Vibrant, Efficient, and Working Beautifully


Just back from Munich. I went to visit my brother Sean, his wife Bettina and their two daughters, Mairéad and Marlena. Despite the fact that a heavy grey sky hung over the city for the seven days, I can vouch for the truth of the above heading. It’s a lovely city. It has a population of a million and a half citizens, but still manages to feel like a town.

My stay was hugely enhanced by the generosity and geniality of my hosts, but the city itself is a truly welcoming place. Apart from the comprehensive and efficient transport system and the beautiful buildings, the town is gifted with the pristine clean river Isar, which runs through the centre of town. You don’t have clean rivers without a lot of work and its obvious that the Munichers have put a lot of effort into making the Isar a vibrant and accessible amenity to be enjoyed by their own citizens. They’ve adjusted the flow so that you have a 20/30metre bank on one side. They have now allowed this to return to wilderness. It’s potted with islands, walkways, and cycle paths that can be used for most of the year. I know for sure that there is at least 30 kilometres of accessible bank….Sean tried to induce me to walking this particular stretch the day before I left. I managed 15 before we climbed back up to the bustle and a tram back to Geising. There could be another 30k for all I know.

The family dog’s name is Jacko. He is a rare thing….a timid Terrier. Usually terriers think that they are three times as big as they are, and take on dogs six times as big as their imagined selves. Not Jacko…he circles large dogs with the wariness of an Apache and hides in the long grass until they have passed. As there are many retirees, trainers, and runners with large dogs availing of the Isar banks, this slows proceedings down a lot. Sometimes the constitutional could take anything from 11/2 to 2hrs.

On day one I was give a plastic back for Jacko’s deposit. I was surprised to learn that this civic duty also applied to the riverbank, but it made sense, and I never came home with dirt on my shoe. I was surprised at how quickly got into the idea of respecting my surroundings for the public good. All went well until day 4, when Jacko decided to sign his autograph on the main street. I reached into my pocket for the plastic bag only to discover that I had left the house without it. As Jacko squatted and had a good look at his surroundings, I fumbled at the end of the lead like a man who wants to avoid paying for his round. He took long enough for me to grow increasingly uncomfortable and visualise myself being dragged away and put in stocks. When he was done I rushed him towards the river, but before we got there he decided he needed an unprecedented second sitting. This time his chosen dumping ground was a lovingly tended rose plot outside an apartment block. I was very tempted to drop the lead and leave him to explain himself. I didn’t forget the plastic bag from there on, and brought an extra for the unprecedented calling.

To a different kind of music. I played the Munich Folk Club on the Monday night. Frank Mclynn and his wife Allison run the club in a small theatre …ideal for an acoustic session, which I opted for. My fretting about the lyrics of the songs not being got by the audience were unfounded, and by the second half I felt confident enough to try an 8 minute ballad. It went down a treat and there’s talk of a return visit in June? Imagine the above headline and sunny to boot???



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