Monday, 8 October 2007


My only proper brush with german was in Austria. When they meet someone out walking, the Austrians invariably call a greeting. It sounds as if they are politely commenting on the day in broken english. 'Iss goot' they say, 'Is good'.

This much language I can handle, and I spent a gregarious week calling 'Iss Goot' in my best Bavarian accent to everyone we passed. As it happened most of them were British, and just giggled feebly. The locals looked a bit surprised, which made me feel a big success - an ambassador for good manners - hands across the water, and all that. It wasn't until later that I discovered that what they had actually been saying was 'Grüß Gott' ('Greet God').

One of the great advantages of making a prat of yourself abroad is that nobody knows you personally. They just think all Brits are prats, and contemplate armed invasion, World Cup victories and the like.

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