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Issue:- 19 August 2009

An German look at English Culture
Report by Gudrun Stolzenburg

THE English and German are not very different at all. They are nearly neighbours, have similar cultures and in being European they share part of their history. But there are little bits, like different attitudes toward one thing, in which they are different and I am going to outline a couple of those differences which I have picked up during my time in England.

First of all a bit about me. I am on work placement with Southport & Mersey Reporter and I love Liverpool. I grew up in a city called Essen in Germany's multicultural Ruhr region of Western Germany. If you did not know Essen is the Named European Capital of Culture for 2010, so it is interesting to see the comparisons for me between Liverpool and my home city. Essen is an industrial place like Liverpool, however the industry is not based on a harbour as it is in Liverpool, but on coalmines and steel production. Evidence of this can be seen in the coalmines and factory building all around Essen, where, as in Liverpool, you have mainly warehouses. Both cities however have decided to turn their industrial sites into cultural places after seeing years of decline and the running down of the industries. Especially the landmarks; coal mine Zollverein for Essen and Albert Docks for Liverpool are all examples for that process. Zollverein is a museum for the coal industry and a place for exhibitions, theatre plays, a temporal cinema and other cultural events. The Albert Docks house museums too, besides shops, bars and cafes. Another new landmark for Liverpool is Liverpool One. A couple of months before that opened, they also opened a shopping mall in Essen. Unfortunately Essen´s shopping mall, the Einkaufszentrum Limbecker Platz, does Essen more harm than any good. A couple of shops which were in the centre moved into the mall, so streets are dying out a bit and the mall itself is an ugly cheap looking building. This is obviously not only my opinion as a German magazine for architecture gave Essen´s shopping mall very bad reviews. I cannot see that happen in Liverpool and Liverpool One is not a closed building which I think makes a difference because it is open to the rest of the city.

What I do find a bit odd is the amount of security men and CCTV cameras, not only in Liverpool One but practically everywhere in the UK. There is some security in a few shops and in the discos in Germany, but not in front of virtually every shop and certainly not in pubs. And I think it is scary how often you see those cameras in the streets and how often you can be watched with what you are doing. England seems to be turning into a surveillance society!

Another difference would be the cultures of behaving in a cafe. When you go to a cafe or pub in England you get your drinks and food at the bar and then take a seat. In a restaurant you wait at the door to be seated. In Germany in most restaurants and in all cafes or pubs you choose a vacant table and wait to be served. For that you have a menu on every table in every pub, so you can sit down, have a look in peace and order instead of having to keep the menu in your mind. Peace is a stretchable term though, as some of the waiters do not seem to notice when you still have your head stuck into the menu and ask you whether you are ready to order, even if it should be obvious that you are not. One sad thing in England in my opinion is that there are so many chain cafes like Starbucks, Costa or Nero. There also is Starbucks in Germany and a couple of smaller chains, but then there are a lot of private run cafes. I do not think that is a good development because those individual cafes give towns their unique look.

What gives English streets their unique look is probably how people are dressed. For me, it seems nobody, especially not young women, are just putting clothes on, they are either dressed up extremely or are dressed in house suits or pyjamas. I have never seen anybody in pyjamas on the street before or going out wearing rollers in their hair.

It is fantastic that you can go into most of the museums for free; there are hardly any free museums in Germany. But it gives you a good chance to experience art even if you are short of money, and also you have free access to toilets which is really useful when you on a city trip and on the move for the whole day. It is easier to find toilets for free in England than in Germany.

When I was over in England for the first time everyone kept being shocked to hear that I had not been to London. So I went down for a week to visit England’s seemingly most impressive city and I was quite disappointed. I experienced it mainly noisy and big. Funnily enough when I got back and told people that I had not enjoyed my stay in London everybody could understand and agreed with me that London is unfriendly (I did not use that term on my own, somebody else brought it up but it suits my feeling). I thought that is odd that London is a must see, but nobody really likes it. The German capital Berlin is important to Germany as well, but except for governmental issues not more so than the other big cities. Germany is not as centralised as England.

Somehow English councils and the government do not seem to trust their own people. There is a tendency to tell you everything you need to do. Like on escalators where a sign says "stand on the right and be careful". Standing on the right should probably be told in Germany too then you would not struggle as much if you are in a hurry, but be careful? Should not everybody who grew up with escalators have learned to be careful in order to avoid loss of balance? The same with lifts. Why is it in the UK you get told that doors are opening after reaching a level, what else should the doors do? My favourite is the sign saying: in the UK on signs is one that reads "Careful floor slippery when wet". What do you do with that? It does not give you the information whether the floor is actually wet or not but only the most obvious information as most floors get slippery when wet. Another nice one is the footpath diversion signs when a building site only takes half or less of the footpath. As if pedestrians are not able to see the free space where they can walk.

Another topic where opinions differ is traffic, in this case roundabouts. There are much more roundabouts in England than in Germany and they are quite handy but, for me, the German indicating system in roundabouts makes more sense as the English one. In England you indicate like in a crossing. That seems to be logical, but the problem is when you are going right after you are half way through the roundabout nobody knows anymore where you were coming from and what right for you is, so you have to indicate left to get out of the roundabout. In Germany the rule is you do not indicate at all when you enter a roundabout as you can only go in one direction anyway but you indicate when you want to leave. That makes it less confusing, as it does not matter where you enter and where you leave to make you indicate or not. And there is another question about roundabouts which is… Why are there roundabouts with traffic lights before or within them? Are they not there to get rid of traffic lights?

For me the English bus stop system is another factor which is confusing because there are no names on some of the bus stops. In Germany on most of the buses the next stop is called out in the bus which makes it easier for strangers. But I like the English train stations because there are personnel on every station who can help you along if needed. What is rather annoying with public transport is the ticket system: You have to buy a ticket for any means of transport you get on, instead of buying one ticket for where you want to go and get there with whatever you need. And I have not quite got how when I can get a student discount and when not, but it seems that a lot of bus drivers have not got that system themselves as some of them give me the discount and some of them do not, on the same route where I am nearly sure by now I cannot get any discount.

Quite typical for England are the red brick terraced houses, in Germany houses are mostly built higher with a couple of flats in one house. My big problem with English houses is the lack of insulation: I am cold in wintertime. How can you build houses with seemingly no insulation at all and why are there no double glazed windows to keep at least a bit of the coldness and the wind out. I love wind, but not inside the house. And what are the taps actually made for? You hardly manage to get your hands under an English tap to wash them and you can only choose between hot or cold but what about washing your hands with warm water?

A no-go for Germans is that English often do not have names on their house doors and letterboxes. What works quite well in England would scare Germans away. You just have your name on your letterbox. I realised that when I moved in Germany and forgot to put my name on and did not get letters because the postman would not drop them in for me, although on the letter, nothing of the address was missing. I believe Germans think the world would collapse if they do not put their names on letterboxes and houses.

Yet for all these defects, I love Liverpool and the quirks of the English. That is why I am over here and why I am fascinated with what I see and hear all around me!


THIS week Merseyside Police are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of 27 year old Thomas White, who has been missing from his home in Cambridge Road, Southport since Saturday, 15 August 2009.  Thomas is described at white, 6ft 3in tall, of stocky build with shaven brown hair. He has brown eyes and his grey coloured VW Golf registration number L777TCW is also missing.  Is is thought that Thomas could be in the Dumfries and Galloway area of Scotland and officers are working with Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary to trace Thomas.  Merseyside Police are urging Thomas or anyone who has seen him to contact them on:- 0151 777 4100 or contact the National Missing Persons Helpline in confidence on:- 0500 700 700.

Film Review:- "G-Force"
Review by Jane Harrison

THIS film is a definite thumbs up from all ages. Its what you want for a relaxed afternoon at the cinema. There’s a certain something about the film, its light hearted, funny a good film with ample thrills. The cuddly Critters, each with own individual characters. You have a loud mouthed full of himself male, a Latino female with a rugged edge and as in all films a team leader, also a male, who has everything from intelligence to a go get it attitude. All this combined with a strong story line that end with a surprising twist to the plot. Don’t worry, whilst still ending happily for everyone to breath a sigh of relief, it carries a strong ethical and moral message. Through out the film there are many witty one- liners and memorable snippets of comedy to make everyone laugh out. If you like the website and advert, then you will love this film… Overall a great combination of what a child of all ages would love to see, action story line with furry Guinea pigs that can talk and gadgets that would make 007 feel un equipped; what more could you ask for? Not forgetting as an added extra for those adults who are big kids at heart, everyone will love this with the injected comedy into it to make it an all rounder great 3D film. At times you feel you can really reach out and make contact with the characters on the screen. Who will save us when the 18 horror movies hit the screens? Also do not worry about feeling out of place with kids if you have none, as the cinema has a late night adult showing of this film. One thing that does put you off is the thought of wearing glasses, but think again, gone are the days of the cellophane green and red paper glasses, these glasses look cool! This system used in the Southport Vue uses a pair of plastic glasses that look like sun glasses (or Roy Orbisons, or even tom cruise in risky business). You do not really notice them, even if you do not where glasses all the time. Sorry, but we do not know how they work if you need glasses during the film… We are going to find out on that one…

This film how ever is the first of many films to be released to Southport’s Vue Cinema, and what an effect! Even the film trailers before the main film where stunning and we have to say, from seeing the trailer for “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” that will be awesome. At one point the flying burgers looked as if they where dropping into the cinema audience. So keep an eye out for that Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation. We will be attending this one, kids film or not… it has got are attention!

Anyway for the technologically inquisitive readers on here, this system, it works through orthogonal polarizing filters with in the glasses. The film, but in this case a digital projection, has not one, but two images are projected Super imposed onto the screen. In the same way the red and green filters worked, this system has each filter only passes light which is similarly polarized and blocks the orthogonally polarized light. As both eyes see the image slightly differently your eyes see a form of depth with in the image, thus tricking your brain into seeing a stereoscopic image, aka 3D and the effect is achieved.

So I would strongly recommend going to watch it, and in the 3D version to get the full unmissable experience.

4 out of 5
Star rating explained

For film times go to:-

Also visit our film listings for Southport Vue on Mersey Reporter via clicking here.


Aspect Ratio:- 2.35:1
Runtime:- 88 min
Tagline:- Gadgets, Gizmos, Guinea Pigs. In 3-D.

Useful Links:-

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meat Balls
Compare The Meerkat

Iceland's Imagine Appeal

ALL the Island Stores nation wide will be holding fun events, for 1 full week, in their stores starting on Monday.  Their aim is to collect funds for Alder Hay Children's Hospital (Liverpool) Imagine Appeal. Whatever figure is raised during the week Island will double! Have a bit of light relief whilst shopping. Do support such a worthy cause.

Nick Donnelly Live at the Latin Lounge

MANY readers will know Nick Donnelly in Southport after he preformed in the Search For A Star competitions some time back. He is now doing a fantastic solo act around the pubs and clubs across the UK and on Saturday 16 August 2009 he attended the Latin Lounge in Southport.

If you did not get the chance to see him, keep an eye out for him as he is a fantastic singer and performer. These are a few photos taken on the night!

Bank Holiday Monday Open Day At Church of St Luke, Formby

KNOWN locally as "The Church in the Pine Woods", St Luke's Church is opening its doors on 31 August from 10am to 4pm. The church and church yard are full of hidden historical items, and well worth a look around. Located on St Luke’s Church Rd. in Formby, this venue makes an idea rest point when visiting the dunes and pinewoods off Formby Point. The Church will also have on offer a craft shop, organ recitals, light refreshments available all day. Also on offer is a cakes stall as well as breakfast bacon rolls and afternoon teas!

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