Home > Chapters > 9 – Guten Morgen Deutschland!!

9 – Guten Morgen Deutschland!!

When I was seven, I was living in Cyprus. Amongst the many memories I still have from that time are the trips we used to go on in dads old Morris Traveler car, all around the Cyprus country side. And of those trips, the thing that springs to mind most was the singing. Whether or not the car had a radio I really can’t recall, although I doubt there would have been much worth listening to, considering our location. So on the long trips, the four of us used to sing such delights as ‘She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain’ and ‘In The Stores.’ If we got really desperate, we would occasionally burst into ‘Ging Gang Gooley Gooley’  or the one who’s title eludes me but ends something like ‘..catsanella bogen by the sea.’  But we enjoyed it, and it kept us occupied, because lets face it, bored kids on a long car journey is just asking for trouble.

 Fast forward about ten years. The distance from Brussels, Belgium to Dülmen, Germany was about 150 miles and probably took us around three to four hours, in a FIAT 124 of all things. Perhaps there was no radio and perhaps we were the English von Trapps singing our way across Europe. I prefer to think I sat moodily on the back seat, studying the passing scenery in quiet contemplation of my imminent new life. Perhaps we did sing and I have mentally blocked it for I have no recollection whatsoever of that journey except for our arrival at our new home in Dülmen. Or perhaps I’m suffering from post-traumatic stress because the reason I remember our arrival so well is that on exiting the car I reached back through the open door to retrieve my jacket at the precise moment my sister decided to close the door, with my arm still inside. My first words uttered on German soil were raw Anglo-Saxon.

 We had arrived in am Osthoff. It was the main area of military accommodation for English families in Dülmen. Running almost the length of the street down the left hand side was a continuous terrace of houses, staggered into rows of three. About half way down was ours, No. 12. On the other side of the road, going off at right angles were four more terraced rows of five blocks of two houses each, making a total of about fifty houses for the families of the NCO’s (Non Commissioned Officers). At the far end of the street was some of the Officers housing comprising another six abodes. A short walk through a recreational area of kids swings and slides took you to an area of apartment blocks where there was probably somewhere in the region of another one fifty to two hundred housing units. What this all boiled down to was an enclave mentality. This is where we had to live, like it or not. All English, piled in next door to each other and surrounded by Germans and all things German. There was no class or cultural differences, no north-south divide and there was certainly no pressure to conform to one particular ideal, whether it be sport, music or political orientated. We were all there due to forces beyond our control where everyone knew almost everyone else, and we were accepted regardless.

At the entrance to am Osthoff, facing down the street, was the NAAFI (Navy Army Air Force Institutions). This marvelous establishment was basically a supermarket that sold a little of everything from daily groceries, electrical goods, alcohol and cigarettes (both of which you needed a ration card to buy) and, most importantly, it sold records.

Within the first two weeks of our arrival I had visited the NAAFI and, flying the flag of eclecticism at full mast, bought Blondie’s Parallel Lines and Black Sabbath’s Never Say Die, both of which were new releases that month. Into the basket also went the eternal Bat Out Of Hell  by Meatloaf, which had been released almost a year earlier but was still riding the charts.

           

When I bought those albums, I think maybe I was sending out signals. Here I was, the new kid in town but hey, I’m into good music so I’m cool. Maybe that was the subliminal message anyway, but the albums were awesome. Parallel Lines was Blondie’s second album, featuring such classics as Heart Of Glass  and Hanging On The Telephone and represented my lingering affinity with the punk generation. Blondie weren’t really punk but they rose to fame riding high on the new wave of punk inspired groups, helped along in their popularity amongst the male teen demographic in no small way by the presence of the gorgeous wet-dreaminess of Debbie Harry.

The same, however, could not be said about Marvin Lee Aday, or Meatloaf as he was better known, but boy could he sing! The album did not fit into any particular genre. It was just what it was but it was one of the most popular records ever. In the UK alone it stayed in the charts for a massive 474 consecutive weeks (a feat only surpassed by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours with 478) and still sells over 200,000 copies a year today. The absolute energy and power generated by his singing was almost hypnotic and the lyrics just had to be learned and sung along to whenever the record was played.

And lastly, the Sabbath album. Their eighth, but my first, and the last to feature Ozzy. He had actually quit the band before it was produced but returned after some of the tracks had been written with, coincidentally, Dave Walker of Fleetwood Mac fame, but refusing to do those songs until they were rewritten. But Never Say Die was, I felt, the death knell for Sabbath. Once an original member leaves a band, it is never really the same again, especially when it’s the singer. And that’s how it was with Sabbath. I never bought another record of theirs after that one, but have often added one of their earlier ones to my collection as and when the opportunity to buy one arose. The album did however accelerate my appreciation of all things metal.

There were two major occurrences that started within those two weeks of arrival too. The first was school. As previously mentioned, I had sat my GCE ‘O’ Levels back in the 5th form at Woking, but I had only passed four of the eight I sat, namely English Literature and Language, History and Geography. I failed French, Art, German and Maths. I had to go back to school to resit them, if only just for the Maths. But I decided to retake Art and German as well. And so I became a 6th former. The elite. The pinnacle of classroom status. And the subject of a future chapter.

The other was Friday nights, which we soon learned, were the nights when all available youths between the ages of 12 and 18 were rounded up and herded aboard an army issue bus and then transported onto the base, to attend the weekly Youth Club. And the mainstay of any YC night, as any teenager should be able to tell you, was D.I.S.C.O.


I was about to be plunged back into pop purgatory, but this time  I already had my lifeljacket on. I went in with eyes wide open knowing that what I was experiencing every Friday night was what had to be done.

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Categories: Chapters
  1. midaevalmaiden
    June 6, 2011 at 05:47

    I was herded onto a bus as a youth in similar style. But Disco isnt so bad when wearing rollerskates also. No wait… Disco IS bad. 🙂

    • June 16, 2011 at 22:23

      Disco then was good. Disco now is uber bad. But then, or now, I could not imagine anything more dangerous than disco on rollerskates! 🙂

  2. June 6, 2011 at 06:48

    First, I want a Morris Traveler car. Immediately.

    I envy your travel, though I imagine it made for a stressful childhood. Of course, it’s provided a great framework for your musical education. I look forward to every new post.

    Disco is of the devil.

    • June 16, 2011 at 22:28

      Haha.. I since been admonished concerning my description of the Traveller..apparantly it was not ‘old’… apparantly it was dad’s first, and only, car bought as new from the showroom and it was his pride and joy. 🙂

  3. June 10, 2011 at 03:05

    Oh, the dreaded problem of mixing genres. Impressive that you got Blondie, Sabbath and Meatloaf into the same cart — all very worthy purchases. I played a bit with genre crossing here: http://jamesostafford.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/14-what-time-is-it/

    I’m with Momfog: I envy your travel and your English cars.

    Keep ’em coming, my UK partner in musical crime.

    • June 16, 2011 at 22:29

      The heavy price of eclecticism..but worth it in the long run 🙂

  4. Mat
    July 5, 2011 at 16:32

    Guten Abend aus Deutschland 🙂
    I read a lot about ‘handmade’ music you like, but, what about pure electronic music (i.e. Jean-Michel Jarre) – do you feel it’s without soul/heart? I’m curious..

    Beste Grüße,
    Mat

    • July 5, 2011 at 20:23

      Hey thanks for dropping by..or should I say, Vielen Dank für Ihren Besuch 🙂
      I have to admit that I enjoy ‘handmade’ far more than electronic. But I do own several albums by the likes of Herr Jarre and also, my favourite band of the genre, Kraftwerk 🙂
      The music does have soul and heart..it just doesn’t have the same vitality or rawness as a good hard rock thrash. I find it more immersive, whereas ‘instrumental’ is more interactive.
      The same as with all music, it has its place and the world is definitely a better place for it.
      🙂

  5. Mat
    July 5, 2011 at 22:00

    Hey, nice to hear there is place for many directions 😉 Some ppl are so damn strict with different types of music. Very dogmatic indeed. Even I’m not a typical Rock listener, nevertheless I like some pearls of this genre. Some of any… Of course, most happy makes me to hear, you own Jarre albums, simply because I’m a real Jarre enthusiast 🙂 At least for the albums he did in the 70s/80s. The later stuff, hm, very ‘discussable’. Anyway, nice to cross someones way who knows this music too. 🙂

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