Much to my chagrin, Germany has become somewhat cool. Oh sure, Berlin has long been the Coolest City in the World, beloved and inhabited by the truly Cool. And hipsters. That’s fine. It’s Berlin, every country needs its Cool Capital, and Berlin, in some ways, is as much Germany as London is the UK and New York, the USA.
But Germany, as a country, is enjoying a real renaissance in school-yard popularity with plenty of European countries looking on either enviously or lustfully – or with a combination of both. Particularly, it must be said, the UK, which is running editorial after editorial about what Germany does right; things like their economy, recycling, football (didn’t the Daily Mail just breathe a long sigh of relief when it saw it had more Nazi/Hitler fodder in reserve, to publish in the lead up to the match!). After a period of grumbling and finger pointing and unflattering shots of Merkel (and indeed unfavourable comparisons) the Brits seem to have done an about face on their long-time frenemy/rival/comedic punching bag and now can’t get enough of them. Just last week a BBC poll ranked Germany as the most ‘popular country (out of 16). Germany. Popular. Late last year, The Guardian UK ran a column series The Accidental Empire, where in among the more serious scribblings on what is happening in the land of BMW and wurst, it lavishes praise on compound words (been there, done that Guardian).
I am not, I must confess, entirely comfortable with Germany’s cool status. I feel irrationally protective and indeed irritated that a large part of the rest of the world has now cottoned onto my Germs. Dare I say, I chose Germany (more specifically a medium-sized city within it) over, say, London, for my Big Move, because it wasn’t cool and I was being cool, by virtue of shunning London et al. Good thing Weiden is a) practically the Czech Republic b) will never be noticed by cool-hunters. It remains odd/anonymous/in the middle of nowhere enough to keep me in my own cool cred.
In other news, Australia has been revealed as the happiest country for the third year running (bumping out Sweden!). I am torn between being cool and being happy.
What I Know About Germans (constantly updated)
Image credit: Sergio Bandeira