Living With Huns IV: the Hunnish Character

The Hun is a strange creature indeed. The stray example abroad might prove to be amusing, if not quite charming. This charm, however, rarely extends to the invasive hordes seen in parts of Spain and Italy in August. Observed in their native habitat, Huns are some of the more confusing creatures on earth.
Let us start our discussion of the Hunnish character in the context of humour. The Hun has a reputation for being humourless – a reputation that most Huns are fully aware of. Please allow me to tell you of an instance when this was made clear to me. Last Sunday, through an act of mass spite by the Deutsche Bahn proletariat all trains for the hour were cancelled. Trying to bide my time, I returned to kiosk at Trier Hbf for a second cup of coffee. The attendant, slightly bored due to light traffic, was more than willing to stop and chat. Our discussion eventually touched on jokes. A female Hun, also desperate to stave off boredom, had joined our little conversation a few minutes before. Thinking of nothing better to do, I told them the joke about the world’s shortest book being The Complete Collection of German Jokes. The attendant, clearly of West African extraction, had a laugh. Surprisingly, the Hun laughed loudest and thanked me for telling her a joke to add to her collection. German humour, it seems, tends to be highly situational. Perhaps not the best joke tellers, Huns still find humour in daily situations and make sport of what they can.

Another most amusing aspect of the Hun is his, in in the case of the other half of the population, her, personal character. The Hun is, in general, straightforward. While arguably not the easiest lot to get on with, Huns are usually blunt and honest. The Hun rarely smiles, but a Hunnish smile is a sincere smile. A Hun laugh is a whole-hearted laugh. There is little mystery to what that smile or laugh means, or what is hidden beneath it. There isn’t. Or, to be more accurate, there rarely are ulterior motives. Moreover, a Hunnish invitation to have dinner is an honest and sincere invitation and a genuine attempt to show hospitality. Unlike similar invitations frequently issues in a particular island of some size north of France, there is genuine discomfort if the invitation is not accepted at some point.
A further example of the quirkiness of the Hunnish character can be found in the response to need or perceived vulnerability. Last week, while walking to fitness centre, a young, well-dressed woman ran up to me in a state of panic. She said that a woman was lying in a car park and was unresponsive. She did not wish to be alone and telephoned emergency services. It took a fair amount of effort on my part to convince her to leave at least 2 yards between her and the “woman”. Having lived in a major urban centre I am very familiar with the effects of drugs and alcohol on the common vagrant and generally can spot one with little effort. Within a few minutes an ambulance arrived. Both medics were, on sight, as cynical as me. Our mutual cynicism was not unwarranted as that unresponsive woman was a man who had drunk himself into a stupor. Being legally relieved of our obligation to remain, she with a look of disgust went to work and I, with a roll of the eyes and a knowing glance at the medics, went to work out.
A further example of Hunnish concern was displayed today. Having an unusually low body temperature and a sluggish heart-rate, my tolerance for cool weather is unusually high. As it is late October, temperatures have declined into the ‘teens. This does not stop me from walking about with wet hair. The attendant at fitness centre was concerned about my health, asking if I would be able to avoid illness. I simply laughed and told him that I had spent the past two winters in a place where the average temperatures at night can fall to -40 for weeks. This was warm for me.
In short, the Hun is a complicated but surprisingly humane creature. Despite a certain difficulty that takes some effort to grow accustomed to, the Hun is surprisingly warm if given a chance.

Author: Christopher-Dorset

A Bloody Kangaroo

14 thoughts on “Living With Huns IV: the Hunnish Character”

  1. Mornin’ all. Christopher will know that I had a German colleague who used to phone me from the Vaterland starting always with, “Germany calling, Germany calling”, knowing full well whence (grammar for Bearsy) the phrase originated. He would also confirm a visit to Blighty in a deliberately dog-German accent – he is bilingual and speaks English with barely a trace of accent, “I vill be arrivink on zer Luftwaffe flight to Manchester tomorrow mornink.”

    Other Kollegen were equally light hearted and amusing. There again, there was one we referred to as “Herr Flick” from the ‘Allo ‘Allo programmes because he had no sense of humour whatsoever yet was comical without realising it.


  2. On the sense of humour thing, I was once part of a crew demonstrating the Chieftain tank to a party of visiting officers from the Staff College. There were NATO as well as British officers in the party, one of them a Hun. He was quite an affable bloke, gave us all a cigarette as we stood around chatting after the official presentation, and, when one of the crew asked him if it was his first visit to the UK answered, ‘Yes, it is – I was supposed to come in 1940, but it was cancelled.’ Cracked us up 😀

  3. Hee hee, Bravo. In the mid-seventies I took an elderly German trader to visit a factory in Poplar, East London. “Have you been here before?”, I innocently enquired. “Nein”, he replied, “Niot really. The last time I saw it was through the crosshairs of a Heinkel.” Back in the day, it was not beyond the realms of possibility.


  4. PS. Don’t forget my next batch of grandchildren are going to be mainly Hunnish – plus a quarter English and a quarter Cypriot 🙂

  5. I never found the Germans to be lacking in humour. If you want a pack of miserable manic depressives try the Scandinavians! Spousal unit is half Swedish, one quarter German and one quarter Yorkshire. Oh God, when he is on ‘one’!!! Even the dogs get depressed! I piss off up the greenhouse or get busy at the community garden!

  6. Having just read the DT article about milk being dangerous for your health, I realised as many others do not seem to have done that the Swedes add vitamin A to their milk. That’s the stuff in polar bear liver that killed off quite a few Arctic explorers. No wonder the Swedes are “miserable manic depressives”, Christina. They’re all being slowly poisoned.

  7. CO: the Scandinavians I’ve known have all had brilliant senses of humour. There is a dark side, but they are a lot of fun. Danes, especially, have a wicked wit. As for Germans, I met some Bavarians yesterday. Friendly, fiery, engaging and with a quick wit unseen in the rest of Hunland. It made my day.

  8. Spent a fair amount of time in Bavaria on business in the ’80s, quite a different country so to speak. Far more relaxed and informal than the North.

  9. CO: Bavaria is almost a different country. People here know when someone is Bavarian. They speak with a notable accent, are far more expressive than most Germans, are far friendlier than most Germans and have the easiest sense of humour. I quite like them, really. They are refreshing after dealing with the grumpy, dour Trierers.

  10. The other day I was dealing with our energy supplier changeover. The customer service person ‘Stephanie’ was amazingly patient and helpful whilst I fumbled around opening power cabinets (had to find the key first), read meters and unearthed past power bills.
    I detected a slight German accent and asked her if she was in fact German. ‘Yes’ she said ‘from Bavaria, we are different to other German people.

  11. Jazz: as a joke, I often ask Bavarians in other parts of Germany if this was their first visit to Germany and how things are going in the Kingdom of Bavaria. Without fail, they begin laughing. Although, to be fair, a Trierer managed to make a small group laugh today. An older woman had purchased a week’s worth of food and was trying to find her credit card to pay. Failing to, she found a 100-euro-note and paid with that. The cashier laughed and said “thank goodness, otherwise you would have had to sing for your food. Only filthy songs, though”:

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