Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Sunday January 5th, 2020

(Deutsch) Digitalisierung auf Deutsch: Der BON.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 20th, 2019

(Deutsch) Die CLOUD braucht keine Gesetze sondern Kultur.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Thursday October 3rd, 2019

(Deutsch) RUPERT LAY LESEBUCH

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Saturday December 29th, 2018

This Way or That Way?!

We have the choice. Continue as before or continue to live?

Here is something I found online:

Here is the translation:


Buy-Nothing List

  • Do I really need this?
  • How many of the same product do I have already?
  • How often will I actually use it?
  • How long will it remain in working order?
  • Can I let someone else borrow it?
  • Do I have something similar?
  • Can I live without it?
  • Can I repair it myself?
  • Do I really want it?
  • What will I do with it when I no longer need it?
  • Who gets the money I pay for it?
  • How and where was it made?
  • How long will it make me happy?

There are two opinions:

A)
If this Mem becomes common consent, Germany can close its doors in one week. 
The reason is evidently that our system will no longer work.

B)
If this Mem becomes common consent, your children and their children might at least have a chance to live off what this earth could offer.
? The reasoning is that consumption mania leads us away from ourselves. We are part of nature!

We have the choice!
It does not seem to be an easy choice.
Why?
When, on Silvester night, the rockets will again go up, I will think about it. For the new year.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Between November, 23rd, and December, 8th, 2018, Barbara and yours truly spent two weeks aboard a ship in the Caribbean. We saw nine islands. In former times, I often wrote travelling journals during my trips, and reported in great detail what I had done and experienced. This time around, I decided to proceed differently: I will just jot down all the impulses and inspirations I had during the trip.

Travelling inspires you and gives you impulses (© Luc Bosma)(© Luc Bosma)

This is supposed to introduce a series of articles about my trip. I will illustrate the articles with nice pictures. Some of the pictures have been taken by me, some are from Luc Bosma. Among those is the picture of flying flamingos you see here.

An Overview:
Setting out from La Romana, we visited the following nine islands:
Martinique (as a French overseas territory in the EU), Barbados (independent and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations), Gouadeloupe (as a French overseas territory in the EU), Dominica, St. Lucia , St. Lucia , Grenada (all three of them are independent and members of the Commonwealth of Nations), Bonaire (a special municipality of the Netherlands), Curaçao (part of the Dutch Kingdom ) and Aruba (one of the four states with equal rights that belong to the Dutch Kingdom ). The last three are also known as the ABC islands and are geographically a part of South America. They are not far from Venezuela. The other islands geographically belong to the Lesser Antilles. If you follow the link, you will find many interesting things. It is well worth reading about.

Each of those islands is a small country. For me, it was remarkable to see that some of these countries actually have no armies. Basically, some of these countries have problems beside which the fear of external enemies looks small.

In the next few weeks, I will tell you all the new things I learned during this trip and what especially impressed me.
And here is a first enlightenment that could not have happened without the trip:

If you arrive on the European part of the Caribbean and all of a sudden you can again use your flatrate on the Smart Phone, you will immediately feel very much at home.

So here is what I postulate: for many people, home is where you have unhindered and cost-neutral use of your smart phone.

There is somebody at home. (Foto © Luc Bosma, Bonaire)

As I see it, this is definitely a definition of home that should be taken seriously!

Now I will work on the first actual article as instalment #1 – it will be about slavery and serfdom.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

16 Landmarks for Free and Agile Schools.

 

Roland’s first day at school.

With each year I gain in age, there is a growing belief that we experience such a huge amount of unconceivable nonsense, enmity and cruelty in life because we are socialized as young persons in such a way that we will later, as adolescents and adults, do all these stupid things. We are enveloped in our socialization.

The first diapers immediately after we are born might well serve as a metaphor for such a development. We need the diapers because otherwise we would leave too many tracks. And with every day of our young lives, the development continues. We learn what we should and should not do, what is good and what is evil, what is right and what is wrong, what is bad and what is nice,…

In order to de-velop autonomously, we must anti-en-velope ourselves – which, naturally, is difficult or even impossible.

I have the hope (or illusion?) that, as parents, along with the parents and supported by the external instance that we call school, you could do a far better job making the future generation happy than it happens now.
As a reaction to my article on “schools“, I learned that I am not the only person who starts getting impatient with educational politics.

So why don’t we do something about it!

In my IF-Blog, I wrote how I experienced my visit at Marbach Christophine  (Cristophine I), as well as how school could and should work, My next article (Christophine II) on the topic had some arguments why I consider a new form and implementation of school absolutely necessary.

I recently discovered an old paper buried under other papers that deals with the Freien Schule Christophine (FSC). The paper describes sixteen landmarks for positioning the FSC. For me, every one of the block we call landmarks named in the paper is a metaphor for a dimension of thinking that a free school needs to have. Since I feel that it is a waste if such precious ideas sit in drawers unread, I will now publish these sixteen landmarks.

Every one of the blocks/landmarks describes a dimension of thinking and the sum of them is the mind-set that a free school must have. They show how pupils, parents and teachers as the important stakeholders of a free school, but also the school management and school college as relevant councils think and feel.

I found the landmarks as the structured establishment of this special school, the marbacher christophine (marbacher christophine). I assume that the landmarks, too, have been written by Lorenz Obleser, who is the father of the “Marbacher Pädagogik“.

In this article, the “Christophine“ is a metaphor for a “free, agile school that is self-organised by teachers, parents and children”. I assume that there are quite a few of them and that many educational experts would like to proceed in the same way. This makes me quite happy, because before long the first of my grandchildren will start school.

In the sixteen mile-stones listed below, pupils, teachers, parents, but also the teaching college and the school management will be heard. To me, what these stakeholders of the school say sounds authentic. They provide a story about the standard defined in the landmarks of the FSC (Freien Schule Christophine) which, for me, is an exceptional model for a functioning, agile, self-organized and free school. The landmark is a block that tells you about the stakeholder – and at the end of each block, the importance will once more be summarized (inversely) .

Now let us just read the landmarks and let the impression sink in. it might help if we switch off our brains and just be open for the messages.

 


 

 

Being open while walking and thinking in springtime.

16 landmarks

 


 

Landmark #1: Individuality in Schools

Pupils
I learn mathematics, write a story, work in my exercise book, practice orthography. We do some research, observe a cat. I go upstairs to dance, play outside with Diabolo.

Parents
If I were a teacher, I do not think I would be able to react adequately if a child behaved like my son. He is certainly very special.

College of teachers
The solutions the children find are very different. Two children have never been the same.

School management

Who of us knows what they are really talking about when we say ”individuality”? For far too many years, it was an unknown quantity.

At Chrisophine, the children are constantly encouraged to try what they can do, to find new formulations and to be creative. In this culture of self-education, everyone, regardless of intellectual potential, can learn about his or her individuality and maintain his or her identity. That is true both for the pupils and the adults. If this is how you treat each other, the respect for the individuality of the other party will grow. This honesty will enrich daily school life, because all parties concerned with school can productively contribute during the various learning processes.


 

Landmark #2: Ways of learning at school

Pupils

I will do this later. First I want to read something.

Parents
Luckily, a look at the mathematics exercise book will tell you what the children already learned.

Pupils

Too easy? Well, I did this for N. He is a first grader.

College
Why do they say “continuous learning” when you are talking about adults but “additional learning” when you are talking about children?

Pupils

Now I want to learn how to write with a pen.

School management
Activity-oriented? That sounds quite well. For me, it is more important to make children understand that they can actually act.

Not only from the physiological viewpoint, learning is one of the most individual and personal processes. It always happens in cognitive, aesthetical and social connections. The school Christophine accompanies the children on their way towards finding successful learning approaches. They can make experiences through all the sensual channels because, after all, stored knowledge, too, will be retrieved in different ways. The individual learning approaches characterize the different types of learners. Through our individualized work in open classrooms, we help the children to find and also move to a higher level of frustration tolerance thresholds through experiences of success.


 

Landmark #3: Self-organization as a goal of learning

School management
Please write on your work cards what you do.

College
I have to do all the documentation, the children will forget.
School management 
It has been a long time since you last did any mathematics, hasn’t it?

Pupils
Today, I did some mathematics because my mother told me to. Otherwise I would have had to do it at home.

School management

If a child tells me he/she find something boring, I will not respond. If it asks for recommendations what to do, I say: do your mathematics. They like procrastinating.

Parents
He always does his homework, there is never a problem.

At the Christophine, our work is based on findings that show that children have enough creative potential to notice their learning situation and to also make themselves part of the formulation of said learning situations. Children can form their environment quite well in a structured and creative way in order to adopt them to their needs. The school Christohine supplies the pupils with the tools they need in order to give them the necessary room for self-projection. At the Christophine, all parties concerned can find their own structures because structures developed in this way can have more stability. This is true both for learning and being together.


 

Landmark #4 – Activity and Co-operation

Pupils

Come here, I will show you how you can easily find out about this.

College
If N says he does not want to do anything, or if he does not even say anything, then this is always initially shocking for me.

Pupils
Why do you ask if I enjoy this? At school, I only do things I enjoy. That is why, once in a while, I also do nothing at all. We are the same age and our birthdays are in the same week. But what grade are you in?

Parents
Again and again, we hear during parent interviews that he is not working at all. I asked you before: do you think our son learns enough?

Christophine clearly and pointedly counts on the initiative of the pupils. Starting from such initiatives, questions that often lead to other work will develop. Sometimes there will be a call for employees or corrections, for motivators or partners that share some of the learning experience. The fact that pupils like to rely on familiar things in the form of structured work materials shows that they like to know that they actually made some progress in learning.


 

Landmark #5 – Self Effectiveness

College

Why don’t you go to the city council and tell them about it?

Pupils
I will ask the bus driver.

Parents
We then went to all the bakeries in town and asked them for their pasta recipes.
School Administration 
Well, you are correct. It was not a good idea of mine to say this.
Parents
It is not important that he attends grammar school. The only thing that matters is that, in the coming months, he gets his balance back and can again enjoy school.

College
I do not appreciate this kind of manners.

Pupils
Why don’t you let him have his say …

As the philosopher Peter Sloterdijk says, learning is not a step towards a later state but joy in the current state: “Learning means looking forward to finding out about yourself. This state of looking forward to the next phase in your life is what matters”. The Christophine school insists that the original joy of learning and the creativity and self-effectiveness remain important during the learning process. Even if the ease with which a person used to learn is lost later in life: if he remembers that learning was always a joy, he will still be able to learn later in life.


 

Milestone #6 – Social Competences

Pupils

Take a look at the school compass. At this school, that is our sixth finger: togetherness.

Parents

I was truly impressed by how self-relying and strong every child looked as they stood there.

Teachers

However, you can also see how they all constantly get stuck in dependencies.
School Management
Our school thrives on doing things together. That includes playing together and sharing your knowledge. Everything else can actually easily be done by private tutors.

It is important that the children learn to orient and assert themselves in society. If you want to gain technological competence at school, you cannot get it without cooperation. Remarkably, many children grow up without siblings. Since, simultaneously, many spaces of freedom for children away from school have been abolished, school as a social space for learning has gained importance. Just as the children have to assert themselves at school, so the entire school system has to manifest itself in the educational environment.


 

Milestone #7 – Knowledge and Competences

School Management
Please ask R., he tackled the same problem yesterday.

Parents
It always surprises me to hear his stories.

Pupils
There is nobody who has no competence anywhere. Everybody can show you something.

Teachers
Well, we do want a child to succeed at a higher school without him/her having to take extra private tuition.

We give the cultural achievements mathematics and writing a huge priority. Our school is a place full of challenges. Learning and working both enjoy a huge amount of appreciation. In this sense, our school wants to be an actual space where there is a lot to realize and to enjoy but little to just consume. The high degree of motivation is supposed to inspire not only the pupils, but also the grown-ups.


 

Milestone #8 School as an Environment for Experiences

Teachers

If that is what you want, then start organizing what you need. I will gladly help you. You only need to let me know.

Parents
We parents do not even know how the school gained its experience.

School Management

Well, the school is, after all, a place that learns, too.
Pupils
I cannot do this. I do not want to do this. This was a failure.

Teachers
Let us analyse why this project failed.

Pupils
I want us to vote … but there is already a rule. Basically, we said … I am the circle leader and will decide how we do it. You can change this procedure if you are the circle leader. I want to include this in the final discussion.

It is not at all true that, in order to make learning possible, we exclusively take advantage of original situations. Enlightenment does not have to strike quasi epiphani-like in the lecture hall. A lot of experience is necessary during all those many strenuous moments of everyday school life. In this sense, we also consider the usual work a practice that can expand our possible courses of action.


Milestone # 9 – School in the Context of the City

Pupils
It is about time that we visit there again.

School Management

I am sure that the children will be taken seriously wherever they go. Because everybody knows our Christophine School.

Pupils

“Dear Mayor, we would like to see you and talk about the defunct traffic lights“. – “Dear Police, could you please come and visit our classroom. Three four-graders need to do the bike test.“

Teachers
At long last, we managed to visit the museum again.

School Management
The sports club offers us their facilities during the third hour of the school day.

Parents

Parents always have to make some kind of contribution. Basically, the school cannot do everything. I take my son to painting and sports lessons.
Thank you so much for taking the children on the outing.

Our city of Marbach and its regional environment are the topsoil on which our school will grow and on which our lives will succeed. The pupils either come from here or go by bus or train. We can climb the city walls, jump around in the castle ruins or read poems in the house where Schiller was born. Here, we have neighbours who get angry with us if we sneak into their gardens and take the strawberries.


Milestone # 10 Fear-Free School

Parents

My son is always unhappy when the school is closed.

School Management

I am not always free of worries when I enter the school building. But in the assembly hall, I always see that we are actually quite well equipped.

Teachers
Well, it is normal if you see the coming school day with respect, isn’t it?

Pupils
If someone acts around with a wooden stick in the garden, I get scared. But only if he/she hits me. Whenever someone hits me, I will see to it that he gets one week of stick ban.

We should not fear fear. However, we must not make anybody fearful. We are a school that encourages, we are capable of enjoying mistakes, of making a glitch the reason to take a break and of once in a while laughing about minor errors. Emotions regulate the quality of teaching in the lecture room. However, sometimes our feelings can also be our own impediments.


Milestone # 11 – Role of the Grown-Ups

School Management

See what I found for you. It seems that you still have a problem or two to solve.

Pupils

I need a certain tool. Do you know where I can find it?

Teachers

I take up what the pupils suggest. If there is not enough coming from them, I will start doing something, produce something in the sense of our definition of work.

Pupils
These things have all been self-taught.

Parents
I presume you accompany the children more when they learn?

We only have one teacher. But everybody is sometimes the master, the school master and the one who accompanies them when they learn. Some persons are players. Some have responsibility. They are the boss. But that is not a question of age. It is more a question of standards, competence and desires.


 

Milestone # 12 – Common Reflexion in the Assembly Hall.

Teachers

What can we change to improve matters for next time?

School Management

Our school needs an institutionalized place for doubts. I mean doubts about the pedagogical concept, the things we do, our teaching material, our policy, everything we get upset about.

Teachers
Innovative? The children are more conservative than I am.

School Management
Our school is now in its third evaluation year. I will not continue in the same way as before.

Even our furniture shows the importance of communication. We have a meeting corner, the quadratic shape of our pedagocical circle. Here is where our community has a place to meet, here is where we discuss difficult situations and here is where we meet friends for easy leisure. The role of discussion moderator changes all the time. This guarantees an e.ducation that is not only supposed to lead towards a democratic understanding, but that also has its place in interdependencies made aware through discourses and democratic circumstances.


 

Milestone # 13 – School Celebrating

School Management

Welcome to our big festival in May, our show at year’s end, our big party on the first vacation day. …

Pupils
Today, we must celebrate three birthdays: the birthdays of J. and C. were during vacation times.

School Management

If someone managed to do something great or discover something new, that in itself is worth celebrating. I say: that is a reason to celebrate.

Pupils

Why don’t we sing the other song again? Oh, no!

Taking the citizen society as a model, people meet at Christophine in order to take charge of their affairs and thus contribute towards a successful school life. Both the management of everyday problems and the planning and realization of school parties or excursions are part of this concept. The grown-ups motivate this process of management by pointing towards future events or problems during discussion time.


Milestone # 14 –  School versus Family

Teachers
Basically, we highlighted the partnership with the families quite well in our school contract.

Parents
This is what I keep telling everybody: they talk a lot more with each other at this school.

Pupils
You have no right to order me around. You are not my mother.

School Management
However, I do not consider chatting on the corridors a binding exchange of ideas between school and family. It is more like the lubricant for common pedagogical activities.

Pupils
Last Saturday, my mom took me along when she went to clean the school building. I had the run of the entire house.

In many school situations, you can observe a family spirit. It is responsible for all parties concerned feeling comfortable in their groups. They also know that there is a feeling of belonging in what they do. There are intimate situations full of self-recognition and also affection. Since, however, our school, too, is an independent institution, i.e. an institution of learning, we will not allow families to delegate their jobs to us. School and family are two fields that need not follow the same rules.


 

Milestone # 15 – Diversity at School

School Management

I certainly want to represent diversity.

Parents
Basically, the families come from various milieus.

School Management

We motivate everyone to visit us in the assembly hall. And if you want to visit, you will have to bring something in return. Because we also want to benefit from your visit.

Teachers
Starwars, Ninjago and James Bond. More often than not, you do not get too many diverse ideas.

Having to make decisions at all times is quite demanding for all parties concerned. The plurality of school work and stimulations you get as a consequence will guarantee that the content is multiplied and that you get quite surprising friction areas and points of contact. It is the duty of the school to enable the students to get a good grip on their own strength and their own images in order to offer them an alternative to the one-dimensional consumption society.


 

Milestone # 16 – Great Expectations and Modest Pretences

Pupils
The children decide by themselves … you said so yourself.

School Management
The pedagogic development and the economic growth are harmoniously intertwined. If you do not need to pay back debts, it is easier to learn.

Parents
The way we follow their progress is always linked with the development of the children. There will come a day when they will have to attend another school…

Teachers
The Christophine is our place of work. Where everything grows, you would expect that, some day, perhaps you could earn a little more than now?

The School
 Christophine was built into the educational environment because there was a huge political impatience in the educational sector. By now, it has four years of experience. The supporter has four years left to pay off the initial debt. There is still room for eleven pupils in the building. That is how long the wish of the parents to get a secondary school will have to wait. …


Here is the source of my ideas:
CHRISTOPHINE – marbach – free school
Freie Schule Christophine e.V. · Ludwigsburger Straße 24a · 71672 Marbach am Neckar · 07144/305 80 98
info@freie-schule-christophine.de · www.freie-schule-christophine.de
Kreissparkasse Ludwigsburg BLZ 604 500 50 Konto 300 520 11· GLS Gemeinschaftsbank BLZ 430 609 67 Konto 700 5615 700


I published the milestones because I think they are an excellent and rather commonly acceptable inspiration for all those who are interested in school life and yearn for an agile and free school!

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Wednesday November 15th, 2017

The Future of the Planet

Today, I will not write about electric bikes or sex, but about politics.

The Jamaican coat of arms

Jamaica

Currently, many people develop a sudden interest in the land of Bob Marley. It is about Jamaica, which, naturally, is only a silly word-play. It is all about the “Coalition Discussions“ (Koalitionsverhandlungen) in Berlin. We call them Jamaica because the coat of arms of this country is identical with the colours of the parties concerned (black, yellow and green).

I must admit that I had been hopeful for the Green Party to be the positive factor in these discussions.

But what is the Green Party doing?

They went to Berlin with demands that were probably justified but it is clear that these demands cannot be successfully pushed through during negotiations (which has already been proved). The first of these demands was that the combustion motor be abolished in the year 2030 (1) and the second was that all coal-based power plants be closed by the same year (2). Especially (1) sounds more than utopian. Besides, we do not need general goals but actual measures.

Electricity must replace coal, not use it up!

I will not comment on (2). After all, it is evident that the only way we can and must end the “dark” era when fossil energy was burned using electricity. Yet replacing coal by electricity cannot mean that half of the electricity world-wide is produced with coal. This must (and will soon) become a thing of the past. However, I find (1) a lot more exciting.

Driving an automobile is out!

Everybody must realize that an “individual mobility” based on electricity cannot and will not be the same as many of us now use the car. Just like “autonomous cars”, too, will not be driven in the same way as MEN and WOMEN drive them now.

2030 will soon be here!

In only 12 years, it will have arrived – that is as many years as the life-span of a car used to be. In that respect, what the Green Party demanded would have been rather easy to realize.

Prepare for the exit!

One of the factors is to quickly establish a speed limit – if necessary, why not step-by-step so that people can get used to it – but with a clear end even before 2020 at a maximum of 30 km/h in closed built-up areas, 70 km/h on secondary streets and 100 km/h on motorways. And, also step-by-step, a truly relevant and drastic increase in taxes on fossil fuel (including kerosene for planes). And if then the gigantic subsidies on “business cars” (at least the huge practice of abuse) were finally restricted, then the entire scenario would make sense!

Slim end efficient!

That would be a slim and efficient solution and it would raise hopes for a “soft landing”. It would also make quite a few stupid ideas, such as road charges, obsolete. And the Green Party, perhaps for good reasons, does not wish to be unpopular. Mind you, I personally believe that being unpopular brings you more votes than it costs you.

Investing in the future

And the money you get from all these projects must not be spent for building even more new motorway crossings on two levels with up to ten lanes, which today apparently, as a consequence of the motorway expansion having to happen on ever more lanes, has become a necessity. Instead, we should invest these moneys in a public transport system and, of course, in the “energy change” – which basically only means the abolition of nuclear and coal-based electricity production. As I see it, we are actually already quite well under way in this respect.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Klaus Hnilica
Thursday June 1st, 2017

An Outrageous Summing-Up!

He had promised himself that this was going to happen: when he, ’Colonel ’ Vatter – two “t-s”, please – would turn seventy, and if by then he would still be clear-headed, – then he would write a summing-up of his life in front of the entire family clan Vatter, especially in front of his wife Cornelia, his daughter Conny and his son Corni! And since, even in early childhood, he had been given the nickname ’Colonel’, the ’ruthless summing-up of his life’ was a foregone conclusion.

Or rather, it was ’some kind of summing-up’! Just like you also have double accounting!

Basically, it was a dry listing of ’positive’ and ’negative’ assets, including a subsequent ’balancing’, just like on a scale, that was now determined!

Without qualms and totally self-critical, he was going to list under ’positive assets’ everything that he had managed to accomplish in his life and how he had left all losers behind. And, naturally, under ’negative assets’, he was going to list everything that others had failed to accomplish! He was going to list their failures in the most precise and unbiased way, just like all diligent book-keepers traditionally knew that was their duty!

Basically, in his opinion, every upright man should make such a list when he nears the end of his life in a neutral and humble way! A balance sheet of life where you focus as clear as glass and judge your success and other people’s failures.

Even your own family could not be left out of such a balance sheet, provided you wanted to include them.

But then, everything had to be dug up and put on the table. Even if you only had the dining room table – because no other table was big enough. Naturally, this was a nightmare for his much-loved Cornelia: because said dining table was overflowing with stone-hard breakfast eggs, tough steaks, burnt schnitzels, half-cooked chicken legs, mushy beans, hard milk-rice and many, many more ’delicacies’ from her kitchen!

But then, after a short hysterical spell of screaming, she would certainly have calmed down and understood that such a balancing only made sense if it was carried out with the highest possible degree of honesty.

And if on this ’dinner table of life achievements’ space would have become really scarce – since perhaps Conny and Corni, too, would have bashfully added their ’failure packets’ – then he, the ’Colonel’ would certainly have been quite willing to place his ’palette of successes’ underneath the table. After all, there was plenty of space and Conny and Corni would have had an ideal opportunity to learn in a very pedagogic way how the German proverb ’modesty is a virtue’ can be both strikingly demonstrated and lived in practice! And they would have experienced themselves what our Federal Chancellor had recently said when she had talked about ’our values giving us a sense of feeling at home’…

Initially, he had actually believed that this kind of ’life balance sheet’ might well also have been written as an ’interim balance’ focussing on special phases in life. For instance, even as early as on his fiftieth birthday, such a balance could have been written – especially if you looked at his unparalleled career!

But unfortunately, at the time, his well-loved Cornelia had run amok and had, out of the blue, demanded a divorce. Just because, again, she had made an elephant out of a mosquito, this time named Marianne! Mind you, it had been Cornelia herself who had introduced this Marianne to the family. Against the wishes of the ’Colonel ’!

My God, how she had idolized the much younger Marianne! The two were inseparable! And every shopping tour with her had been celebrated like a glimpse of paradise. Cornelia could and would simply not see that the golden Marianne was bringing nothing but discord into the harmonious Vatter family.

Actually, at the time, he, the ’Colonel ’ himself, had to get active and show her once and for all where the limits were that she could not trespass. However, she needed to be shown those limits all the time. It had been really bad – there were days when – hard to believe though it might be – she needed three limits in a row!

Eventually, the ’Colonel ’ had been more than happy when Cornelia finally saw that this Marianne person had to leave. And instantly! However, the idea Cornelia – in some sort of somnambulant shock – had come up with that they needed a divorce, was quite over the top and called for medical treatment. Of course, the ’Colonel’ was more than considerate and thus, to make matters bearable for her, refrained from the aforementioned first ’interim life balance report’ when he turned fifty: After all, among the ’negative assets’, one would have had to write Cornelia’s less than beautiful desire to get a divorce, while, at the time, he would have had to write his advance into the concern management among the ’positive assets’. That would have been the only way for such a documentation to make sense, rather than just becoming a stale re-interpretation of the truth.

But, naturally, he did not want to thus punish Cornelia! She was desperate enough as it was!

The children, too, had been against the idea. Well, they hardly had anything noteworthy to report under ’positive assets’, which would have meant he alone would have appeared there …

No – it had really been quite a good idea at the time from which all parties concerned benefited to refrain from this first ’partial life balancing’. After all, for him, a ’Colonel’ such an omission was definitely bearable!

Following the logic at the time, another chance for an ’interim balancing’ would have been when he had turned sixty! In fact, he had been quite prepared to do so and had already collected and listed loads of material. But then this excruciating data theft became fashionable, where illegally gained information about diverse Swiss accounts had been offered to the German finance system. Since ancient times, the entire world had parked their dirty money on these accounts. And suddenly, everybody who owned perhaps a million or two more was called a tax fraud – and worse!

Naturally, the ’Colonel ’ had to be the shining model for his children Conny and Corni and, by being one of the first who reported himself to the authorities, demonstrate to them that tax fraud was just something you did not do! And that, if your slate was clean, you never had to be afraid that the legal authorities who suddenly started to move all over the place might come after you.

However, when suddenly, one week before his birthday, the finance authority officers had invited themselves for a kind of ’pre-birthday-party’, his much-loved Cornelia opined that, this one time, it was probably a good idea to limit the celebration to the immediate family. Since her nerves were already very tightly strung, the ’Colonel’, naturally, agreed without hesitation. When expressing his gratitude in a few words, he refrained from even the slightest hint at a ’life balancing’. With his tendency towards honesty and unadorned truth, such behaviour would only have stirred up unwelcome dust from his environment. Not to mention the immense problems that the very fragile health of his extremely old mother and his even older father would have caused. Neither of them had long survived the subsequent debacle of the European Financial World – they had each lost too much money …

But now, on his seventieth birthday – the ’life balancing’ was finally going to happen!

At least a short version thereof!

All that would have been inconvenient had now more or less been omitted or made itself obsolete: for instance Cornelia, who, five years ago, had separated from her ’Colonel’ and was now living in Belgium with a musician. Allegedly, Conny was doing well with her family in the USA and Corni was in an important bank director in England.

Well, the problem was actually that now, although nobody was in his way, there was also nobody he could have told about his grandiose successes. Except the two drunken nephews and the cross-eyed cousin he had not talked to in thirty years! And, of course, Marianne, with whom he had now lived for six years, because she had never given up her habit of breaking down all obstacles that blocked her path!

Marianne, however, although she was a wonderfully attractive lady, had not the slightest bit of understanding for his, as she called it, almost ’sickly chronic self-indulgence’: on the contrary, she herself wanted to be admired! And all those silly memories from the past were things she certainly could not have cared less about!
But if he, the ’Colonel’ felt that he needed to give a life balancing, then why did he not himself write down his great life achievement. Quasi as a last will for the entire Vatter family. And now he also had time, didn’t he?

With these words, she pressed a brand-new, lockable, leather-bound note book into the hands of her ’Colonel ’ – hands that were overflowing with age spots. She added a quick kiss on the dried-up wrinkles of a forehead that already reached to the nape of his neck.

If, however, this was too much of an effort for him, whispered Marianne, then he could feel free to tell his entire life balancing story to Inge the cleaning lady who, as always, was going to care well for him: since she turned off her hearing aid most of the time anyway, it was a good idea to tell her about his great life on a daily basis –and in the process, he could include all his small, big and even bigger indecencies in detail! Wasn’t this a great way to spend the day for a man in his prime! And – without catching air – she happily told him that now, in a real hurry, she had to be on her way to the airport, since she was flying to the Algarve with their daughter Carola to play golf! Even from the already open door, she managed to send an entire salve of the hottest kisses towards her ’Colonel ’ …

KH
(Translated by EG)