Full marks to my guardian angel on the serendipity front.

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

My spirits are soaring with the departure of the snow and the reappearance of attractive Warnemünde from the slush.

The last two days I’ve travelled into Rostock as I’m getting documents ready for my accountant and need to print. And buying a cheap printer to dispose of at the end of the month,  however sensible in terms of time and comfort, was unpalatable. Finding a print shop was serendipitous; I stumbled across it when I was looking for a tram stop, having not initially noticed that the tram lines dive down under the central station.

I had another such moment today, this time on the tram when, engrossed in sending a text message to an offspring, I went a stop too far. And got off right by the university bookshop, which I hadn’t found before and which had some books in English. I have the Nobel prizewinner Jon Fosse’s A new name Septology VI-VII in English. I don’t think I’m going to get through it. I admire his style of writing and like his resistance to filtering but his interests and take on the world are too far removed from mine. At the University bookshop, I picked up Scott Fitzgerald’s “This side of paradise”. I know nothing about Scott Fitzgerald but will learn more.

Full marks to my guardian angel on the serendipity front.

I also found a good second-hand bookshop and since I dislike filching the ambience without contributing anything I bought Winfried Löschburg’s Ohne Glanz und Gloria about the Hauptmann von Köpenick (published in 1979).

My stay in Rostock is drawing to a close but I will come back. Next time I want to explore the City Archives at the Town Hall but think I will prepare this by writing to the author of the book about the Bailiff’s House to see if I can get him to talk about his sources.

My German has developed in unexpected ways. My plan was for a radical improvement in my ability to understand, for example, TV news. I have made some improvement but the demands of everyday life have compelled me to speak to folk. And my German is weird. I have a large German vocabulary but have never been taught German. My communication consists largely of nouns with a few seriously overworked verbs scampering heroically around. I state the general area of interest and then whittle it down until it’s clear what I want. And it works fine at least for multi-socket plugs, stationery printing. As long as people concentrate and don’t panic like this morning when my clearly-designated cheese cake became a blueberry muffin.

And the New Year is approaching. I need to prepare my plan for 2024. This year I want it to be a realistic plan so that my plan for 2025 can be a step forward and not a rehash of unfulfilled goals. And that means developing sensible interim goals for, for example, languages that I would like to develop but can’t realistically concentrate on this year if I’m going to make a major effort with German and Bengali: Ancient Greek and Latin are in this category and I could, for example, aim to master the Ancient Greek alphabet by the end of the year, perhaps moving on to common prefixes and suffixes if there is time over.

I am pleased about one target that I have almost achieved, which is to replace about 50 notebooks which I’ve jotted things down over the years but always as an inglorious mixture. But now I’ve got about 20 books for different subjects and the fathers of the church will hopefully stay in their pen and not get tangled up with unemployed shipyard workers in Rostock after the Fall and the etymology of the obscure.

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