Sunday, 12 February 2017

Bank Account

The first thing that migrants seem to need to do is getting a bank account. No bank account: No chance to rent a home and no chance to get paid for work. Often the problem is that to get a bank account you’ll need to present an address or a job, which makes you think of that great book Catch 69. In my case my girlfriend thankfully rented the house so I had a residential address to show when I marched into Lloyds TSB in Nottingham.

Hello, erm...

Ingo. Ingo Bousa.

Ah, ok. What can I do for you Mr Bussa?

I’d like to open a bank account.

Ah, no problem. Do you own a property or are you renting?

Renting (why’s that your business?)

Ah, ok. Do you have the contract?

Yes, my English partner is renting. We live there together.

Ah, ok. Hmm…

(JESUS! DO YOU WANT MY MONEY OR NOT!?)

Do you have your ID with you?

Yep, here.

Aaaaaah... Germany! I’ve been to Germany once.

Oh really... that’s nice. Where did you go?

The Oktoberfest. Munich. I LOVED it. (of course you did... getting hammered on extremely overpriced beer, listening to techno-umpah-music)

Yeah, very nice.

So, what can I do for you Mr Bussa?

I’d like to open a personal bank account please.

Ok, no problem. *studies my German ID card* So.. it’s for Haans Bussa.

Er, no.. Ingo is actually my main name. Hans and Maria are just some second names. Ingo Bousa please.

Hmmmmmm.. but Hans is the first name on your ID card. We have to use the first name, is that ok?

Erm.. no that’s not ok, my name is Ingo Bousa. Can you make an exception?

I’m afraid not Mr Bussa.

Seriously?

Yes, I am sorry.

*we look at each other in silence for what feels like eternity*

Ok go on then, I really need a bank account.

No problem Mr Bussa. Sorry about that. So, do you have two utility bills in your name?

What? No, I don’t... the house is rented in my girlfriend’s name.

etc.
etc.
etc.

So, even today, my credit and bank cards all say Mr Hans Bousa. It’s one of the few things that I’d have expected from a German bank.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Temping

My first glamorous temp job was handing out flyers at Nottingham football grounds on a Saturday morning. After that I spent a couple of months in the brain-dead world of data entry in various zombie-offices in and out of town. I ultimately ended up in the basement of Capital One in a massive open office room together with 20 other under-achievers, dealing with credit card applications. For an ex-popstar with great ambitions of ‘sticking it to the man’, this was the most ironic place to end up being underpaid and bored beyond belief.

I turned to conducting socio-studies of my fellow worker drones. They were as fascinating to me as I was for them. The thing is, that almost every Brit has a ‘Germany story’ which is normally based on having visited a German city and having been impressed by cleanliness and Ordnung/order. And beer. Or the ‘my dad was in the army and stationed in *insert German town that I’ve never heard of*’ story. Very rarely a Brit actually talks proper German. Most of them had it at school but all is forgotten – which I understand. Brits don’t need to speak a second [or third] language because everybody speaks English. Kind of. Even most of my English friends that live in Berlin get mostly by with a very rudimentary command of the German language. They also rarely watch German television [it’s shit] or listen to German radio [it’s shit] or take part in any form of German life. That is except from one of my English/German mates. Sean, member of the notorious UK/DE performance group Gob Squad, has actually just been granted German citizenship after an arduous test of his language and German history and politics test. He wants to be German whereas I am living an opposite life in the UK alas without feeling the need to get a British passport. Why would I want to pay money to officially become part of the gang were 40+ percent of people want to kick me out of the country? Anyway, more of my English/German mirror friend later.

Back at Capital One, we were sitting at tables with stacks of credit card application letters, trying to make conversation to lighten the hours of monotonous drivel.

So, do you have clubs in Germany?


Err... yes. Of course.


What, like here?


Yes, like here. All the same. Well, kind off. Most of our clubs have English names but the people inside are mostly German.


Does everybody wear Lederhosen in Germany? *wink wink*


Nope. That’s only some parts of Bavaria and Austria – which is not really “Germany” anyway.


Aaah, really! Why does everybody like David Hasselhoff?


I have no idea. Do you like David Hasselhoff?


Not really but I heard that he is big in Germany.


Maybe some Germans like him because he brought The Wall down.


He brought The Wall down?!


No, not really. I was joking. That was the Scorpions with Wind of Change.


Really?!!


Absolutely. They all got a German knighthood.


Wow... I didn’t know that.


*sigh/LOL*


I am actually still friends with one of my Nottingham temp colleagues on Facebook. He’s now majorly into global conspiracy theories.

Lederhosen and Black Pudding

On the 20th of December 2004 I got fired from my copywriter job at one of the hippest agencies in Berlin. I was only there as a hired hand to write 20 unique fitness studio prospects for a hip new German fitness chain. I hated everything about this job while probably being envied by other copywriters in less hip agencies. I hated advertising and I hated Berlin. I hated ‘hip’ and hated Germany. I needed a Berxit. It was time for big decisions.


I always rather wanted to be where I wasn’t. Or rather, I never felt a soothing sense of ‘belonging’ wherever I was. I grew up in the middle of nowhere in the German countryside and by the time I was 18, I knew for sure that I needed to run away as fast and far as possible. My mum once told me that when she was a kid in the late 1940s, her parents always warned her not to go too near to a gypsy camp that was on the outskirts of our village, otherwise the gypsies would take her away. My mum wanted nothing more than the gypsies to take her away. There is a great German word ‘Sehnsucht’. A longing, so strong that it is an addiction. Another great word is ‘Fernweh’, a longing for something far away that is so strong that it hurts. I love the German language; I just hate speaking it. Funny eh?


So, back in late 2004 I walked back to our tiny overpriced 4th floor apartment in the not yet hip Neuk├Âlln, not far from the Kreuzberg canal and the meta-hip Ankerklause, and told my English girlfriend that I just got fired and hated Germany. We then spent a depressing and awkward Christmas at my parents’ house in The Village and after that I was ready to roll. We decided to move to Nottingham. Don’t laugh. Please, I can explain. My wife’s parents and lots of friends lived in Nottingham and it was somehow a logical first stop before we’d go to better, grander places.



We left Berlin in a Blizzard. Literally. It felt a bit like the city didn’t want to let us go easily. Driving a van that has everything that you own in the back instantly turns you into a gypsy. It felt great and scary. I always feel slightly illegal whatever I do, a legacy from my time as a juvenile delinquent. When we approached the ferry to Dover, I realised that, again, I was just about to do something illegal. There was a sign asking if you had fireworks or weapons to declare. I had both. Why? Well... on board, hidden in the depths of the back of the van there were a couple of massive Polish bangers from last New Year’s Eve and a blank-firing replica 1886 US army revolver which I had bought at a Berlin Flohmarkt / car boot sale ages ago. Bargain! I weighted my chances, kept quiet, and off we went on to the ferry to the promised land!



When we arrived in Dover, weapons still undetected, I drove for the first time in my life on the other side of the road. “Easy” I thought for about 5 seconds, till I entered the first roundabout. The Germans don’t really do roundabouts. I have only seen them popping up here and there in the last 5 years. There is an element of anarchy that comes with a roundabout. There are rules but at the same time, if you put the pedal to the metal at the right time, you can just slide in front of a car that has officially the right of way. It’s the perfect hunting ground for opportunists like me. Normal Germans prefer proper rules: Red: Stop. Green: Go. Anyway, except from that first roundabout in Dover, which saw me driving round about 3 times until I felt comfortable to leave, I got used to driving on the left pretty quickly. Nowadays I’m fluent on both sides and switching only takes a second of brain-readjustment. Having said that, there have been a couple of situations [strangely always in France] where my poor wife had to actually scream OH SHIT YOU’RE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD!!! to keep us from being killed. I still don’t understand why the Brits have to drive on the wrong side of the road.



When we finally arrived in Nottingham, my girlfriend’s mum (now my mother-in-law) had organised a flat for us in the part of town were crime is high and rent is low. A tiny damp flat which we then filled with all our belongings. In boxes. We didn’t even unpack. We just stayed in that flat for 3 days, being tired and zonked from the Berlin – Nottingham trip, and tried not to cry too much. If I ever felt lost and confused in my life, that was it. We agreed that we had to leave that apartment and some friends took us in until we were able to find a dry house to rent. I’ll never forget what these friends did for us. They just took us in and let us live with them. Beyond that, I was impressed straight away by the general friendliness of people.



After living in Berlin for a decade, that wasn’t something that I was used to on a daily basis. Brits seemed to talk to each other on the street or at the shops. Strange women working at supermarket tills called me ‘love’ and smiled at me, which was very confusing, especially for someone having just escaped a 10-year sentence in the service industry nightmare that is Berlin. Germans in general only ever smile at someone that they already know and like. And especially in Berlin there is a thing called “Berliner Schnauze”, the ‘Berlin gob’. The Berliner is proud of this but it’s really only an excuse to be rude to people that you don’t really know. The Berlin gob is used to great effect by native Berliners and Berlin-immigrants alike. I tend to be a bit grumpy in the morning. In Berlin I can be grumpy all day without any major implications. People almost expect it from each other, and when you have established that basic ignorance and grumpiness as the status quo, it enables you to be pleasantly surprised when people are actually friendly and give you a smile. These smiles, coming out of nowhere, just when you expect them the least, are the daily highlights of collaborative human existence in a city that is built on grit and slight suspicion. Americans must feel like entering a different Universe when being confronted with The Deutsche Grump.



The rudeness of Berlin bar staff is legendary. Contrary to their proud and skilled French counterpart, the German ‘Kellner/Kellnerin’ or ‘Bedienung’ (Waiter/Waitress or Servant) will tell you with every move or sound that they don’t belong there and should rather be somewhere else, a literature festival or the Oscars. You’d be mad to expect customer service from a superstar in waiting. Never expect anything when going out and you’ll be fine. Also, never tip when the staff is grumpy or hapless and grumpy on top. It’s your final victory, albeit pyric. Despite all of this, I still harbour an everlasting secret crush on any ‘catastrophe waitress’. I sometimes picture myself as a grumpy but proud waiter, a job that I’d somehow enjoy if it would pay five times more than it actually does. No wonder these people are grumpy. But it still makes me wonder why very often people with the highest social incompetence end up in the service industry.



The lowest level of friendliness and human behaviour can be generally encountered at the Deutsche Amt. There are two important Amts: Employment and Social Services, with the latter being even worse. Two of my lowest points in life will forever be connected to the German Social Services Amt and the British Job Center. When living in Berlin, I once found myself out of work after a long stint as a freelance musician. Because I was registered as a freelancer, I wasn’t able to claim Arbeitslosengeld / Jobseekers allowance straight away and was forced to go and apply for Sozialhilfe / Social welfare. After three months of sitting in massive cues in dark corridors in grey cold buildings, I was ready to either kill myself or rise like a Phoenix out of the ashes of my shattered existence. The dead-eyed contempt of my Sachbearbeiter / Administrator and his complete refusal to show any human features had taken their toll. I admitted defeat and got myself a job. Any job. The system had worked.



When I lived in Redruth in Cornwall, my freelance work via a temp agency came to an abrupt end and I was forced to “sign on”. So I went down to the Job Centre Monday morning, got in the queue and after a couple of hours I was sitting in front of a friendly chap with a beard. He smiled a lot and talked a lot and listened to my sad story while nodding a lot and then he let me fill in a lot of forms and then I was assured that all will be fine. I was impressed. Really impressed. This wasn’t Germany, the cold Kafkaesque Moloch, this was Swinging Britain! I returned, as advised, the following Monday to look at some job listings, waved hello to the friendly chap with the beard, and then walked back home, assured that all was still great. I applied for some low-paid non-relevant jobs but as it was now week two, I was wondering when the money would come in. I went back two more Mondays, picking up more job listings and applying for more crap jobs and now increasingly wondering when that first lump of money would finally arrive in my bank account. I asked the bearded guy and he assured me that all was going well for me. But I wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t as I had no money. If I’d have been on my own at that stage of my life, there was a great possibility that I’d have ended up on the streets. You know when you sometimes wonder how people end up getting kicked out of their rented accommodation and then end up on the streets? That’s exactly how. Lucky me had a girlfriend with a job and so we made do and somehow got by. After four weeks of zero cash flow, I went to my next scheduled appointment to finally confront beard-man. He wasn’t there. After a lot of waiting and talking and more waiting and a bit of German shouting, I finally ended up with a woman that looked at me like I was a German SS POW. I was by now very edgy and impatient which didn’t really work with her being awkward but defiant. She had done nothing wrong but I was rightly pissed off as it turned out that I wasn’t actually eligible for receiving jobseekers allowance as I still had a temporary national insurance number. Beard-man never told me to go to a special Amt in Truro to get my temporary national insurance number turned into a proper national insurance number. “WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME THAT STRAIGHT AWAY ON THE FIRST DAY THAT I CAME HERE!?” I shouted at some point, being unable to conceal my utter frustration any longer. The woman now looked even more embarrassed and I realised that ‘public conflict’ is right at the bottom of the Brit-psyche. You wouldn’t expect that after going out on a Friday night in Nottingham but there you go… everyone was now looking at me: A foreigner shouting at staff in the job centre. Well done.



In the end I just stormed out and a month later I managed to get a job in a local agency and I’ve never looked back since. The idea of ‘living on the dole’, as it’s portrayed in numerous speculative TV shows that show the feckless, living a never-ending life of simple benefit pleasures, is extremely alien to me. Depending on the state, both in Germany and the UK, is definitely not my cup of tea.


Back in 2005 in Nottingham and living in some friend’s spare room for weeks, we then found an affordable house and, as I was quickly running out of saved money, I got introduced to my first English institution: Temping.

Friday, 10 February 2017

First Gear







I currently live in Bristol with my English wife and two young daughters. I just celebrated my 50th birthday in Berlin with an eclectic mix of German and English friends. I don’t feel German anymore and not yet British. I fell European. Some might say that the UK is not really the best place for me now but, as most of us know by now, the grass is always greener on the other side. I have somehow amassed a very colourful CV, from growing up in the woods and meadows of a very small village in Hessen in Germany, to releasing records in Japan in the 90s, to raising a family, working at the digital front lines for Google and other FTSE companies. When I didn’t know what to do next after my band dissolved after 10 years of musical mayhem, I became a media designer and copy writer but quickly hated the pretentious coke-fuelled world of Berlin advertising, so I decided to follow a life-long dream, sold most of my possessions and directed my version of The Great Escape.


UK/DE Value Orientations 
Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck designed a system to analyse cultural patterns. These patterns are defined as “value orientations”, explaining what is important and also offer guidance for living to members of different cultures. These five questions make up Kluckhohn and Strodtbeck’s system:
  • What is the character of human nature?
  • What is the relation of humankind to nature?
  • What is the orientation toward time?
  • What is the value placed on activity?
  • What is the relationship of people to each other?
Human Nature Orientation
Germany’s culture is one in which people are considered to be good. German beliefs can easily be seen in the economic society where traditional values influence the way things operate. Germans are unified in what they do and believe that people know what is considered to be the correct way to live and operate in their society. If someone does act in an evil manner, the ramifications will be very harsh.

The same could be said about the British culture. But the Brits seem to draw their ‘goodness’, unlike the Germans, from a historic heritage of ‘winning’. That these official ‘wins’ were of course ultimately achieved through great human tragedy and the occasional genocide is merely a dirty secret and bringing it up makes you look like an unpatriotic spoilsport.

Churchill will always be seen as a great hero by most Brits, regardless of his real track record of getting lots of people killed. Figures like Tony Blair, wo bathed themselves in blood, can go on to have lucrative careers in industry and politics, raking in the money, before returning to UK politics in praise of the EU.

This wouldn’t really happen in German politics. Germans can nowadays spot a war criminal from a mile away. But on the other hand, that’s not holding back most Germans to look the other way when the government is exporting weapons into conflict zones.

Person- Nature Orientations

Germany is a country where humans and nature operate harmoniously. Relations with the environment are invested in only to better nature and the person at the same time. The majority of things done in Germany are done the old-fashioned way, in order to keep nature and humans in a state where they work together rather than people trying to constantly control and change their surroundings. Germans believe that everything that happens to them is a consequence of their actions as well.

The Brits have a very confusing view on nature preservation. On one hand organisations like the National Trust and English Heritage spend lots of money and funds to safe and maintain historic places and buildings for the public to visit and admire, on the other hand there is a strong resistance against clean energy sources like wind turbines, wave hubs and solar panels. Basically everything that “destroys” the beautiful look of the countryside is condemned as ‘visually unacceptable’. The implications for day-to-day life are for example are that on one hand there are excruciatingly complicated rules for renovating a historic building/old house but on the other hand landlords are allowed to rent a non-isolated shed with single-glazed windows. The Brits love to pretend that they care about nature, when in reality lots of people rather care about the financial bottom-line.

The British Green Party is currently, compared to Germany, merely a political side note with their members mostly being looked at as deluded crusty tree huggers – which of course some of them are. The UK Green Party still has to go through their German equivalent’s soul-searching real-world mutation/transformation. The German Greens had to learn the hard way during the 80s and 90s that, if you don’t just want to be a force of opposition and actually get into power, you must abandon extreme fringe positions and get used to the frustrating world of compromise: Rather than not getting anything implemented, you compromise and at least get something implemented. Looking at the last 10 years of Conservative politics in the UK, it’s sad to see David Cameron abandoning step by step all initial environmental promises. I can’t pretend that I was surprised but it was of course a cynical demonstration of where the actual power and priorities are with: The economy and therefore big business.

Time Orientation

Germany is a future oriented culture. There is a high emphasis on the future, that it will be better than the present. Germans would never consider making or building something without considering the impact it might have on the future and the consequences that may occur. These beliefs allow Germany to have an optimistic culture. To Germans, time is money, which explains why they place such importance on punctuality and thinking before one acts. The Germans also have not that much to look back at. Their track record of starting and losing two world wars just in the last century has left a massive dark mark on the German psyche that might never be eradicated. The Nazis have entered the world’s conscience as The Master Evil, and the Germans will forever know their place.

Quite the opposite can be said about the Brits. They just love to look back. Back to Britpop, back to Swinging London, back to the Battle of Britain.. and of course they love to look back through starry eyes at The Empire and The Raj.. downing a never ending stream of gin tonics on verandas of an upper-class town houses. The more confusing global modern life gets, the more the Brits look for the consoling warm embrace of the past, a thing that is solidly woven in the fabric of everyday life. There is not a day without a Spitfire flyby, Union Jack bunting and tea and Victoria sponge. Shows like Antiques Roadshow, The Great British Bake-off and The British Sowing Bee celebrate an often rose-tinted British history and values. Anything to do with the military is usually being referred to as something heroic and positive, even the Falklands war which was merely a disastrous piece of influencing UK public opinion via poor foreign policy is seen as another victorious skirmish to add to the long list of armed conflict. Britain has been at war with nearly all countries in the world over the years while still managing to uphold a pretty picture of honour and sacrifice. In Germany it would be unthinkable to have TV ads depicting cool special forces actions with a voiceover straight from a Medal of Honour video game. A British soldier will always be a hero, almost regardless of his or her actions. The officer that was caught on video shooting dead a captured, wounded Taliban and then declaring into the camera that he had just broken the Geneva convention just had his original conviction crushed and was said to be looking forward spending Christmas with his family. The right-wing press was running front pages that read along the lines of ‘How dare these filthy human rights lawyers trying to tarnish our heroes!’. You wouldn’t have stuff like that in Germany. Too much, too soon.

Another very British war-related source of idiotic behaviour is the poppy. Originally a simple paper flower, sold during November with the proceedings going to the British Legion to help soldiers and maintain graves, and worn on your sleeve, it’s now an annual source of pathetic dispute. There are of course ‘poppy Nazis’ who name and shame every person in the public eye who is, for whatever reasons, not wearing one. There are people on TV wearing idiotic bling fashion poppies on Strictly Come Dancing. There are all sorts of nationalist groups and parties that try to instrumentalise the whole poppy thing and make out like only them are true British patriots. It really is ridiculous and on one hand I am happy that I am German and therefore not part of the poppy club anyway but on the other hand that means that I can be in a group of people were everybody is wearing a poppy except from me and they, not knowing that I’m German, that I hate to remember the fallen heroes of two world wars. But hey, looking at the bigger picture, that’s probably one of my least important issues.

One my most hated cultural Brit icons is the essence of Britishness: The ‘KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON’ poster. Don’t rock the boat, don’t ask big questions, keep your head down and keep doing whatever they say above. You could give it a positive spin and compare it to the classic ‘Blitz Spirit’. Don’t let them break you and keep pushing. I do like that a bit more. The other thing that I can’t stand is a thing that is usually used in combination with Churchill and that’s ‘British bulldog spirit’. You can see that as a long procession of shit tattoos on Nazi hooligan shoulders and forearms alongside sketchy ‘English rose’ tattoos on female shoulders. There’s nothing that spells working class better than an English rose tattoo with a pack of fags and a bottle of alcopops. And before you start a petition to get me deported, be assured that I am solid working class and have a long-standing, self-critical love-hate relationship with my contemporaries. I am not snotty, but I am also realistic.

Activity Orientation

Germany is a doing culture because people measure their accomplishments by external factors. This emphasis on doing gives Germans a desire to be work-oriented and focused on the task at hand. It is common to have a business-meeting end with a decision no matter where they stand at that point. Germans concentrate on just one thing at a time and make sure they keep their commitments.

The UK is a being culture, focused on multitasking and short term orientated. The Brits do prioritise a life/work balance, which can be seen nicely on a Friday around lunch time, when thousands of office workers descend to the pub to knock off at least a couple of ‘cheeky pints’ and bottles of white wine. Not taking part in this ritual makes you quickly look like a boring weirdo, so there is a certain pressure on immigrants that don’t see getting hammered on a Friday midday as the highlight of the week.

Relational Orientation

Germany is, for the most part, individualistic except when it comes to the business world, in which they are focused on the group. A person’s identity in Germany is based on the individual only and their status is based only on their own actions. However, in the business world, Germans look down upon privileges and status and attempt to minimize inequalities.

Right.. next time we'll get going properly. 


Thursday, 26 January 2017

Guten Tag!

I’m a secret sucker for national stereotypes. “Germans leave their towels on sunlounges.” “Germans eat sausages all the time.” “Germans love The Hoff.” I get it all the time. While helping her sort some chopped wood, an English woman living in the south of Spain once said to me “Germans are great at stapling wood. They are actually generally good with wood.” After contemplating secretly about changing my Twitter bio to ‘Good with wood’, I nodded slightly, saying “Well, some are, others ain’t.” while trying to figure out if her comment was a euphenism or just another innocent but slightly patronising national stereotype. Hopefully the later.


My favourite random British stereotype is ‘Brits are too embarrassed to get their kit off in public and would rather die than visiting a mixed sauna’ – which is of course not true. Well, at least not for a very small percentage of Brits.

In 1995 I was living in Berlin, had my band’s first record out and thought I'd be a minor rock star forever. 22 years later I live in Bristol UK, married with two kids and work in ‘Digital’. Between these two fix points something happened that I like to call The Crazy Ride: People were born, people died, money was earned and wasted, relationships blossomed, broke down and got rescued, tears, laughter, nervous breakdowns, playing basketball backstage with two Beastie Boys while Sonic Youth were watching, playing with their little daughter... epic failures and occasional success.. the life. You'll never really know. The future is unwritten. I wasted a lot of time in my life with the past or the future when I should have paid more attention to the present. We all know these things... but they are actually really hard to live by. If, when, why and what, how much have you got... should have could have would have... life is now. Life is here. And if you do the right [or wrong] thing now, it will change the presence and future forever.  

The last 20 years feel to me like maximal 5 years. And the last 5 years of having kids feel like 5 months. ‘Time’ is a very bendy concept, as is ‘home’. Home is where you can be yourself. Home is where you are being loved and accepted based on who you really are. Home is unpretentious. Home is not a country or any other physical place. Home is a state of mind. As is ‘identity’. I always felt like, as a German, I had some sort of ‘loser identity’. Starting and losing two world wars [not myself, but you know what I mean] is not a great achievement back catalogue to prance about. I always envied other countries like Sweden and Austria, who were highly complicit in past tragedies but then seemed to just crack on as if nothing really happened while Germany was being looked at like the naughty psychopath child that has been done unspeakable things and now has to spend the rest of its life on the naughty step. I always hated being German and I always hated looking back because everything that was great and nice to look back to was tarnished by the big brown elephant in the room.

It took me about 10 years of living in the UK to fully realise how backwards, conservative and anti-future this country can be. Shocking really. While Germany was slowly waking up and started looking forwards, the general vibe in the UK is to look backwards. Reassuring sentimentality. Have a cuppa and a biscuit, Antiques Roadshow is on in a minute.

Small town England is not swinging. It never really did. It might never will. And I always felt the same about Germany.

Of course there are exceptions, but it's easy to be fooled by my social media bubble. Most of my Brit friends are somehow progressive and at least occasionally interested in new things. They vote Labour or Green Party and most of them don't think that kids, foreigners and old people are a nuisance. They love to travel and learn about other people and their cultures. They don't need a constant Spitfire flyby to feel British and understand their place and meaning in the global village - but we seem to be a minority.




I hate generalisations. Nothing good ever comes from generalisations, but in socio/politics it’s almost impossible to think in a wider sense without generalising. Terrible, I know.
We now live in very complex societies that are largely undermined and driven by fear, paranoia and greed. Most of the media is not our friend. Shopping and consuming have largely replaced living and creating. Mobile internet access, our blessing and curse. Modern life is awesome and rubbish at the same time. You need to have your bullshit detector constantly on full power. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a teenager nowadays, finding your way in a world that has in theory everything on offer: All the music, all the ideas, all the truth and all the lies, but also creates massive pressure on everybody who doesn't fit in with the norm. Normcore is the new black while everybody is encouraged to “show their personality”. The UK is a society that celebrates “eccentricity”, but only if it’s rich people. Well, I don’t know many poor eccentrics. Most of them are called “bums”.

Both of my daughters are currently being introduced to UK state education. Church of England School. I'm equally excited and terrified by that. Their brains will somehow be washed and we have to make sure that their wild spirits won't get crushed by some empty-head bullies. It's hard to let a wild spirit roam free in a paranoid society. I know, I'm her dad and she sometimes does my head in.
I thought I'd mellow when older but whenever I look around, I see shit happening all the time and it drives me mad: Pathetic workmanship, bad design, crap service, lazy solutions, broken promises, feckless enrichment, quick solutions, short cuts and every piece of shit made out of thin plastic.. things that are easy to use and last for a lifetime seem to be suspicious in modern society.
Simplicity. Less choice. Craftsmanship. Empathy. Patience. Time. Love. I need nothing else from Santa.

I am 50 now and I spend lots of my energy on fighting the grumpy, frustrated English-speaking German bastard raging inside of me. To stay positive and strong and keep up with my exhausting but hilarious and awesome family. How did I even manage to live till half of a century? It shows that you can completely ignore most advice and still end up in the right place. I declare 2017 the year of metamorphosis. Change. Improvement. Evolution baby. Revolution of the self. If we want to change the world, we need to firstly change ourselves.

I am slowly finding out what I actually want and need. Very slowly. I am a crap learner; I mostly learn from mistakes. Looks like there's still a lot of mistakes to be made.

My name is Ingo Bousa. Hans Ingo Maria Bousa, to be correct. Since more than a decade I live and work mostly in England. I like it here. Well, let’s say for now ‘I used to liked it here’.