I received some copies of Messias Maschine last week from the German publisher, Droemer.

I don’t speak German, and have never studied it, but if my mother is to be believed, there was once a time when I spoke as much German as I spoke English.  Both my parents worked when I was a small child (my mother was a GP) and they employed German au pairs to look after me, from whom I picked up German words and phrases.   My mother tells a story of me playing in my highchair, dropping something on the floor by mistake, and supposedly muttering, ‘Ach!  Gott!

When a certain au pair – her name was Anke – finished her time in England and returned to Germany, my mother tells me I watched her from the window as she departed, and cried.

‘Anke said “ich leibe dich”,’ I’m supposed to have wailed, ‘but now she’s gone away!’*

This touching tale, frequently retold by my mother, was, however, dismissed by Anke herself when I met her a few years ago.

‘You were only 18 months old,’ she said.  ‘You couldn’t possibly have constructed a sentence of that complexity.’

(* I love you)

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