Skills for Business Leverkusen and Alison Nation


Alison Nation was born in New Zealand possibly the daughter or sister of Paul Nation the famous linguist. She went to school in Australia and then moved to Germany to be the Director of Studies at Skills for Business or S4B in Leverkuesen. I was put in touch with Alison nation through my relationship with Axel Böhnisch the music school and the Hedwig WG. Hedwigstraße 12. Axel’s new flatmate when he moved out from us the GesellenWG was Isi a New Zealander studying violin in Wuppertal at the music college. She had been given Alison Nation’s address and telephone number but wasn’t qualified enough to merit having a job with her so she passed on her details to me. I called them up and Alison invited me for an interview in Leverkusen with a view to working for them in Wuppertal. The HQ in Bayer AG Leverkusen was incredible, a forty-classroom tower block was theirs. Bayer AG take on their young graduates and nurse them to greatness from day one. They train them as managers themselves, in English and other subjects and get them a degree from an American University in the same vain as the General Motors model worked in the nineteen-thirties. One major part of the Bayer training organisation was S4B. She was always polite to me and got the coffee on when I was there. However, she was a ruthless hirer and firer of the best staff in the area. She would even fire her best friends for wearing the wrong dress. She was hart aber fair. If you made too many mistakes she would fire you or even if you just gave the wrong impression. In return, she did provide you with the best training and the idea was to get you involved as much as possible with assessing books in the library and coming for additional training on a Friday. I did get that top job in English for Specific Purposes and survived for a period of about nine months mainly because I had no time to take it one hundred percent seriously. It’s a job I’d die for now because they paid twenty-five pounds per forty-five-minute hour at Delphi and Fahnen Herold and twenty-eight-fifty a clock hour at Bayer. I really was in the money and in my naivety I didn’t look after the job because I was studying to be something else. I always remember her doing a lecture on rhetoric and something called machine gunning, which is like and extended tripling. This means making a point with three examples and then extending it into an entire list (machine gunning) and getting very annoyed with me not to speak with her beforehand as she was nervous and trying to concentrate on the job in hand. She was a nice boss, but a tough one that commanded my respect for having such a high-power operation an exceptional one, but she wasn’t the best in my opinion that was between Mr Gough or Juliane Mörsdorf-Schulte. Certainly Gough for the fact that everything he touched turned to gold was far more interesting in a way and he was good he had the forty class Düsseldorf Airport off the back of what we achieved the year I was there (see Cologne Magic).





I had a number of 121 classes at Delphi Automotive systems on a Monday morning. It was just up the hill from where I lived. I remember catching the bus up the hill on a Monday morning half asleep having dragged myself out of bed. It was a huge building responsible for designing ever increasingly complicated electronic systems for the automobile industry.




Mr Cucciara was a fun-loving Italian who loved to talk. He complained about the lack of being able to work on his own initiative. He quite often had good solutions to practical problems but wasn’t listened to.




Mr Lohdahl was a lovely older manager who had a crane in his drive the who time I taught him. He had nowhere to park his car at home because his parking space was taken up with a crane. He was having building work done on his home and they were taking longer than expected for some reason.




Mr Durasin was my other 121 a mild-mannered person who always gave the impression he had good knowledge.





The classes were named after American cities. Seattle class was the one that contained Waldemar Hüsch. He was normally a very nice guy who flew his own microlight which he serviced himself. He kept it at Düsseldorf Airport. Waldemar did once mention that the teacher I was taking over from Heidi was pregnant and ‘what use would I have for a pregnant woman?’ when I went round to her place to get the books and discuss the classes. He liked me but he didn’t like her at all and was deliberately sexist towards her. I don’t’ know why? Maybe it was just his way of getting the point across that she was attractive.


Bayer Business Services at Bayer Research Centre Wuppertal


I was lucky enough get to work at one the best addresses in Wuppertal as far a work was concerned the prestigious Bayer Research Center in Wuppertal, Eckbusch. This is where each and every company in the Bayer group hire’s space to carry out ground-breaking research. The site saw its heyday in the mid 1970s and early 80s and is now in decline. At that time Bayer was attempting to buck this trend by purchasing their way into other areas of chemistry such as hand cream. The Marziniak seniors ran the Bayer Research Center sports complex, tennis courts and bar for the staff. They were my flatmate Mark’s mum and dad. I got to enter the main part of the complex for the first time other than for Sour Roast Beef with Dumplings from Mrs Sieglinde Marzinak in order to assist the head of Bayer IT, and also BBS or Bayer Business Services the long way Herr Zielinksy with his takeover of Roche the Swiss skincare firm.


Herr Zielinsky


Mr Zeilinsky’s need for English was mainly to brush up on his conversation to assist with his conversation and communication with the Swiss. Indeed, he was spending 3 days in Wuppertal and 2 days a week in Bern so he was cream crackered 100% of the time. Herr Zielinksy was very talented and was the first person I ever saw with a Blackberry. I asked in my innocence if it were manufactured by Bayer and he replied that they had bought it out as a joke. Other than the lessons going quite well, well enough for him to give me chocolates and a mobile phone as a gift at the end of the course because he had said I had been unreachable a crucial times, I remember him being pretty good at murdering wasps. I remember him planning the stripy one’s demise for a full five minutes eventually finishing him off with my textbook with glee in typical Germanic fashion. He did love me for turning up that day in my Puma bicycle shorts as they are all I had clean on and that with my new girlfriend at the time having got me what she considered a modern haircut; a Vokuhila Vorne kurz und Hinten lang which actually looked more like a blonde mullet with grey highlights and shaven sides, than a classic furball-like Vokuhila from the 1980s.


Bayer AG Wuppertal


The best thing to come out of Wuppertal chemical plant was it’s bomb shelter which now comprises the U-club. Anyway, I was charged with having to teach the security manager in charge of mothballing the plant and keeping it safe for possible future use or decommissioning depending on need. His name was Herr Kinnen.


Herr Kinnen


Herr Kinnen was an older statesman oft he German security business one oft he 1950s postwar generation he was a stern but honest man who gave the outward appearance and manner of being kind. We just didn’t really get on him being old and sincere and me being young and vibrant but he was nice and complained bitterly when I deliberately forgot his lessons and didn’t turn up and they pulled me out of Bayer as a consequence. I did get on with him I was just younger than him and found him a bit of an energy vampire.