Sparrow Chat originally birthed as a Blogger site way back in 2003. Most of the old posts were lost when the site moved to a WordPress format last year, but a few are still on my hard-drive, and I’ve recently been perusing them. Some cause a flinch, but a few are, perhaps, worthy of re-issue. See what you think. I’ve decided to throw the odd one into the pot of literary stew for you to sample and offer your comments.
Here’s one from January 29th, 2005. I don’t remember its original title, but it’s an old British hobby, so I’ll call it simply:
“HAVING A GO AT THE GERMANS”
“My grandmother swore by Irish linen. She wouldn’t have any other bed linen in her house. She used to say, “You only ever have to buy your Irish linen once, it’ll last you a lifetime.” She was right. My mother is eighty-two, but she still has some of Grandma’s Irish linen bed sheets in her closet to this day.
When I was younger, I lusted after an Audi motor car. The German Audi saloon looked so sleek and elegant. Every time one passed by I would stare hypnotically and drool with envy. Years later, I had the opportunity to own an Audi. Grinning with eager anticipation, I slid into plush seats ready for the thrill of the test drive. On returning to the showroom, I said, “Sorry, no thanks” to the salesman and walked disappointedly away. I know German industry took a bashing after WW2, but that was no reason, as I saw, to build their suspensions out of old, cast-iron, railway tracks. Maybe they didn’t – but that’s what it felt like.
Not that I have anything against the Germans, you understand. Well, ok, – tales of Major Pete “Hun-Hunter” Madison single-handedly casting dread into the Third Reich and seeing off half the German army with much “Achtung –ing” and “Donner und Blitzen-ing” to accompany their downfall, was prevalent in British comics when I was a boy, and I guess such indoctrinal nonsense may have penetrated my psyche just a little, but overall I have no axe to grind with the German people.
Neither did I totally believe the rumor, circulated around Spanish seaside resorts in the mid-seventies by the British, that German tourists, still in their night attire, sneaked from their hotel rooms before dawn to lay beach towels on the sand nearest to the bathing areas, with the sole intention of keeping us Brits from acquiring the best spots. Though I have to admit, finding the only vacant bit of sand on three miles of beach to be only feet away from the main Barcelona highway, where getting a tan meant risking asphyxiation from diesel fumes, didn’t do much for Anglo-Gallic entente cordiale.
Trekking half a mile to the sea, across a beach packed with guttural-sounding, sweaty German bodies toasting in the hot, Mediterranean sun was not normally my idea of heaven, but the consolation for me, as a young man on holiday and vainly seeking sexual adventure, was the glorious views of young German womanhood basking on the sand about me. Trends on certain Spanish beaches in the seventies allowed for woman to discard their bikini tops without fear of arrest. Even where laws didn’t permit such activities, the smaller villages usually sported only one policeman; an archetypical, bloated, heavily mustached, macho cop married to a middle-aged and overweight Spanish matron with half a dozen kids at home, who happily spent official duty time sat in his car on the edge of the sand, binoculars raised, and scanning the mammary-littered beach with obvious sexual relish.
The German female is typically big and blonde, with breasts to match. Stepping lightly between and around such a boob-fest often resulted in stumbling onto the bodies of German males, as eyes on stalks riveted on their girl-friend’s anatomy failed to gauge where I was walking. Causing discomfort to the glorious female’s mate was simply an additional bonus, so long as he wasn’t too big of course, in which case a hasty apology and rapid retreat were the order of the day.
A few months ago my ten year old, British electric razor groaned its last. Not wishing to return to those primitive times when we sloshed lather over our faces and scraped, I took a trip to Wal-Mart intent on researching the latest in razor technology. The home brands looked a bit cheap and nasty, and while the Japanese are renowned for their electronics I somehow didn’t fancy my electric shaver having ‘Panasonic’ stamped on it – for reasons even I couldn’t quite determine – so I eventually selected an expensive, sleek, and powerful-looking model manufactured by Braun.
Once home with my new acquisition, I eagerly unpacked the gleaming monster from its preformed plastic housing, determined on a test drive without delay. Alas – it was the Audi motor car all over again. I knew Braun was a German company even before I bought the razor – but hey! – how long are these people going to continue using old, cast-iron, railway tracks to build their products? This is the 21st century for goodness sake!
Just like the motor car, their shaver looks good, but doesn’t feel good. The ride it gave my face was as hard and uncomfortable as the jolting their motor car delivered to my backside. And the razor doesn’t shave properly. It is heavy, causing my hand to ache long before I am finished shaving, and leaves an unacceptable stubble. I even spent further money replacing the foil and cutters, in a vain attempt to make it work.
I have pleasant memories of an Irish folk group – the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem – who, back in the seventies, entertained audiences throughout the world with their songs and comic banter. One of my favorites was a song simply called, “William Bloat”*. It tells the tale of a Protestant Irishman who suffers from a nagging wife. One day William determines to do away with her. He takes his razor and slits her throat, but then, in a fit of remorse decides to “hang himself from the pantry shelf”, using the bed sheets as a rope. After soundly cursing the Pope he leaps to his death, and the eternal fires of Hell, never realizing that his wife survives. The last line of the song finishes thus:
“He went to Hell for his wife as well – but she’s still alive and sinnin’
For the razor blade was German made – but the rope was Belfast linen”
* Sadly the original Clancy Bros YouTube video has been removed for copyright reasons, so this link is to, in my opinion, a much inferior version by a group called the “Jolly Rogers”.
Filed under: Sparrow archives