Friday, 6 March 2009

Wiesbaden - more about the town and our day

One in five couples in the UK sleep alone because of snoring, and I am sad to say we are in that number. Andrew retreated to the click-clack (sofa-bed) in the sitting room last night because he was too hot and because of my snoring. I wonder what on earth is the evolutionary advantage in snoring and I decided it must be to keep night-time predators at bay. A horrible night-tiger approaches and then hears a deep rasping rumbling roar and decides that he can find another tasty morsel instead of this sonorous snack... What else could it be? I inherited my snoring capacity from my dear mama, and have passed it on to my son. In case we are ever unfortunate enough to be stalked by night-predators this will come in handy but meanwhile it means solitary nights far too often for my liking. I have wondered about various patent 'cures' and fixes but none have had much appeal so far.

Another strange thing about snoring is how it can be a huge noise in the room and yet the snorer almost never hears the sound himself. Whatever the switch is in the brain which allows or encourages snoring is the very same one which renders the snorer totally deaf. I have very occasionally caught the back end of one of my snores, but it always seems miraculous, unbelievable, incredible. Why?

I am just back from the first part of my conference which I will report on shortly, but meanwhile will say how we spent our morning. We traipsed about in the drizzle, looking at various buildings and shops. I was looking for a particular kind of lip-pencil made by Mac (which being a German firm I thought would be simple – but no). Eventually we did find a stand in a smart shop called Douglas, but the colour I want is now out of production. Poo.

Most people we speak to can understand English or speak it fairly well, so it is proving a bit difficult to practice my German. I spent ages looking through the art catalogue I bought, which is all in German, trying to look up the vocabulary in my tiny pocket dictionary, but it can't cope. I was thinking it was extraordinary that a smallish provincial city in the middle of Germany could have a museum with so many prehistoric treasures – images of women, goddesses, fertility objects etc from Greece, Peru, Mexico, Roman Gaul and Germania, etc etc but of course most are reproductions, and thus they have accumulated a terrific focussed collection. This was part of a big exhibition last year contrasting and comparing these images with 'modern' iconography of the Virgin, and I would love to see something similar at home. I am thinking I will try to do something similar based on my researches from the 1990s about the Invisible Women of Faversham, of whom there are some tremendous stories and I daresay enough images, maps, even artefacts or other objects to make a provocative show.

On our walk round we saw a tiny bit of the Roman remains...really just a fragment of a wall. t was on a steep bit of hillside, so I guess that was why they fortified it. It was to keep the barbarians out, hence the name Heidenmauer (heathen wall).

We saw the world's largest cuckoo clock, a table with ostrich legs, some beggars, lots of trees pleached and pruned into the most knobbly shapes, and we inspected various possible restaurants for lunch. There are almost no German restaurants as no-one likes German food apparently, but there are loads of foreign cuisines including Mauritian and Korean, and all the usual European and immigrant cultures.

Andrew chose our lunchplace – one of the few trad German ones, and the average age of the clients put them squarely into the war generation, so I can't say I liked it very much. We ate in a similar place yesterday (though that was more touristy) and have had queasy stomachs ever since. So I did not eat much today. I expected the music in today's restaurant to be oom-pah-pah band music but it was actually mostly Tom Jones and Paul Anka.

Straight after lunch I went to my conference and I must tell you something about that. There are 3,500 people there mostly German but actually from all over the world. The venue is modern and huge and the interior has been totally staged for and by Juice Plus – orange carpet throughout, loads of tall glass vases containing just white, green and orange flower and fruits – really beautiful. There are about 400 white leather sofas, and bar-stools and tables. There are huge plasma screens beaming the stage events into the sitting areas, and loads of break-out rooms, cafes and meeting places within the conference. It looks gorgeous. High design. In the present climate of recession and anxiety, it all seems extraordinary, but the company is experiencing a massive and steady growth, so for them this is normal. The Germans in particular have taken the JP message to their hearts, and so their national marketing team (we don't have one) have been able to stage a spectacular show for us, with a fantastic acrobatic troupe doing a terrific jumping and flipping act to start us off, and then a German Olympic gold-medallist bringing 'the flame' (the real one, still living) from Beijing, to our hall.

The first big news of the day was that Juice Plus is officially sponsoring the German Olympic team – fantastic! Why can't we in the UK have this level of exposurea and success? And then we heard that the Bayerne-Munich football team who have their own doctor of course, a man who was an athlete himself and has specialised in sports medicine all his life – he endorses JP and gave a tremendous speech this afternoon. He is 66 and looks 40. It is tremendous to be with so many people who have so much energy, and all regarding health and wellbeing and preventing illness as normal and natural. In the UK with such a strong tradition of 'the National Health will take care of me' + a strong tradition of being sceptical about anything if you meet it 1-2-1 from someone, or not in a high-street store, we find the JP message is less well received. But I think things will change as the message gradually sinks in! This is not meant to be any kind of sales pitch but I am trying to describe my day. Anyway the health message fits in very easily in this city.

Wiesbaden is absolutely stuffed with clinics, doctors, therapists, treatment centres etc. based on its spa heritage. It also has a notably non-fat population. And it has a fair sprinkling of really eccentric slightly older women and men wandering around in brlghtly coloured scarves or sweaters, begging or buying buns etc. It has lots of lovely shops, including one selling very snazzy coffee-making machines, and a model-making shop which made me stop and stare - every kind of tiny lathe, jig, kit, toolset, what-have-you. The guide book claims that W enjoys a Mediterranean climate (oh yes?) but says the average temperature is 9 degrees. We have had it mostly about 4 degrees this week and drizzle all the time. You are NOT supposed to cross any road except when the green man says so, even if it means waiting at the edge of an entirely empty road. We are not very obedient to this rule, but we are not alone is jaywalking. But we get some funny looks. The Fiat arouses quite a lot of interest but we have seen about 3 just like it, so it can't be that uncommon.

Tonight we were supposed to be going to a toptable meal at the Casino with Jay Martin, the company founder who I have met before and greatly admire, but I cannot face all that food so we are having an abstemious evening in the apartment eating some pears and cheese. Back to the conference tomorrow.


fiona1951 said...

Completely trivial comment but Mac is Canadian, not German. Do keep on writing, I am fascinated.

Griselda said...

Ah - well a´ll my Mac stuff says 'Made in Germany' so I thought.....
Thánks for the info!
Tell all ýour friends about it. I need a publisher!
How are you? I wish you were heré. I was talking with Andrew about this very thing on Friday!!!!!