Anyone who reads travel literature as often as I do will know that there aren’t that many books written in the English language about the daily life of ex-pats in Germany. Roger Boyes has changed that, although it’s hard to tell whether this is autobiographical, semi-biographical or 100 per cent genuine fiction and Googling the issue hasn’t helped me get to the bottom of this yet.
Nevertheless, A Year in the Scheisse, Getting to Know the Germans, is a romp through Germany from the perspective of an ex-pat English journo living in Berlin, who finds great interest in swapping potato recipes with his former German tutor. Meanwhile, his father fought in the Second World War and has a best friend with embarrassingly healthy Germano-phobia. Dad is also broke to the point that the family piano has been taken by the bailiffs. At work, this particular correspondent proves he will go anywhere in the interests of unknown tales of Hitler, the man, and, in his spare time he’s the Georgie Porgie of German speed-dating, making all the girls cry. Most importantly, his own dwindling finances need rescuing, big time. The question is, how will he do it?
This book is very readable but not exactly politically correct. The at times strained English-German relationship is treated here in an unusually matter-of-fact manner, making this book a gem. There’s post-war ill feeling, an attempt at cake sabotage with political intent and the caricatures throughout give the Daily Telegraph’s Social Stereotypes a run for its money, although, sadly, without the illustrations.
Highly recommended for all those who know and/or love Germany and who’d like a light-hearted look at what it might be like to live there.