Monday, June 22, 2009

Munich, Beards and the Origin of Species

The following took place in 1992 in Munich.

I was sitting comfortably on a rock adjacent to a fountain near Karlstor, one of Munich’s medieval city gates, reading a book, stroking my unruly beard and eating a ham roll I’d procured from a nearby bakery. A lad of about 16 approached and stood above me.

“Guten tag,” said the lad, and continued in German.

I, of course, can understand no German unless it’s said slowly, precisely and in English.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Sprechen sie Englisch?”

“Ja! Where are you from? England?”




“I give up.”


“Wow. Would you like to complete a survey?” asked the lad.

“Um. What’s it about?”

“It relates to the proposed redevelopment of Munich’s central pedestrian zone.”

“Right. Ok. Well, fire away. Do you mind if I continue eating?” I asked.

“Please do. Although your ham roll looks like it has been excreted by a dog.”

To that point I had been quite enjoying it.

“Ok,” continued the lad. “Question 1. I might sit down.”

The lad sat next to me on the rocks.

“Right,” he said. “Question 1. Gee it’s wet here.”


“Question 1. Were you born in Munich?”


“Ok. Well you have to have been born in Munich. Doesn’t matter, I’ll just tick ‘yes’.”

“Are you sure?” I said.

“Oh yes, they just want answers. Right, question 2. How long have you lived in Munich?”

“Less than 24 hours.”

“Hmm. That won’t make sense will it?”

“Unless I left the country immediately after being born and have only just, this minute, returned.”

“I’ll put ‘all my life’.”


“Wait a minute, I need to put your age too.”

“21,” I said, cautiously taking another bite from my roll.

“Ok. I’m 17. My name’s Schenn.”


We shook hands. Schenn’s hand was quite damp.

“Next question,” Schenn continued. “How often do you use Munich’s pedestrian precinct? Daily, weekly, monthly, yearly or very rarely.”

“This year?”

“Any time.”

“Very rarely.”

“I might put weekly if that’s ok.”

“Fine,” I agreed, warming to the survey.

“Ok. How many buildings could you identify and name?”

“The rathaus.”

“Is that it?”

“Um. There was a church with scaffolding.”

“Frauenkirche, well done, I’ll tick that.”

“Um, the green one with the thing.”

“Oh, St Peter’s!”

“Was it?”

“I’ll tick a few more here.”


“Would you be disappointed if the precinct was open to traffic?”

“Very!” I said with evident enthusiasm.

“Excellent! Now. I need to get your address. Not the whole thing. Just street and suburb.”

“Um. Wanna make one up?”

“Why don’t I? I’ll put my friend Hans’ address.”

“Good idea,” I said, wrapping the remainder of the roll in its paper.

“Thanks for your help,” said Schenn.

“No problem. Hey, why don’t you just sit at home and fill them out?”

“Well that wouldn’t be a very accurate representation of the real attitudes of the populace.”

“Good point.”

“Hey, what is that book?” he asked, spying my copy of On the Origin of Species.

(Yes, I really was reading it while backpacking through Europe, so what?)


“Do you believe in Darwin’s theories?” His tone was one of scepticism.

“Indeed I do,” I retorted, straightening my tie before realising, too late, that I was wearing a t-shirt.

“Interesting,” he said. “Interessant. Well, danke and Auf Wiedersehen!”



So, a wonderful travelling anecdote, one I relate regularly. Now it’s time to give away a prize. I’ve never given away a prize before. But I don’t want to be known as Tight Bob (mainly because it rhymes with tightwad) so here goes.

The first to correctly identify the beards below, will win my copy of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. It’s a pretty standard edition but contains many of Darwin’s finest theories including the one about the fish.

(Incidentally, when I was in Darwin recently, I heard that Charles Darwin never actually stepped foot onto land in the place named after him but, instead, made all his observations while tossing in a boat 200 metres offshore.)

Beard 1:
Beard 2:
Beard 3*:
Beard 4:
Beard 5:
Beard 6:
Beard 7:
Beard 8:
Beard 9:
Beard 10:
Beard 11:
Beard 12:

*Not really a beard.


Perseus said...

Van Gogh
Nick Cave
Ned kelly
Drunk Santa
Joaq...Jouuqi... Joaquan... Yokem Phoenix
Crosby, Stills or Nash
Some hideous pervert
Mickey Derrip

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

That's never Marx.

Perseus said...

If it's not Marx its Darwin.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

It's Tolstoy.

Perseus said...

So who is the one I said was Tolstoy? This is a stupid competition. Where's the adjudicator? I want my money back!

Anonymous said...

I dunno - after the last competition I entered to win a book, I saw neither hide nor hair of book nor lamb roast in the post after that.

Where's the justice?

Perseus said...

It would help if you gave an address to send the frickin' book.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

So who is the one I said was Tolstoy?

My money is on Galileo.

Anonymous said...

No. 2 is NOT Clooney...though I don't know who it actually is.

And No. 9 isn't Phoenix...could be Brad Pitt. But I could be very wrong.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Beard No.2 is Kris Kristofferson.

Beard No. 10 is Ernesto "Che" Guevara.

Melba said...

I play my own game with these posts. I read them, and guess who the author is. I never fail to guess Bob's posts. Nice work.

1. Van Gogh
2. Stephen Spielberg
3. Nick Cave
4. Ned Kelly
5. Tolstoy
6. Johnny Depp
7. Tom Hanks Castaway
8. Darwin
9. Matthew McConaughey
10. Jack Nicholson/Neil Young
11. Bjorn from ABBA but really, I think it's a subject from a painting...
12. Josh Brolin or Sheriff from Deadwood, or a porn star.

5 and 8 are interchangeable.

Ebony McKenna. said...

I'm still laughing at this line:

I, of course, can understand no German unless it’s said slowly, precisely and in English.

kitten said...

I would like to add my three cents:
2. Sean Connery
6. Johnny Depp
9. Brad Pitt

Melba said...

2. could also be Burt Reynolds. Of course. I thought 9 was Brad Pitt but I don't think his teeth are slightly uneven like that. He has a neater smile.

Bob, tell us!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think #2 is Kristofferson, and #9 could be McConaughay.

The last three just creep me out.

Lewd Bob said...

Do you really want me to tell? Melba is winning but it's incomplete.

She has these wrong: 7,9,11 and 12. She has #10 half right.

Melba wins the book unless someone can nail the final 4 1/2 by 6pm.

Melba said...

Is 12 a trick? Is 12 Bob or someone else on this blog?

Lewd Bob said...

Ok, so 12 is me. Perseus alluded to it earlier. And Angie thinks I'm creepy.

So you just need 7, 9, and 11.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

This competition lark seems a bit of a wheeze.

I might come up with one of my own.

Melba said...

My last go.

7. Charles Manson
9. Brad Pitt
11. some kind of god. Bacchus? It's on the tip of my tongue. I know it, I just can't GET IT.

Lewd Bob said...

#9 is indeed Pitt.

Oh fuck it. #7 is Galileo (Ramon mentioned him earlier but between his and Perseus' convoluted dialogue, I could make no sense of which beard he was referring to.)

And #11 is Will Oldham. He sure is creepy and a little god-like if you're into indie rock with a twist of country. Oh, and #10 is Neil Young, not Jack Nicholson.

Melba, the book is yours. The question remains of your whereabouts. Unlike previously mentioned roast dinners, this prize most definitely exists.

squib said...

Oh just cos I'm in WA I get discriminated against. It's 8am here. I didn't have a chance

Lewd Bob said...

I think your clock has stopped, squib.

Pepsi said...

Bummer, I missed the beardie thing but by sneaking in a self portrait and a Bonnie Prince B, mmmm - my little crush on Bob is getting bigger.

There's no hope for you Perseus, not even a sympathy crush for your 40th.

(I'm going back to my box now)

Melba said...

Oh yay. Thank you. Talk to Perseus about how to get it to me.

Anonymous said...

I meant the last three minus the last one...did I not say that?

Lewd Bob said...

That's ok Angie. I've developed a thick skin here at TSFKA. Thanks mainly to Desci.

wari lasi said...

What a bastard! I was really sick yesterday and missed this. Fun to read now though.

Desci said...

But I like you enough now Bob, whether you care or not. So you can just call it 'character building' instead of 'Desci genuinely hating a cunt'.

Lewd Bob said...

My character stopped forming about 15 years ago, Desci. I'm now just a static monolith suffering from constant unvariables and stable consistencies.