December 9, 2013 10:47am Published by Jules Smith in The Art Philosopher 24 Comments


It was a Sunday evening and I had my feet tucked up under me on the sofa as I watched an episode of The Antiques Road Show with a nice cup of tea in hand.   Set in the beautiful grounds of Newstead Abbey, the once former home of romantic poet Lord Byron, the show had all the trappings of BBC loveliness.
 And then this happened:
Along came a lady with a framed print of a pigeon. This was no ordinary pigeon, oh no.  This was was , Now, this scrap of a bird was one of the few pigeons to win an award called the Dickin medal for bravery during WW11 for “ homing from a crashed aircraft over Cologne although seriously wounded, while serving with the RAF in 1943.” 

At first, I was moved at the courage of such a brave little pigeon; a species that we now try and annihilate or disable by putting spikes and sticky stuff on our buildings to rip their feet out.  Oh, how we forget! 
It was then that I noticed that at the bottom of this fine, framed print that the pigeon’s name was misspelt as ‘Colonge’ and not ‘Cologne’.  I have to say that this tickled me. At the same moment, BBC presenter, posh totty, Fiona Bruce spotted the very same mistake.
“Oh, It says here ‘Colonge’ and not ‘Cologne’…. You did say he was called ‘Cologne’, I thought?”  Her sweet plummy tones oozing forth in momentary confusion to the woman with the picture.
“It’s Cologne,”  said the woman flatly, the comment from Fiona sailing straight over her head like a Lancaster over a damn. 
Fiona, for a brief moment, was flummoxed and then in true British style carried on regardless. I proceeded to fall off the settee laughing. 
I am sometimes rather disturbed at the things I find hilarious.
Anyway, a few day later my mother called round with a proposition.
“I think we should go to a Christmas market again this year,” she announced.
Memories of last years trip to Bruges, trolls on baubles and Hotel California danced in my head like painful reminders and I looked around for a quick exit. 
“I was thinking maybe Germany,” she continued. 
“Will I be allowed to shout ‘Achtung Spitfire!’ in the middle of the market if I go?” I asked.
“But the Germans have such a great sense of humour and would love that kind of acerbic wit,”  I pressed.
My arm deadened as she hit me viscously and I thought that mentioning Basil Fawlty at this point would be a mistake. 
“I was considering Berlin, it has sixty Christmas markets!”  her face was all lit up at the mere thought of it whereas mine dropped and contorted into a mask of pain.
“No. No way am I traipsing round sixty bloody markets. It will be like Scooby Doo on a death wish passing the same thing every two seconds. Hut after hut after hut with the same woolly hats, wooden toys and gingerbread cake. Woolly hats, wooden toys and gingerbread cake.  Woolly hats, wooden toys and gingerbread cake..”
“OK.  I get it!”  she snapped.
“Unless you are prepared to drop me off at a Gluhwein station and pick me up later then it’s a no-go. I’d rather go somewhere, pretty and medieval and smaller.” And as I spoke the words it hit me; like the great god of antiquities had spoken and reminded me of the sign he had given me a few days prior.
“I want to go to to COLONGE”  
And so it was. And like most of my hell raising and disastrous trips when one ‘Travels with Mother’ I’m hoping that I too will have the ability to fly home in one piece. God knows I deserve a bloody medal. 


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That tickled me, thanks.

PS One will still find Jules at the Gluhwein station!

Gosh… anybody would think you knew me well Herr Snyder! 😉

Man, I love Antiques Roadshow. Each object is like a little history lesson coupled with the cheap thrill of found money. Fascinating stuff.

Preparatory to your trip, you should read Graham Greene’s Travels With My Aunt. I think it included marijuana. Not that I’d suggest that for your mother, of course.

It’s great innit! I have that book already as my Uncle suggested it. I have yet to read it.
I’d rather like to see my Mother doped up as it happens… food for thought.

I googled colonge and got men’s fragrances. Google must think men are bad spelers. Then I googled cologne and got men’s fragrances. Germany’s 4th largest city was 4th on Google’s list. It did mention Berlin is number 1. I suspect Google, much like your Mom does not rate Cologne as highly as Berlin.

Ha! yes that’d be google on the “How’s the wetware spelling it this time” Yes, men are very bad spelers ;0 and very bad… no, let’s leave it there 🙂
I’m rather looking forward to a bit of Colonge.

Christmas markets? Oh dear, you poor thing. It’ll be hell for you.
Still, bring me back some gingerbread cake, willya?

I know. I shall bring you back a gingerbread fraulein. How about that?


Lovely how your story all falls together.

Why thank you Bathwater 🙂


This is great!!!!

I would love to spend Christmas in Germany… I am jealous!! And in Cologne as well.. augh!!!!

I had the honor to guest lecture in Germany, Holland, and Belgium a couple of years ago… and in a discussion with one of my German colleagues, we got into a discussion about football… and how well the German soccer team was doing.

He went on to tell me that one of his colleagues from France had asked him if he felt comfortable enough about things to start waving the German flag again… he looked at me and asked… ‘when will this stop?’

I reminded him that I am from the American South… and then told him that it had a shelf life of at least 150 years…

‘Achtung Spitfire!’ I can’t tell you enough how funny I find this!!!!!


Ha! We’ve only just forgiven the French for Agincourt and just about forgiven the Italians and that was 45 BC! The Germans have a wait yet:)
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of inter-continebntal banter if it’s taken in the spirit it is meant. Besides, everyone takes the piss out of us, so I think it’s only fair to retaliate, what, what old chap. Tally-ho! ;P (I think it’s funny too)

I like Colonge – it sounds so African! It’s an anagram for “Le Congo”, so it must be a French-African hybrid! See if you can find a beret and a bongo drum in the market, Jules. You could put on the beret and beat the drum while your mother does a jungle dance for her adoring German fans.

Brilliant! “Le Congo” – I’m on it Mr. GB! I think the Colongians would LOVE it.

Ooohh, I love Germany in winter. And I like the Germans. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time Miss JellyBobble. Enjoy every minute of it 🙂

Miss Doodlebug, I intend to make the very most of it. You can’t knock the Germans when it comes to sausage and cake.

You will surely be eligible for a Dicikin well medal for bravery if you survive mother and the Germanic Christmas cheer

And there’s the true Brit understanding! Indeed David, indeed 🙂

i don’t wear cologne ’cause one time this woman told me she liked my man stench so being the bohemian artist i am, that was my golden excuse never to bathe again.

happy holidays, my sweet Juli 😉 thanks for all the comments, they gave me a boost. i swear i’m not ignoring you, my yahoo mail has been down for three straight days for “maintenance”. it’s like the company is keeping this grand secret from us, the secret being that they have been down for days and are seeing if anyone has noticed yet…

That’s ok sorry I’ve been a bit of a crappy follower of late so you got it all at once! Of course I don’t think you’re ignoring me, your comment is here … Eventually ;P happy holidays too.

I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours!

Thanks jerry 🙂 back at ya.

Ich spreche Deutsche! Aber nicht sehr gut. I was forced to take four semesters (terms? I’m not sure how much I need to explain – damn culture/language barriers!) of a foreign language, and since everyone else was taking Spanish, I had to be difficult and take German. Now I wish I had taken Spanish, not because I dislike German, but because it has been so rare that I have met Germans in person, and those whom I have met spoke English as well as I or better, while Spanish speakers come to my class every semester in an attempt to learn better English from a person whom many of my fellow countrymen (and even more of my fellow countrywomen) would say cannot speak it with any level of accuracy. Das ist kaput, or something like that.

I think Germany would be a wonderful country to visit. But yeah, I think it will be a few years before the elephant in the room finally expires; my foot is usually in my mouth, so a visit from me would probably end up less like that episode of Fawlty Towers and more like the episode of The Simpsons where Bart visits Australia. International incident, thy name is me; ay caramba!

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