Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
As most true Brits realized long ago, there are a lot of reasons why Britain is pretty rubbish. Jörg Luyken argues that his fellow Brits should pack their bags and move to Deutschland.
1. They have something called summer
Summer in London. Photo: Colin Smith
A cheap shot admittedly, but no less worthy of a good old moan for it. Why is the weather so terrible in Britain?
Everyone was complaining this was the worst summer they'd had in forty years. But really? Is it ever any different? As we heard one wit say 'I love the English summer, it's my favourite day of the year.'
In Berlin this July it was so hot doors and windows were bending out of shape – sort it out Britain!
2. A pint of beer and a pack of cigarettes doesn't eat up half a month's wages
In Germany this definitely won't cost you over a tenner. Photo: DPA
Britain is crazily expensive. This is particularly true if you're paid in Euros - on nights out back in Blighty we resorted to sticking four straws into a pint of beer and pretending it was a cocktail party.
The price of cigarettes - this reporter's most unpleasant vice - is over double what you pay in Germany - even a hostel bed in some godforsaken corner of Scotland costs more than you'd pay in Berlin.
Germans have figured out that you don't earn a salary to pay for the place you live so that you can keep on working - but so that you can have a good time when you're not. Britain might want to take note.
3. Music isn't terrible
Usher is still a staple of UK nightclub playlists. Photo: Lauren Wohl
Despite the cost, Brits still manage to knock back booze like fish when they go out. Which is probably explained by the fact that playlists in bars and clubs haven't changed since 2003 – fine if you are looking to relive wasted freshers' week experiences with 2-for-one drinks, less so if you have reached an age where you actually want to enjoy the music you listen to.
Even in cool bars Shakira and Usher seem to be go-to choices (no doubt ironically, although the joke wore thin years ago). The only thing to outdo the poverty of the music taste is the drabness of decor.
In Germany it is not particularly hard to find a bar that puts at least some thought into originality both in terms of how it looks and also what it plays. In fact, walking into a independent bar is the norm here, which sadly can't been said for poor old Blighty.
4. British night spots stink
This bloke would rather be anywhere else but serving horrible, smelly Londoners beer. Photo: DPA
Then there is the smell in British clubs and bars. Perhaps it is the excessive drinking, perhaps the overly enthusiastic ironic dance moves ("Look! We still find it funny to dance to the Black Eyed Peas ten years later!") – but Brits seem to have lost control of certain vital functions.
Walk into a British bar or club and your nostrils will be assaulted by the stench of farts, vomit or (if you're lucky) stale sweat.
Because in Berlin and other German cities you can still smoke in bars and clubs (as long as they don't serve food), if you happen to be in a club full of Brits on a "large weekend," their unseemly smell is often covered up.
While no one's saying this solution is perfect, in the humble opinion of this journalist it's by far the lesser of two evils.
5. Germans are trusted to drink responsibly...
In Britain, what Germans call 'Komasaufen' is just called 'drinking'. Photo: DPA
This not only means that 'sin taxes' aren't higher than the cost of the beer itself, it means that you can drink where you want, when you want.
You can buy a cheap beer from an off-licence and enjoy it outside in the sun, or as you head off on a night out.
You also don't need to worry about opening times - even if seven in the morning is when you like to start partying, you'll find somewhere that's open.
In Britain you have to pay a hefty fine if the cops catch you enjoying a cool beer on the street - yet it's not uncommon there to see someone vomiting his guts out outside a Weatherspoons in the early afternoon.
Something tells us banning outdoor drinking isn't the answer.
6. ...And generally not to be criminals
Much more seriously, there is still a basic pact between the German state and citizenry of being innocent until proven guilty. Invasions of privacy are abundant in Britain, as is obvious to any visitor who has dealt with the horribly officious airport security.
Most galling, though, is the state's love of perving on us with CCTV cameras. You can't move a millimetre in London without being watched, and even in Edinburgh, where crime went out of fashion with the Victorians, cameras poke their beady eyes down every little Newtown street.
In Germany, governments face serious hurdles to putting CCTV in public spaces, airport security is treated as more of a tiresome obligation than something they seriously expect to stop crime, and there aren't even barriers to stop you riding the U-Bahn without a ticket.
7. Germans recycle properly
Most German supermarkets have machines that pay you to recycle bottles and cans. Photo: DPA
While Britain is slowly dragging itself into a world where one's first instinct isn't to throw an empty packet of crisps over one's shoulder, there still seems to be much work to do.
In Germany you get money back when you return empty cans and bottles. This makes a particular difference at festivals, encouraging people not to just drop their rubbish on the street.
Because no such concept exists in Britain, plastic and paper cups are strewn everywhere.
8. Getting around is easy-peasy (and affordable)
Even in the British cities that have underground lines, you'll spend about half a day navigating various forms of public transport just to visit a friend who lives at the end of your street.
Because the wonders of overground rail and trams are commonplace in most major German cities, you can cross places like Berlin without having to pack three days' rations first. And on weekends inner-city public transport runs 24 hours.
Just compare that with London's endless battle to do the same.
Furthermore, while taking the train from Stanstead to London means you've already spent over double your holiday budget by the time you get to London, German airports are connected to regular city transport, making them cheap and close to the place the claim to actually serve.
9. German politics isn't (entirely) made up as it goes along
Germany has a modern constitution which fairly and rationally distributes power, while Britain's government only works by the good graces of battalions of people in silly hats with titles like the Lord Keeper of the King's Privy Cheese Board.
All federal states have the same power in relation to the central government and no one state is so big as to exclude the voice of the others. As quirky as Bavaria is, there is not much chance it is going to demand independence any time soon.
So while Germany gets on with real politics, Britain is squabbling over borders that haven't existed in practice for hundreds of years.
10. But then at least Brits know how to cook a good Sunday roast...