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1.   It was also strangely enjoyable to visit my mother, we have absolutely nothing in common, except an interest in food, but there it is. With both my parents, i came to see them as children in adult bodies, and though i have no happy memories of either in my childhood and teen years, i feel we still have some basic connection. In truth i feel more kin to my stepfather, a dour, chuckling Yorkshireman born in ’45, left school at 6, worked in the mines, on the buses, etc. – one of these archetypal old English types, Orwell would have been all over him like a cheap suit, seeking the Wisdom of the Proles. He’s from Marsden, one of the Last of the Summer Wine locations, and really has that Scrutonian Oikophilia, attachment to one’s ancestral land, without any conscious reflection – just as instinct. He is one of these people who can do anything manual with ease, who naturally dominates without any sense of effort or aggression, so you simply accept that yes, he is in charge – he’s about 5 foot tall, or even shorter, so it’s curious that he can cow a bus full of teenage chav schoolkids. There’s nothing remotely uncanny or mystical about him, he just seems to have come from some pre-Roman Britain, where everyone was 5 foot tall and grew up with beasts – but in our age, he is an exception, closer to one of Alan Garner’s dwarves than a 21st Century human being. As with me, he prefers dogs to cats, though he & my mother recently acquired a cat and i note he has somehow trained it to behave like a dog.

He is in many ways the decent hard-working Englishman that socialists and Commies froth about, yet he is, like me, a Daily Mail reader who has never voted in his life; and when some political candidate knocked on his door he snapped: “Not interested, thank you – you buggers are all the same.” He has an aversion to froth and highfalutin talk & people, so he would regard all the lefties i know (either plummy-voiced champagne socialists or greasy-haired drawling potheads) as workshy loudmouths. It is a curious feature of both fascism and socialism/communism, that the leaders & intellectuals claim to represent a type very very far removed from these often clinically insane, bullying, obscene individuals – as a 30s joke went, the ideal German was tall like Hitler, athletic like Göring, blonde like Goebbels, manly like Himmler. Intellectuals, especially political intellectuals, simply want power over others – hence they violently resent anyone who abstains, who stands apart, who doesn’t vote and doesn’t militate for the Party – they believe everyone should be political, of course in the right way, meaning their way, and it is not permitted to simply get on with your life and be a decent human being – that is precisely what they cannot tolerate.

2. i took the opportunity to eat pie every day – the Bosche think pie is some kind of cake, because they are stupid. i reacquainted myself with Denby Dale pies, one of the finest works of humanity:

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And most days my mother & stepfather took me around West Yorkshire. Colne Valley:

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And Marsden, Standedge Tunnel:

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We sat and waited for the next barge, and i ate a pork pie:

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And then on into the dark:

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About three miles into the subterranean labyrinth, we met a race of cave-dwelling folk who all look like Peter Hitchens. Unfortunately, they were smoking crack.

Back on the surface, Marsden:

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And a local cat, with one green, one blue eye (sadly, i was unable to get this on film):

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Amusingly, as i was stroking the cat a man came out, smoking a cigarette, and gruffly dragged it off, muttering that he used to have two such cats but one was stolen. Everywhere i went in England, people seemed to be stealing strange things – cats, drystone walls, etc.

3. We went to Saint Bartholomew’s, which has a WW1 exhibition honouring the Marsden dead of 1915, including my stepfather’s grandfather.

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The custodian let us in and we had it to ourselves.

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i found it unexpectedly moving, perhaps because i was also reading Geoff Dyer’s The Missing of the Somme and so had a clearer idea of this war. My mother followed me about, burbling incessantly, Ooh look, Elberry, there’s one of those pictures you see! Ooh, it says “don’t waste food!” I don’t waste food, do I Elberry? I had a big cake yesterday, ooh it was ever so nice! It had chocolate in it! and so on, till i tactically distanced myself by simply moving rapidly away from her every time she approached, maintaining an unpredictable (to her) zigzag motion so i could be alone.

My stepfather’s grandfather, died 1915 aged 27 from a leg wound – no doubt he would have survived such an injury with today’s medical care:

died 1915

and my mother’s father, gassed at the Somme, still in his teens:

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For a long time, i had thought of WW1 as too distant to be of interest – like the Crimean War. This exhibition left me saddened & troubled, i think because of the small, local focus – the Marsden dead:

4. Outside again, and the hills around Marsden:

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A little fair with some local tractors and local ciders and local mutton chop whiskers and so on:

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Almost Bavarian, bäuerlich. i found the people in Marsden, even the young people, a different breed to the townies in Huddersfield just 6 or 7 miles away. i didn’t hear the usual violent swearing (my objection to profanity is that it’s used idly, as a filler adjective, and yet with a kind of fury, so the speaker sounds permanently enraged, and indeed your swearers are, i’ve found, much more likely to suddenly attack a chap, verbally and/or physically).

5. We had a good English summer, i.e. no more than about 22 Celsius, often a good 10 lower, with lots of good English rain – slow and determined, not like this flashy Continental rain, which is all sudden downpours, soon over and forgotten like Mussolini. My students think i’m joking when i say i miss English weather, but for me this is perfect, and Heaven for me would be so – for perhaps 9 months of the year:

england july 2015 (11) england july 2015 (13) But lest i forget the chavvery, i noticed the headlines on the local newspaper the morning of my departure, and recorded them for your pleasure:

examiner

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1.  i coped with the 8 days by going for walks and visiting my mother every day. My father lives just below Castle Hill, a Stone Age settlement where for sure my ancestors used to drink the blood of the living human sacrifice. 20 years ago, i would walk my savage dobermann here at dawn in summer, it’s about 20 minutes from the house up through the fields to the Castle:

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And the view from the top:

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i remember walking my dobermann up here one summer evening, a chap was sitting and painting this view and the dog ran up and drank thirstily out of his mug of beer (from the pub, now razed to the ground). i was appalled but the victim just laughed, as if having a slavering huge German monster steal his beer was quite a passable way to spend the evening, and actually why not, it could be a part of the local tourist attractions, a folklore item?

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i didn’t go up to the tower, as there were young people taking selfies up there, and i would have had to smite them with my fist and sacrifice them to Wotan. Twenty years ago there were no selfies but even if there had been, i would have just unleased my dober, and let him tutor these foolish interlopers with his enormous maw and mighty forepaws  (he especially enjoyed leaping up, enthusiastically smashing people across the face with his paws, then gripping the victim’s neck and clumsily licking their bruised and sometimes bleeding faces, breathing absolutely unspeakable fumes and horrifying them with his glistening sharklike teeth – he would even look affronted when the victims screamed, writhed, and tried to escape; i generally stood there laughing and saying, No boy, bad dog, don’t do that, let the nice man be, but would later give him a dog biscuit).

View from the other side:

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2. The next day i approached from a different angle, walking these lanes till i came to a familiar bench to take my luncheon, a pork pie and some wine, and a book:

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Two parties passed as i sat there, the first was a 60-something woman with, i guess, her grandchild, they both said hello and i waved my pie affably at them; the second was a 20-something pushing a pram, with two small children – as they passed, she screamed at one child, Shut your mouth! Now! – and declined to Good Morning me.

3. Pie finished, i walked up to the castle, noting litter anywhere wide enough to park a car. The local chavs like to drive up here to fuck and get high, then throw their litter out of the window. i picked up a McDonald’s offering to put in the nearest bin. Littering is one of the things i find both obnoxious and incomprehensible – why would you want to drive to a pleasant location, in order to sully it? – but then, that’s the way English people are these days. A horse observes me smoking and carrying a McDonald’s carton:

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i get to the top and find a litter bin:

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i was reminded of a Theodore Dalrymple article about littering, where he writes of people walking up to a bin and throwing their refuse in its general direction, then walking away. Presumably, the Government will clean it up for them; in this case, i was the cleaner. i don’t suppose any of the litterers would even notice if their litter were still there on their next visit to Nature. It would be interesting to conduct a study of these people: their age, gender, education level, job or lack thereof, would they still drive to these locations if the litter were left to accumulate to obscure the sky? Or would they then complain that it was “spoiled”? Where Germans, Bavarians especially, have a kind of pride in their surroundings, sizeable numbers of the English seem, rather, full of resentment and a desire to destroy or defile. They feel no attachment to place, so there were even signs on the drystone walls warning stone thieves that the stones can be traced, and threatening punishments. It reminds me of a book, i think, James Ashcroft’s (superb) Making a Killing, where the Iraqi locals cause blackouts by digging up the electricity cables and stealing the copper, and when the Americans say, Help us to help you! the Iraqis say, We are helping ourselves. One could say that a land with no trust, no natural instinct for cooperation, is unlikely to prosper. How can you have a working economy, let alone a reasonably liveable country, if people see nothing wrong with digging up the electricity cables then complaining about blackouts? – short of having armed police guarding absolutely everything, there’s no way of bringing such a country out of the Stone Age, which explains a great deal of wealth disparity across the globe.

4. Much as i like the land here, i would never want to live here again, because of the people – not the older generation, nor those who actually work the land, but the chavs, the Pikeys, the Southrons and polishers, all the various Children of Blair, basically anyone younger than me, anyone who lives in London, actually everyone really. There has been a generational change, i think beginning with those born in the 80s and accelerating as English culture has disintegrated. In my maternal grandmother’s generation – she was born in the 20s – there seems to have been an ingrained independence and prickly self-reliance, and people then would have been ashamed to borrow money or to litter, or to have an unkempt house or garden. This general attitude seems to have begun to fall apart in the 60s, where any kind of societal obligations or self-respect came to be regarded as bourgeois stuffiness, man, harshing my buzz, man, viva la revolution, man, hey man, I’ve got a Che Guevara t-shirt, man, I read the Guardian, man, I smoked weed in India, I’m not religious but I’m like really spiritual, man.

Although only a minority, i suppose, fully espoused the libertarian 60s dream, it’s now become the norm to live by Blake’s  Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires – any consideration for others is seen as lame and a sign of weakness, and men and women now bluster with a constant belligerence, which i found a daily weariance in England. The 60s hippy intellectuals and drop-outs showed a way to the herd – the way of self-gratification, rage, ease, entitlement, and behold, the herd followed.

In some ways, English culture has reverted to a state of nature, close to a Mad Max post-apocalyptic battlescape: so, i felt very strongly that only the presence of a police van in the Manchester street market deterred the two chavs from attacking me on my first day back, and the pusillanimity of the police, in the 2011 riots, showed what chavs will do when they need not fear retribution. It’s not that everyone under, say, 40, is a chav – but if the percentage was previously 0.001, it’s now grown to 0.01, and since chavs have a massively destructive effect, even one in a hundred is enough to make a night walk through Manchester, on a Friday night, ill-advised – if you pass a thousand people, ten will be chavs and if each has a 10% chance of spitting at you, making a grab at your bag or wallet, or knifing you, then you’re statistically guaranteed some variety of Chavattack.

Needless to say, if i had to live in England it would be on a hill somewhere, with a brace of unruly dobermann and several rifles, and booby traps, and mortars, and pits full of spikes and snakes and dead chavs. i would dress like Roger Scruton and look highly disdainful, because England today really is a can of shit.

1. And so on to my father. The last i saw him, in 2010, the house was full of junk – entire rooms packed with cardboard boxes, the hallway and stairs lined with newspapers (hundreds) he wouldn’t throw away because, in his words, Egh well I have PAID GOOD MONEY for the thing, egh? I must read them, egh! At one point he had a huge cardboard box full of empty and meticulously-scrubbed glass (jam, honey, etc.) jars, which he planned to ship to India, when he thought to return to his vile ancestral lands. He had eleven radios in his room, three the same model. He had six second-hand cars, all shit.

The house is now largely uncluttered. i was able to sit on a sofa and he treated me to one of his Dreadful Monologues. i took the precaution of breaking out a pipe and smoking at him, a useful screen i found. As is his wont, he was belligerent and full of querulous rage and grandiose self-pity. He burnt out when he was 67, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, was like a zombie for years afterwards, i was sure he would die at any moment, then after i left in 2004 (actually, he kicked me out of the house for eating one of his ready-made meals) he apparently found a “cure” (B12 injections, i think) and spent thousands on herbal remedies and whatnot. i am generally sceptical of such things but he is physically only slightly worse than in 2004, and mentally sharper than i remember. i would say, after Apocalypse Now, that his mind is clear but his soul is mad. He has no friends, never had any, and i am the only family he has any contact with (and i have only seen him twice in the last decade).

It transpires that he met some nurses from his home state in India, who cleared his house and removed all the junk, presumably keeping anything valuable and binning the rest. They were nice to him and brought their small children to entertain him, he made a will giving them 2/3 of whatever paltry sum he will leave (he has virtually no money saved, but there is still the house), then they wanted power of attorney and he apparently realised all was not well and flipped over from his nice side to his horrible side, kicking them out and cursing them, Lear-style (he also kicked my sister out of the house on Christmas Day, about 25 years ago).

All this took a good hour or two of enraged monologue, while i sat and smoked and thought, God, how horrible. Every minute or two he bellowed, Egh? Are you with me? DO YOU UNDERSTAND? Egh? and i had to shout, Yes!

He wanted me to become executor of his will, and to receive his worldly goods, but i refused the former and said i’d be as happy to get nothing. Any disagreement with my father is ill-advised, as he is more or less incapable of accepting that another human being might have an independent existence or will, so i said i can’t be executor because i’m too busy, and that he can leave me the house if he wants but i really don’t care, because i find money largely insignificant. Actually, i would prefer to get nothing because anything i bought, even if i just used it to pay off my debts, would in a sense be a homage to him, come courtesy of his life. i managed to persuade him to give some to my sister’s children, suggested he leave them everything but he wasn’t having it – however, he’s so emotionally volatile that i have some hope he will decide on this. It’s also possible he will just will everything to the postman or a random taxi driver or a dog or stone.

2. i slept in my old bedroom, having bad dreams and a bad feeling about the whole thing. Although i respect my father as a physician, it’s somewhat like respecting a mathematician as mathematician – it has little bearing on the broader character, and for all his medical experise one could say he hath ever but slenderly known himself. i found several brand new expensive cashmere jumpers in my old wardrobe, too big for either him or me, and a (again, brand new) cashmere coat i guess would have cost several hundred pounds, again too large for him or me. It seems that the Indians cleared out dozens of identical cashmere garments that would fit them, leaving only these. It’s rather depressing to think that my father wasted his considerable salary on things like this, leaving him now nothing except his pension. Even before the Indians removed his things, he wore the same clothes every day, and had no use for the things he bought – buying them was the point, not to derive any pleasure from their craftsmanship or quality. His approach to the world has always been one of attempted dominance, with no interest in, or understanding of, either people or things – so he buys things because in doing so they become his, not because he has any use for them. i can’t really understand how it was possible for him to be a good doctor, except that, perhaps, it was another expression of domination. His drama of the Will has a Lear-like theatricality, which i mislike.

3. In many ways, i realise how little people can integrate to another culture. My father was born in 1931 (six months after Thomas Bernhard) in south India, and has never moved beyond what seems a Stone Age culture to me. He can’t use the Present Perfect or PP Progressive; he regards women as slaves and whores; he is distrustful to the point of paranoia, but also highly gullible, with virtually no understanding of people, except as medical cases. He is convinced that people are bad and just want his largely non-existent money (one of his mantras is “eghh well NO ONE DOES NOTHING FOR FREE!!!”), yet easily adopts a grotesque, clownish bonhomie, grinning hideously, if people seem friendly. It doesn’t surprise me that he never had a single friend and that i’m the only family he has any contact with.

He has a constant emotional intensity, much like that of my old Kassel boss, Morgana (though she had intellect and softness), which makes it impossible to be in the same room unless you agree with him. Emotional force is the fuel for magic so i often felt a kind of impingement upon my sanity in his presence, as if a raw and untutored magic was splashing about from his cauldron of rage. In the past i simply endured it, and avoided him as much as possible. This time i found myself smoking a screen of tobacco (Dunhill 965) and occasionally popping to my room for a new pipe and some impromptu runework and beseeching of the gods.

4. Over time – i spent 8 days in his house – i found myself deflecting his will, though it was always difficult and left me feeling troubled and anxious that, perhaps, my life in Germany was just an illusion. It’s not that my father is evil or even particularly bad, more that he has an unfortunate combination of autism and emotional force, and anger was always his way of coping with what he perceived as opposition. i’d be as happy to never meet him again, in this or any other life, but also recognise that i’ve had similar fathers in other lives (and similarly passive mothers), and so presumably choose to be born into such circumstances, because it matches my fundamental view of existence. It’s also true that rather than crushing me, such fathers have merely driven me to make my own life elsewhere, and to resist domination, so i perceive him with some distance, akin to an end of level boss who has been defeated.

As Nietzsche said, if you do not have a good father you should acquire one. i’ve picked up various role models, some younger than me, and my true father now is the gallows god. Curiously, this made it easier to talk to my merely biological father, and proved indeed necessary.

5. This trip was a reliving of situations i thought i had long departed. i had wanted to meet Bonehead, my fascist friend from school; and a friend from Durham; but Bonehead was in Boston to visit his brother, and the Durhamite at a conference in the South, so i had nothing to buffer me from the Horror – i saw my mother, and Shrekh, an old schoolfriend – but both are remnants of my old life.

My father kept trying to drag me back into the life i had 20 years ago, even attempting to persuade me to abandon my life in Germany to live with him and nurse him for the rest of his life. i would rather commit suicide, but i have become Dr Tact and so simply said i couldn’t, because i had invested too much time and money in my German life. It wasn’t simply that i dislike the ugliness & violence of my father’s mind, as that being in that house was like being dragged back into the considerable hell of my youth. He occasionally treated me like i was a small child again, with the mix of contempt and rage i remember well from my hideous youth. i noted that he didn’t treat outsiders so; i think it is, in its way, as bad for him as for me, for us to be in the same place – it brings out the worst in him, i.e. the way he was for most of his life – though these attacks were intermittent and fairly easily deflected.

With tobacco, whisky, and god, i could meet and repel these attacks, here’s one that i remember, he gave Shrekh some unsolicited medical advice and medication:

Father: Egh well eggghhh you JUST TAKE these pills, eghh!!!

Shrekh: Okay, I’ll give them a go.

Father: Egggghhh well LISTEN, you TAKE and you are ONE MILLION PERCENT better!!! Egh? Are you with me? Egh?

Me: How long would it take to have an effect?

Father [suddenly bristling with suspicion and fury]: Egh well DON’T YOU LISTEN, egh? I SAID, egh? Well YOU PEOPLE JUST DO NOT LISTEN, EGH??? EGHH? I said HOW LONG, egh? Egh?

Me: I wasn’t really listening to be honest.

My absence of either fear or aggression seemed to calm him, so all his attempts to draw me back into the twenty-year-gone nexus of contempt and misery quickly fizzled out. It was nonetheless mildly gruelling.

Family are a special case, as one doesn’t so easily have the option to just avoid them. i tend to think one should try to find some form of communication, something worthwhile in the inevitable relationship. With my sister, i found nothing at all and so haven’t had any contact with her since 2008 or 9. With my father, we can have conversations but i found they only worked in the evening, when i was full of pie and had a glass or two of Glenturret, and a pipe of Dunhill 965. It would be an exaggeration to say i treasure these conversations but i enjoyed them – for example he assured me that “eghh well the English people are SO UGLY because the English women HAD SEX with egh the AFRICAN SLAVES so English are all part-African, egh, they are NOT EUROPEAN!!!” – i found this highly amusing and it was almost worth losing a week’s work just to hear it.

His monologues about various supplements and pills were also diverting, as he has a very Indian tendency to hyperbole; so he instructed me to only drink matcha green tea, assuring me that, “Egh well YOU JUST TAKE and you will feel TEN MILLION TIMES better than with the normal green tea, egh?” i found i like making matcha, and bought a bamboo whisk when i got back to Munich (he had an electronic whisk), but i haven’t noticed any significant difference to normal green tea – the taste is different, that’s all. All in all, these pep talks reminded me most humorously of Jesse Ventura’s chopper scene in Predator (from 2.00 to 2.20)

If (God forbid) i’m reborn after this life, it would be interesting to briefly meet my father again in another guise. In the meantime, i noted the Indians had overlooked virtually the only thing i remembered with interest – a pipe stand from my father’s pipe-smoking days. Since he hasn’t smoked pipes in over 30 years, i asked if i could have it, and took it back to Germany with me, along with an ashtray my mother gifted me:

pipe stand and ashtray

1. i haven’t been back since 2010, not sure why. When i have free time i prefer to stay at home or visit Juniper in Kassel or even go to Finland. England is 33 years of bad memories and rejection and chavvery. Nonetheless, i go.

On the shuttle bus from Munich Airport to the plane. Some Bosche, some Brits. i can see the difference immediately, confirmed when i overhear conversations: the Bosche are expressionless, or rather look vaguely irritated at everything, the Brits look glaringly aggressive or vaguely apologetic. i recognise the pre-emptive let’s all get along smile frequently dispensed by Brits as a societal lubricant, so if you bump into someone you smile apologetically and say Sorry; the Bosche just ignore everyone, or stare flatly.

The little bus is packed, i offer to swap standing places with a woman in her 50s, as i have a rail to cling to and she looks to need the support. To my surprise, i speak in a West Yorkshire accent i’ve never really used in my life.

2. Deeply strange to be in Manchester Airport, stranger than Oulu. Everyone queues to slowly go through Immigration, however i note machines for automatic scanning and try these, put my passport in a slot and am amazed to see a huge live image of myself staring at myself, i shake my head and start muttering, Amazing, then a guard behind the glass screens asks me to take my glasses off. i remove them and continue shaking my head at my own image, a red light flashes, the screens open, and they ask me to go to a desk. A grey-haired guard examines my passport, me, and says genially, You fooled us with your specs, then you kept moving about. i laugh and proceed to the next desk, where another grey-haired guard says, Derek gave you the speech? Yes, i say, Sorry, never seen one of these things before. We’ve got jet engines now too, he says, and waves me through. i reflect on the daily banter of English life, the half-apologetic smiles, jokes, utterly lacking in Germany.

3. Regional train to Manchester Piccadilly, stopping everywhere. Train conductor jokes with passengers, i miss the words but catch the laughter, the good humour, reminds me vaguely of the regional train i took to Kochel a few weeks ago. And on into Piccadilly. Chavs everywhere. Ethnic diversity everywhere. i pass quite a few Shane Jenkin-lookalikes on the mile. Everyone seems tattooed. There are tattoos in Germany but usually just an ankle or wrist; here it’s like the population have been dipped in woad and emerged with disfiguring and rapidly fading coloration. i attract a few glances, not because i’m half-Indian as it would be in the Reich, but because i am scowling at everyone, and muttering things like Sordid and Degenerate.

i stop to have a fancy burger (ostrich or lion or something) at a street market and note a pair who look like Shanes eyeing my shoulder bag and suitcase as i eat; my old watchfulness has by now clicked into place after 5 years of Germanic sleep, and as they circle me i circle to keep facing them, not exactly looking at them but always directly looking their way, till they snarl and plod on.

i buy trousers, a near-impossibility for a man of my dwarfhood in Germany. i stop into a whisky shop and note that almost everything costs a good 10-20% more than in Germany, chat with a sales assistant, mention chavs and he says, If you go up to Piccadilly there are chavs galore. It’s now 1100, i’ve had a burger, so when he offers “a dram” i say Why not, and end up buying a bottle of Glenturret for 45 quid, no age statement but it’s a fine whisky, fruity and light with a surprising peaty finish.

i need lighter fluid for my Old Boy, having drained it before leaving home, so go to Alston’s, a pipe shop, ask the counter guy for the cheapest, saying i just need it for a week and will leave it behind when i return to Munich. Well if it’s only a refill you want, we could do that now, he says, and it takes me a second to understand that he’s offering to do it for free; i’m so shocked i say, No no, i would feel bad if i don’t pay for it, and leave with a 2 pound can (cheaper than in Munich).

4. Train to Huddersfield, i read Thomas Bernhard’s Beton, in German, feeling, I need to maintain my spiritual supply lines to Germany, i must never forget that i belong there and not here, must not stay here, must return. Meanwhile i note that i haven’t once used my usual Queen’s English, that i have without thinking spoken West Yorkshire the whole time – doubly strange since i never had a local accent, but it now feels unnatural and difficult to speak here as i do to my students or American colleagues (i have almost no British colleagues). i realise that most of my readers probably don’t fully grasp the intricacies of North of England accents, so let me present DJ Smile of Huddersfield:

This is basically what i sound like.

My mother & stepfather pick me up and we walk across Huddersfield to their car. i haven’t walked these streets in over a decade. It is small town, not exactly squalid but certainly a little grim. i find one single good photo opportunity, which doesn’t make it look like it is:

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5. i lunch with my mother & stepfather in their scenic little village – which is much more idyllic than i remember it, i say Weren’t there lots of teenage hoodies hanging around here? and my mother, They all grew up and moved out. In the evening they drive me to my father’s (nearby) house, where i find he’s in good health for someone who’s nearly 84, and not dying at all. i resist the urge to say, If you’re not dying, why the hell did you tell me i had to visit now and it was urgent etc? The full sordid tale will be divulged in my next post, if i can get around to it.

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