i had a great day on Friday, 0700 to 1530 with a half-Swedish, half-German student, a project manager at a cyborg company. The building strongly resembles the Cyberdyne building from Terminator 2, with glass cases full of prosthetic arms, metal skulls with glowing red eyes, etc., walls lined with designs for killer cyborgs.

Everything was modern and amazing. i don’t like the modern world but if it must be, then it should be like this. Even the kettle was some kind of badass Terminator kettle: when you start it up 50 lights come on and it makes a little noise when it’s finished. i enthused about it to my student, who said “I have a kettle like this. You can find them in Aldi for ten Euros.” Later, when we were practicing the simple conditional, i said: “what will you do if i steal the kettle?” and he replied thoughtfully: “If you steal the Terminator kettle, I will help you.” He also suggested i steal chairs, a CD player, and corporate art.

He was a sehr cool hombre, a natural pirate who looked like an amalgam of every character from Das Boot, and dressed accordingly. He lives near Kiel – in the gatehouse of a castle, on an island on a lake. i kept exclaiming “you’re just like a character from The Count of Monte Cristo – you even live in a castle!” He looked amused and responded, “I don’t live in the castle. The castle is a hundred metres away. I live in the gatehouse.” He works in a northern site of the cyborg company, and was visiting the more southerly branch to train the sales people, and get English lessons. He was ill at ease in the formal, unpiratical southerly branch, where everyone dressed in a power suit and the women were all extremely sexy and extremely Stepford. i bumped into a pair of Stepford MILF, who asked who i was teaching, etc. i instantly thought “damn, they’re just like the English Stepfords” – different language, same dress, same expression, same rather dangerous sexuality. Throughout the lesson they kept stalking haughtily past the meeting room, and each time the pirate & i followed their progress with wary interest.

The Stepfords, in true Stepford fashion, tried to charm the pirate on his arrival, but, he reported, they were clearly alarmed by his Das Boot attire, Das Boot stubble, and Das Boot demeanour. They were also apparently livid with curiosity and outrage, because he drives a car a little too flash for his pay grade – purely because it was the only free vehicle in the car pool, but they doubtless imagine he holds secret influence.

“They call me The Shadow,” he said. “When I came to the company I didn’t know what my job was. No one did. I spent three months wandering around the building. I appeared with no warning. I asked questions. I disappeared. No one knew who I was or what I was doing. Even I didn’t know. Like a shadow I appear and then go away again.”

“The Stepfords are probably talking about you now, ‘who is this Shadow who drives an Audi and dresses like a character from Das Boot? What are his powers? Is he dangerous?”

He also knows one of the real life models for the Captain from Das Boot – now in his 90s but still hale and cunning. “A very interesting man,” he said, as i made strangled noises of amazement. Finally, i gasped: “you know…the Captain?”

He nodded, amused. “A friend of my father’s.”

He also likes British folk music and Massive Attack, and has seen The Royal Tenenbaums.

As we parted, he thanked me and said it had been a very useful lesson. i replied, humbly, ” i never thought i’d have a student who lives in a castle and knows the Captain.”

“I don’t live in the castle, I live in the gatehouse,” he corrected me. “I am not so rich.”