Covid Wrap

Back in 2020, Germany got a lot right during the first wave of Covid. We had infections, but the levels were moderate and the health system coped comfortably with the spring surge. We had a tracking app up and running quickly and just 4 weeks into the first lockdown, the rules were being relaxed so the cafes and beer gardens could stay full. Most foreign press coverage was positive with a hint of jealousy at the inevitability of Germany “getting it right again”.

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It was a Good Day

In 1992, the rapper Ice Cube released the single “It was a Good Day”. It describes a good day for him in South Central LA. I always liked the tune in the background and the lyrics are quite clever as he describes a perfect day consisting of winning at basketball and dice, “meeting” various women, drinking at the wheel but not being bothered by the police or rival gangs and not even having to use his assault rifle. We’ll assume he wasn’t glorifying the misogynistic gangster/pimp lifestyle but was using rap to create an irony-laden critique of the hopeless plight of the suppressed underclass.

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Lockdown Fatigue

It’s now been 9 weeks since the lockdown started, but we are now slowly being given our freedom back. Shops have been open for 2 weeks and last week even restaurants and bars were allowed to open – albeit with various restrictions. The main difference is now we must wear face-masks when we are in shops or moving about in bars and restaurants. When we sit down, then we can take the masks off. The “Maskenpflicht” (obligation to wear a mask) briefly sent the prices for masks sky-rocketing, but they have since plummeted back to normal levels. I have lots of masks now – our neighbour Susie kindly sewed one each for all the family, I had bought some at the chemists, and we ordered several thousand at work.

The view from launch
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Driving and Motorcycling

There are lots of speed cameras around Stuttgart. They take reasonably good black and white photos – of which I am frequently the subject. My girls have a laugh when another letter is delivered. I have a habit of stroking my chin like a pretentious lecturer when driving and this has been immortalized on film a few times. I am usually not speeding by too much and am proud to say I have no points on my licence but the cameras are everywhere and I struggle to keep track of the ever-changing speed limits.

Autumn tour to Bavaria
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The Benediktenwand near Llengries in Bavaria

Saturday – another Groundhog Day. Every day since mid March the sun has shone, the wind has blown and the lockdown has continued. We seem to be getting our weather in multi-week chunks now. For six weeks in February and March we were battered by various storms rolling in from the Atlantic every three days. Trees were uprooted and fields were flooded and then along came Corona and the weather stopped. We are living in a slightly greener version of Southern California. I wish it would rain. Continue reading

Divider Line

I walked to the bakery this morning to pick up some fresh rolls and pretzels. Nearly everything is closed in Germany on Sundays, but bakeries are considered essential and so allowed to open. Picking up bread every day is a pleasant ritual. We eat less bread than we used to and we also have friendly neighbours who often get there before us and leave a bag with fresh rolls hanging on our front door handle. All this means is that my daily bakery walk has become more like a weekly pilgrimage. Continue reading

Switzerland – Part 2

Season Pass

No hi-tec electronic chips on the ski pass back in 1985

In my last post, I described how a group of young Brits survived the first 3 weeks of the 1985/86 winter season working as waiters in a Swiss ski hotel. It was a scary baptism of fire but by the end of it we had become reasonably competent waiters. Slowly fear left our lives and we started to enjoy ourselves. Continue reading


There’s not much new to report about Germany this week. We are in our fourth week of lockdown and people are behaving well. I was mildly amused to read a headline this week in the news magazine, Fokus, asking why the politicians had failed so badly to deal with Covid 19. At the same time, I read in the British press how Germany is doing everything right. I guess it’s the nature of modern journalism to look for the negative first. But as there’s not much else to write about Germany, I decided to take a trip down memory lane to my time in Switzerland, working as a waiter after leaving school in 1985.

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We’re now a week into the lockdown and people are getting used to it. The rhythm of life has slowed down a bit, which is probably not such a bad thing. We don’t have to turf the kids out of bed at 6am to get ready for school and my 30 to 40-minute commute has disappeared. I am still doing a full day of work from home, but we’re all enjoying having more time and less stuff to worry about. We’re sleeping more, eating better (home-cooked food does that for you) and getting fitter thanks to thrice-weekly runs. Normally after a long day at the office, I’m too tired to go and run in the evening but after a day in home-office I’m eager to get out into the fresh air. I’ve also taken to going for walks during the day when I’m on the phone for longer calls. We’re probably still in the honeymoon period, but so far the lockdown has been fine – it only we didn’t have the virus to worry about.

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It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. Just a fortnight ago we were starting to think that this virus thing might have an effect on business and now we are expecting to hear that we shouldn’t leave the house. Angela Merkel spoke to the nation on Wednesday in her characteristically calm but stilted manner and told us that we should “take this seriously”. We were all expecting her to announce the “Ausgangsperre” (literally: out-go-lock) but she stopped short of that. She just told us to behave ourselves. I read articles in the British press praising her excellent speech and it was well-written but it was a bit short on substance really. Continue reading