Monday, September 22, 2014

Not over until it's over

From the Quartz newsfeed...

"Scotland, as a result of the Scottish National Party’s efforts, is closer to independence than it has been since the Battle of Culloden. The post-modern version of national independence tends to come in small steps, changing the infinitely complex global system a bit at a time rather than by 'kicking the bastards out' and throwing up a new flag. Scotland is likely to reap a series of concessions from its southern neighbor, the one which just proclaimed filial love for its tartan-clad supposed equal. It will receive independence, though probably not the sort we have come to expect from the geopolitics of the 18th through 20th centuries."

And in consequence, the English are mighty worried.

Jeremy Clifford, editor of the Yorkshire Post...

"On a visit to Leeds last Thursday, Nick Clegg said the 'devolution genie is out of the bottle now. In light of the Scottish referendum, there is no going back on the issue of delivering increased powers, not only north of the border but also to the English regions. Indeed, in Yorkshire – where for some time there has been a growing chorus calling for a greater say over major policy issues confronting the county – there is a sense of anger that Scotland will be rewarded for its actions. But Yorkshire is not looking for greater powers on its own. The northern region is a potential powerhouse of economic regeneration, but is held back by lack of investment from Whitehall. Its political leaders already work together to identify how to coordinate themselves, to call for greater autonomy and power. And with that must come greater control over the purse strings."

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Oktoberfest 2014

In most years the Oktoberfest is a magnet for foreigners. The Australians have what might be termed a colourful reputation. The Italians invade on the second weekend, their camping cars parked in the most unlikely places. And many kilted Scots descend on Munich, possibly with the express purpose of getting the local girls in their saucy Dirndl dresses to ask that inevitable question...

Will the Scottish visitors this year simply be seeking to drown their sorrows after the defeat last Thursday? I wonder. Maybe I shall venture into town at some point to see for myself. Although I will not visit the bustling festival grounds, the Theresienwiese..Why? Because I am aware of a "been there, done that" feeling which admits of no possible better experience than that of 1989.

We celebrated Jessi's christening in the Hofbräuzelt... family connections allowed us to enjoy VIP treatment. And I was permitted to conduct the band, daughter clutched in one arm, as they performed the Bayerischer Defiliermarsch. Stirring stuff... glorious memories. Prosit!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Close, but no cigar!

 InI must admit I slept badly. There were troubling dreams.

In one I learned to my consternation that 74% of Scottish voters had finally voted 'no'! In another I was confronted with the fact that a much needed client payment would not be forthcoming. And then in my fevered imagination my laptop (a device not in the best of health) gave up the ghost with an ultimate 'blue screen of death'.

A relief it was to waken, make coffee, turn on BBC Radio 4 and listen to over three hours of analysis of the referendum outcome.

The United Kingdom, reeling after a plebiscite clearly showing mass disenchantment with 'politics as usual', will now embark on a process of disruptive constitutional reform. It is a very exciting new beginning.

While the Scots were voting, in London Jessi completed her enrollment at King's... a new beginning of a very positive kind.

I think I prefer to retain that development as the real highlight of the 18th of September 2014.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Mei wär des schee...

Bavaria is very much older than any German nation, with a millennium of autonomy which ended only 150 years ago when Ludwig II was the last monarch of the state which, like Scotland, sports blue-and-white as its colours. In the beergardens (and we have again the right weather!) today's referendum is a subject of conversation. The Scottish example... and its possibilities... inspires discussion. The only problem is that while there are a good number of Bavarians who would love to see a separation from Federal Germany, there are also Franconians who are fed up with being part of the Freistaat Bayern!

So I guess hell will be icy before we see a Bavière libre! In the meantime I am hunting for updates about separatist urges in France, where the media are happy enough to report about the nation with whom there was such a long-lasting Auld Alliance.

[Ach, 'tis all just thumb-twiddling to help fill the hours of this momentous day!]

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Counting down

The track embedded below is not sung by Nina Nesbitt who is shown above. But it is great version of the anthem which I hope might be in the mind of Scots tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, the final lines will continue to resonate.
"But we can still rise now
and be the nation again
that stood against him,
prud Edward's army,
and send him homeward
tae think again."

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What fun!

One of our Munich tabloids... never disinclined to take a trivia story and splash it above the foldon the front page... has run today with the wheeze that Franz, Duke of Bavaria could be the future King of Scotland.

As I noted a couple of days ago, the man is in truth the descendant of the Jacobite Stuart dynasty whose reign lasted until the early 18th century.

The reader of the newspaper who goes as instructed to page 17 will find it entirely devoted to the history of my homeland and of the Wittelsbacher successors to so many of Scotland's rulers..

But Scotland has not been badly served by the monarchs who followed. It was Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, who helped to popularize Highland Dress once again, the kilt having been banned for many a long year as a sign of potential seditious sentiments.

But the idea that we would now see fit to replace one line of German nobility with another? Preposterous! But it's fun to see Scotland good for a headline in the local rag! Jawohl!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to school!

Today is the last day of the summer holidays for Bavarian school children. Tomorrow there will be lines of youngsters lining up... carrying their traditional 'Schultüte' goody-bags... for the first day of their formal education. About twenty years ago our Jessi looked very happy and confident about the prospect.

Today she sent me a photo from the lecture hall where Induction Week at King's started this morning. Her studies for a Masters degree will be demanding but she remains happy and confident about this prospect, too!

Writing matters

I am surely not the only writer occasionally astonished by the interplay of fiction and reality. The coverage of the issue of Scottish self-rule occupies the BBC Radio 4 Today program understandably these days... and in all its myriad implications. This morning the question of whether Queen Elizabeth would be the monarch of an independent Scotland was raised. It was pointed out that a claim to the throne could conceivably come from the heir of the Stuarts, who happens to be the Wittelsbach Duke of Bavaria.

That certainly brings the matter close to me in Munich! And to my current writing efforts.

In 1936 there were also extraordinary Anglo-German monarchist complications. A scion of the house of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (known since 1918 as the Windsors) had fought on the German side in the Great War and had scandalized the English when he turned up for the 1936 funeral of George V in full uniform of the thuggish Nazi SA. (Carl Eduard who was Duke of Albany until his peerage was rescinded.)

And then there was the sympathy of the uncrowned Edward VIII for many aspects of the new Germany. I can complain of no lack of material for Chance of Reign which threatens to grow to become a real 'door-stopper' of a book.

Nor is this the first time that I have found actuality impinging on a narrative which has sprung... I like to think... from my own fertile imagination. Intransitive State was completed almost a year ago. (That the Kindle edition languishes undiscovered in the Amazon cornucopia of storytelling is another matter!) The tale is set in 2016 on the eve of a rashly assumed Scottish independence and a key element deals with the issue of currency. I suggest that there could be a parallel and entirely virtual Scottish currency as well as a reluctantly and acrimoniously shared pound sterling.

Should I offer my services to Hoyrood?

Grounds for optimism

 Since mid-April those of us who regarded Café Schwabing as an extension of our domestic living space, our sociable lounge, have been forced to migrate to other nearby establishments for the duration of the building work. None of the alternatives have been found more than tolerable at best.

Hence there has been some trepidation as to what might become of the premises at the corner of Kurfürstenplatz. We were assured that it would not be degraded to become a MacDo or other fast-food outlet. One watched as the interior was gutted, hopeful when the arched openings in the facade were enlarged to accommodate floor-to-ceiling windows. Now a local newspaper reveals that the new identity will be Brasserie Schwabing. Promised is the proper 'brasserie' combination of restaurant, bar and café which is something of a relief.

Now my speculations centre on the question of the décor. Will the Munich brewery opt for an anonymous  contemporary look? Will they go for a 'faux French' approach, like the Balthazar in New York?  I suppose that an even more pressing question is whether an aging Sandlander earning pitifully little from translation work will still be able to afford to patronize the new establishment!