Category Archives: History

Verbotene Liebe – the aftermath – Part 1

It’s not birthday themed but it is a pretty special one. It turned out to be a little longer than I originally intended as well, hence why it’s posted in two parts. This follows on from the very first piece I wrote, the beginning I’d already written and posted previously but I thought seeing as how it turned out to be so long it deserved to be posted in it’s entirety.

In the moments following Jogi’s surprise arrival, the two of them stood there in silence, merely gazing into each other’s eyes. Nobody moved, the air was still, silent but for the sound of Jogi breathing. In that moment neither of them needed to say anything and neither of them needed to move. They were not standing right next to each other, Hansi still by the door and Jogi frozen in place just outside. They did not need to be, they had shared the same space for countless hours, at matches and conferences and training sessions. Their closeness was already such that they didn’t need to be close together now.
When movement did occur it was Jogi who made the first move, walking slowly but purposefully towards Hansi. Hansi put out his hand which met Jogi’s chest as he approached, not to stop him but as a reminder of all the times he had done so previously, as a sign that those moments had not gone unnoticed or un-cherished by him. This time he was not stopping him from doing something stupid, this time when Jogi stopped upon feeling Hansi’s hand he reached up and took it and let Hansi lead him into the house.

There were so many things to talk about, so many things that needed to be said, so many questions about so many moments that Hansi wanted to ask. Maybe because there were so many things to say, they ended up saying very little to each other. Neither of them knew where to start. Jogi usually so commanding and decisive was helpless, he may have been the one who phoned Hansi and driven here but he had no clue as to what would happen next. The man who always had a plan, who thought of every possible eventuality had none here. Just as on the pitch when he needed a new idea he turned to Hansi, ever reliable Hansi who always knew what to do and say so that he could figure out what to do next.

He looked up at Hansi who was still standing, having led Jogi to sit on the sofa. Instead of sitting next to him Hansi had remained standing there, one of his hands still holding his and the other caressing his hair. As Jogi looked up at him, Hansi had let go of Jogi’s hand and started to turn away, suddenly aware that he was still in his pyjamas and intending to go and get dressed. Indecisive he may have been in regards to everything else but here Jogi knew what he wanted, he was not going to let Hansi go anywhere, not just yet. He grabbed hold of his hand, pulling him towards him. Before he knew what was happening Hansi found himself sitting next to Jogi on the sofa, so quickly and without warning had Jogi pulled him over that Hansi was almost sitting on top of him.

Feeling Hansi close to him, Jogi pulled him even closer, so close that he could smell his hair and so that Hansi could nestle his head into his chest. Jogi loved how sweet Hansi looked right now, in his t-shirt and shorts, his hair still a little messy and the sleep that he hadn’t time to rub out of his eyes yet.
He lay back, allowing Hansi to snuggle up to him, the perfect position for him to fall asleep. They remained there like that for a while, not saying anything or doing anything. Jogi was wide awake the whole time; he wanted to remember every moment of this. Hansi still not fully woken up yet and basking in the warmth Jogi provided could not help but drift back into the sleep that he had not long ago woken up from. Every so often he would wake up with a start, as if he was unsure whether or not the morning’s events had been a dream or had really happened. Each time he awoke with a start Jogi was there to remind him that it was real and to tighten his grip on his hand.

After lying there for some time Hansi decides that getting dressed may be a good idea, that is if he can convince Jogi to let go of him. Getting up Hansi attempts to free himself from Jogi’s grasp.
“Please don’t leave, Hansi.”
“Jogi, I’m not leaving you, I’ll never leave you. And besides, we’re at my house, remember?”
“Hansi’s house, we’re at Hansi’s house” answers Jogi, more to himself than anything else. Hearing how Jogi repeats himself this way Hansi knows he’s not going to let go of him anytime soon.
“I have a better idea, how about you come with me to get dressed?”
“Will you let me dress you?”
“Anything you want, Jogi.”
“So if I want to spend the rest of the day by your side I can?”
“You can, I meant it. I’m not leaving you.”
This time when Hansi attempts to get up Jogi not only allows him to but he gets up as well. Hansi makes his way upstairs with Jogi trailing behind him, still holding on to his hand. Only when they get to his room does Jogi let go. Standing there in front of the wardrobe Jogi need not say a word for Hansi to know what he wants, just like at work he knows exactly what he’s thinking. It’s one of those times Hansi knows what Jogi’s thinking even before he knows himself.
“Dressing me isn’t enough, is it? You want to pick my clothes too?”
“Can I do that?”
“Like I said, whatever you want.”

Jogi doesn’t say a word in reply but no words are required for Hansi to know how happy he is. There’s no trace of happiness on his face either, at least not for other people to see. You have to know Jogi like Hansi does to know he’s happy right now. It’s the kind of thing you can only know after spending so much time with someone, after being by their side day in day out, year after year. The kind of thing you learn without even knowing you’re learning. Just like Hansi knows not say a word to Jogi as he picks out his clothes for him. Knowing Jogi as he does he’s more than aware talking to him would be futile, that he won’t hear a single word you’re saying.

So Hansi stays quiet as Jogi begins the process of undressing him, not even when Jogi pauses to leave his hand in a most pleasing place does he say anything. He’d like to but he keeps quiet, instead looking appreciatively at Jogi. Hansi stays equally quiet when Jogi dresses him, just enjoying the moment whilst it lasts. Only when he’s sure Jogi is finished does he say what he’s thinking.
“You want to spend all day by my side; you could always spend the night here too, if you want.”
The look on Jogi’s face makes Hansi wish he hadn’t said a word of this but he doesn’t know why. He really can’t work out where he’s gone wrong, nor what could make Jogi look so panicked. It’s an expression Hansi’s familiar with, that’s not the problem. The problem is he’s not used to being the one who makes that look appear on Jogi’s face, he’s usually the one who fixes it. With no answer forthcoming from Jogi he asks “Did I say something wrong?”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“You need a minute to think?”
“No, more time won’t help.”
“Are you worried about being too blunt?”
“Always.”
“Forget about that; just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I can’t stay here.”
“Ok.”
“It makes you unhappy, and I don’t want to make you unhappy but I can’t stay here, I can’t sleep here. Not without, without….”

In the silence Hansi works it out what he’s done wrong, what it is that’s made Jogi panic so much. Now it’s so obvious to him he wonders he could ever have made such a mistake. Caught up in the excitement of the moment he’d completely forgotten just who is standing in front of him, just who it is that he’s dealing with.
“Jogi, I’m sorry, I should never have said that. That was really stupid of me. Asking you to sleep here, just springing it on you like this, I know better. It’s just all of this is so new, I really didn’t think.”
“You understand?”
“Of course.”
“You understand it’s not because of you, that it’s not because I don’t want to be with you?”
“Trust me; I know it’s not that. It’s because it’s a surprise.”
“Not just that.”
“What else?”
“This is scary, Hansi.”
“I know, it’s scary for me too. Exciting but still scary.”
“I don’t want to get this wrong.”
“There’s nothing to get wrong, not here. It’s not the kind of thing you do right or wrong. This is not the time or place for you to be worrying about perfectionism.”
“I really don’t want to get this wrong.”
“You won’t, don’t worry.”
“What do we do now?”
“This is unusual.”
“It is?”
“Yes, normally you always know what to do; you never ask me so directly for help that way. Normally you just need a word or a push in the right direction; you’re never asking me for help like this.”
“Am I getting it wrong?”
“Jogi, relax, you’re not getting it wrong.”
“I’m annoying you now, aren’t I?”
“No, never. Listen to me, I know you, I know what you’re like, I know all your quirks. Better than anyone else in the world I know all of this, and I love you anyway. Just please stop worrying so much.”
“I can’t help that.”
“I know. How about we just sit here for a while?”
“That’s all?”
“That’s all, whatever you want.”
“We can talk too, right?”
“Yes, we can talk.”

Hansi is plenty used to Jogi and all his strange little ways. He hadn’t been lying when he said any of that. Used to it he may be but it still makes him smile how literal Jogi is. He doesn’t know or understand why exactly, all he knows is it never fails to make him smile.
Taking hold of Jogi’s hand he leads him over to the bed, he sits down but Jogi doesn’t follow. Instead he stands there nervously holding on to Hansi’s hand.
“Jogi, are you ok?”
“I’m ok.”
“You want to come and sit here with me?”
“Yes.”
“Come on then.”
“I can’t.”
“Why not?”
“Being that close to you, it’s….”
“It’s what? I don’t understand, you just spent half the morning lying next to me on the sofa. You must have hugged me a thousand times, it’s no different.”
“It’s different, it’s very different.”
“How?”
“I’m in Hansi’s house; this is your room and your bed. I’ve spent so much time dreaming about this, it has to be perfect.”
“I told you to stop thinking about it that way. It’ll be whatever it is, whatever it’s meant to be.”

Cautiously Jogi sits down next to Hansi on the bed but doesn’t move any closer to him. Hansi wants to wrap his arms around him, to pull him close and to lie back with him in his arms. Yet he doesn’t, he can feel it’s not quite right. For whatever reason Jogi’s not ready. Despite what he said to Jogi he wants it to be perfect too, so he waits until he feels like Jogi is starting to relax a little. Though he soon realises he may be in a for a long wait because it occurs to him Jogi rarely if ever truly relaxes, not in front of other people, not when he’s aware other people are there. Only when he forgets his surroundings and that there’s anyone else there has Hansi ever seen him truly relaxed. That and those early mornings in the summer when he got up to watch him run by himself. He probably shouldn’t ask but he can’t help himself. Never before has he felt able to ask such questions, in fact never before has he seriously thought about asking them. He’s wondered about these things but it’s never occurred to Hansi to ask about them or to give them any serious thought. It’s only now he’s beginning to do so. Partly because of the way in which everything is changing, not being by Jogi’s side anymore is making him question things he’s never given a second thought to. Today’s events are making him do this all the more.

“Jogi, you always worry so much. You’re always so nervous around other people, why?”
“Because I don’t know what they’re thinking.”
“You mean you don’t know if you’ve done something wrong?”
“Yes.”
“If I promise to always tell you when you’ve made a mistake, would that make you feel better?”
“I’d rather not make any mistakes to begin with.”
“I know but I can’t do anything about that.”
“It might help.”
“You want a Hansi hug now?”
“A Hansi hug” repeats a clearly amused Jogi.
“You like that?”
“Very much, a Hansi hug. Yes, I’d like one. It’s just strange, normally when I hug you there’s no time to think about it.”
“Don’t think about it, just do it. Whenever you’re ready.”
Jogi sits there awkwardly for another few minutes before eventually allowing Hansi to wrap his arms around him. It’s a little strange at first, a little uncomfortable. But when he allows Hansi to fully wrap his arms around him it feels right, as if it’s where he’s meant to be. Soon enough Jogi is curled up next to him and without saying a word or asking his permission Hansi is running his fingers through his hair. Without thinking he says “This is perfect, I could stay here forever.”

In response to his words straight away Hansi can feel Jogi tense up slightly, he tries to hide it but he can’t hide anything from Hansi.
“What’s wrong?”
“I’m not staying here tonight, right?”
“Not unless you want to, I didn’t mean that. It was just; I just need to pick my words better.”
“It’s nice sitting here like this with you.”
“You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to but would it make it easier if we were in your room right now? Would it be easier for us to sleep in your bed?”
“You want to sleep in my bed?”
“No, I mean yes. I… This isn’t easy.”
“You’re getting confused.”
“I am, I don’t want to say the wrong thing.”
“Just tell me what you’re thinking.”
“I was thinking that being in a familiar place would be easier for you. I’m not saying we have to, I was just wondering if us sleeping in your bed would be easier, if you would be a little less anxious.”
“It might be easier. But I’m not sure I can do that, not yet.”
“There’s no rush, I can wait.”
“You’re always patient with me, even when everyone else gets frustrated. You’re always patient, you always know what to do and say.”
“Usually yes.”
“But not here?”
“This is new, for both of us. I know this is strange for you but I don’t have all the answers here. I’m almost as lost as you are. But we’ll find our way together. I can still help you, and you can help me.”
“I never need to help you.”
“You do, you just don’t know it.”
“How do I help you?”
“Just by being you. With you I always know I can count on you saying exactly what you mean, that you’ll always be truthful even when the other person doesn’t want to hear it. That you’ll never tell me what you think I want to hear.”
“But that’s only because I never know what someone might want to hear.”
“Maybe so, but I still appreciate it.”
“You’re not angry that I can’t sleep here with you?”
“No, I’d like you to. I’ve wanted you to be here for a long time. But I’ve waited all those years, a few more days won’t hurt me any.”
“What if it takes longer than that?”
“Then I’ll wait, whatever you need. Just don’t forget to tell me what’s going on with you. I need to know how you feel, ok?”
“You know I’m not good at this, that’s why you’re reminding me.”
“Yes, is it ok for me to remind you like this?”
“It’s fine. I’m really not good at these things; I don’t think I can say what I want to say. I’m not sure I can say how I feel.”
“You’ve already said the most important thing of all, anything else can wait. I can wait.”
“But I want to be able to tell you those things. I want to tell you how I feel about you, how I’ve felt since that very first day, how happy it makes me when you hug me. About all the times I dreamed about you and wished you were here.”
“Forget about all that for the moment. All that matters is you’re here now.”
“That’s enough?”
“It’s more than enough. You don’t need to be able to say anything more, not now, not today.”

What’s left of the morning passes in a peaceful silence, Hansi sitting there with Jogi curled up against him. The whole time Hansi kept running his fingers through Jogi’s hair. Jogi had been worried about not being able to tell Hansi how he feels and Hansi can understand how he feels but unlike Jogi he’s not worried about it. Sitting here with Jogi he’s happier than he’s ever been, happier than words could ever do justice to. Jogi’s not the only one having difficulty putting his feelings into words. Hansi would love to tell Jogi how glad he is that he came over here and how unbelievably happy he feels to have his arms wrapped around him. It’s not only because he’d prefer not to interrupt the silence Hansi chooses to remain quiet. He’s not sure there are any words which could adequately describe how he feels. Thinking it over it occurs to Hansi how strange it is to be sitting here in silence with Jogi. Not only that but sitting here comfortably. Hansi knows Jogi about as well as someone can know another person. He knows all his quirks and what makes him nervous or uncomfortable. He’s well acquainted with how awkward Jogi finds silences, even with people he knows. So Hansi understands how big a deal this is.

His thoughts turning to the morning’s events and what Jogi said Hansi wonders what Jogi’s plans are for the rest of the day. If indeed he has any plans. Jogi always has a plan for everything but this is the one thing he can’t plan for. For the time being Hansi keeps his thoughts to himself, wanting to enjoy the silence for as long as possible. More to the point he wants to keep hold of Jogi for as long as possible. Only when he felt like he couldn’t begin to feel his arms anymore did Hansi admit defeat and let go of Jogi. Looking up at Hansi confusedly Jogi asks “Why’d you let go?”
“I had to, it’s the only reason I’d ever let go of you.”
Looking at his watch Hansi works out how long they’ve been sitting there. Realising the time he enquires “Jogi, are you hungry?”
“I am if you are” is Jogi’s none too helpful reply.
“Seriously, yes or no?”
“Yes.”
“Then let’s go eat.”
Offering his hand Jogi replies “I go where you go.”

Hansi takes Jogi’s hand but stays where he is. Looking Jogi up and down Hansi can’t keep the smile off his face. Noticing the smile but not picking up on Hansi’s none too subtle eyeing of him Jogi nervously asks “What are you thinking?”
Still grinning Hansi answers “It’s just so strange, seeing you like this. Your hair all messed up and your shirt crumpled and almost un-tucked. All those times at work your shirt was un-tucked I wanted to fix it for you.”
“And you can” smiles Jogi.”
“And now I can” smiles Hansi back as he gets started on the task in question. Without saying a word he straightens out Jogi’s shirt and smoothes out the creases in his trousers. He takes his time, enjoying every single moment but it’s the final part of the job he saves the most attention for. Looking into Jogi’s eyes Hansi begins to fix his hair. Taking all the time in the world he finally slightly moves back Jogi’s fringe as he’s watched him do so many times. Taking hold of Hansi’s hand once more Jogi comments “You didn’t need to do that.”
“No, I didn’t. I just felt like it. Do you mind?”
“Not at all” smiles Jogi contentedly.

For a moment Hansi can do nothing but gaze at Jogi smiling, it’s all too easy for him to get lost in Jogi’s wonderful smile and the look of dreamy contentedness in his eyes. He only snaps out of it when he feels Jogi taking a tighter grip of his hand. Pulling himself together Hansi gets up from the bed and apologises saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you wait.”
“It’s ok, I’ve waited for what feels like forever for you, a few more minutes won’t hurt.”
Knowing full well just how impatient Jogi can be Hansi asks “You’re not at all impatient right now?”
“No, I’m here with Hansi, that’s all that matters.”

Keeping hold of Jogi’s hand Hansi leads him downstairs and out to the kitchen. Along the way he ponders how relaxed Jogi is, it’s certainly at odds with the highly strung and very impatient perfectionist he’s well acquainted with. It’s not often he gets to see him like this and it makes him happier than he can describe to realise he’s the reason. On the way down Hansi kept his thoughts to himself and they remain silent as he makes lunch for them both. Though he takes great pleasure in observing the way Jogi can’t take his eyes off him. He’s certainly not subtle about it, but then why should he be. From now on he no longer needs to hide how much he loves to watch Hansi. It’s no longer necessary to hide his ever wandering gaze or to keep his looks of longing to himself. Jogi keeps watching Hansi even when he puts the plates down on the table and sits across from him. It continues to fascinate Hansi how Jogi was so nervous not that long ago and now he’s so relaxed. Hansi wonders if Jogi’s even noticed the sandwich in front of him. Curious as to what he’s thinking Hansi asks “Jogi, what’s with you?”
“It’s just strange, being here with you.”
“You’ve eaten here lots of times.”
“I have, but this is different.”
“How so?”
“Before I couldn’t do this” replies Jogi as he reaches across the table and places his hand on Hansi’s.
“You’re right” is Hansi’s reply before he intertwines their fingers.
For the time being their lunch lays forgotten as Hansi enjoys having Jogi close to him once more. Eventually he knows he has to let go, yet he refrains from actually doing so. Leaving it to Jogi to point out “You have to let go of me now.”
“I never want to let go of you.”
“I wish you’d told me that a long time ago.”
“Things happen for a reason, even if we can’t see it. This was meant to happen now, in a sense it’s a good thing I left.”
“You may right about everything else but you’re wrong about that, don’t say that. I let you go but you leaving could never be a good thing.”
“Even though it helped lead to this?”
“Yes. It might have been what needed to happen but I’ll never say or think it’s a good thing.”

All of a sudden Jogi lets go of Hansi’s hand, for a moment Hansi thinks about grabbing it back but he quickly comes to the conclusion it’s not a move he should make nor would Jogi respond well to it. Not a word more is said as they begin to eat their lunch. Not until out of nowhere and without even looking up Jogi asks “What’s next Hansi?”
“You mean with us?”
“No, today, what’s next today?”
“Whatever you want.”
“That’s not helpful.”
“You can stay here if you want or we can go to your place, really I don’t mind. I’m happy with whatever you want.”
“You won’t be offended if I don’t want to stay here?”
“Not at all.”

Returning to eating his sandwich Jogi says nothing further but Hansi can tell he’s thinking something over. He’d prefer to just ask him straight out what he’s thinking but he’s well aware rushing Jogi never helps. Thus he waits not at all patiently for Jogi to share what’s on his mind. It takes a few more minutes of silence before Jogi asks “What about after that?”
“I don’t know, we’ll just see what happens.”
“No, that’s not good enough, it’s not right. I need a plan now.”
“Can’t we just wing it?”
“Absolutely not.”
Placing his hand next to Jogi’s but not actually taking hold of it; merely giving him the option Hansi reminds him “You can trust me; you’ll be safe with Hansi.”
“Don’t put it like that.”
“What’s wrong?”
“You make it sound like I don’t trust you enough, it’s not about that.”
“Listen to me, I didn’t mean that. I know you trust me. But you haven’t had a plan for any of this so far and you’ve survived, maybe you can get through the rest of it without a plan too.”
“You think so?”
“I think I don’t need any more of a plan than knowing I’m going to spend the rest of the day with you.”
“You’ll keep me out trouble, won’t you? Same as always.”
Smiling suggestively Hansi replies “Actually I think I may want to get you into trouble.”
Jogi says nothing in reply, he doesn’t have to. No words are needed to express his amusement at Hansi’s choice of reply. The look in his eyes is enough to tell Hansi how much he appreciates what he said. It’s the look in Jogi’s eyes Hansi is thinking about as they finish their lunch, it’s what Hansi’s still thinking about even afterwards. No matter what else he tries to think about he can’t stop picturing the glint in Jogi’s eyes and the playful look on his face.

Halfway Back to Normal

Almost there now, the Bundesliga is back and in full swing. Now all I need is for the 2.Bundesliga to resume and everything will be back to normal. Freiburg play their final pre-season friendly this Sunday, their first game back at home. They’ll be playing Amir Abrashi’s former team Grasshopper Club Zurich. It’s their final test before the league resumes and they play Bochum on the 5th February. I’m grateful they’re playing on a Friday the first week back, it’ll take a while to get used to having to get up early on the weekend again.  There won’t be any time to waste in readjusting after that, Freiburg don’t play on a Friday for the next three weeks afterwards. They won’t be playing on a day which isn’t Saturday or Sunday until March when they have a midweek game right at the start of the month. By then everything really will be back to normal, more of the DFB Pokal, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not to mention the international break in March. There will be plenty of games to watch, too many in fact. But then it’s better to have too much to do than too little. One game I am really looking forward to is the clash with RB Leipzig on the 7th March. Once again the tie gets the honour of being the game of the week and thus they play on the Monday night.

Tonight the second weekend of the Rückrunde kicked off with Mainz playing host to Gladbach. Both of them were looking to bounce back from a defeat, Mainz in particular needing a win after only taking one point from their last three games. They certainly worked hard for the three points they collected tonight, keeper Karrius in particular having another excellent game. His save in the 71st minute was nothing short of outstanding, so good was it in fact that I needed to make a GIF of it:

Karius_save_Mainz_v_GladbachHopefully when Freiburg’s season resumes I can get back into a good routine in regards to sleeping patterns. Because in truth this week has been something of a disaster. Not only do I not remember a great deal of it but I’m not happy with how much I’ve gotten done either. I’m sure if I’d gotten more than one good night of sleep along the way I could have done more. I’ve had plenty of ideas story wise and I’ve made lots of notes, I just don’t feel like actually doing anything with them yet. So I’ve only gotten started on one of them, I have nine pages so far of “Hansi’s Busy Day.” Other than that my major achievement of the week is collecting all 100 steel ingots in Fallout 3. I’m also thinking about the video I’ve got planned in celebration of Jogi’s birthday next week, it’s close to completion. I’ve got about a minute left to find pictures for. The one for Hansi’s birthday is already done ironically, given his birthday is towards the end of the month.

Getting that finished is my number one priority, everything else can be dealt with afterwards. I know I should be trying to think a little more long term but it’s just not possible right now. This week getting dressed has been enough of a challenge, I’m not looking for extra ways to put pressure on myself. I’m trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I don’t think I’ve gotten out of bed before 10:00am this week. The one day I know I was up in the morning doesn’t count because I’d been up all night, so it was a question of still being up rather than getting up.

I think I may have done a little too much last week and gotten a little too excited about the return of the Bundesliga. I probably should have skipped seeing The Hateful Eight. I’m certainly paying the price for it now.

The one advantage to being too tired to do anything means I haven’t really talked to anyone. Which in theory should mean I have nothing to obsess over right now. But I do thanks to the internet and my own impulsiveness. Though I’m trying not to see if that way. Instead of focusing on it as just a mistake to obsess over I’m trying to see it as something I can learn from.  Whether I did anything wrong or not I don’t know and I have no way of being sure. I have to make my peace with that. I did what I did and there’s no going back on it. Working out if I’ve done something wrong or not and just what that might be is not what I’m trying to work on. What I’m trying to work on is that sometimes the answers you seek aren’t there, sometimes you just have to let it go.

One thing I can’t stop thinking about is an article someone mentioned online, about asylum seekers being made to wear wristbands in order to receive food and being threatened with being reported to the authorities if they didn’t comply. Apparently the practice has been stopped now and the company in question has apologized. I find that of little comfort because they only did that after it was reported on in the media. If it hadn’t been brought to their attention no doubt they would have continued with the practice. Whilst the idea in itself is somewhat troublesome it’s not what I found most troubling about the whole thing. What bothered me the most is the comments I read online. It’s troublesome that many people don’t see a problem with it. Not only do some people not see a problem with visually identifying people in such a way but even suggesting they should just be grateful they’re being helped at all.

It’s troubling they can’t see how dangerous it is, that separating people out that way is never a good thing and can easily lead to other more troublesome practices. I found it disturbing personally because of another similar idea a while back in relation to disabled people. A local politician got this harebrained scheme about how disabled people, particularly those who don’t have visible disabilities should wear some kind of identification to identify them as such. When they were of course roundly criticized for it they claimed not to see the problem, claiming that it would be helpful for other people to know, like if they were in a situation they needed help and couldn’t tell people they had a disability or that they required assistance. I don’t buy their explanation, not least because what they describe already exists. I have something to serve that very purpose, it’s an autism alert card which has on it all the relevant details plus emergency contact information should it be required. The point is it’s a card I keep in my pocket, I use it when I choose to. I don’t wear it round my neck or have it pinned to my jacket for everyone else to see. Because in no world should anyone have to do that, to tell everyone they encounter about their disability or that you even have one. It’s your right whether you chose to disclose it or not, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet. Their crazy idea would take away that choice.

Not to mention it could have disastrous consequences. In a perfect world no-one would get picked or on or pushed around for any reason. Meanwhile back in the real world ideas like these wristbands and wearing identification of that sort can be a short cut to getting more attention than you’d like drawn to you. The last thing you need is another reason to stand out. I know that from personal experience at school and college. Whatever school I’ve gone to I’ve found that being associated in any way with the special needs class puts a target on your back that it’s impossible to get rid of. Personally I’m not bothered about that or ashamed of it any way, I wasn’t then and I’m not now. I really don’t care and if someone was willing to judge me on that basis then they’re not worth knowing anyway. What I do care about is getting hassled.

The other reason I can’t stop thinking about it is because of a book I just finished reading called “Ajax: The Dutch, the War.” It tells the story of Dutch football throughout WW2 and beyond, it also looks at the relationship between certain clubs, the role Antisemitism still plays in Dutch football and how political changes in Holland affect such things. One of the most interesting topics the book addresses is whether or not the Dutch were good or bad during the war. Like other countries in Europe they had a system set up to deal with collaborators and to assign appropriate punishment to those deemed to have worked with or for the Germans, particularly when they didn’t have to. One of the myths about Holland during WW2 is that they tried hard to save their Jewish population and also that the population was heavily involved with the Resistance. In actuality the Dutch were surprisingly efficient about co-operating with the Germans and their efforts to help got them a special mention by the Germans in correspondence regarding the operation. Despite the reality the myth was somehow propagated that  the Dutch were good. In truth the majority of the Dutch population was not particularly good or bad. For most people life simply carried on as normal.

It’s a fascinating read and I’ve learnt a lot from it, not just about the Dutch clubs and the culture of Dutch football but about politics in Holland too. Also I learnt a few new things about WW2, particularly in relation to Denmark. I’d heard the oft repeated myth that King Christian wore the Jewish star in solidarity with the Jews. It’s a myth because the star was never imposed in Denmark. But there is a bit of truth in the myth. What actually happened was that King Christian said he would wear it in the event it was introduced. Trivia aside there was another interesting point the book made. Denmark saved the majority of it’s Jewish population, helping them escape across the Sound to neutral Sweden. And the ones they didn’t get out of the country they still helped, making sure they stayed at Theresienstadt instead of being sent to a death camp. But Danes don’t like to talk about it or make a big deal about it. The book mentions a quote from the first major book written on the subject which praises the “special character and moral stature of the Danish people.”

Unsurprisingly Danes were embarrassed by that kind of talk,  it is quite over the top. What bothers me about it is the idea that saving someone makes the Danes or anyone else special for doing that. The idea that helping out a fellow human being is in some way special or remarkable. It should be normal, but I know that’s a very naive way of seeing things.

Getting back to the point, the author mentioned the Danes to make a comparison. His point is that the Dutch for years told a false story of having done all they could to help the Jews, yet the Danes did actually do it but they didn’t like to talk about it. In a way I do understand why the Dutch or anyone else would have liked to tell themselves they and their fellow countrymen did something to help. It’s certainly more palatable than the truth. To admit to yourself that you didn’t even try to do anything. From that perspective it makes sense someone might not want to be honest about the past. A review I read criticized the book for being too angry and too over-critical of the Dutch. I don’t agree with that at all, but if the author were a little angry I think it’s understandable. After all why wouldn’t someone be angry about what happened during WW2, I know it made me angry to read about policeman willingly helping German soldiers rounding up people. Not because they were threatened, not them or their families. Nor were they threatened with being sent to a camp or to work in Germany. No, the only punishment which awaited them was losing their holiday time. If that doesn’t make you angry then I think you should question why that is.

The fall of the wall

Fly on the Wall

If you could be a “fly on the wall” anywhere and at any time in history, where and when would you choose?

I could go for something obvious, like one of my favourite Germany matches, the Brazil game to name one. My chosen moment is still German related and in a way world cup related. My choice is the 9th November 1989, at precisely 6:35pm. That moment is when the directive was read out  that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was a mistake on Günter Schabowski’s part, the directive concerning foreign travel was not meant to come into effect immediately as he told the reporters, nor in fact was it supposed to be announced that night but the next day. It also did not mean what people thought, that the borders were in fact open, all it was meant to do was replace one set of regulations with another, they had still intended for people to have to apply and be granted permission to travel, just not in such a stringent manner as the previous regulations.

Despite the event not happening like some books describe, that is that the reporters present did not immediately transform into a whirlwind of activity at the exciting news, actually confusion is what reigned at first, this is still the moment I would pick. Imagine hearing that, imagine trying to make sense of what you had just heard. Forget about the announcement, the situation itself was a novelty, the government of the GDR holding press conferences and allowing reporters to ask questions that had not been pre-approved. More than anything else I would have liked to have seen the look on Schabowski’s face afterwards, when he was asked when it came into effect and he wrongly answered “immediately”. At what point if any did he realise his mistake?

And now the world cup connection, one of the first things a newly reunified Germany celebrated together was of course the 1990 world cup victory. Random Mannschaft related fact, Thomas Müller was born on the 13th September 1989, which would make him a few months old whilst all of this was going. That is a very weird thought indeed.

My second and final random fact is the location of one Hans-Dieter Flick on that day. On the 9th November 1989 he was playing in a DFB Pokal game for Bayern München vs. VfB Stuttgart. A game which Bayern lost 3-0.

Hansi Flick - DFB Pokal final program

I Got Skills

I Got Skills

If you could choose to be a master (or mistress) of any skill in the world, which skill would you pick?

To be a world class goalkeeper. Or to be fluent in German and Russian too if I’m being greedy. Though with season 3 of The Bridge not coming on UK TV till spring 2016 I should pick Danish.

None of them are my real choice. My real choice is the ability to manipulate and travel through time. Then you could go back and change things in history. And no I don’t mean things like changing the results of Euro 2008 so Spain didn’t win it, or changing Joachim Löw being sent off in the Austria game. Not even Freiburg’s draw against Hannover before Christmas, or Stuttgart losing 1-0 to Chelsea in the European Cup Winner’s Cup final. Though I would be tempted to erase Mathias Ginter’s mistake against Frankfurt which resulted in Weidenfeller conceding an embarrassing goal.

I mean really important things, like killing Hitler, or even better stopping WW2 from happening at all.  Better to prevent the Allies appeasement of Hitler and to prevent all of that bloodshed from taking place rather than revenge after the fact. I wonder if WW2 didn’t happen, how different the map of Europe would have looked. If WW2 had not happened, would that have prevented Stalin from gaining a foothold within Europe? I love historical alternate fiction, I wonder if there’s any books like that, something to add to my list.

Non-people

When I started this I decided not to write anything about politics and I’m going to stick to that in the sense that I’m not going to write directly about the thing that’s really bothering me, I don’t want all that negative stuff connected with this. But I can still write about it, even whilst I’m talking about Nazi Germany and Communism in Eastern Europe.

There’s not exactly one thing that got me thinking about this, its more a culmination of several comments from many articles on similar topics. This one got me thinking more about it because of a book I just finished reading, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe. The comment in question was on article about Nazi Germany and the person was arguing that there is something unique in the German character that made them predisposed to fascism and to carry out such atrocities of the Holocaust.  I don’t agree with that, I don’t think one nationality can be or is more evil or predisposed to such things more than another nationality. If it was, surely that would make things easier, you could study them, learn what was different about them and use that to prevent anyone from becoming like them. The truth is all humans are capable of such things. That’s what makes it so scary, the idea that anyone could be capable of that. It’s easier to distance oneself, to say that you are nothing like them, to act like they belong to a different species. And the argument that there is something unique in the German character that predisposes them to such things is overlooking a major flaw, the Holocaust was not carried out only be Germans but by people of many different and disparate nationalities. And atrocities of a similar nature were and are carried out long after the Holocaust.

The connection to what’s bothering me is that people think nothing like the Holocaust can never happen again, and that as long as people aren’t being rounded up into camps, then no-one is being persecuted. To them, being deprived of a livable income, a place to live and potentially being forced to look for a job when you know you are too sick or unable to do that, doesn’t count. Being told by politicians, the media and people on the internet and real life that you are a burden, that you cost the country too much money, that you aren’t worth anything, to them that doesn’t count either.

Like I didn’t feel helpless and useless enough before, I don’t need other people reminding me of that. They say stupid things like you can do it if you try harder and that you should be more positive. And that you should focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t. Well that’s very difficult to do, when everything around you is so negative and focused exactly on what you can’t do. It’s difficult when no-one recognises the things you can do and when they are used against you as proof that you aren’t really disabled. It’s a ridiculous catch 22 situation and I can only think that it was designed deliberately to make you insane.

I never felt like part of this country anyway, I’ve never felt in any sense that I belonged here. In truth, I’ve always hoped to find out that I wasn’t human at all. Now I really want that to be true. The trouble is, I know such a thing could and is happening in other places. It’s a human thing. In times of crisis people turn on each other, and those at the bottom of the social ladder are always the first targets.

Someone once expressed the opinion to me that people with autism who are so-called “high-functioning” are doubly feared, because we are both able and disabled and that confuses people and they don’t know how to respond to us. It’s an interesting thought. I think it probably does confuse people, how someone can be so able in one area and so spectacularly helpless in another. How a person can grasp complex ideas, hold their own in an argument and yet be unable to do what others perceive as a simple task, such as ordering food in a restaurant or being able to tell left from right. I think it also may bother them that it’s difficulty to pity us, I know I personally don’t allow such things. It’s probably relevant to note I’m generally uncomfortable with the expression of any feelings, be they positive or negative. Compliments, empathy, sympathy, all of that stuff makes me uncomfortable.

They can’t patronisingly pat you on the head and say “poor thing” or something like that. That seems to the only way some people know how to relate to disabled people, whether they be physically or mentally disabled. They seem to be unable to conceieve of us as individuals, with our own personalities, interests and flaws. The last one is particularly important, I’m forever reminding people that I shouldn’t get a free pass for making out of line comments, sure I could have misunderstood a situation and may require some guidance or equally I could just be being a jerk. People with autism are capable of that, just like everyone else.

Seeing how quickly people’s attitudes can change is scary, as is seeing otherwise intelligent people repeating the propaganda they read on the front of the newspaper without even stopping to analyse and question it. That experience would have been less terrifying had the person in question not been a doctor. Not because doctors are all so intelligent, I know from personal experience that is not true, its terrifying because you are listening to someone who took an oath that says “thou shalt do no harm” attempting to justify forcing sick and disabled people into indefinite forced workfare.

Many people say comparisons to Nazi Germany are absurd and insulting, not to mention inaccurate. Such comparisons are not inaccurate when one looks at how certain groups of people are demonized. All of the statistics and amounts of how much it costs for a disabled person to live independently, or indeed to live at all bear an uncomfortable similarity to those infamous Nazi posters: “This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money too.”

Equally disturbing is the insistence that work is good for all people, that a person is worthless and doesn’t contribute anything to society unless they have a job. Is that all people are? Economic production units? There to work until they drop, to make the rich even richer? Is that all that counts? I have nothing against work, or being employed, it forms a vital part of my plan, but I deeply reject the idea that a person should define themselves by what they do, that that’s all that counts.

On the subject of whether one nationality more than another is more likely to do such things, this quotation from Iron Curtain talking about how the Communists attempted to destroy the elements that make up civil society sums it up well:

“Their success reveals an unpleasant truth about human nature: if enough people are sufficiently determined, and if they are backed by adequate resources and force, then they can destroy ancient and apparently permanent legal, political, educational and religious institutions, sometimes for good. And if civil society could be so deeply damaged in nations as disparate, as historic and as culturally rich as those of Eastern Europe, then it can be similarly damaged anywhere. If nothing else, the history of postwar Stalinization proves just how fragile ‘civilization’ can turn out to be.”