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)