January 27, 2006

Belle&Sebastian, Birmingham, Carling Academy

Woah. What a concert. It's not like it was completely mindblowing or something, but I had some of the few hours of real happiness ever since I sold my soul to my CV and went to live in Coventry.
It is just so good to get out of this depressing city with this even more depressing corporate university. And see something beautiful for a change.
Thank you, Belle&Sebastian, thank you for playing "The State I Am In" as your very first song.

November 27, 2005

Coventry/Copenhagen

Writing about web page http://www.googlism.com

Googlism says:

coventry is sunk
coventry is the land of thieves
coventry is off
coventry is not the place for you

Googlism also says:

copenhagen is a modern and friendly city
copenhagen is truly wonderful
copenhagen is one of europe's most attractive cities

Klaus Uhrig says: Only eight more days.


October 28, 2005

violence in coventry, chapter II

Now that was another great evening in the lovely city of Coventry.

I hope everybody who was at The Tin Angel yesterday is allright…

I went to The Tin Angel yesterday for a concert – which was great – and some drinks. I decided I might finally have found some place in Coventry I really like and I might give this city one last chance…

But then some Idiot came up to the bouncer, attacked him, the rest of his pathetic gang filming the stuff on their mobile phones. A lot of people rushed outside the pub to defend the bouncer, dragged him back in and locked the door from the inside. Everybody was calling the police, when the guys outside smashed the first window. Everybody was so afraid.

It took only one or two minutes for the police to arrive. Oscar and I took a taxi home, too frightened to walk, because those idiots had run off in our direction. The first time I ever took a taxi for a distance of only two miles.

I think what shocked me most were the guys filming the attack on their mobile phones.

Just for the statistics:

Weeks in Coventry: 6
Really ugly situations: 4
of which violent: 2

Nice. Free rooms in Leamington or Kenilworth anybody?


October 19, 2005

from my record collection to the opera house

My Housemate and I keep trying to convert each other. Not in terms of religion, though he is religious and I am not. No. This is about music. He loves the opera, his fiancee is training to be an opera singer. I am one of those record-collecting indie types who believe in the small truths told in a three minute pop song.

After three hours of discussion three days ago and one hour today we finally came to some sort of theory: Could it be that classical music is all about infinity, whereas pop music is always about moments? Could it be that pop connects directly to your life and your experiences and classical music expresses the desire to go beyond the limitations of exactly those everyday experiences?
Could it be that exactly the fact, that he believes in something eternal and transcendental, enables him to understand this kind of music in a way i can not?

Currrently listening to: Belle & Sebastian – The State I Am In


October 02, 2005

Attacked at the bus stop

What is wrong with this town?

I have only been living in Coventry for less than three weeks now, but I was already attacked twice somewhere around Sainsbury's.

This time (yesterday, 6 p.m.) it was more serious. Two friends and I were waiting at the bus stop in order to go to the university, when two guys in jogging trousers approached us.
After the initial provocation (one of the guys showing off his ass to us), to which none of us responded, they tried to take away somebody's stuff, took away my glasses, and finally threw a large metal garbage bin at me. I managed to get my arm in between and we ran off, called the police (took them 45 min. to arrive), et cetera. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.

But.. I mean… is this NORMAL here?

I'm really getting paranoid about waiting at bus stops and people wearing jogging trousers now.

Sorry for my bad English, by the way, I'm still a little shaken….


September 26, 2005

the germans bombed it

Now that I have been living in Coventry for more than two weeks, it would seem to be the right time to practice a German national sport and start complaining a little.
Why is this city so ugly? Why don't they have a decent public transportation system here? Why does the city centre almost entirely consist of concrete buildings?

Unfortunately, the answer to all of these question is the same: Because the Germans bombed it.

Coventry did have a beautiful medieval city centre. Until the Germans bombed it.
Coventry also had a tram system for public transportation. Until the Germans bombed it.
Coventry was one of the most important cities in the United Kingdom. Until… well… I guess you get the picture.

Perhaps I should rather indulge in another German national sport. Feeling guilty.


the prospect of being run over by a lorry driver

English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street.

(E. B. White)

… and for getting across the street on a busy Coventry afternoon you sometimes need quite a large amount of sheer luck, I might add, especially if you're used to cars driving on the right side of the street.

Compared to the prospect of being run over by a lorry driver while looking in the wrong direction, the prospect of having to use a language different from my mother tongue for one year seems to be a rather small threat to my well-being.

However, language has always been my prime interest – I study literature and work as a journalist – and what I am missing now is especiallly the playful use of language. Even if my English is not that bad, my conversations during the last two weeks were still mostly limited to the hello-where-are-you-from-oh-interesting kind. Surprisingly enough, during international orientation, I sometimes found myself on the other side of the language barrier, speaking an English that was too complicated for some of the others to understand. At the other end of the scale there were some Scandinavian students who were so fluent in English, that I felt like an absolute beginner.

I basically set up this blog as a sort of playground, not for discussing my life, but only the matters of language and cultural difference I will encounter during my stay in Britain. It is, of course, also a writing exercise.

Considering cultural difference, the most obvious point so far is the British's obsession with safety and security. Not only does my neighbour have a (probably fake) CCTV camera, I also have a burglar alarm in my house, and, for the first time in my life, more than one lock (four, to be precise) on the front door. When walking through the city I saw so many posters with the slogan "help us make Coventry a safer place" that I inevitably asked myself how unsafe a place it is now….
While I understand that crime, especially burglary, is much more of a problem in Coventry, than where I come from, I still find people's reaction to the problem a little paranoid. And, after having a look at the crime statistics, I wonder why violent crime is so much higher in Coventry (and in Britain as a whole) than in comparable cities on the continent.

Most of the other aspects of British culture have been quite pleasant so far. People are so friendly, polite and helpful here, whether it is in the supermarket or in university administration. When I had some questions concerning my module selection, everybody was so nice that I really walked out of the university building with a smile on my face – it took me at least twenty minutes to realize, that nobody had answered my questions….
English food has not lived up to its horrid reputation (with the exception of the awful Full Cooked English Breakfast), the tea is really great and the coffee is not nearly as bad as Italian people always tell you. What i really miss is some kind of coffehouse-culture - people spending their saturday afternoons chatting in cafés, reading newspapers, smoking too many cigarettes... But this is the stereotypical complaint of continental people ... campus life, on the other hand, is pretty nice and I have never experienced something like that before - I mean, Soulwax and/= Too Many DJs in the Students' Union? On my birthday? Whoah.


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