Monday, June 11, 2007

Ambridge invaded.

Indeed, much of Borsetshire, and possibly other neighbouring counties too. We are hosting a delightful group of fourteen and fifteen year old German students on the return leg of this years foreign language exchange, although of course for them German is scarcely a foreign language...

Exchanges have changed a bit since my day when you were farmed off to a family somewhere in the "near abroad" (France in my case, since there was no possibility of a latin or ancient greek exchange-- chiz chiz*) still in short trousies, and left to fend for yourself. These days the poor kids seem to have some cultural thingumy laid on every day and just use their host's places to crash in, except at the weekend.

So this past Saturday saw the gates of Jest Acres thrown open to around a dozen of our visitors and a similar number of their hosts. We were all on our very bestest best behaviour. No Basil Fawltys, no mentions of Minehead**, no "Two world Wars and One World Cup"s. Not that I think the kids would have known or cared what the hell the fuss was all about.

As a baby of a baby boomer, the last great european unpleasentness, and indeed the one before, cast a very long shadow. Not so for this generation. It was wonderful to see them all lounging about on the beatifully manicured lawns (did I mention I'd mown them myself-- no?-- really?) chatting about football, Schumaker and Hamilton, swapping Ipods and generally getting on with being teenagers.

Being parents of a lad, we had not, so far encountered many of his female contemporaries, so those he had invited to our little barbie were as new to us as their German guests. Indeed we had to spend a moment or two sizing each little girlie huddle up come feeding time before knowing whether to speak normally (assuming they were Brits) or slowly and loudly in time honoured tradition (if not). I have to admit to getting it wrong at least once.

And during all this whatever the correct german term for "entente" building, there was I manfully flipping burgers and sizzling bangers on the barbie, wreathed in the heady smoke of carnivore heaven. There can be few jobs more satisfying than hunter gathering a shedload of meat patties, scorching them to an even charcoal black, then watching the resulting mound of meat products disappear. And such caveman cooking needs no language, but crosses all supposed cultural boundaries, taking us all back to simpler times.

And this was when I stumbled across a dichotomy. As recreation there is nothing finer than setting to, firing up a griddle and providing for your tribe and their guests. Yet as an occupation it has become something to look down on.

Sorry, but that was it really. No great revelations or damascene experiences, but a thoroughly pleasant weekend in the company of a bunch of charming teenagers who despite their differing languages had more in common with one another through their use of Ipods, MSN, email the ubiquitous mobile phone et al, than with their wrinkly parents. Somehow I find this massively reassuring. However screwed up the world we have made for them I've got a feeling this next generation are globalized enough to start to put aside our traditional tribalism and get on with the job of sorting it out, or at least of going down in style to some bangin' tunes as the flashes from their camera phones light up the night sky.

* and ** attract the usual cyber-hobnobs for correct provenance.


Z said...

Nigel Molesworth! Down with Skool! How to be Topp!

Along with the Addams Family and Saki, they shaped my entire life.

Z said...

so did the Minehead reference, but I'll leave that to someone else to recognise.

Doctor Jest said...

z-- I sa. Planely you ar kno fule. Topp anser, specially for a GURL! Hob-nobs or St Cutard's Cremes?

potentilla said...

Hello clouds hello sky.

Sadly I don't know about Minehead so I don't get any Hob-Nobs. Actually I don't like H-N that much; if you'd said Boasters I might have done some serious Googling.

Doctor Jest said...

potentilla-- Or shud I sa Fotherington-Thomas hem-hem, wot about Hello burds and ect,ect. We are down to rotten old rich tea here toda chiz chiz.

*Note to self-- enough molesworth now before you start writing like that in the notes hem-hem...*

You could try googling "Minehead" and "german" which I think will give it you first hit!

Z said...

I didn't google, honest, guv. I am old enough to remember both St Custard's and Monty Python. I was very young, of course.

Hobnobs and St Custards Cremes? ;-D

potentilla said...

I forgot about this and have only just come back and taken your Googling advice; I thought you might like to know that this comments box is currently the fourth hit.......fame.

Doctor Jest said...

Sorry all, been a bit bizzy lately.

Z-- why not take both indeed. And you must indeed have been an infant prodigy ;-) as for that matter was I, hem-hem.

potentilla-- I was especially impressed at the depth of detail of the wikipedia entry that it gave me. And not a little scared I must say. Still it gives you the flavour of the piece quite well if you had not previously been aware of it.

*falls over backwards foaming at the mouth*

potentilla said...

Yes, I thought that. How nice that people want to spend their time on the public service of putting detailed plot summaries of old TV programmes onto the web.

I also finally worked out WHY I was pretty ignorant about Monty Python - I'm too young! I never knew that before.

Anonymous said...

dunno how I got 'ere - want to get to ambridge.

Doctor Jest said...

anon-- if you look back in the archives you'll see how the surgery came to be in Ambridge. Thanks for stopping by however you got here. If you want the main village you need a right turn off the Darrington Road ;-)