Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Toasters and Showers.

I know what you are thinking: "what can she possibly have to say about toasters and showers? Mere electrical appliances surely aren't worthy of any kind of attention, they are the same the world over!" Halt. Let me just stop you right there. They most definitely aren't the same the world over. Oh no. Toaster and shower situations (not both at the same time) have induced great trauma to me at times (not of the electrical shock kind…that's reserved for German electrical fences…but that's a whole other story).

Let's start with the shower sadness. Yes, sadness. Mixed with confusion. As a British lass I am used to a shower (when placed over a bath) to be attached to the back wall – i.e. facing the length of the bath. To me this makes absolute perfect sense for many reasons:

1. The water doesn't go everywhere
2. I have room to stretch my arm out as I sing into my loofah microphone
3. The water doesn't go everywhere
4. I have plenty of room to dance around whilst listening to NRJ on my shower radio
5. The water DEFINITELY doesn't go everywhere
6. The shower/bath screen doesn't get soaking wet – which means a lot less cleaning effort
7. If someone accidentally bursts in to my apartment for emergency water repairs whilst I am in said shower, they won't get a full frontal view at first sight.
8. Oh, and of course, the water DOES NOT go everywhere and my bathroom isn't turned into a lake that could rival the Olympic diving pool.

The Germans are usually such logical creatures, but when it comes to attaching bathroom apparatus they fail miserably. Maybe all the bathroom fitters are on cannabis? *Takes a puff* "Hee hee hee! Hans, here's a great plan, let's put the shower on the wrong wall and let the whole place get wet every time they shower! Hee hee hee! I'm so funny and clever and great at practical jokes! Hee hee hee! Hey Hans, is that a water fairy over there?" *takes another puff*. That's the only way I can explain why they decide to attach the shower on the long sidewall - facing the bath screen. Why oh why oh why? It makes absolutely no sense.

At an open apartment viewing (a whole other experience to go into) I was walking around a beautiful new build place with all the mod cons, then I stepped into the bathroom and saw the shower and my heart sank. Not even modern builds are adopting modern bathroom sense? I heard a slight sigh next to me and turned round. It was a guy looking as disappointed as I felt. 'English?", I said. "How did you know?", he said. "Your look of utter disappointment at the bathroom shower". At which point he too, launched into a huge rant about it. It really does disturb us British – it makes us feel like the whole German world has gone mad with this decision. Whatever next?

Well…it get's worse. The appliance hell doesn't end there. Toasters. In England toasters are a beloved, if not sacred, object. Tea and toast. Tea and crumpets (if you don't know what these are, you are missing out). Tea and pancakes. Tea and toasted teacakes. Ok, I know it's a lot of tea drinking, but you get my point. The toaster is part of our daily tea drinking and toast loving British lives. To the Germans, toasters are entirely disposable.

So far, in all the houses and apartments I have been in Germany, there has barely ever been a toaster in sight. If there has been, it has been covered, dusty, under a pile of newspapers and empty bakery bags (no joke). It's traumatic. The Germans just don't do toast. They don't understand the concept. They are all about the Vollkorn bread and the Breze, but toast? Oh no, thank you. To the British, toast and bread are almost like two entirely separate entities. German's definitely don't differentiate the two. I once asked for toast and a German said "What? You mean toast bread?". Erm what? Toast bread? I mean, yes I understand what they are getting at, toast is essentially toasted bread. But still, the name repulsed every British bone in my body. I wanted to scream : " No! I want bloody TOAST! Not TOAST BREAD! And if you are going to insist on referring to its toasted state, then say TOASTED BREAD!". *breathe*. The thing is though, it's not just that, they class "Toast bread" as a totally separate sort of bread. Bread as we British know it, the sandwich style with crusts on by good ol' Hovis or Warburtons, just doesn't exist here. When you do find it, it's called "American sandwich bread". I'm not sure which term enrages me more, "toast bread" or "American sandwich bread". I feel like setting up my own brand of "toast bread" and calling it "bread loaf", just to prove a point. There's an idea. There's also confusion over what constitutes a toaster. Germans seem to think that you can make breakfast toast with a sandwich toaster. This is sacrilege. Of course you can't. A sandwich toaster is there to be used for cheese and ham toasties ONLY. It's a delicate art to understand, obviously.

The holy grail of appliance differences has also been discovered though. It's not all doom and gloom…oh no. Everyone, kneel down and praise the glory of: the mixer tap. Every apartment, no matter how big or small, old or new, has mixer taps as standard. Long gone are the days of standing in a British bathroom desperately trying to reach optimum temperature by splashing some of the ice cold freezing water from one tap into you cupped hands and then adding a smidge of boiling hot water from the other one – and then spashing it onto your face and realising that despite your efforts you added too much cold water and just froze your face off. No, no, the German's are having none of that palaver. Good ol' mixing taps – a true wonder of the modern world. I bet the Germans feel like they have gone back into the dark ages when they cross the channel and are faced by two taps at the sink. No doubt the German husband calls to his wife: "Steffi, vvvvhy are there two taps? Vot do I do vith the second one?" No doubt the mysterious tap system perplexes them for the duration of their visit.

The question is though, are the mixer taps worth the trade off for toasters and well-positioned shower heads? Never. Long live toasters, crumpets and the Queen.