Sunday, September 16, 2012


I really wanted to include some humor in yesterday’s blog about feminized fish, but wasn’t sure the ideas that occurred to me would be deemed to be in the best possible taste. I could have worked on the issue and come up with something, but I’m trying to discipline myself to blog fast.

I really don’t like writing anything which is completely serious, though sometimes my humor is so dry it passes unnoticed. Needless to say, that is not quite the result I want, but I have learned to accept that people’s senses of humor vary – and to take my lumps.

At one stage in my pre-author life, I ran a company in Germany and had the magnificent title of: “Herr General Director.” German titles are nearly as good as their uniforms; and you omit them at your peril. If someone has a doctorate – and many do – he expects to be addressed as “Herr Doctor,” or he will poke out your eyes with a paperknife; or the bureaucratic equivalent. Addressing him as “Klaus” on first acquaintance will not go down well; even if his name is Klaus. The Germans take rank very, very, seriously.

The company retained blue chip accountants staffed by august beings all of whom seemed to have doctorates (a very German thing). Anyway, we were walking back from an introductory lunch in Dusseldorf, when we came to a pedestrian underpass which featured magnificent stainless steel hand-rails which guided one down to the bowels below.

I couldn’t resist. I loved slides as a child, and achieving adult status hasn’t made me love them less. Despite my corporate uniform of suit and tie, I jumped up on one of the rails, and had a most enjoyable ride to the bottom. German engineering is as good as they say it is.

I have seen people shocked many times in my life, but I have never seen any group quite as stunned at my undignified action as those senior accountants. Serious business people just did not behave this way. Mein Gott! It was days before they could look me in the eye.

I thought it was a hoot; and the looks on their faces funnier still. Suffice to say, they didn’t share my sense of humor.

What can I say in my defense? I was young, and, well, I’m Irish – a notoriously casual culture – and I only dressed like a corporate type in those days. I was really a writer-in-waiting, and we march to the beat of a different keyboard.



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