I left England in high summer – that glorious time of year between hay and harvest when my annual resolution to go to church more often finally bows to an older magic. Yet crossing the Hofgarten on my walk to school in Bonn, I find myself in an avenue of chestnut trees already strewing their leaves at my feet. It is the beginning of August and yet conker season (if it is still allowed) is nearly upon us; I can almost hear R.S Thomas whisper in my ear.
And so to Bonn, a pragmatic choice as my original plan to spend three months in Berlin fell through, but on reflection a good one. I am not yet sure why; the first German town I ever visited was Cologne and perhaps now, fifteen years later dulce et decorum est to begin a new phase of my life on the banks of the Rhine once more.
Did you spot the reference? Subtle, wasn’t it? Well perhaps not; it has struck me as ironic (if that is indeed the correct term for it) that an English novelist whose only novel to date has focused on the First World War (links for purchase and reviews later) should move to Germany one day before the 100th anniversary of the commencement of the First World War. Deliberate? No, not really, my German course at Goethe-Institut Bonn just happened to begin on 4th August. For all that, I must confess that, amid a slight regret that I’m missing “all the fun” (to coin a phrase from dear old Jessie Pope), is a certain relief to be away from the endless images of suffering soldiers and sodden trenches. Having spent a long time with the subject I’d quite like to think about something else and it does irritate me slightly that this English interest has failed to mention certain other writers who discussed the war: Ungaretti and von Remarque. Of course they – an Italian poet and the German author of “All Quiet on the Western Front” were all on the “other side” so to speak but you should still read them – go now and order your copies.
Ah well let all the rest be silence. This blog is not about the war but about my travels in Germany, for now I am sitting at an open window listening to the rain. Which is quite romantic if you discount the fact that my thought on the subject is “Oh God, I’ve got to go out in that”. Not quite what an English sonnet is made of, though I would be interested to see your attempts!
So far I have been in Germany five days, I am looking for work as a writer or an English teacher (CELTA of course) and to date have spoken to one school and arranged interviews with two others. One I suspect, might take me out of the Rhineland and my hopes are pinned on an internship that I applied for yesterday. I do not need to live like a king, but I do need to live so, fingers crossed!
I’ll leave you now, this is the first of what I hope will be a well-attended blog (on both sides). If I have piqued your interest with regards to my own literary attempts, you can buy it here (paperback or kindle):
Do linger to look at the http://www.noglory.org website, it is very interesting.