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1. i’ve survived summer, the most perilous time of year for an elberry. Spring and autumn are always the seasons of change for me, after the hard stasis of summer & winter. At the moment i feel like the last rat on a sinking ship, as the whole of Western Europe will collapse into Balkans-style civil war in the next ten years or so; and a surprising number of my colleagues are quitting:

1.1 The Cop: he was knocked off his bike, and then got a complaint from a hotel where he’d taught a McLingua crash course for a large engineering company. His version runs that everything was disorganised, no one knew where equipment was, and in true Cop fashion he let them know this was unacceptable. i dare say he got in people’s faces, and i can’t imagine him going beyond the limits of standard venomous German grumbling, but he has an aura of violence which amplifies matters somewhat; in this, similar to Morgana who could say things which, on paper, would sound merely aggressive and nasty, but with her evil goblin/Borderline look, talking with her was somewhat akin to being stuffed in a bag with a dozen rabid raccoons, and then being thrown into the sea, and eaten by a shark.

The Cop had always nurtured the illusion that, because he can be a good teacher (i.e. when students cooperate fully), and is reliable, McLingua valued and respected him. After his bike accident none of the management or sales team even asked if he was okay (he had “bone bruising” and could hardly walk, but continued working for McLingua). And then they chided him for getting in the face of the incompetent hotel staff. He had, apparently, garnered a reputation as a Nazi, amusing given he is a Zionist and i’m far more to the so-called Right, but then i don’t look the part.

The Cop has a rich wife and doesn’t need money, so quit. It’s quite a shock, strange as it sounds, for he was a decade-long-staple of the McLingua teachers, one of the few who persisted while young pampered millennials came & went. It’s like David Bowie dying all over again.

1.2 Big Ben – an American, think i wrote about him earlier but can’t find the post (perhaps deleted). He’s probably mid-30s, well over 6 foot, fat, alcoholic, from some rich man town outside Detroit, left his family when he was a teen and worked construction, went to university and studied History, speaks now a faintly-American English accent, vaguely 19th Century to my ears; he said he spent some time in his late teens locked in a room watching Anthony Hopkins films, and absorbed the voice. A deeply strange individual, he speaks excellent German, doesn’t read but speaks literate English (unlike most of my colleagues), is a fan of shows like True Detective and The Thick of It. i always found him fascinating to talk to, but at the same time couldn’t trust or get a sense for whoever he really was – perhaps much as the lesser man has always responded to me, which suggests Big Ben is actually the Übermensch, by god.

A month ago he told me he had to give up alcohol after a hernia, and also feels generally weakened by “German meat” – he said he visited his family in America and “after eating American chicken, I felt power in my body again”. He does, at times, radiate a slightly serial killer vibe. And now he will move back to America, to eat meat, after a decade of McLingua.

Curiously, he is a very good teacher; between classes he groans lugubriously about the job – much the same problems i have – but his students universally admired him, and i walked in on one of his classes and was faced with a totally different persona. As he said, when last we met, – I never applied myself to this job. I couldn’t accept this as a career, so I never learnt anything about how to teach languages, or teach anything. This was always temporary. But then it went on too long to be temporary.

– What are you going to do back in America? i asked.

– Anything except this. I have to get my car fixed up, then I want to drive around. There are wastelands, like Mad Max territory but without the cannibals and warlords, there’s just nothing there. I’d like to drive around these places, eating meat and feeling strong again. Germany took my balls away. I have to regrow them.

1.3 Hillary – a hipster from, of all places, Texas, probably early 30s, utterly deracinated (as California Jesus noted “she don’t be speaking or dressing like no American”), a weird hybrid accent, weird lesbian haircut, lived a few years in Helsinki without learning any Finnish (“only the whores go to Helsinki”), has worked mostly in IT & Marketing. She worked at McLingua for about two months before getting a real job in Marketing. Our first conversation as follows, about a week after Brexit:

Hillary: Oh yeah, you’re, like, a Brit, that’s fantastic. So will Brexit affect you here?

elberry: Probably, but i voted for it so i can hardly complain.

Hillary: What? Like, you voted in Brexit, or you voted to leave?

elberry: i voted to Leave, by god.

Hillary: Oh. And you regret it now?

elberry: What? No, i’m absolutely delighted.

After this, all our interactions were marked by a sneering hostility on her part, and shrugs on mine. Like many women she is a natural scold and know-it-all who enjoys policing others, witness the following conversation in the teacher room:

elberry: That Bundeswehr class was pretty cool.

Toddball: A lot of beards.

elberry: But real beards, not hipster beards.

Toddball: Yeah, them niggaz weren’t hipsters.

elberry: You should only be allowed a beard if you’ve been trained to kill. It makes me sick to see hipsters with beards, when they’re just vegan Che Guevara-loving losers who couldn’t kill a squirrel with an Uzi pen.

Hillary [listening the whole time with a tense female look]: Whoah! There’s a lot of stereotyping going on here!

elberry: Yeah, there is. [elberry leaves without another word]

i was puzzled by her “do you regret it” question, then realised she’d been reading BBC and Guardian articles claiming that people voted to Leave as if on a whim and then immediately regretted it, before anything had actually happened (these articles came out within a few days, and so far nothing at all has happened politically). She probably also believes the stories that Britain is suddenly suffering a Brexit-earthquake-driven tsunami of racist massacres, and the only solution is to reverse the referendum and restrict future voting rights to Guardian-reading millennials who live in London, because they know best.

Nasty piece of work, really.

1.4 Two other teachers are leaving soon, both nice, neither remarkable or blogworthy. They will probably die in a ditch.

2. i’ve now been in Germany just over 7 years. Astonishing – that i speak still virtually no German (by my standards), can’t read anything serious without intense effort. i thought about relocating to Eastern Europe, as Germany will soonish collapse into civil war. i can predict that one of the safest places on the planet will be Slovakia, for the simple reason that the Viking lives there, and while he often says things like “God has plans for me, He does not want me gallivanting about having fun” he also has an odd habit of always living in the safest places on the planet, which are also the only places someone like him could survive. If he ever leaves Slovakia, you can be sure the Major Shit is going to go down there within the next few years.

But i feel rooted here, especially in Bavaria. There seems, as best i can discern, a kind of presence here, protecting the natural human culture – it could be that the culture has always been a bit different to “Germany”, so it resists in some sense the crass tide of modernity. i note many Leftist assholes come here for work, and live in quiet villages and towns, and then decry the CSU for trying to protect the state from millions of 3rd World rapists. The Leftists appreciate the safety and order, and don’t understand these exist because of the Catholicism, the conservatism, the traditions they hate and would destroy. Sorry, pal, but that’s the way it is – if you want to live in a cool hipster city where the police don’t do anything, and you’re surrounded by sand peoples, that’s fine, but you’ve also got to accept you’re going to get raped on average four times a week, and your dog will be stolen and made into a kebab, and your daughter will eat it, before she gets raped by a 42-year-old Algerian who will escape prison because he says he’s a 12-year-old Syrian called Mohammed, all praise the prophet.

3. i have wanted to leave this job for the last 4 years but there’s nothing else i could do, save cleaning and bar work, neither of which appeal. And an office job would drive me crazy now. So i try to make the best of it; i enjoy most of my classes, it is merely that i feel how little of my mind and knowledge is engaged – so today, i managed to talk about metallurgy with a steel Sales Engineer, and as is my wont talked about WW2 in terms of raw material supplies, and then with some regret turned back to the shitty McLingua books, with a heartfelt, – Well, i suppose we’d better get started on this chapter.

As Europe – thanks to people like Hillary – is now inexorably plunging into the great Race War, this all seems rather besides the point, but i take a certain pleasure in the fact that the Sales Engineer was a very genteel North African in his 50s, and the other student a kind of dim but sweet Turkish woman, and i hope that they survive the coming slaughter, that if the Titanic is going down, there are enough lifeboats for the good eggs. Not likely, of course, but if anything human survives the coming War i’ll count that a victory.

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i believe Morgana models herself on this Vader. She has a rather posh English accent but swears volubly, with venom and aggression. “Cunt”, “fucker”, “shit”, and “motherfucker” are often heard emanating from her office.

Last night i met Ethan’s current girlfriend, a German girl who speaks English like a North Carolina redneck. No swearing, but she spent 13 months in NC when she was 19 and she sounds thoroughly American, 100% trailer trash. She is quite nice and her accent is hilarious, and, comedy aside, enjoyable. The other teachers kept doing white trash impersonations at her, to her good-natured dismay. “But ah AIN’T trailer trash!” she exclaimed, in her authentic Deep South cracker accent. “Ah’s from Cologne,y’all!” Which only prompted further gales of laughter.

“Mah daddy beat me upside mah head!” i wailed at her. “He said ah done drunk his moonshahn!”

Cruel but highly amusing.

If Morgana were blonde, she would look awfully like this from the side (though Morgana´s bosom is considerably larger):

and this just plain looks like her:

i bought some lurid purple pimp sheets for my bed – not even my bed, left behind by the dopy girl who used to live in this room. The room suddenly looks much better, more fit for human or at least Elberry habitation. It pleases me that the quilt is a loan from Morgana.

Email exchange between myself and Bonehead on sleeping with people – just sleeping, not sex – shameful as it is, before this March i had never slept in the same bed as another human being. It is a curious sensation. Bonehead responds:

I used to just lay awake in bed watching my lady sleep. So strange and surreal to be a wild thing, an animal scorned and poked with twigs and then to be in a soft place with a delicate body close by within killing distance, humbling and beautiful.

Today is a very special person’s birthday. That’s right, today Mr. Ken Kurp turns 23. Oh, and it’s Wittgenstein’s birthday too, though he’s older than 23 and he was nuts and Austrian. Here he is, escaping from Alcatraz in ’33.

i decided to celebrate this dual birthday by teaching a private student in the morning – another German engineer, he designs locomotive engines and has pretty good English. So far my students are either Arbeitsamt types or engineers – the former are hard to teach, the latter generally easy, and for me much more interesting. Today’s engineer even completed my joy by talking about logic, at which point i mentioned Wittgenstein and got a nod of recognition – or so i thought, perhaps it was a head spasm or even a kind of Teutonic dance.

After work i had an ice cream with Morgana – she has decided that regular doses of ice cream cool her otherwise uncontrollable fits of psychopathic rage, so ice cream has become a part of her daily routine, and all is well. Sudden bursts of sunshine gave way to fierce, brief rain, then sun, then more lunatic rain, blown into our faces as we try to eat ice cream like the civilized human beings we aren’t, huddled against the rain and wind under the cafe awnings, squealing against the cold and the wet, catlike. She looks to be escaping an old dark, impishly glad and scheming over ice cream, ancient in her youth and lust, mismatched ocean eyes, blue and green, shining. The sight of her almost malevolently savouring ice cream is not to be forgotten.

Tomorrow i drive out to a company to teach more engineers. The town’s name is a little odd, and tugged at my mind. So today after ice cream i went to the car rental place and a friendly Bosche showed me how to drive their tiny car, advising me “but here we drive on the other side of the road.” A small but important difference.

i haven’t driven for 6 years – apart from once with my sister when she had a mental collapse at the wheel – and i’ve never driven outside of Blighty. The trip home was most amusing, terrifying and delightful as i kept thinking “stay on the right, stay on the right” and tried to decipher the satnav’s barked German commands to get back to Casa Elberry. i had problems with the oversensitive brake, and the automatic transmission (i prefer manual – more control, more sensitivity, more skill). In the end i decided to go at top speed, as, over certain speeds, my mind goes funny and i just do the right things; for a dog of my temperament, any speed under 60 mph is highly dangerous, as i have to deal with it in my normal frame of mind, with predictably terrible results:

sartorialist paris

…Morgana would look like this – also the right eye would have to be blue, left eye green – but otherwise it could almost be her good twin sister. i guess that makes Morgana a kind of elvish KARR, of whom we learn:

KARR is the prototype version of KITT, originally designed by Wilton Knight and built by his company Knight Industries. Upon completion of the vehicle, KARR’s CPU was installed and activated. However, a programming error made the computer unstable and potentially dangerous. The project was put on hold and KARR was placed in storage until a solution could be found.

Unlike KITT, whose primary directive is to protect human life, KARR was programmed for self-preservation, making him a ruthless and unpredictable threat.

Naturally, this is the only type of boss an Elberry could ever respect.

An illustrative anecdote about Morgana:

i was talking about Bob the Coward, a friend who dumped his girlfriend in Costa Coffee ten years ago at university, explicitly because Costa Coffee was the worst, least hospitable, least alluring of Durham’s few coffee shops. The girlfriend was a nice person; my friend dumped her not for grave moral defects but simply because she kept asking, plaintively, “it’s not just sex, is it?” and “do you love me?” – to which the answers were, respectively, yes and no. When he told me of the dumping venue i was naturally amazed. He explained thus: “I didn’t want to dump her in my room in case she started crying and refused to leave. That would be really uncomfortable. I’d have to leave and hope she’d clear out by the time I got back.  If I told her in Cafe Nero’s, and she made a scene, I could never go back there, and I practically live in Nero’s. But I don’t care if I never go back to Costa Coffee, because it’s a dump.”

i’m not exactly a sensitive New Man – actually, i’m a loathsome misogynist and borderline psychotic –  but even i was gobsmacked by his reasoning, and so i started laughing in horrified mirth, pointing at him and wheezing: “you cold-hearted bastard” through my laughter, as he grew increasingly uncomfortable.

When i told Morgana, i got as far as “he dumped her in the worst coffee bar he could find” – she interjected “I think I know why. He thought if it was really painful, and she had bad associations with the place, at least if it was in this horrible place she would never go there anyway, so it doesn’t matter. But if she had bad associations with a nice place, she could never go back, it would be too painful for her. So he wanted to protect her.”

i was as gobsmacked by this as i had been by the real reason, ten years ago. For her it was so obvious – of course, even though he could not stand the girl’s whining, he would still wish to protect her, so subtly, so carefully – to the extent that he would contrive an unpleasant meeting in order to contain the unpleasantness, to confine it to an already unpleasant place. The curious recklessness and care, impetuous and considering, and perfectly capable of inflicting pain, in rage or coldness alike.

As she concluded: “If I shagged one of my friends, even someone I really liked, and he, or she, kept whining about love, I’d dump them too.” Followed by a cruel elvish laugh. As i observed her distinctly elvish features, the pointed ears, David Bowie-like mismatched eyes, the aura of destruction and chaos and murder, i wondered how differently Tolkien might have imagined elves, had he met Morgana.

i had a late breakfast with Morgana today, while Bones and Lilly ran around yapping at each other and climbing on our laps and trying to steal our cheese. Two language inventions:

1. David describes her effect on men thus:  “You bitchkrieged him!” For she is indeed a one-woman bitchkrieg.

2. She and David likewise came up with a game of misusing food names, e.g.:

I carrot do it.

I bread that book once.

There is only one goat cheese and mango is his profiterole.

Pasta la vista, motherfucker.

I like vegetable but also orange and buttery.

She then drove me home, cursing every driver on the road thus: “What a cunt”, “another cunt”, “look at this cunt getting in my way.” A similar situation:

1. Today the Spanish girl in my training group said to me: “I hope you won’t be angry if I say this, but you are exactly the stereotype I had of the English.”

Elberry: Huh?

Spanish girl: The way you look and dress and everything, it is just like I thought the English would be. You are very formal. Friendly but formal. You are exactly English.

Elberry: i take that as a great compliment.

2. Just now, i met my landlady. Christian, my hippy flatmate, translated between us. She seemed to approve of Elberry, for he said: “She likes you, she says you seem friendly.” Twice in one day.

3. Amusing conversation between Morgana and myself over a coffee:

Elberry: i don’t think i’m particularly English. Except that i try to be polite –

Morgana: I don’t think you’re polite. Yesterday you were really rude to me, you fucking retarded person, you’re the rudest fucking idiot I’ve ever met.

Elberry: Well yes, but that was during class. I was going to apologise but I knew that would just enrage you.

Morgana: I hate apologies. I would prefer it if the fucking situation never arose in the first fucking place, so you have nothing to apologise for, you fucking moron.

Elberry: i agree. Unfortunately, i don’t have a time travel machine so i can’t do anything about that.

A cruel elvish laugh. i like half-Swedish elves, especially the cruel ones who swear a lot.

An odd but enjoyable day yesterday. David came by, we all got drunk, scoffed pizza, and David and Morgana talked in German for hours. i could understand just enough to be able to happily sit and listen. After a while i was slowly overwhelmed by a peculiar, irresistible emotion – as when i felt suddenly sure that an American blog-brother had been an English boy i knew in my last life, who had then died young, the emotion bypassed the usual, fairly rational ways and simply arrived, and took possession. i tried to resist but it simply gathered force and swept my Elberriness aside, till i was silently crying with almost no idea why – only that it was to do with the sound of spoken German, being in the room with two good friends, listening to that old language living again about me, made living by the living. Aeneas´grief, when he sees his own story, the fall of Troy, painted on the walls of Dido´s city – sunt lacrimae rerum et mentem mortalia tangunt – it is not just grief for the dead, it is the unsettling sense of distantly observing one´s own past life, being both oneself and another.

This other part of me, which is largely in shadow, is responding to the world he knew – the language he spoke, the language he was. It was disconcerting, painful, fascinating. The last 34 years, who Elberry is, swept aside by his remembrance. Once more i am grateful that i remember so little, that the door in my mind is opening so slowly.

i was undone, absolved of myself, and glad. Later that evening i was further undone, tenderly, and with delicacy and care, and without complication.

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