Monday, January 30, 2006

And now for something completely different

To counteract the just slightly negative feelings I´ve been having about Germany this week, I spent the afternoon coming up with things I actually LIKE about this country. The top five are:

1. Fairy Tales. I mean it is the land of the Grimm Brothers. In fact moving back to Berlin we drove past Hammeln, the original town of the Pied Piper and his child-stealing ways. But the ABSOLUTE BEST bit of German fairy tales is that they don´t end with the Disneyish And they lived happily ever after. Nope, they all finish with And if they haven´t died yet, then they´re still alive today, which has two great aspects to it. Firstly it nicely covers the German need for deep philosophical thoughts, here along the lines of Schrödinger´s Cat - are they alive or aren´t they? Secondly, it takes that final chance to remind young children that EVERYONE STILL DIES. And that, I think, is a lovely way to send the kiddies off to bed.

2. Being able to live in flats that are OLDER THAN MY COUNTRY and actually STAY WARM in Winter.

3. Beer.

4. German names for diseases. They´re just so upfront y´know? No hiding behind impressive sounding latin names. Diarrhea? Oh no, it´s Fall-through. No slightly medical sounding mucous in German, these guys have slime. Forget Athlete´s Foot, here it´s a much more direct Foot Fungus. That big-scary sounding word Meningitis? Why that´s simply a Brain-skin Inflammation!

5. David Hasselhof. For those who missed it the other day, or didn´t and would just like to see it again. Ooga chukka.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

To everyone in Oz bitching about the heat, suck it up ´cause it could be worse

Versoix, Switzerland


Picture 9, originally uploaded by SD-05.

Thanks for telling me about these photos Cam.



See them all here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thank You Random Next Blog Button

Without you, I never would have found this.

Oh Good Lord, I´m going to comment on ART again

In case a link to the site doesn´t work for long, here´s the article essentials:

Art seizure fuels fire
By Clay Lucas
The Age January 27, 2006 - 4:43PM

In a move guaranteed to generate even more controversy around the issue of flag burning and freedom of speech, police have seized a burnt Australian flag that was displayed as part of a Footscray art exhibition. The move came as Prime Minister John Howard declared yesterday that while burning the Australian flag was offensive, it should not be made a criminal offence.

Last Friday, Footscray Police removed Proudly unAustralian, by controversial Melbourne artist Azlan McLennan, which was displayed outside of the Trocadero Art Space in Hopkins Street, Footscray. Police said they had received a number of complaints about the artwork from locals.

The National Association for the Visual Arts director Tamara Winikoff said she had been horrified by police actions.

"This is a really disturbing censorship issue,'' Ms Winikoff said yesterday. "We are asking urgent questions about the artist's rights to not be censored. Did Footscray Police have the right to remove that artwork, and if so on what grounds?''

Prime Minister Howard yesterday said that the burning of a flag by Aboriginal protesters in Brisbane on Australia Day was "offensive'', but that flag burning should not be a criminal offence because it was an expression of political opinion.

"Much as all I despise what they did I do not believe it should be a criminal offence,'' he said. "I see that kind of thing as just as expression, however offensive to the majority of the Australian community, an expression of political opinion. I do not think we achieve anything by making it a criminal offence - we only turn yahoo behaviour into martyrdom.''


I can´t believe I´m agreeing with John Howard. Burning the flag is not a crime. Australia is not America. Yet. Just like Munich, this piece should be shown. It´s portrays exactly how I felt about Australia following the Sydney riots, how I still feel about the ongoing asylum seeker treatment.

In the words of the artist, Azlan McLennan:

"Proudly unAustralian is an artwork designed to counter the continent’s upcoming anniversary, celebrating 219 years of European intervention," said McLennan.

"The burning of the Commonwealth flag exercises Prime Minister John Howard’s public, yet begrudging reluctance to outlaw Australian flag burning in 2002, with his admission: “…I guess it's part of the sort of free speech code that we have in this country.”
The flag burning symbolises the locally and internationally deplored treatment by the Australian government of its indigenous peoples, asylum seekers, its industrial relations and education reforms, US collaboration in the attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan and the incitement against Muslim and Arab populations at home and abroad. This act is compounded by Howard’s denial that there is no underlying racist sentiment in Australia following the racial tensions in Sydney in December and more importantly, the government’s clear role in this division of class."

München

Consider this a pre-blog.

An artistic analytical and political flammable blog.

It´s about the movie Munich.

You know, the one from Steven Spielberg. About the killing of the Israelis at the Munich Olympics and it´s aftermath- the subsequent murder of the assasins.

This is a pre-blog because I haven´t seen the film yet. But I will this weekend, and you may re-analyse this blog entry in that light. I will.

There was an editorial/critique of this film on news radio this morning. The point of it was: there is a difference in how Europe and America view this film. To Europe, the idea of killing for Justice, for Revenge, is Wrong. To America, it is Just and Fair and Right.

Europe has learnt, through bitter and horrific war where no one won but everyone suffered, that killing your "enemies" solves no problems.

America, it seems, hasn´t.

Critique of this film in America appears forced from some fraction of the Jewish "side". That Spielberg OBVIOUSLY doesn´t support Jewish interest, therefore should be stripped of any acknowledgement, prize or praise he previously won. What I see is that Spielberg, rather than criticising anything Isreali-Palestinian-fight-that-can-never-be-won-because-both-believe-in-a-God-Given-Right-oh-thank-you-Religon-for-this-load-of-bollocks-gee-why-am-I-athiest-again?, is "holding up a mirror to society". I mean isn´t that what the Arts are meant to do?

The point is not to look at what happened after the Munich assasinations, but what has happened in the US post-Sept 11. From what I´ve heard here, that idea isn´t even breaking in the US media. Read Tom Clancy´s book of total and utter propaganda- The Teeth of the Tiger- if you want to see what bullshit is being spread as Right and Just. In fact, please don´t read it. I personally would not like to be responsible for even one book sale of such Bush-propoganda-shite.

My viewpoint today is this: the message of the film has little to do with the current Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is an analysis of what is happening now.

Listen, America.

Like I said in a previous post. There is a reason the rest of the world doesn´t like America. That reason is, America thinks it´s always right.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just where do I get a pair of those ruby shoes?

Yesterday was a bad day. Homesick AND hormonal means DrJ is an inarticulate blubbering mess who just wants to jump the first plane to Oz. I don´t know how many of you have had severe homesickness, but it´s the worst illness I´ve ever suffered. It hits you right in the chest, an empty, hollow, aching feeling that you don´t think can ever be filled again. Secondary symptoms can include headaches, irritated eyes and a frightened husband who´s terrified that I will jump the next plane and just maybe not come back. He thinks that if I am capable of leaving then I don´t love him enough. How can I get him to understand that on one side it´s him and the other it is EVERYTHING - family, friends, history, culture, language, HOME. Every normal person doesn´t have this tearing apart.

It´ll pass. Homesickness does. It´s just a day or two of hell that gets repeated a few times a year.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Image is nothing, NAMING is everything

In the search for the perfect business name, I felt I really needed to make use of the Neomata Random Name Generator. So far this evening I´ve gotten:

TUBTOX - could good if I was looking at selling the next botox aimed at stopping those love-handles bouncing up and down.

WEMORPH - also a good plastic surgery related one "Don´t like you´re old face? WE MORPH you into something better!"

URIZIPH - perhaps for a business selling some form of female urination aid like the ShePee

CYCK - now really, why not just C*CK?

THEODRESS - for all your cross-dressing needs.

ESCAHOVAL - to give the image of a South American beauty when you´re really selling crappy trailer homes.

RETROGOG - a business selling Pimp sunglasses

SASPECT - S.A.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to me. A feminist group led by Britney and Christina.

NANOJEUS - it´s just a little religon.

PORTAPHON - I think the concept may have already been taken.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Habits are habits for a reason and breaking them damns you to hell

In a moment of wild, excited, Hey! Let´s do something new in bed last night, DrH engaged in a rather stupid activity and switched sides of the bed. My what an exciting life we lead. As a result of this new-found experimentation that our long and trusting relationship has allowed us to tackle I woke up this morning with a completely screwed up shoulder.

So all day I haven´t been able to move much. I can´t actually sit straight, can´t turn my head to the left at all and have trouble using my left arm. THIS SUCKS DOGSBALLS. I´m typing this all one handed and it takes incredibly long. And, of course, the way a german keyboard is set up (oh yes I have one of those with all it´s funky extra üöäß keys and swapped z and y) the @ symbol is under the letter Q and can only be reached by pressing the Alt Gr key at the same time which is down to the right of the space bar and which I CANNOT DO WITH ONE HAND SO I JUST DID IT WITH MY A PEN IN MY MOUTH.

Look @ me! I did it again.

Oh I need to go and find those heavy duty muscle relaxants. I think they´re in one of the unopened moving boxes.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Just another way of developing tennis elbow

Yesterday´s fear of recurrent aural attack was realised this morning leading me to beat a hasty retreat to the relative calm and quiet of the gym, while leaving Leon Dog Wonder to fend for himself as best he could. Y´know cameraderie is one thing, but when it comes to noise so loud your ears start to bleed, it´s each for their own.

What I realised today is the real benefits of such a membership. Aside from that whole fitness stuff, and of course the choice of three saunas Would you like your body rare, medium rare or well done, Madam?, there is a Fitness Bar with comfy seats, a variety of up-to-date magazines and newspapers and all the Latte Macchiato you could want. It may not be free of charge, but you don´t notice that when it just gets billed straight to your membership card. It´s a country club without the country and a whole lot more gay men.

The best thing about it was that I could sit there for HOURS. No one disturbed me. Came wandering around asking if there´ll be anything else. Stood just inside my line of vision looking pointedly at their watch, the door or the people waiting for a chair. Because no one was waiting for a chair. Most normal people go into the gym to exersize and bugger off again. But that won´t be for me anymore. Maybe I´ll do an aerobics course or a few kilometers on the treadmill, but I think I know what the real focus of my training sessions will be from now on.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

So you wanted to know my deepest, darkest secrets?

I´m going to come clean. Admit it all. You know how I told you all that I was unemployed and sitting on my bum watching reruns of J.A.G and the german re-enacted (because it´s illegal to have camera´s actually in a court, any court) versions of People´s Court?

Well it´s only half true. Yes, I am currently without steady get-up-everyday-put-on-the-high-heels-and-bully-my-way-into-the-commuter-underground employment. But I´m not quite spending my entire day staring at the chisled features of Lt Harman Raab.

I´m actually trying to start my own business.

And just before you leap in with the - In Science or a Related Discipline? I´ll answer No, not in Science or a Relate Discipline, but in a completely different area which makes a mockery of the almost-decade I spent studying and the many positions I´ve held before, during and after the acquisition of the dreamed-for PhD. In the defense of Science and the PhD, the longterm goal is for this to be my bit-on-the-side. I´m just taking the chance to set it all up with my full concentration. Well, the bit leftover from J.A.G.

But to keep you all on the edge of your seats I´m not going to tell you what the oh-so-great business plan is.

Yet.

But it means that I´m actually at home all day everyday staring at my computer screen trying to do such fun things as business plans and market research. Except between 1.15 pm and 2.15 pm. I mean, Harm deserves my complete attention then. Oh and between 4pm and 6pm when Leon Dog Wonder gets his daily constitutional. And from 8pm to 11pm when DrH and I go the the gym and lounge around naked in the sauna. Damn it, but sometimes I just love Europe!

It appears my upstairs neighbours have heard about my new work-at-home philosophy and aren´t too approving, because this morning they started to SAND THE FLOORBOARDS. Have you any idea how loud that is when all there is between you and the offending machine is a layer of boards, a layer of building rubble (don´t ask me, I don´t make the building laws) and a layer of 100-year old STRAW?

Let me assure you IT IS DAMN FRICKING LOUD. I hope you noted the use of the word FRICKING as I have been told to tone down my language and I hope you are now FRICKING happy.

In fact it was so FRICKING loud that Leon Dog Wonder moved himself AND HIS BASKET into the bathroom to escape the noise. You may think this slightly unusual for a dog, and indeed we thought so as well on the poker evening we first saw it, when, in response to our general rowdiness, he grabbed his basket between his teeth gave us a look like I´m outta here FRICKERS and took it into another room where he promptly fell asleep. So I can guarantee you that it is now perfectly normal that our dog ensures he has the appropriate napping material always on hand. What can I say? He takes after his Mum.

The part about the upstairs renovations that disturbs me the most is that the noise over the whole day didn´t progress further than the back half of the flat, leaving me the worry that they will be back tomorrow to finish the rest. Fuck.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

If you don´t blow your own horn, nobody else will

First, I´ve been absent from the blogging scene for a few days as we had some Aussie visitors, but I´ll post on that later.

More importantly (because, as we all know, it will undoubtably lead to fame and fortune), I´ve been nominated for a blog award on Collective Apathy´s Australian Blog Awards. I wonder who could have done that?

So if you feel like it, you could go and vote for me for Best Overseas Australian blog here, and while you´re there perhaps also for Best Humourous Australian Blog as well.

Or not if you think I suck.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Where she once again demonstrates her aptitude for wrong time, wrong place situations

There have been two significant events in my life in the past week.

The first is podcasting. Yes, I knew Podcasts existed. Yes, I had heard numerous in the past. However, as I had no web access at home for the three months I was in Heidelberg, I never updated my iPod. Hence, I never went looking through iTunes´ possibilities.

They´re great! I´ve downloaded comedy routines, business courses, cooking podcasts and more. And iTunes is just a drop in the ocean! There are so many more out there that I´m tempted to start my own. If only I had something interesting to say.

The second significant event was...I joined a Gym.

Okay, quit it with the eye-rolling. Okay it´s early January and every man and his dog is doing it. Okay already.

But it´s time I got rid off the excess, um, me, that the stress of the last year has laid on and as DrH was already a member it seemed logical. With the added advantage that the gym is only 300m from my flat. All the resolutions in the world wouldn´t see me peddling this arse kilometres through minus degree temperatures just to torture it further.

Tonight I discovered that my two latest obsessions don´t mix very well.

I was on the treadmill listening to some podcasts. I had discovered early on that listening to music on the iPod bores me exceedingly quickly, so it´s usually loaded up with only books-on-tape or, now, Podcasts. Tonight was Sit-down Comedy – numerous 5 minute interviews with a variety of comedians. Already with Mike Myers and Martin Short I had spent whole minutes of my uphill program giggling, something which caused my diligently marching neighbours to look askance at me - one even getting off his machine and moving to the machine furtherest away from me.

But then came Jon Levitts doing a Woody Allen routine. About a moose. A moose he shot but didn´t kill, strapped to the front of his car and took to a fancy dress partying Manhattan where it mingled successfully but failed to win the best costume, losing out to a Jewish couple dressed up as a moose.

I guess you had to be there.

But I was. And I didn´t giggle. I didn´t snigger. I didn´t even chuckle.

I guffawed.

Numerous neighbours missed their footing. Around the gym weights slammed down as buffed men were shocked out of their narcissistic mirror staring. Several trainers started moving quickly in my direction, fearing a nasty accident.

Meanwhile I was desperately trying to stay upright. I was almost doubled over, still laughing loudly. My legs almost tripping over my feet running in tiny rapid steps as I tried to catch up with the machine again. I managed to find the stop button through the tears just as the interview finished and the trainers reached me.

They´ve suggested I use the bike for warmup from now on. And perhaps lose the comedy.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The trials and tribulations of dealing with a decentralised, overstaffed and overpaid bureaucracy. Episode 1 of a 752-part Series

The Anmeldung.

The journey of every German through life begins not with a slap on the bum and a brisk towelling, not with the first gasp of air or gulp of milk. The journey through life begins only when one is actually Angemeldet or Registered. If you are not correctly registered with the State then you do not exist. The whole pro-life/pro-choice issue is null and void here- if a person´s name isn´t on a piece of paper in the sweaty hands or mouldering files of some bureaucrat then this person is a non-human with no rights, no identity.

The Anmeldung is more than just turning up at an office and saying "Hi! I´m here!". It is a piece of paper that should be engraved in platinum for the worth that it has in society. Not only must you fill out your FULL NAME HERE, ADDRESS FIRST LINE, ADDRESS SECOND LINE but also SIDE WING SECOND FLOOR RIGHT DOOR. It even includes RELIGON TICK BOX PROTESTANT CATHOLIC JEWISH MUSLIM OTHER PLEASE DESCRIBE.

Although I left that part blank, SOMEHOW my local protestant church got hold of my name and address and sends me personlised junk mail. Church plus State equals SHOULD NOT BE MIXED IN A MODERN DEMOCRACY THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Now the average German actually thinks all of this is a fine idea. I mean, how would the police then know where to go to catch the criminals? is a common observation. They seem to have selectively forgotten that this law is a hang over from the Nazi regime along with, I believe, the law preventing any human foot touching a blade of grass in a park.

A previous boss of mine, when applying for a permanent academic job had to PROVE every place he´d lived since he was eighteen years old. Now maybe I´m going a little way out on a limb here, but somehow to me that just reeks of OVERCONTROLLING PARANOID EX-THIRD REICH I THOUGHT THE WALL HAD FALLEN WHAT ARE WE STILL BEHIND THE IRON CURTAIN?

As a foreigner I am as much subject to this rule as everyone else and although I tried to avoid it, I discovered that without this platinum etched justification of my existence I couldn´t get anything here. No bank account, no health insurance, no pension, no rental contract, no evening classes, no mobile phone.

My passport counted for exactly bollocks. Dear Australian Government, you should not have wasted all that money on producing the worlds most modern and un-forgeable passport because as far as Germany´s concerned it has all the authenticity of note from Mum explaining how I couldn´t do my homework because my grandmother had just come down with a bout of tropical Ghana Red fever from her last dash to Africa and the whole extended family had been quarantined overnight.

Once you are signed up as a Good German Citizen, should you move house you have exactly 5 days to change your Anmeldung. Not to do so invokes a fine, as I found out. To make that much more efficient and ensure that at least one more person has something to do behind those secret government doors, they decide what the fine will be based on your income. Which means that you then have to go back to the office and it´s three hour long waiting line with your pay slips for the last 6 months. Then 6 weeks later a bill will arrive.

For me it was 20 Euros.

COME ON GERMANY WAS THAT REALLY WORTH IT?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

When the heavens crack open




Okay, so it´s an unfinshed wind generator. But seriously, driving through the snow and fog it looked like some doorway opening up in the sky ahead.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pimp My Fahrrad

I´m sure all of you from MTV presenting nations would by now be well aware of Pimp My Ride. For those of you who aren´t I suggest finding it. It will awaken your need to start doing up shitty old cars.

It´ll find your inner revhead.

You´ll start feeling the need to drive down Chapel Street in a suped up Holden Torana. Subwoofers blasting from where the backseat used to be. Pedestrians forced to grab on to lightposts to stay upright from the subterranean reverberations.

Not only have I become a PmR addict, but I now happily, nay, EAGERLY discuss cars. ME. Talking about the latest BMW designs. Whether Renault´s Megane concept was an expected failure or an unexpected success. The perfect style of the Audi TT.

Shoot me now. Please.

However Germany has outdone the US in coolness this time around. Probably due to budget reasons, they haven´t made their own Pimp My Top Class Horribly Expensive German Car, but Pimp My Fahrrad. For those of you without German as a second language, I´ll translate:

Pimp My Bicycle.

Now this show just kicks arse. They take your typical preteen bicycle, complete with daisy basket and streamers flowing from the handlebars and turn it into a lean, mean pedal-powered Harley knock off. You wanna rule pedaling your way to school? Call on these guys.

But they weren´t happy with just that. Oh, no. There is now Pimp My Whatever.

A dog house. A day. It doesn´t matter, they´ll Pimp it, man. I thought that this was it. Regardless of the money they stick into it, the US just falls down on style. I mean these german guys are so cool you´ll be wanting solar powered testicle warmers.

But. BUT. Pimp My Ride tonight. To go along with his whole extra cool car with the twenty thousand dollar electronics, new paint job and superfluous waterfalls, the superintellectual Xzibit gave this young Uni student a microscope.

A microscope.

No matter where you go the Nerd wins. WINS, MAN.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

I´m sure he wants me to refer to him as Sex God but c´mon, look at that face



This, my dear TomThumb, is why you should never arm old school friends with horribly cute photos of yourself.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Missing, presumed... missing

The Ted is missing.

The horrible-ugly-home-to-numerous-diseases-I´ve-
spent-my-life-building-up-immunity-to-and-hey-if-they´re-
still-looking-for-samples-of-the-1918-Spanish-flu-I-can-
probably-supply-them Alien Ted is not here.

I thought I had misplaced him in all the boxes here from Heidelberg. That I´d find him wrapped up in an old t-shirt in the suitcase or perhaps jammed in among the CDs in the mislabelled book box. At a stretch even nestled next to the Nori in the kitchen box. But all my searches were in vain.

Until I received a phone call this evening from my father-in-law.

"Could it be that you left..ahhh...ummm...perhaps a teddy bear here?"

A number of you are probably now thinking I thought this was a grown woman, what the hell is this teddy bear crap? Should I bother ever reading this blog again? so I will take this opportunity to introduce you to my teddy bear and why he is still around after 30 years.

Ted came into my life on the first day of it. There´s even a photo of him and I, me all scrunched-up-red-faced and him all pink-soft-fluffily-furred. I´d show it now as evidence of how good he looked then and how I haven´t really changed that much, but it´s buried in a box in my grandmothers garage half a world away. Are you beginning to feel that too much of my life is spent with moving boxes because I SURE AS HELL AM.

There came a period in my life where I had little to do with him, having passed him over for the much more hip rag doll that no 4 year old girl could be without. I mean, there was NO WAY I could hold my head up in playgroup with a pink fluffy TEDDY BEAR. It didn´t even have a dress you could pull over it´s head. That was just SOOO NOT RAD.

I´m not really sure when he put in an appearance again. But by my early teenage years he was back, gracing my pillow on the rare occurences when I made my bed, lying forlornly on the floor next to it for the other 363 days of the year. That´s not to say I didn´t take him to bed every night. It´s just that he rarely survived the tossing and turning. So I would sleep with him in front of me (I sleep on my side) and rabbit behind me- rabbit being another soft toy which I stole from my Mum, who I believe stole it from an Easter present for my sister, but I´m not sure.

The reason for this far too childish activity was that I had nightmares. And by that I don´t mean bad-dreams-about-spiders but NIGHTMARES of the bodies-folded-like-
shirts-in-car-trunks-can´t-wake-myself-up-but-I-can-hear-Mum-
talking-to-me-why-can´t-I-wake-up-oh-hell-i-can´t-breathe-
help-me-help-me variety. In fact I still have these quite often but have learnt to wake myself up by wiggling my big toe. Don´t know that trick? Try it the next time you feel like your unconscious mind is trying to swallow you whole. It really helps.

So now I don´t need protective stuffed animals to fall asleep, but after so many years of co-sleeping I had developed a sleeping position which INCLUDED Ted, where I lie semi on my side, semi on my stomach and he´s jammed under my ribcage, thereby holding my back at just the right angle. Without him I wake up feeling like my back has been pulled in three different directions all night and it takes an hour before I can walk properly again and breathe without wanting to cry.

I´ve tried replacing him with assorted pillows, even DrH´s childhood stuffed toy rabbit, but they don´t work. Not only are they the wrong shape, but it´s almost impossible to completely reproduce the firm yet still somehow soft quality of toy stuffing that´s been subject to 30 years of compaction.

So he´s an orthopaedic necessity alright? Ergonomic and all that. You got a problem wi´that?

And tonight he´s in the post, coming back so I can sleep again.

Leon Dog Wonder carrying a snow covered stick, NOT rabies

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Things that make you go hmmmmm

New Years Day. Dearly beloved is installing the new tax software. As one does. Although rarely admits to. Excited movements from the computer corner make you pull off the head phones and look up from your book.

“Hey, when you install it you automatically get all the updates from the last few months, with all the changes in the tax laws. How cool´s that?”

Hmmmmmmmm.

Dinner for One

Germany has a tradition which I have often heard of, but never actually been privy too. The tradition of the New Year´s Dinner for One or Miss Sophie´s Birthday.

This is a short movie, a 15 minute English film of a theatre piece done, oh, probably in the 1960´s, all about 90 year old Miss Sophie who is celebrating her birthday with four of her closest friends. Unfortunately she has outlived all four of these and in fact buried the last 25 years ago. So it is up to her trusted servant James (of course) to stand in at the important parts, i.e. the toasting at the start of each course. When Miss Sophie decides on the alcohol Why I think we shall have sherry with the soup James, he asks Same procedure as last year Miss Sophie? to which she responds Same procedure as EVERY time James. So he fills the glasses, goes around to each place setting and toasts her with the individual accents and lines of the four dead friends.
Of course, this results in a progressively drunker James (who himself is not the youngest) and a variety of comic episodes involving a tigers head and vase of flowers.
At the end of the dinner, James assists Miss Sophie up the stairs.
Same procedure as last year?
Same procedure as EVERY time James.
I´ll do my best.

It´s funny, in an old-fashioned-Laurel-and-Hardy-slapstick way and it´s tradition. Say to any German Same procedure as last year? And they will know immediately what you´re talking about. Even if they can´t speak English.