On the ferry back from Islay I met a German chap who was over on his annual holiday to Scotland. He was attempting to travel to 30 islands in 30 days and “activate” each of them, he being an amateur radio operator. I’d seen this left-hand drive car on the slip at Port Ellen with an aerial and tangle of wires coming out of it, so the explanation made sense. Activation appears to be a process of getting to a location and contacting other radio amateurs from that place and recording the contacts. It’ll be no surprise that he’s single and an unemployed schoolteacher with a hobby like this.
He told me that the arrangements for obtaining unemployment benefit in Germany were pretty strict and, before he would be entitled to receive benefit, he’d have to move to a smaller house and realise any capital assets; apparently you’re entitled to 600 square feet if you’re single and his house is about three times that. At the moment he was content to live on his savings.
He also told me some Austrian jokes – Austrian jokes are what Irish jokes are to the British and Kerry-men jokes are to the Irish. Here’s one I remember:
The Bavarian and Austrian border guards each managed to capture one of the others and they were taken for examination. Anxious to discover what made the Bavarians tick, the Austrians took the top of the Bavarian’s head off to look inside. What they saw was so complex they decided they couldn’t possibly understand it and they restored the top of the head to its proper place. The Bavarians were consumed with a similar curiosity and decided to look inside the Austrian’s head. They were astonished to find a completely empty space with only a single wire running across the inside of the head. Wondering what purpose the wire had, they bravely decided to cut it … and the Austrian’s ears fell off.