Monday, 10 August 2009

Bavaria is a county for old men

I'm on holiday in Bavaria in Southern Germany, staying in a small village to the north of Munich. While I'm here I'm going to turn over a few stones, ask a few questions, see if this is a place for old men.

Last night we went to the town of Pfaffenhoven. It was a special occasion, the one sunday evening a year when permission is given for stall holders selling ´bric a brac`, to set up business around the edge of the the town square. The cobble stoned square is ringed with large, gabled buildings with facades painted in pastel colours. Dominating all, the white Catholic church, complete with steeple and clock which indicated `VIII`.

I started by looking at the goods on the stalls. Finding nothing likely to appeal to me, I graduated to studying the people. They were far more interesting. There were thousands of them strolling around the square on this balmy, central European, summer´s evening. There were little kids with their parents and grandparents, teenagers, young couples and elderly couples.

What did I observe ?

Well, those ´getting on` a bit like me, were visible and integrated, not invisible and isolated. They were out and about enjoying themselves at night.
Now, I have to be careful not to read too much into this, it was, after all a special occasion. I asked my brother-in-law Christian, "Could and would old people come here to enjoy food and drink, in the open, on a normal summer´s evening ?" Without hesitation, he said "Yes."

What might explain this ? Well, this was in Bavaria in southern Germany, which is traditional and family-orientated, unlike the towns and cities of the Protestant, industrialised north. So I conclude that Bavaria, at least, is a county for old men.

I wasn`t in the City of Rochester in the County of Kent last night, but I´ll posit that if I had been, there would have been few, if any old people around, but a lot of loud, besotted youngsters in the bars and on the streets and a police presence. I have no doubt was the case in towns and cities across Britain.

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