I’ve been missing cycling to work recently. Too many meetings which means me wearing a suit. Today was no different, which is a shame since the weather was lovely this morning. First mist as the last of the rain from last night’s storms burned off. Then hazy sunshine and later deep blue sky dotted with harmless looking cumulus clouds. It was only a matter of time, though, until those clouds would mutate into hail-carrying thunderstorms. I had a lunch meeting with 2 people who also wished they weren’t wearing suits – I had hoped we would sit outside and enjoy the sun while it lasted..
June really signals the start of the outdoor café culture. All the squares and main streets in Stuttgart are dotted with café and restaurant outdoor seating. Lots of places do special lunch menus aimed specifically at working people – you can sit down, enjoy a starter and a main course followed by an espresso all within an hour for less than 10 Euros. Up until a couple of years ago I was spending every other week working in England and we hardly ever went out for lunch. People would nip out for a sandwich from Costa Coffee and eat it at their desks. In Germany there are also people who bring a packed lunch in or just buy a sandwich, but I think more people go out and sit down to eat at lunch. I prefer it. I am usually glad of the break and a chance to escape from work for an hour. It’s healthier. The strange thing was that the people who stayed at their desk for lunch at my old place, were the ones who complained the most about working there. There must have been a masochistic streak there.
It certainly does me good to get out for an hour – and it’s probably a relief for my colleagues too. I have a new measure of my own personal office busy-ness level. I call it the CND scale. CND stands for „Coffee not drunk.“ This morning I had a score of 2 CND. Ariane made me the first one, which I then picked up cold about an hour later. So I went to make my own coffee which I then left under the coffee dispenser until someone threw it away at lunchtime.
At least I did get an espresso after lunch. We didn’t sit outside but the meeting went well and I didn’t have to pay. The compliance regulations are very tight in Germany and especially when dealing with large corporate clients. So on this occasion my client paid for my lunch. Fine by me.
I got a little work done in the afternoon and then rushed back home because Ariane and I were invited to a concert in Ludwigsburg. For those that are interested, it was the blues singer Beth Hart. I was a little nervous about going, because I had seen we had standing room tickets. I am well passed the age where I want to stand in a sweaty crowd all evening. But this is Germany and most of other concert-goers were well into middle age so it was a relaxed affair. We stood quite near the door – which lead to the bar and onto a sort of impromptu beer garden outside. You could wander in and out as you pleased and they had no problem with you taking drinks in. After about half an hour I had found a pillar to lean against, the air was quite cool and she even performed a Tom Waits song*. I was in my element.
There was a slight worry during the encores. Not one, but two warning signals flashed up. First came the words that any concert-goer over the age of about 25 never wants to hear: „Now I’m going to play something from my new album.“ And as if that wasn’t worrying enough, a 12-string guitar then appeared. Well, I don’t know if I just floated away on the atmosphere – but the songs were still excellent and I enjoyed it up until the end. Then I enjoyed it even more because we had a drink out in the beer garden. And sure enough, they also had a grill going with red sausages served in rolls.
German concert crowds, especially for international „stars“, are about as generous as you will find anywhere. They just seem to be so grateful that people have travelled all that way to perform for them. Beth Hart completely messed up one song – she just stopped and said she’d forgotten the rest. She then said that was OK in Germany – „everyone’s so nice about it.“ And she was right – that probably got the loudest cheer of the night.
It was a good day, and a good evening. Now I’m tired so…
*The song was „Chocolate Jesus“ – which Tom Waits usually performs through a megaphone, accompanied by a banjo. Her version was a bit more mainstream.
P.S. Happy Birthday Rosita