Posting may be intermittent till i’m established in Munich: i spilt booze on my laptop’s external keyboard and it’s gone funny; i don’t like the laptop keyboard, and besides the G key has fallen off and i can’t put it back (i think something is broken). i don’t see any point buying a new external keyboard now, when i’d only have to lug it to Munich, so will probably not post much for a few weeks. Here, however, are two news stories illustrating something of the British police:

Tale 1:

A couple were threatened with arrest after their young children were spotted picking daffodils in the park.

Sienna Marengo, four, was playing with sister India, 10, and step-sister Olivia, six, in Whitecliff Park,  Poole, Dorset, when they were spotted by a passing Peter Adams, a Tory councillor.

He reported the family to police and officers arrived to warn the family they risked being arrested for theft and criminal damage.

Tale 2:

Joanne Butler, 38, died in January 2006 after a brutal attack by her neighbour and his teenage son.

She twice dialled 999 but Leicestershire Police failed to send an officer to her home in Earl Shilton.

Two other emergency calls were made in quick succession – one from her killer – but still no-one was dispatched.

The German police don’t sound that competent either, but then there is no real street crime here. i’ve had only two altercations in 12 months (one a gang of guys all bigger than me, in Kiel, the other in Kassel, walking to work at 0600 – a fool i could have crushed with my little finger), and seen only one episode on the tram/bus/train. In England – or in Huddersfield, Leeds, Manchester, Durham, anyway – such things happened every month, at least. Who needs cops in Germany? As one of my students said, when i asked if there was any crime in his village: “I don’t think the people know what crime is.What little crime exists is down to Russians on the whole – a brutal, lawless race of thugs, largely without redeeming qualities (my hippy flatmate is Russian) but that Russian women are often unspeakably, elfishly, beautiful, and – well, The Brothers Karamazov, Hadji Murad, Sergei Esenin, etc:

Не жалею, не зову, не плачу,
Все пройдет, как с белых яблонь дым.
Увяданья золотом охваченный,
Я не буду больше молодым.

Ты теперь не так уж будешь биться,
Сердце, тронутое холодком.
И страна березового ситца
Не заманит шляться босиком.

Дух бродяжий! Ты все реже, реже
Расшевеливаешь пламень уст.
О, моя утраченная свежесть,
Буйство глаз и половодье чувств.

Я теперь скупее стал в желаньях.
Жизнь моя, иль ты приснилась мне?
Словно я весенней гулкой ранью
Проскакал на розовом коне.

Все мы, все мы в этом мире тленны,
Тихо льется с кленов листьев медь…
Будь же ты вовек благословенно,
Что пришло процвесть и умереть.

No regret I feel, no pain, no sorrow,
Blossom blows away, a song is sung.
Overcome by autumn gold, tomorrow
I myself shall be no longer young.

You’ll not throb, heart, as before, but tremble,
Feeling chills that you have not yet known.
In bare feet you shall no more be tempted
Through the birch-print countryside to roam.

Roving spirit, ever now less often
Do you rouse a flame upon my lips.
Freshness I have lost, keen looks forgotten,
Feelings running at full flood I miss.

I’m austerer now in my desiring.
Life, were you real, or of fancy born?
It’s as if in spring I’ve been out riding
On a pink horse in the vibrant dawn.

In this world of ours we all are mortal,
Copper leaves from maples gently slide…
Ever blest was I to be accorded
Time for blossoming before I died.

And a video celebrating the day i arrive in Munich, if i can find a flat: