Germany: Secretly British
If there is one piece of knowledge that has served me well while living in Germany, it is “Allzeit bereit!” or “Always be prepared!”. This can be as simple as carrying a packet of tissues everywhere to knowing all the emergency exits in a building before you go in. My wife has pointed out that this little mantra can be taken too far, but I still stand by the idea that a well prepared emergency zombie apocalypse kit is a good investment. My matrimonial strife aside, Germany is a country that is preoccupied by long term thinking, at least in comparison to the UK. Whereas the British are a nation of have-a-go heroes, Germany is like a well drilled special forces unit. What preparation lacks in spontaneity, it more than makes up for in a lack of crippling self inflicted injuries.
Germany’s reaction to Brexit is a good example; Germans were less shocked by the actual decision than they were by the idea that no one had any plan for what to do next. My incredulous German colleagues refused to accept that there was no plan, right up until the first “Brexit means Brexit” speech. As Britain lurches towards the exit, it does leave questions over what the EU does without them. It is perhaps time to start preparation for who will be the spiritual replacement to the UK in the hearts of Europeans; whose food will they make fun of? Who can be as sun burnt? Is there anyone with such rubbish weather? I have a simple answer: Germany. Germans constantly exhibit causal Britishness, except more efficiently. Germany could be our alternate Britain. We might have to iron out some kinks, but there is a solid foundation. Just observe the evidence.
Exhibit A: Weather
Britain supposedly has the worst weather in Europe, weather so bad that the English language has developed very specific terminology to describe all the types of rain you might encounter: Stair-rods, spitting and chucking it down are only a few. Most British people are fully qualified meteorologists, without ever having to suffer the tedium of books on cumulonimbus clouds. If the rain is not your thing, have no fear, at some point during any day, the rain will stop, the sun comes out and the wind blows hard enough to flay you where you stand. If you think I'm kidding, ask any British person about wind chill. Although German cities are hard pressed to compete with Glasgow or Birmingham for annual precipitation, Cologne (796 millimetres), Hamburg (773 millimetres) and Berlin (571 millimetres) are still competitive. Thunder-snow has yet to make an appearance, but knowing Germany they would find a way of utilising such terrifying weather conditions and using it to power the national grid for the next six years.
Exhibit B: Tea for two
The British Empire was built on tea. It was also built on gun boat diplomacy, slavery and an open policy regarding opium, but tea was still an important feature. I like tea, you like tea, everyone likes tea. If you don't, you're quite obviously a sociopath. My personal record is twelve cups in one day, and what a great day that was. Germany also likes tea, being as it's the best thing to come out of China since paper and wheelbarrows. However, German tea is a little different and it may take some time before they get the hang of it. Fruit tea is a particular favourite. Name any fruit and Germany probably has a corresponding flavour of tea to match. Kumquat and Mango, Lychee and apple or why not everyone’s favourite, dragon fruit and African cucumber. You might not be able to put milk in it, but I’m sure we can calibrate as we go.
Exhibit C: Fish & Chips
I have been told on more than one occasion that Fish and Chips are awful, and yet British folks eat metric tons of the stuff. I don't personally, because I'm watching my figure. Yet, these disparaging remarks are quite obviously made to disguise the fact that alternate Britons, or Germans if they prefer, happily pile into fish and chips daily. The big difference here though is that they are rather muted in comparison to the seaside fare of old blighty. This is mainly down to the fact that while nearly all business are franchised out in Britain, most chippies remain staunchly independent. Germans, by comparison, tuck into shady fish suppers from Nordsee, a leviathan like franchise that smells slightly of kelp and broken dreams. Another issue is the lack of vinegar, which everyone knows should be administered by the gallon. I have a possible solution though, compulsory online education courses for everyone and official fish and chips days. After ten years, I’m sure everyone will love them.
Exhibit D: Food in General
Sticking with the topic of food, some of my German friends have pointed out that it's not only fish and chips that taste like old pants, but generally all British food. My reaction to this is to give these people a good natured smile, while making a mental note to maim them at a later date. My consternation at these statements is mainly due to the fact that British and German food is the same. Wurst = sausages, Braten=roast beef, Katoffel puree = mashed potatoes, Knödel = Dumplings and Bröt = bread. Ok, ok, so Germans tend to arrange these in different orders and cook them in different ways, but it's basically the same ingredients. They might not fully comprehend mint sauce yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. I've yet to encounter the alternate version of Yorkshire puddings, but I reckon it should be called a Saxonian Fantastiche pudding. We can just start advertising them. Bake it and they will come.
Exhibit E: Beer
Despite my quadrennial lobbying to the Olympic committee, I have constantly failed to get the 'drunk walk home' into the Olympics. I won't give up though, because damn it, Britain could win that one easily. British people are like the SAS of drunks: our beer is appalling but we make up for it by drinking quantities that could disqualify an elephant from driving. German's, on the other hand, make the best beer in the world but fail to realize the full potential by only drinking it responsibly. We could easily put a stop to that by cutting off the water and only allowing people to drink beer, up until the point that Germany can drink 11 pints and still handle a kebab on the walk home. The mission is only complete once the streets are awash with semi clothed people, offering out lampposts for a fight and peeing in doorways.
I rest my case, clearly Europe has a tempting option when it comes to replacing Britain's cultural position. Germany has a way to go yet, but if you can guarantee anything about Germans it's that they are fast learners.