James and the German Christmas

HAVE you ever heard of the Christkind?I hadn't either until I found myself in the German city of Nuremberg sampling a mug or four of gluhwein when a young lady in a golden crown pestered me for a photograph - or maybe it was the other way around.

James Marston

HAVE you ever heard of the Christkind?

I hadn't either until I found myself in the German city of Nuremberg sampling a mug or four of gluhwein when a young lady in a golden crown pestered me for a photograph - or maybe it was the other way around.

To be fair to her she's pretty famous over there and though she only flies at night she's loved by children as the harbinger of Christmas and she brings presents - similar to our Father Christmas but they have him as well so I'm not totally sure what she does.

Anyway I shared a carriage ride with her around the ancient city of Nuremberg during which children waved at her constantly and seemed not to notice me at all - of course if we'd been in the Felixstowe peninsula things would have been rather different.

Holding the post for two years in succession, I found out she has her own transport, meets lots of old people and children in the run up to Christmas, she's 17 and not a natural blonde and apparently she beat 200 other hopefuls to the much coveted position which requires open-mindedness, an ability to converse and represent Nuremberg.

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She also has to like Christmas and stand heights as she is required to open the city's famous Christmas market while standing on the balustrade of a rather high balcony and wearing a large gold lame outfit complete with crown - it must be the German version of The Krypton Factor.

After I'd sashayed around the market and bought a bit of gingerbread, three Nuremberg sausages - well they were only small - and a bauble, I found myself heading towards the suburbs and a date with Nuremberg's darker past.

The city was famous, of course, for hosting the infamous Nuremberg rallies held by the National Socialists in the run up to the Second World War.

And on a cold and damp Sunday afternoon I found myself following in the foot steps of Hitler - literally.

The swastikas might have gone and the Sieg Heils have been replaced with the distant hum of traffic but the site of the torchlit processions and scene of the collective demonstrations of Nazi fervour still exist and I even came across the Fuhrer's podium.

It was a strange thing to see and somewhat atmospheric as I found I was the only person in the vast and now decaying arena.

A total contrast to the hubbub and excitement of the markets this was a slightly sinister experience and a stark reminder of the past.

HAVE you ever heard the expression to hick off, or hick along?

It's a question that arose among my colleagues recently and we wondered if it was a Suffolk-ism.

Our deputy news editor Paul referred to “hicking along” in a recent column and just before the lunch hour the other day we had a good few minutes discussing what it meant and who had heard of it.

I'd heard of the expression to hick off as in “I hicked off” meaning to leave, but no one else had. As you can imagine it was a discussion that had no definite outcome.

Let me know if you've ever heard of it because we can't possibly go on not knowing these things.

WHAT tasty rusks.

As regular readers will know writer Peggy Cole very kindly sent me in a few to sample - well not just me, my colleagues tried them too.

Suffolk rusks, Peggy tells me, are a regional speciality and are as Suffolk as the Orwell Bridge, the A14 and tractors on roads.

So thanks Peggy and if anyone else wants to send anything in I'm partial to chocolate cake and never say no to blinis.

DO you send Christmas cards? I'm not keen on them to be honest - I worry about the environment and all the extra work for postmen but it is nice to get something through the post that isn't a bill once in a while.

I don't always send them but this year I have planned ahead enough and managed to get a few in the post in time.

Tempted though I was to write a round robin about me myself and I and my fantastic celebrity life and tell everyone about what it was like to star as the fat boy at the back in the Ipswich most Operatic and Dramatic Society, which society weddings I'd been to and how much I'd enjoyed relaxing in my small Felixstowe flat with sea views (distant) baking cheese scones, I resisted the urge.

As my plain-speaking photographer friend Lucy said to me: “You must stop talking about yourself, James. There are other subjects in the world.”

She might be plain speaking but I'm not sure she's always right.