Thursday 10 December 2015

Not the Authorial Intent

I was reading a British tabloid about conditions for refugees (and villagers) in eastern Germany, and I thought, "Even a  foreigner like myself--who spent one summer in Germany nine years ago--would know what a really bad idea it would be to send hundreds of (legal? illegal?) immigrants to a small town in eastern Germany."

And I wondered how a Catholic South Asian girl I knew in western Germany, Darli, was doing, and whether German resentment for a million new "southern" neighbours is affecting her. Once when we went out for dinner at a restaurant, the waitress addressed her in English and then me in German. Darli upbraided her for this in German, for she had actually grown up in Germany. The waitress had assumed that I, being white, spoke German, and Darli, being brown, didn't. 

Frankfurt-am-Main is a cosmopolitan city, and I saw quite a non-Germans (or New Germans) while I was there, beginning when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror in the mornings. I really liked the Germans (Old and New) I met. In general the quiet, solemn people on the trams or in the seminary reminded me of my parents, especially my father, who has German roots. They weren't much for striking up conversations with strangers at tram stops, although I do remember a silver-haired gent exclaiming to me over the news that George W. Bush had tried to give Angela Merkel a shoulder massage. "This is not how he should treat a German Woman!" he exclaimed.

As a Foreign Woman I attracted some attention. A young man of "southerly appearance" insisted on following me as long as possible on my journey back to the seminary, speaking sweet English words of love which scared the living daylights out of me. But a few dead-drunk teenagers of Germanic appearance actually tried to mug me just before dawn on the tram back from a night club. Well, one of them did. He came lurching up to my seat and demanded money in schoolboy English. I forget what I said, but it was along the lines of "No. Buzz off, kid" and he wobbled back to his friends. 

All this reminiscence is just to remind you that in order to understand the Germany the migrants have walked to, you could do worse than to buy my lovely novel Ceremony of Innocence (Ignatius Press, 2013),  in which I seem to have predicted Pegida, clashes between Pegida and AntiFa and "Nazi villages". That said, I see that the latest Amazon comment says the events are "somewhat dated", which makes me laugh as the novel's events are fictional, but also because I know exactly what he or she means. 

The background is a snapshot of Germany as it was in 2006-2008, and of course it is no longer the same place seven years later. For one thing, there is no way Dennis would stick earbuds in his ears: definitely he would have those nice cushioned headphones. Also he would be on his smartphone all the time, and Catriona would have been in constant touch with her young friends by text instead of emails.      

Ah well, I shall just have to write something else. I would love to link Benedict's abdication to something to do with Dennis and his cardinal great-uncle, but I feel about shy writing fiction about a living pope, er, emeritus. 

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, if you link Pope Benedict's resignation to German cardinals, it may cut too close to the bone! Even for fiction ;)

    Something based on your friend Darli's experiences could be interesting, if she didn't mind; maybe drop her into the recent migrant treks across Europe so she can observe the tensions between migrant groups and with locals? Perhaps have her befriend one the Syrian girls who escaped those horrific 'bridal auctions', though that may be a bit triggering for more sensitive souls. Keep writing either way :)



This is Edinburgh Housewife, a blog for Catholic women and other women of good will. It assumes that the average reader is an unmarried, childless Catholic woman over 18. Commenters are asked to take that into consideration before commenting. Anonymous comments may be erased.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.