Before I begin, I would like to pay tribute to a beautiful dog who very recently died after being the most gorgeous and famously sweet-tempered pet I have ever encountered. He belonged to a good friend of mine and while I knew him, he was a constant source of fun and comfort and love, and if any of his family should read this, I would like them to know how sorry I am for their loss. RIP Pickles; you were a treasure and one of a kind.


A few days ago, my mother came to visit me here and brought me my faithful ski jacket to keep me warm as winter approaches. Coincidentally, that same day, winter approached in the same way that a boxer’s fist can be described as ‘approaching’ the soft, vulnerable nose of his punchee. From then on every day has been painfully, bitterly cold, and suddenly I have come to like and appreciate everyone I see in this city in a whole new way; there is something sweet and noble about the way that every passer-by here is now skilfully packed into huge coats, metres of scarves bandaged around necks, boots, gloves, mittens, ear warmers, bandannas, and a breath-taking selection of remarkable hats.

In order to be appropriately equipped for a day in this kind of cold in this kind of city with this kind of job, the following guidelines apply:
1. Wear a coat which is thick, long, and (very importantly) features a wide range of pockets; you will need constant and immediate access to keys, money, phone, train ticket, tissues to stem constantly running nose, plus many extra compartments to stash all the small accessories you are wearing.
2. If you haven’t worn vests since you were ten, now is the time to start again.
3. If you prefer skirts and don’t tend to wear trousers…well, you do now. 
4.  You will need a minimum of three layers of shirts, two layers of socks, two of cardigans and jumpers, and at least two metres of scarf.
 You are now ready to go outdoors and will be super comfortable for approximately five seconds before beginning the day-long ritual of taking all of this off and putting it back on again every time you enter or leave any room, train or building, about a million times a day. 

Lessons meanwhile go on apace, with my first class of the year today in which I had to teach just one child, who even then could not concentrate because of the fascinating plastic hand mixer in the classroom. This afternoon’s class took a worrying turn when I hinted that the kids might get the chance to blow bubbles (Seifen blasen) if they were good and one child began to squirm, contort his face in anguished agony and pull at his crotch, before admitting that he was afraid of blowing bubbles – even after I promised we wouldn’t do any bubble blowing at all, he then spent the rest of the lesson writhing around in fear as if I’d promised to throw him into a cement mixer full of bees. Tune in tomorrow for a better post in which I write about my first visitor in this fair city; this is me just checking in to let you know that I haven’t forgotten you’re here. 


Rose T