Another very busy week, with not much time to blog I’m afraid. It’s not so much the time needed to sit down and write as the time needed to think of something interesting to say. But it’s Saturday morning now, I am up early but it is chucking down with rain so I don’t fancy a round of golf and even the stroll to the bakers is not particularly tempting. So I have set myself up on the patio (there is a dry, covered corner) and will try and get some words down before the family wakes up. I quite like being out here in the rain. I have wrapped myself up in a sleeping bag and am enjoying that cosy camping feeling you get – warm and dry in the tent while the storm rages outside.
The collective outrage which was splattered across the media immediately after the Brexit decision has died at an amazing speed. I think the “Klugscheisser”* media had already worked out their narrative. “Britain taken out of Europe by big-mouthed, arrogant buffoon”. I had already seen cartoons of Trump’s and Johnson’s hair styles connecting across the Atlantic. And then Boris ruins everything by stepping down. Furthermore it now seems that two fairly moderate female candidates may be in the running. That seems to have taken the wind out of the sails and anyway Germany are playing Italy tonight so the Brexit story is officially over, or at least on hold. I am certainly already sick to death of it all and so decided today to write about something closer to home. Schönaich.
Schönaich is the town/village/suburb in which I live. It has a main village and a few satellite residential areas spread over 14 square kilometres and has a lot of countryside around it – half of it farmland and half of it forest. The population is just under 10,000. We are 20 kilometres from Stuttgart – with no traffic (ie. never) that means a 20 minute drive. It is a pretty quiet place with lots of families who either work in Stuttgart or at the nearby Mercedes Factory in Sindelfingen. If you were to look at the cars in the driveways here you would think that everybody was pretty well off because of the large number of Mercedes and Porsches. But lots of these cars are company cars. My neighbour, Heiko, has to have a new Mercedes every six months and sometimes complains that he always has to give his cars back just when they are run in.
I like living here, and I think it’s a good place for the kids to grow up. They can take the bus to nearby Böblingen and go shopping or to the cinema there and in a couple of years they can then take the train into Stuttgart. At the same time we are just a couple of hundred yards from green fields and forests. If it ever stops raining, we can cycle into the forest and picnic next to a stream. The forests around the village are so big that you can easily find a spot to stop where you are guaranteed to be on your own. So we can then let the kids be kids. It usually goes like this – I tell them to be careful and whatever they do, not to get their trainers wet. They then ignore me and get their trainers wet. Then they take them off and play around in the stream for a couple of hours after which we all cycle back tired and grubby.
It’s probably no wonder I like living here because I grew up in very similar circumstances in England. My village, Rawdon, has the same population as Schönaich. The nearest “town” (actually the largest village in England) was Horsforth which is where I went drinking with friends in my teen years and then the big city was Leeds. I love the mountains and the countryside and often think how pleasant it would be to live in the Dales or the Allgäu but there is a lot to be said for growing up on the outskirts of a city. There were concerts, festivals, shops, bars and nightclubs – all important things when I was a young man. Back in the 80s I liked going to Leeds on a Saturday to spend an hour or two flicking through LPs at Gerol’s or Jumbo Records (HMV was not considered cool). I’m not sure what special attraction will draw my kids to Stuttgart (let’s face it 90% of the shops in all major European cities are the same these days) but I am sure there will be something.
It’s nice having the city and the station and the airport nearby but quite often I just feel like staying here at the weekend. My walk to the bakers (missed this morning – Ariane baked frozen pretzels instead), the little supermarket, the butchers and we even have our own discount store (Penny – a seedy version of Aldi). It’s all here. The only thing missing is a good pub or a good beer garden. To get that we have to go to Böblingen. I say the “only” thing but it is of course an extremely important thing. Perhaps I will open a pub one day here in Schönaich – I think it would go down well. I’d call it the Emmott’s Arms (after the excellent no-nonsense pub in Rawdon) have no music, no TVs just conversation and a few different beers. I’d invite a group of friends (the SLOBS) to the opening. Yes – that would make Schönaich perfect. Until then I will have to cope with a cold supermarket-bought drink on the patio with ‘er indoors. Not so bad either come to think of it.
*Ariane reminded me of this excellent word. A Klugscheisser (literally, a cleverness-shitter) is a clever-dick, know-it-all and is the perfect description of newsreader Klaus Kleber as referred to in this post: News?