Saturday, 25 January 2014

Arrogant Rude Smug and Humourless

The British have a thing about the Germans. Its a love hate relationship that has spilled over from two bloody conflicts into one of establishing our respective sporting prowess. I suppose that makes us into a nation of 'Germanophobes'. In football we look upon beating Germany as a better result than winning the world cup. Unless of course we were to beat Germany in a world cup final. Some German words are now well known to the English have tended to come via films or children's comics of the 50's with a wartime element. They are always full of words like Achtung, Blitzkrieg and Schnell as well as Hun, Jerry and Fritz. Today comparisons with Germany’s past have become far less common, as has the use of the words Goosestep and  Nazi.

The Germans (like Australians) apparently think that we are a nation of moaners, to be honest that's fine by me.  A good moan can be enjoyable in a dark sort of way. Especially if the target for the moan is the Germans, I think it indicates a healthy scepticism of people who eat raw cabbage and sausage. Then there is the heinous crime of appropriation of those sun-loungers seats by the pool, which the German allegedly make a panzer raid on at the crack of dawn. Anyone that is happy to drink warm fizzy beer whilst wearing short leather trousers should be viewed with a certain amount of healthy suspicion. 

Talking about leather, a few years ago I was on holiday in Marmaris. Whenever I get to Marmaris a visit to the bazaar is essential. I was on the look out for a leather jacket. After visiting a few shops and consuming a few glasses of hot apple tea. I found a jacket that I liked. There was a German tourist in the shop who was also trying on the same type of jacket. He asked about price. When he was told the price, I said it was more than I wanted to pay. The salesman said - wait a moment there is a price for the English and a special one for the Germans. It seems that Turks go to work in Germany and find that there is a great deal of hostility towards them. The Turks repay the Germans the compliment. I paid less than half the price that the German tourist paid.

The British people love giving derogative attributes to the Germans. As far as we are concerned they are arrogant, rude, smug and humourless. Yet at the same time, for some reason we love poking fun at ourselves and the Germans. 'Dads Army' was one such program on television. There is only one thing that is better that this. That's is to poke fun at the Frogs (Cuisses de Grenouille) and the Krauts (Sauerkraut)  at the same time, hence the popularity of Ello Ello. 

So it seems that whilst we had to put two fingers up at the French whilst giving them a sharp reminder at Agincourt. Which was after all a major English victory in the Hundred Years' War. Or having to put the little frog upstart in his place at Waterloo for calling us 'a nation of shop keepers'.  There is not much hope for a change for the better towards the Germans in the foreseeable future. Or is there. In this 2011 YouGov poll the English prove to be much more positive about the Germans than they are about the French. A majority of Britons – 61 per cent – view Germany as a friendly country, compared to just 40 per cent who see France in the same way.  


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