Golden Light

“This isn’t bloody London” I thought with a tinge of bitterness. My dear reader, you fail to understand the bitter frustrations of living in a German provincial town. For all its rich history and great beauty, Trier remains painfully inadequate in many ways. I’ve had to trudge countless miles in search of the basic necessities of life: English cheddar, a proper tea and the ingredients for Japanese noodle soups.

Through some fluke in the fabric of the universe a Dorset tea company have started to market a limited selection of their products throughout the Federal Republic. It makes for a relatively solid brew, although one resents the limited choice. To find a reliable purveyor of cheddar one must resort to the tender mercies of the vile Kaufland – Germany’s Tesco, filled with Germany’s chavs. But it isn’t a very good cheddar and this simply cannot be forgiven. Vile, vile, vile. I’m yet to find the necessary ingredients for all my favourite Japanese noodle soups. Oh, to be in Goulder’s Green…But in London I’m not and one must suffer for it.

One tries, dear reader, to survive. These deprivations are only sharpened by the unpredictability of customer care. When popping in for bread at bakery I wince when my favourite clerk isn’t behind the counter. She is at times curt, but she possesses a refreshingly artless frankness. Without fail, she ensures that all products are satisfactory – that her coffee is properly made and presented. One of her co-workers, a younger woman, is casually polite but ever so slightly careless. She does the minimum required, no more, no less. Their colleague, I shall call her “Helga-Ursula von Grumpydorf” has the demeanour of a Prussian dominatrix. Should I dare to ask for a “König Ludwig Brot” instead of a ”Könish Ludwish Brot” I risk her eternal opprobrium. What is that she is reaching for, dear reader, preserve me! Is it a whip? No, it’s a cat o’nine! Oh for heaven’s sake, to literally translate the German phrase to describe her countenance, “What ran over her liver”? A lorry? A train? John Bercow’s ego?

Never-the-less, her crude customer care is at least partially offset by her pedantry. Her coffee is properly made, even if served with less care than my usual clerk’s. Her Müslischnitt – a glorious confection of sunflower seeds, sultanas, chocolate bits and honey over a crisp biscuit is perfectly prepared. One must run from her after paying. Mistress von Grumpydorf’s House of Pain cannot be sullied with the presence of her lesser.

One cannot dwell on the misfortunes of this world on a glorious day like this. The warm spring sun shines, filtered gold. Amongst the strewn ruins of empires long fallen, monuments to the tremendous egos of kings and emperors long forgotten to the masses, life continues its eternal course. A grandmother sits with her infant grandson. This, so many years ago, was where her grandmother sat with her. The great men who ordered these grand monuments built are gone, their inglorious descendants cast into eternal obscurity. We, the heirs of the peasants who built their monuments, can soak in the satisfaction of enjoying that which our forefathers could scarcely ask to cast their eyes upon.

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