no matter what wanderlust comes upon me

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Ella at Vogelsang above Bayrischzell

The sun has made an appearance after a long winter, and it’s time to go outside.

If you know anything about my dogs Ella and Louis, you know that means we’ll be going up up up. They love to hike in the Alps, and I don’t blame them.

In the last few days, I’ve heard multiple people remark on how fortunate we are to live when and where we do. Although I know not all of you are situated in the Bavarian capital, I can assure you that part of the point of this blog is to give you a glimpse of what it’s like here.

Having recounted it many times, I almost feel it’s unnecessary. However, some of my readers are new, and others haven’t been here for a long while, so here goes:

I lived here as a small child and as far back as I can remember, I desperately wanted to return. There are plenty of other beautiful places here in Germany, but no matter what wanderlust comes upon me, it’s back home in Munich that I find myself.

'A Hund ist er scho...'
‘A Hund ist er scho…’

Munich: the city of ‘We don’t need all of those newfangled things’

What an inviting message…yes, come to Munich

There was an intriguing article in the local paper last weekend, and I’m only just now getting round to talking about it. Sometimes I need a few days to decide if it’s even worth bothering you with.

Truly.

Not every idea is a gem. Aren’t there things you’ve done that, in retrospect, you probably would’ve reconsidered?

Well, I have an entire rucksack of those, but my suspicion is that you didn’t come here for my reject rucksack. That’ll have to wait for a slow day. These are anything but slow days. Quite the opposite, in fact.

For example, a week from Thursday the first print edition of The Munich Times is coming out. That means no matter how calm and collected I might appear here, I’m running ragged in my daily life. I have the same clients I normally do, and Ella and Louis, my sister and brother pair of Vizslas, need their daily trudge in the park. In addition to that, there’s the organising and cajoling I’m doing.

With whom am I doing all of that? With my colleagues at the paper.

That’s right: We’re starting a newspaper. In print. While everyone else is going digital, we’re betting that there’re still people that want to hold newsprint in their grubby little hands. I’ve heard all the arguments that we’re mad, and I’ve even strongly considered some of them. However, my heart is in this. Fully.

You want a taste of the sort of writing we offer? Well, here you go:

Chimpanzees: having a crack at culture (by Jane Marple)

Europe has to decide: cut or spend (by Michael Owens)

I personally have written on a variety of subjects, but I think the one I enjoyed the most was one of my first pieces for the newspaper:

St John Passion at the Matthäuskirche on Good Friday

And although England is now out of the European Championship, the writing about football is one of the best parts of The Munich Times, so here’s Chip off the old block (by Geoff Poulton)

You went and read every single one of those, right? You better have. You don’t want me to hand deliver the print edition to your doorstep, do you? I will, you know. Because, according to The Adventures of One Fancy World-Traveling Bon Vivant (with a jaunty hat), I’m the sort who just might do it. Show up and shove a copy into your waiting hands.

Can you even remember what I started this with? It was the article I read in the paper. For those of you who read German, here it is:

Hauptstadt der Selbstgefälligkeit: Warum München die Zukunft hinter sich hat

For the rest of you, the thrust of the article is that the citizens of Munich aren’t necessarily interested in progress for the mere sake of it. We’re a city that almost says, ‘We don’t need all of those newfangled things.‘ Not mindlessly, we don’t. Not  at all costs. No thank you.

Can you see where this is going?

What a perfect fit. A newspaper for a city that appreciates the traditional.

I’ve heard a statistic that a quarter of the Bavarian capital is foreign. That can’t be possible, can it? Not so traditional in that respect.

Yet in a way that plays to The Munich Times strengths even more so. It might not be the reader’s first language, but it’s very possible that English is more easily  understood than German. That’s certainly a part of who we’re aiming for.

We shall know soon enough. No need to fear: I’m taking you with me on this one. Something only a Bon Vivant would do. As is my wont.

Believing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Are you really going to listen to Winston?

What I’m going to talk about, probably many or most of you have no idea. Well, you might know about it. But it’s very likely not the obsession for you that it is for me.

Yet the actual thing I want to talk about is universal and quite applicable to many people’s lives. It’s the way I want to get there that might need a bit of ‘splainin‘.

If you know me elsewhere, particularly in real life or on twitter, you know that I’m quite passionate about football. Soccer, Fußball, fútbol…whatever you want to call it. I could go into how I got into football, but that’s for another blogpost. Instead, I want to talk about my hometown team: FC Bayern München (although it’s my adopted hometown, it’s very much my home). In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that I support the other local club in Munich…again, that’s for some other time.

See, the local team lost an important match the other night, and it got me thinking about winning and losing. About success and failure. About the things that sport allegedly teaches us, but that are so often lacking at the highest levels.

Saying that this particular  soccer game was important is an understatement. They were playing the final of the Champion’s League on their home pitch (their own stadium), which is something no-one had done since AS Roma in the 80s back when the Champion’s League was still called the Europa Cup. From what I understand, it’s never been won by the home side.

FC Bayern wanted to be the first. There was an air of inevitability about it. The football gods were assumed to be smiling down on this team. All was set up for their domination of the final match against what many thought was an inferior football team (London’s Chelsea FC).

But then the home team lost. Dramatically. Painfully, if you were a fan of said club. However, if you supported the visitor’s, the whole thing could not have been better scripted. You’d be much happier with those football gods in the post-game elation. Deities that you’d formerly cursed were now not only forgiven but even given their due. It was a beautiful night in the Bavarian capital for an English football organisation that had formerly experienced bitter defeat at the international level.

So those of you who could care less about sport…if you’re even still reading, what does this have to do with you? Actually, even if you have no interest in football, the bigger picture might have something to offer you. See, FC Bayern is quite proud of their ability to plan.

I could dislike the team for it’s success, but that is something I support and appreciate. Succeeding is all it’s cracked up to be. I suppose part of it is the money, but many football clubs at that level have astonishingly massive war chests. It’s not as if Chelsea is lacking for funds. Oh, and I could also fault the hometown club for their arrogance. Nothing surprising here. Any team, in any sport, that’s had as much success as they have, is likely to be arrogant about it.

But as much as I dislike all of those things, there’s one last component that irritates me as much as the others do. It might even annoy me more than the others.  This is the bigger picture I was talking about.

They think that if they plan properly, then they’re guaranteed success. That quite simply one can organise and strategise his way to victory. That’s not how it works. Not in sport and most definitely not in life.

Now, you may be one of those self-actualised sorts who believe you can do anything if you put your mind to it. What do I have to say to that? Nonsense. Maybe you’ve had some success with that line of thinking. In all likelihood, you’ll have more. But my experience has been that as much planning one does, you can’t disregard the intangibles.

You can’t guarantee winning. 

This is what sport is supposed to teach us. That you can fight and strive and struggle all you like, but eventually it could just not turn out the way you wanted. Not such a difficult concept to comprehend. Believing in one’s self or one’s destiny isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Even my seven-year-old niece understands that one.