Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Frankfurt Christmas Market, Birmingham

Good grief, you’re a testing lot. Do you know how difficult it is, wading through your annual cheery guff about how it’s DEFINITELY Christmas now (despite it being the first two weeks of November)? “OMGGG Coke advert just been on telly!!! U know its Christmas now!!! #holidaysarecoming”; “Starbucks red cups! Feeling well Christmassy :D”; “Just heard Fairytale of New York playin in Tesco Express whilst getting a Rustlers burger. CRIMBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Calm down loves, you’ll burst a blood vessel. Join the relaxed side of things – you won’t catch me losing control of my Central Nervous System over a bit of tinsel.

*drawn-out silence*... *sound of clock ticking in background*... *close-up of bead of sweat forming on my forehead*... *tension becomes too much*

ZOMGGG THE FRANKFURT CHRISTMAS MARKET IS OPEN IN BIRMINGHAM!!! And I need to talk about it positively and quickly before it has had chance to destroy my capacity for joy, which it does every year. It opened Thursday 15th November, and I’m writing this on Friday 16th November. This is how tight the window is for me to be able to be positive, as by tomorrow (Saturday, the busiest town day of the week) I will want only to raze it to the ground.

On the face of it, there is a lot to be said for this festive market. It combines fatty foods with alcohol which you’re allowed to drink in the streets, for Christ’s sake. It’s like Glasgow, except the people here still have hope. And there are lights! I KNOW – LIGHTS!! Whatever next?! The wheel?! But it does all add to the generally whimsical nature of it, even when you’ve been kettled outside Tesco on New Street because of the sheer crowds and are pushed face-first into an overpriced cowhide – but hey, that’s what Christmas is all about.

Here's me eating a Frankfurter shortly before dropping half the cheese on the floor. Stay cool.
Well actually, we all know that Christmas is about kitsch, and my word does the Frankfurt Market do kitsch. For just the low low price of one of your kidneys, you could own this GLOWING STONE! Or alternatively, why don’t you empty your life savings and sign this contract stating that we own your soul in return for this small wooden elephant figurine where, if you blow in its ass, it makes a vaguely elephant-ish noise?! (These exist. I have seen them, and I can’t un-see them.) Basically, it’s all a bit like a car-boot sale for the middle class.

Here's Santa giving me his "come to bed" pose.
So, helpfully, I have highlighted the only things that you need to know about what to buy from here. Naturally, it’s mostly food with wine thrown in, as what’s the point in eating if you haven’t got wine alongside? As we all know, the staple food of ALL Germans is frankfurters (I mean, think back – when was the last time YOU saw a German who wasn’t holding an unsettlingly large sausage in a bun at the time?) and wherever you walk, you can’t escape the smell of “brine”. Aside from this, there are copious amounts of other heart-stoppingly gluttonous delights that would have Gloria Hunniford frothing at the mouth over your cholesterol levels, such as DEEP FRIED CHEESE and marshmallows dipped in Belgian chocolate. What’s more – not only will your cholesterol levels shoot up, so will your blood pressure when you’re then presented with the cost. No wonder Germany is sitting pretty with the dollah, charging £9 for a double helping of a glazed ham roll (glorified bacon sandwich).

Here's my mother & I eating a traditional German Chicken Tikka wrap.

As difficult as it is for me though, I shouldn’t moan. They don’t *have* to do it to try to make our lives a tiny bit better momentarily. As much as this does sound like a scene from a British rom-com, (where I’d turn to the guy (with ruddy cheeks and a slightly red nose from the cold) that I have been having difficulties with, and we mutually smile, knowing that in this moment of watching a German dressed as Santa singing ‘Jingle Bells’ in Deutsch beside a Christmas tree that now everything is going to be ok) - surely there’s *something* just downright good about groups of people with flagons of beer and comfort food, wrapped up and under the glow of Christmas lights? Yeah, I reckon so.

- Charlie
(Ok I’ve been around it twice more now and it was packed and full of dithering people and children and I absolutely hate it. It needs to go. Now. Christmas can go and bollocks. *hires bulldozer*)

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