Carnival in Cologne

Image courtesy of Florian Seiffert (F*) on flickr.

Hello Dear Reader,

I have to apologise profoundly for having a 16 day hole in your favourite (ha!) blog, but unfortunately since my latest move to beautiful South-East Essex (Euphemisms anyone?) my new ISP hasn’t managed to hook me up to the net yet. Blogging from work, while theoretically possible, is a bit of a no-no due to a lack of actual time to get my thoughts on wordpress, so this reaches you from the Intercontinental in Cologne. One of my favourite Hotels in the world, this Interconti has always managed to combine a seemingly effortless attention to my needs with a simple, understated  elegance and a dash of luxury. Compare that with the lacklustre presentation of the Interconti in Wellington. My personal highlight in the Interconti franchise is nevertheless the Sydney branch as the view from their rooftop bar is unmatched in the world.

Aaaanyway, enough about hotel reviews: while I was sitting pretty in my room, working away, around me the world literally took a left turn. I don’t know how many of you have ever experienced those 5 weird days between ‘Old wife’s thursday’ and ‘rose monday‘. It’s not easy to describe, but the easiest way would be: All shops and companies  are close apart from doner stands, public transport, cabs and bars. All social inhibitors are removed, as are the moral ones. Snogging and even shagging outside one’s emotional, social and class boundaries is positively encouraged, dancing and singing along excruciatingly bad music is obligatory and if you don’t wear at least a whiff of a silly costume you’re a societal outcast.

While this sound all pretty incoherent and positively orgiastic, the citizens of Cologne pretty much carry the burden with panache and style: there are few of the drunken and violent outbursts that are so characteristic of a weekend in England and the spirit is one of good-natured debauchery.

There are – of course – downsides. I don’t think I’ve had my bottom that often fondly fondled by variou  members of the public not beknown to me within two hours of standing in a bog-standard bar. Not that I particular mind having my bottom fondled, but I prefer the best girlfriend ever for that role and not a neverending collection of ladies (and gentlemen) in various stages of drunkenness.

This shows you the downside of carnival: If you’re not ready to embrace tipsyness, kissing strangers and costumes (and did I mention the music?), the whole shebang can be excruciating.

Or maybe I am just getting old.

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