Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006


Anatomy of a Date

Put on your New York t-shirt, the one you bought after having too much wine at lunch in Soho, the price of which still causes you to gasp inside but which makes you feel fabulous.

Leave with your babysitter one sleeping child and two others reading in bed. (The fact that you now have two reading children adds exponentially to the success of the evening.)

Receive last-minute Facebook messages and calls from friends who won’t be joining you. You are on your own. This is no longer an evening out with friends; it is a date.

Proceed to Weinheim.

Find the nearest döner shop and scarf some fast food. This is not about fine dining.

Walk in a fog of garlic to the gig, where, on entry you meet some members of the band and kiss them hello. You’re kissing band members. Fangirl.

Enjoy a spectacularly vinegary €2 glass of wine.

Watch the warm-up band Skaya, who are very young and very good. Predict that the lead singer will be a superstar.


Drink water.

Waft garlic.

Swarm onto the dance-floor as the band, Ngobo Ngobo, start to play. Wonder why tall people always stand in front of you. (To the tall blonde guy whipping you in the face with his dreads, next time please wear a topknot.)

Find a space with a view.

Dance with your love.

Drink water.

Reflect that ska is happy music, and how much you prefer it and reggae to rap (it’s all in the melody).

Dance more.

Enjoy how your garlic fog is protecting you from the fog of cigarette smoke in the club.

Dance to every single song, including the band’s new songs, old favourites and a brilliant cover version of this:

Spend some time remembering 1984. (It was a good year.)

Keep dancing until the very last encore.

Leave smelling of sweat, garlic and other people’s cigarettes.

Release very tired babysitter and go to bed at 2am.

Wake at 6.45am thanks to the non-reading child.

Smell the smoke in your hair, and remember.

It was good.


Join the Club

Germans love their clubs. If you want to play football, raise canaries or walk Nordically, and you live in Germany, you automatically join a club, known as a Verein. That gives you instant friends, a place to go on a Saturday night if you’re feeling lonely, and it adds meaning and purpose to your life.

As parents, we have already joined an athletics club so that our children can run around a track with other kids and attend gymnastics classes. We believe that we will be joining a football club in the next year so that our small fellow can run aimlessly after a ball with others of his ilk. If any of our kids wanted to play tennis, hockey, rugby or netball we would have to join a club. This means paying a modest yearly fee, and getting involved on some level, whether it’s tending the herbaceous borders at the tennis club, lift-clubbing small hockey players to away games or turning up at various fests and ordering alcohol (my speciality).

We are broken, though, that there are no cricket clubs in Germany, except the casual one that takes place in our garden most weekends. It’s fairly relaxed, and closely tied to our regular weekend barbeque. There is no joining fee, no pruning involved and the requirement is the ability to hold a bat, however badly, and occasionally make contact with a ball. We are a small island of cricket in the large German sea of football.

Today, after a long bike ride, we stopped at a restaurant for a bit of lunch. We were lucky enough to be sitting next to the Sunday meeting of an unusual club.

The facial hair Verein. Twirly moustaches everywhere. We giggled, tried not to stare or do this:

We have to be careful. People take their clubs – and their facial hair – very seriously here.