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5:15pm on Friday, 14th March, 2008:

Too Amusing Anecdote


A couple of days ago, we went to a meeting in the evening regarding the student exchange visit that my younger daughter is involved in. In Autumn, she went to Germany; next month, the German girl she stayed with is coming here.

So, we went to a meeting to find out what we're supposed to do.

To get us in the mood, and take our minds off the "images of war in the twentieth century" posters still on the wall, there was a slide show projecting images of the trip to Germany on a screen. My daughter kept pointing out when she was in them, but then the talk started.

The teacher organising the trip gave us some handouts, and began explaining them. She asked us to be attuned to cultural differences, and then embarked on a lengthy anecdote about how one year some parent had thought their German student was being rude by saying "I will visit my friends" when they meant "I want to visit my friends", apparently due to a similarity between the German word for "want" and the English word "will". At the end, everyone gave a polite laugh, but not my wife. No, my wife was doubled up, tears rolling down her cheeks, barely able to contain herself. I think the teacher was of the impression that this might have been a little odd, but nevertheless was in some way connected with her anecdote.

What she didn't know was that the screen behind her had just showed the school's visit to the local brewery in Germany. One picture showed my daughter saying cheers with a glass of beer, and the next was a group photograph in which she was caught mid-blink and looked absolutely smashed. It was hilarious — if you were looking at our daughter. If you weren't, you didn't notice it, so didn't go red in the face trying to stifle snorts of laughter.

Because the projector was on a cycle, it proceeded to repeat the image another four times during the talk, on each occasion being noticed by more people and leading to even greater efforts by my wife to keep a straight face. By the end, she was exhausted.

Fortunately, I was able to remain calm and pay attention to what was being said, so I do have some vague idea what to do when the German girl comes. I remember being particularly pleased to learn that she wasn't one of the three who would be attending a history lesson, given that the subject this term is the Battle of the Somme.

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Copyright © 2008 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).