Not that I'm at all competitive or driven to keeping score or anything so trivial, but a girl's got to keep her sanity somehow.
Every week I get together with a mother of one of Jas's friends and we chat, half in German to improve my German and half in English to improve her English. M and I have, over the last year become good friends, we have the same tastes in luscious actors, enjoy the same films and same books - having discovered that our genre of choice is sci-fi/fantasy and that we both love the great god Terry Pratchett we have recommended new authors to each other, with resounding success. So we probably know each other reasonably well, but last Wednesday I shocked her speechless. This wasn't the tale of my baby chick murdering spree (1st year of a Uni Zoology course) or even that I was still breast feeding when indulging in Guinness (she slept through the night for the first time after that).
We were discussing confirmation and first communion* and then moved onto christening, as far as we could tell the only difference between the religions is that catholics only get three godparents whilst in the evangelical branch (church of England in the U.K**) you can have as many godparents as you want (although four is the usual number) and this is where M was stunned into silence. My children were both christened. Despite the fact that neither Si nor I believe in God we did get both our children christened, for several reasons;
1. MIL***, would probably have flipped out if we hadn't had the children christened, and no, she's not a bible basher, and probably only goes to church for weddings, christenings, funerals and Christmas.
3. We might not believe but we do think our children should have the opportunity to make that decision themselves, so start them off christened and let them study religion at school until such a time as they make up their mind not to, Ben was 10, and funnily enough Jas was also 10. At least now we're all atheists together, all singing from the same hymn sheet...or not!
I went to the (not so super)supermarket today, it's in the middle of town and so the carpark is popular and you have to pay to use it by taking a ticket. If you then use the supermarket the cashier punches the carpark ticket and when you drive out, you stick it in the barrier machine and it lets you out. There's another machine near the lifts for those who need to pay, but you don't need to use this if you've had your card punched****.
Today I had a trolley FULL of food (a shocking sight, which woukd clearly have marked me out as "not German", because they seem to shop every day, frequenting all the 5 different supermarkets) and rode up in the lift with an older lady (who oddly had not a single item of shopping with her) we muttered together as the lift lurched into motion and then some moments later shuddered to a halt at the appropriate floor. I swear that one day my luck will run out and the lift will stop between the floors. We walked together out of the lift, towards the cars, passing the car park ticket machine.
Don't you need to use the machine, the old lady asked me.
No, I told her, it's been punched by the cashier in the supermarket.
But you still have to use the machine, the lady didn't want to be beaten on her local knowledge and cetainly not by an out and out foreigner.
No, I told her, get the card punched by the cashier and then just go.
With that I waltzed off to my car, silently praying that my system would hold up, that today wouldn't be the day when the barrier machine decided to get revenge. It took me a while to load my trolley's worth of victuals into the bags I keep in the boot of my car and all the time I was packing I could feel this lady's eyes boring holes into my back, I could imagine her watching me walk to my car, load it and then be determined to follow me as I attempted to exit the car park having not first put my ticket through the ticket machine.
I drove towards the barrier, praying to the gods I believe in (god of shopping, god of pretty shoes and not forgetting the twin gods of chocolate and wine) please, please let the the machine still love me, if ever the god of spite were to dabble in my fate it would have been today. But no. Ticket into barrier machine, barrier up, Verena very happy.
So there you go, Verena 2: Germans 0, a good result I think you'll agree.
* it's that time of year when the little catholics are getting all dressed up like the bride of Christ and the rest are scrubbing themselves up as best they can in order to make their parents happy by swearing to be god fearing little boys and girls (essentially in order to reap the monetary rewards, this year all the boys seem to be getting cash towards new computer equipment.)
** showing my ignorance here by wondering if it's also called the CofE in Scotland and Wales...
*** mother in law
**** as long as you've only been there an hour, if you've been longer then you have to pay, fair enough.