This summer, I and my partner Lynne are off to Berlin, which I find very exciting because I have, to my shame, never been to Germany and I think I would enjoy the novelty of staying in a properly-organised country.
A friend who has just returned from three months in Berlin says the city is indeed lively and sophisticated, although she did find the language a problem.
She joined an English friend who has lived in Berlin for a year and speaks passable German; it’s her English that’s gone to pot. Through flipping between fairly basic German and fairly basic English, she’s lost her grasp of any plausible language at all and says things like ‘We go now to the supermarket, yes? or ‘The park contains many excellent aspects both large and less extensive’.
And on the cultural front, my friend was invited by a German to accompany her to the cinema. The film, she realised slowly and with horror, was Iron Sky – a thoroughly daft story about some Nazis hiding on the dark side of the Moon while plotting to re-invade the Earth.
Naturally she was struck dumb on ‘don’t mention the war’ grounds and could only turn crimson and make non-committal grunts, but perhaps it proved that young Germans have mature more than young Brits.
And talking about North European language difficulties, another friend spent some time in the Netherlands and, foolishly, I think, tried to learn Dutch.
She eventually gave up because, on a mission to buy potatoes, she was informed that she had in fact ordered two kilos of freckles.