My History in Europe

Early Reflections 1979-1980

During the time 1979-1980 form when I was 18 months old until I was 3 I was a citizen of West Berlin. I know some people would not consider this relevant but it is from what I know about neurolinguistics and cognitive psychology. At such an early age form 18 months until the age of 3 the brain is not yet fully formed and is still connecting up. That's why if you teach a baby something at this time it becomes hard wired into it's brain and symbolic and emotional for it later on. I quote the work of Ursula Keil of Cologne University in her Blockseminar on Psycho and Neurolinguistics 2005. It is also the case that the brain functions in a totally different way with languages if you start your first language before you are 3 years old.

The brocha region in the front left lobe is responsible for instinctive processing of grammar in your first language. If you learn languages before you are three you process them as a native tongue in the brocha all your life. Therefore, because I was in that input rich German environment at such a formative age German is also a language with which I associate my instinctive core emotions. I feel very strongly that my happy place otherwise known as one's inner child where all my deepest feelings are stored is German not British and that German has psychologically symbolic and significant meaning for me notwithstanding that my parents weren't German genetically or emotionally themselves. I really don't think I'm British deep down as Nigel Farage is claiming. I think my father was an arse hole for taking me out of Kindergarten there and saying I had to 'grow up a Brit' like him because I can't help it I weep when I hear East German women politicians speak and I weep when I hear East German pioneers sing. Why? Because I was exposed to that culture when I was three and it has profound psychological significance for me. Music, English and German were my A Levels I chose them not realising that all three of them were in me at the start of my life in Berlin.

Me in Class 6a Käthe Kruse Grundschule 1992
Me in Class 6a Käthe Kruse Grundschule 1992

My German Exchange 1990-2004

I was taught German in 1979 by Lord Gunter von Wittich and his wife Lily who were our neighbours on the Ringstrasse in Lichterfelde in Berlin with whom we have been lifelong friends. It was Lily's political persuasion that we should all be European and I loved her like a second mum and she loved me in that way too and it was her thing with me rather than Nigel Farage's

I was encouraged in my pro EU views from day one having being sent to an audience with Joskar Fischer the German foreign minister under Schröder I think that was with UEF in the 1990s at the Royal Palace and Crown Prince Friedrich and Princess Sophie von Höhenzollern of Germany were there as far as I can remember because the von Wittichs are significant members of the Prussian Royals.

I also attended the Käthe Kruse Primary School, Lichterfelde, Class 6a for the period of one week in 1992 and my first German female pen friend came from that class. I still have her letters and I've translated them. Most of this is in my book My Little Book of Berlin covering my historical association with the city.

Dear Hugh,

I'm sorry I did not write back right away. But whenever I wanted to write, my neighbour came around and wanted to play with me and my sisters. It is currently between thirty-five and thirty-six degrees Celsius with us here. We've all been swimming quite a lot. So far it has not rained, part of the lawn has been burnt by the sun and the rest dried up. The weather is really exhausting. Thank God, it’s now rained and got a bit cooler. By the way, I like the gift a lot now, I'm still waiting for your photo, which I can then put in the frame.

What is rugby or squash? I recently painted the living room with my mother. My father and grandfather built the shed. The day before yesterday I was with my sister in my grandma’s garden. Grandma got two dogs from my friend. They are called Molli and Mase. My friend’s dog is called Börchen. We played in the garden when suddenly a biting session broke out. My friend’s mother came running. My friend’s grandfather was woken out of bed by the noise, but when he finally got there, my friend’s mother had already sorted everything out again.

A couple of years ago, we were in the swimming pool. Of course, we immediately jumped in the water with an air mattress. Suddenly a group of seven to eight boys appeared some younger and some older. They attacked us and ripped my rubber stamp out of my hand. Before they could turn around again, my father stood between us and them.

Write again soon please!




After the fall of the wall I also visited Lord Von Wittich's lands in East Germany in Reitwein in Seelow about 3km from the Polish boarder near Frankfurt an der Oder and went hunting for wild boar with him amongst other things.

Last time I saw the von Wittichs in 2004 Henning's mother Lily von Wittich took me to see the Berlin Phil with Sir Simon Rattle conducting Beethoven's 6ths and some Ligeti played by Tasmin Little.

Marina Gorelik and I on the steps of Cologne Cathedral 2006
Marina Gorelik and I on the steps of Cologne Cathedral 2006

My Student and Professional life in Germany 2001-2010

Another reason to say I'm European is that I was involved totally independently of politics in living in Germany to gain cultural identity and experience as a European from 2001 onwards in a similar fashion to what Lady von Wittich did in studying literature in Paris.

I didn't go over there to study or to contravene what had already been said about me at GSMD as a countertenor I just got involved in doing something else other than music in my life at that stage. I failed at GSMD because I had a nervous breakdown and I just laid low for a while but wanted to do something with the money I got form my father's family when he died. I had the German connections already so when I wanted to live abroad it was living in Germany I gravitated towards, not least because my pass at German A level meant I could speak a bit already.

In 2001 I took a course in English Language Teaching as you can see from my other blog and set up in Kassel. I lost my job after 2 months but decided to stay and hold the fort with the funds I had to do a German course at the VHS Kassener Straße in Kassel which I passed  retaking my A level in four months and getting tow grades higher than I did at school with a A Grade or Very Good in Oral skills. I failed my German oral at A level but passed overall with an E. So, I think it was the teaching at A Level, rather than me. In Natasha's class I was fine. this is covered in my book My Time in Kassel Dec 2001 - August 2002.

I sang the St Matthew Passion by J.S. Bach with Kassel Bach Choir and also sang in the Kassel Uni Choir and got girlfriends from both and I enjoyed that so much I got voice lessons again with an American teacher Alex Stevenson in Kassel. He got me into a professional opera project in Goettingen where I met the love of my life and into Cologne Conservatoire Wuppertal Campus where I studied for the next three years in the NRW.

I worked with in my own ELT business there teaching amongst others the European manager of Bayer IT at the Research Centre in Wuppertal Eckbusch, and Delphi Automotive Systems Cronenberg. This is covered in my book Wuppertal Times Sept 2002 - May 2005.

I then moved on to Cologne University and studied German English and Musicology and joined the German academic masons living at one of their student houses in Lindental during 2005 to 2007. These were amongst the happiest years of my life with a steady girlfriend in Marina Gorelik who is now a Belarusian born German citizen. This will eventually be covered in my planned book Cologne Magic 2005-2010

I worked in Solingen, Wuppertal, Essen, Bonn, Düsseldorf, Cologne, and Frechen.

These are the main reasons why I feel blood is thicker than water and I'm significantly more transnational that British.