England

Fritz and Brits
Britain seen through German eyes

Bolton is not really the most attractive of cities. Frankly speaking it is rather gloomy and depressing. Fifty years ago it used to be the centre of the British textile industry, nowadadays most of the mills - the symbols of its former industrial pride - are closed down. Tourists do not often visit Bolton, if they do so, it is not more than a stopover on their way to the Lake District. So why should a German student spend a whole year in the Wanne-Eickel of England.When I arrived in Bolton I was faced by a problem for which my English textbook had failed to prepare me:

 The Northerners are not only very friendly people, but they also express themselves in an accent I could not understand atall. "Oh, you're German!", I was welcomed, "Th' bomb'd 'r chippe' !". Fortunately nobody blamed me personally for the bombing of their chip-shop in 1940. It was not only the accent whichI found hard to understand but it was also the famous English humour I had to get used to. Not many people in Germany know how important a role the Germans play in British comedy. Several of the most successful comedy series rely on ridiculing "the Fritz". After a while Iknew all the catchphrases from these programms by heart .

 Some of my friends even spread the rumour that my name was "Jürgen the German" - another comedian whose famous act is the impersonation of a typical German. My classmates did not mean no harm and I was never bullied for being German. After the first month I realised that the English did not dislike Germans let alone myself. Beneath the thin layer of prejudice I encouratered a very positive attitude towards Germany I have not expirienced anywhere else. At the end of my stay in Bolton I was knighted when my friends told me thad I could consider myself an Englishman as I understood the English sense of irony.

Football, however, was another matter. In that field there was no friendship to be expected. "Two world wars and one World Cup" was the slogan I heard over and over again. Every day at dinner time we quarreled  about which nation prossessed the best football team. The fact that I went to a boys' school did not make it easier for me. The English argument collapsed everytime a penalty shootouts were mentioned. In spite of this modest victory I was supported by my best friend Peter, a Scot.

As regards the prjudices the Germans usually have against the English I have learned a lot. The food was excellent thanks to the skills of my host-mother Evelyn. Since that time I can really appreciate Yorkshire Pudding and Cottage Pie. The weather was as bad as I expected but the warm welcome I received at school and in my host-family made my stay an unforgettable experience. Being able to cope with the food, the weather and the cricket rules I am looking forward to studying in England.

 

Jochen Telgenbüscher, ABI 2001