Monday, 12 December 2016


In saying “Brexit is Brexit” Theresa May is using what is called the Nuremberg Defence - “an order is an order.” It didn’t work seventy years ago at the Trials. I don’t think it’s going to work now.

I’m talking about Nuremberg because I was at a meeting there this week (sadly not at their Christmas markets.) The trees were frost-white, the hotel full of Christmas trees and smiling people. 
Germany seemed very comfortable with itself - and why not? They live in one of the most deregulated and decentralised counties in the world. 

Germans are bemused by the British cry of “We want to get back control”. They have control. Their governmental structure devolves quite considerable powers down through regions to towns and even villages.

I was driven to Munich Airport from Nuremberg in an Audi Quattro - it’s 106 miles yet it only took an hour. At times we reached 150mph along deregulated motorways that interlink across Franconia making distances at which we’d wince a mere stroll.

The transport system at all levels was amazing. At Munich Airport it took me 10 minutes from being dropped to go through Passport Control, Security and get to the gate - another five minutes or so and I was on the plane. This is an efficient but lightly regulated world.

Is this a love affair with Germany?  No. But on re-watching them I do find the Germanophobia in both Monty Python and Fawlty Towers painfully unfunny. Denis Healey in his autobiography “The Time of My Life” said of Germany in 1936 where he spent five weeks before going up to Balliol, and this despite the remorseless rise of Hitler:
“The main impression of those five weeks was of the beauty of the landscape and the friendliness of the people.”

Plus of course the depth and spread of culture… especially opera.

What has always struck me are the Germans’ ability to speak flawless English at all levels and their sardonic humour. I had a splendid dinner where they romanced their Franconian Food - I was told a speciality was “breast of dove” (hmm!) - I had goose which was magnificent. I noted to the waitress it was apparently “free range and fed exclusively and happily on corn.” She eyed me wryly and said:
“Yes, and then he died.”

Most throughout Europe currently view us with somewhat puzzled amusement wondering why so many of us take offence by their very existence, as though being foreign somehow “isn’t right.”

Meanwhile the activity in the USA with the appointment of Linda McMahon to a Cabinet post is the most distracting news of the week. She is CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment and has been seen playfully kicking wrestlers in the balls to spice up the shows.

Well, as they say “Trump is Trump” and “Brexit is Brexit” whilst Germany seems sane, relaxed and civilised - rather like Britain used to be. No need for orders because they know precisely where they’re going.

1 comment:

Nick Fitzherbert said...

I was in Bulgaria recently and hadn't even got out of the airport before the taxi driver started grilling me in bemusement on what we thought Brexit was all about. My take on Germans is similar to yours - most that I know work in hospitality and they do it brilliantly and in an entertaining way.