my way up the stairs to the bemused, slightly suspicious lady on the first floor that I lived in the attic and my key didn’t work. At least that’s what I think I said. She sort of nodded at me and scurried back into her flat, closing the door very firmly behind her.

Once the peace and quiet of my very small home was attained, I unpacked the swimming things and found a small space to hang them up to dry, which is more of an achievement than it sounds and checked the contents of the fridge and kitchen, still both very small and not so perfectly formed, but this does offer a quick overview at such moments. Having realised that I needed to shop for the lunch I will be making for a friend tomorrow today, as it’s Good Friday tomorrow and everything is shut, I also remembered about the front door. “Ah but,” I foolishly thought, “Missus Downstairs will be in when I get back, or I could prop the door open as I’ll only be gone for a few minutes.”

I opted for safety and propped the front door open with the wedge left for this purpose, leaving having to explain myself to Missus Downstairs again in demented gestures and bad German as a fall-back option.

Well yes, the obvious did happen. I went shopping and then came home only to discover that Missus Downstairs herself had gone out and had removed the wedge, leaving the door well and truly shut and implacable in the face of all my efforts to open it. Fortunately the day was still sunny so I sat on the doorstep, which is probably illegal but I like to live dangerously, and ate some of the food I had planned to have for lunch.

Now slightly less hungry, I tackled the door again, to see if it had changed its mind. Nope, and there was no-one in the building to let me in and at whom I could gesture and mumble about living upstairs and my key not working. Had another sit and a think, trying to be Zen about it and then went for the third go at the door. As I was pulling and pushing (and yes, kicking, again probably illegal) an older woman approached, looking quite fierce and waving keys in a menacing way. She gruffly asked me who I wanted to see (I can understand most of what is being said which makes everything so frustrating with the speaking) and again I went through the ritual of explaining about attic and key.

She then explained that she had come over to feed her son’s cat, so she would let me in, but she couldn’t get the door open either. She then rang all the bells, despite me having tried to tell her that there was no-one at home, and then she started shouting “Fire” just to see if that would get any response. Obviously not, so she decided to go and call the house owners as her son was the janitor and he was away on holiday, which is why she was dealing with the cat and why there was no-one about to help in the situation.

She stumped off to call the landlord and then came back with her mobile phone clamped to her ear, still talking to him, loudly. He was obviously recommending pulling the door towards you at the same time as trying to turn the key. We both proceeded to do this a few times, each with our own keys and then with each other’s, separately and together, while she kept up a running commentary on what was happening. Did I mention she was loud? Yup, this was done very loudly and was obviously supplying the rest of the street with some entertainment as curtains were twitching aplenty. Such fun. It was still sunny by the way.

Eventually, the landlord agreed to come into town from his rural idyll (don’t know if that’s where he really lives, but he certainly looked like a man who had been disturbed from one when he finally arrived) and sort the matter out. Missus Shouty then suggested that we both go and sit on a nearby wall and wait for the landlord, which we duly did and spent a happy half an hour (well, she seemed happy, I just nodded, grinned vacantly and agreed with her outrageous statements) with her talking to me and then talking to anyone who walked by. The passers by were all woman of the same age as Missus Shouty and she knew them all and all the conversations were about each other and how everyone was dying of bowel cancer, but bravely. I began to wonder about the healthiness of living in this part of town but reasoned that I would die of grinning vacantly before bowel cancer set in.

Finally, Missus Shouty got really fed up and headed for the front door again and managed, somehow, to get it open. I am quite sad that I didn’t get to see the trick, but am sure it involved arcane incantations and some serious violence. I dragged myself from the small wall where we had been sitting, picked up my shopping and headed into the building, once more nodding and grinning inanely and trying to say how wonderful Missus Shouty had been as I slid past her and trudged upstairs, with her still talking to me about bowel cancer and being brave, and talking to the landlord on the phone at the same time, so he must have been pretty confused.

And now I am home, and have enough food for the weekend and will probably have to stay here forever as the door will never work again as she had obviously cursed it for fun, and I will die here, bravely of course, from bowel cancer.