Neither a Borrower nor a Lender be

Two things occurred this past week which reminded me of this classic rule to live your life by.  The one that happened to me was the much lesser of the two, but proves the point rather well.

You may remember that in a prior post I described building a free website, then hosting and maintaining it, also for free, for 12 years.  It really helped his business and with the Google analytics, I could actually see that I was cleaning up on almost 100% of the google searches for the 2 keywords, Hobro and Taxi.  Not a bad result at all when a Danish business, supposedly experts in their field, offered the same service for 10,000 kr.

I had always had a lot of respect for this man.  His rare desire to actually work and earn his way, helping others along the way was impressive.  Even if it often seemed to cause him more grief than good through fines from the ubiquitous Skat and the fellow taxi drivers in the local co-operative, who had worked out he was the most dynamic and accordingly, treated him like Boxer from Animal farm.  It’s a most interesting footnote to this part of the story that when even he finally realised he was being treated like Boxer from Animal farm, he withdrew from this co-operative.  Rather than show gratitude for the years he’d helped them, they pursued legal means to grab the domain hobrotaxa.dk that I had bought him as a christmas present and created my first free website for him, back in 2007.  Yes, even during my darkest days here, I still tried to help others out.  This is what you get in return, the lessons are ultimately there that everyone is in it for themselves, even those you may consider to be friends and colleagues.

No matter, I was sure that he was more of an ally than others were.  I never learnt to trust the serial welfare-abusing sister, or the chain-smoking mother whose indisciplined lifestyle always seemed to affect my children adversely when they stayed over.  Is ensuring your children clean their teeth and go to bed before midnight really too much to ask?  Apparently so, in this case.  I was willing to overlook the indiscretions from the stories I was told of his past.  He was one of the few people I didn’t begrudge helping out a bit here, as it seemed to be reciprocated.  I dusted myself down in 2012 and built him a new website, for his new taxi company and tried not to be too upset at the donation of my Chesterfield wing armchair with matching footstool to him, by someone else who was adept at giving away my life stock.  He still uses it now, I imagine.

In 2016, that changed.  He completely took sides and the side he took was completely against me.  In this case, you can’t even really say the other adage, that Blood is thicker than water, since in reality he’s no blood relation of my children or their mother.  Yet, he has become part of the machinery that now considers itself to be the perfect care package for my children.  Of course, you have to ignore that rug on the floor over there, you know, the one with the huge lump under it, where decades of similar, perhaps even worse transgressions have been swept under.  If you can just remove that from the field of vision, then it all looks idyllic.

The weirdness in question is, that despite all the siding against me, just a week ago I received an email telling me that he was winding the business down now to just be one car and could I perhaps just, you know, delete his website so he doesn’t get any more calls.  I couldn’t believe it.  Analysing it a week later, it fits though, to many Danes the udlændige are just sub-human commodities to be utilised as they see fit.

I’m pleased to say that I didn’t do it.  Instead I changed settings so it forwarded to familiehus.dk, where you can read the story of how some awful people conspired to use the power of their state to cut a man, his parents and sisters out of his children’s lives.  His response?

Enjoy the life you make

By that token, Perhaps an old man whose son didn’t speak to him for over 20 years, with several marital indiscretions and who now plays the #FakeGrandad role may too have a life as he made it.

One week later, I see the website no longer redirects.  He, or someone else, worked out the required change needed to be done by the domain owner, to change the nameservers.  Not me then.  I can be glad I didn’t contribute any more.   The key lesson is that borrowing and lending isn’t just about money, it’s also time, resources, Chesterfield armchairs and even children.  The less you borrow and lend, the more you rely on your own resources, the less obligations you have to others, the better life is.

Somewhere only I (Seem to) Know

The last post reminded me it’d been a long time since I’d wandered up to one of my favourite secret places around here, the German war graves from WW2.  The fact that it’s taken me over 2 weeks to write this isn’t due to some laziness, but rather that yesterday was the first rain-free lunchtime in all that time.  So, up the hill, through the woods and between the gap in the fence for about 15 minutes brought me this sight and the opportunity to document it for posterity.

There’s something about this place that’s both peaceful and sad.  It’s not a war grave of the sort you’d imagine at all, which surprised me greatly when I first found it, as instead of name, rank and unit, the headstones mostly show civilians.   Civilians who lost everything, including their lives and now lie buried on a foreign field.  These are all refugees, ones forced to flee their homeland, but who didn’t get looked after the way the UN Geneva convention on refugees insists they should do nowadays.  No matter how bad your life might feel sometimes, a read of the names and dates of a few randomly-selected headstones and you’ll realise how lucky you are.  There’s a story to imagine behind every one – the pensioners who’d probably lived in East Prussia their whole lives and for whom this was their first, last and only overseas trip ever.  The fear-filled children, spurred on by parents to make those extra steps through snow and ice, to the waiting boats at places like Pillau.  The soldiers, probably wounded, packaged off away from the shrinking front line as the net tightened.

Of course, making it onto a boat was no guarantee of safety.  You’d only jumped through hoop 1.  Whenever anyone thinks of a major maritime disaster, Titanic (or Olympic, depending what story you believe) in 1912, with those 1,000-odd deaths palls into insignificance with losses like those aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff, where the likely death toll was 9,000.  The three biggest maritime disasters all occurred in early 1945, in the Baltic sea, yet no-one ever talks about it.  They were all only Nazis anyway, right?  Even the OAPs, children and babies…weren’t they?

Then, assuming you did evade the Russian torpedos, safety in Denmark was not a sure thing, as every grave in this field attests to.  Remember also that each of those stones is marking up to 4-5 names per side, so in total that’s…a lot of deaths.  As Stalin himself supposedly said;

One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic

There are at least 5 more of these graveyards scattered around Denmark, where huge refugee camps built up in that 1945 escape from hell.  Squalid conditions where the residents were detested by the locals and whom, it was decided at national level, should get no access to medicine and very little food.   Interestingly, one of Denmark’s 10 biggest towns in 1946 was not a town, but a German refugee camp in a field with a population of 50,000.  I’ve visited one other graveyard like this and it tells a similar tale.  The other thing is that these camps didn’t even truly empty until 1947, when the remnants were shipped off to Germany.  A new Germany with a border down the Oder-Neisse and Silesia, Pomerania and East Prussia lost, perhaps forever.  Their former homes no longer existing, now part of Poland or Russia.

As a child, I loved old maps.  One of my hobbies was to compare the map of today against the map of yesteryear.  One of my favourites is the 1914 map of continental Europe, with just 2 nations, Germany and Austria-Hungary (OK, 2.5, or 3 then) dominating the whole centre of Europe.  As a naive 10-year-old, I wondered why did the residents of the city of Konigsberg suddenly decide they wanted to become Russian and rename the city to Kaliningrad?  As a I grew older, I realised that something horrible had occurred in that part of the world, where huge cities like Konigsberg, Danzig and Breslau lost millions of Germans and in turn, millions of Poles were forcibly evicted from their former homes in places like Lvov and Wilno and moved in to replace them.  What child could imagine the real horror behind all that?  Growing into adulthood, I’ve spent some of my holidays investigating the reality on the ground.  Culminating in 2018 with a trip to the part of East Prussia now belonging to Russia, the trip to the world cup was just an incidental compared to what I really wanted to see.   Konigsberg may have lost its castle and a large percentage of the pre-war german buildings, but the 1930s bauhaus railway station survives and it’s possible to catch a direct train to Moscow from there, but no longer a direct train to Berlin.  The city also has some undamaged residential areas that have you imagining you are wandering around 1920s or 1930s Berlin.  Got to wonder what’s buried under there though – perhaps even the Amber room itself?  I also visited Pillau, the place where those Germans had their own Dunkirk and the place where many of those refugees buried in Aalborg may well have embarked on their fateful journey.  Hundreds of thousands of them desperately trying to escape the Russian advance, clamouring to board ships full to overloading.   Wandering around Baltiysk, as the new residents call it, on a warm summer day, with hardly anyone present, we explored old German bunkers, ate dinner in a restaurant and gazed out upon the Baltic sea, trying to imagine what the deserted beaches and quiet harbour would look like packed with desperate people – not a bad feat considering it’s normally closed off to foreigners as Russia’s baltic fleet base.  The whole area drew us in so much, with the amber, history and German ghost signs that we decided to visit again later in the year, this time to the ex-German town of Insterburg now known as Chernyakovsk.  The hotel we stayed at was an old German one, where even the furniture was 1920s or 30s vintage Germanic dark wood and on the wall were some photos of something called “The Insterburg choir”, a dwindling group of Germans that apparently came to visit their former homeland yearly and always stayed in this very hotel.  It was nice to see some had survived.

Enough of the history trip.  I think that writing this has helped me realise why this little German enclave in Aalborg appeals to me so much.  Especially if you’ve read any of my other posts on life in Denmark.  The world hasn’t moved on, the world war 2 I was taught about as a child was really clear on who the goodies and baddies were, pretty much the same as people are taught today where if you follow the groupthink, you’re good, and if you don’t you’re bad.  Think about it – if you go to Syria to fight, you’re either a freedom fighter or a Jihadi, depending on the side you’re taking.  The only thing missing is the truth.  As I got older, I realised there was so much more to it all, like how John F. Kennedy’s rich banking father and Wall Street generally helped to bankroll the Third Reich into existence and kept that whole awful war going for so long.

The underlying message is, no-one is truly bad, just as no-one is truly good.  For example, children can be conditioned to believe one parent is 100% bad and the other parent is 100% good, but it isn’t the truth.  It’s just propaganda you’re subjecting them to, just as propaganda was used to manipulate minds then and just as it is now.

The other interesting thing about this place is that if I mention it to anyone at work, no-one either knows it exists or, if they do, they’ve never actually been to see it.  It really is Somewhere only I (seem to) know.

A lunchtime walk

I went for a walk at lunchtime.  I used to take long walks, but now I’ve think I’ve seen almost everything there is to see around here – the available supermarkets, the house that isn’t really a house at all, but was built as a nuclear bomb-proof bunker and the ww2 German graveyard which is full of the bodies of pensioners and young children, who probably fled East Prussia in 1945.  It’s a little-known dirty secret here that Denmark wasn’t always so generous to those claiming to be refugees, even when their plight was clearly serious and genuine.  In their case, coming here was fatal.  It’s a trait of mine – wherever I work, I end up covering all ground within walking distance and becoming quite knowledgeable on the history of it.  Anyone need a tour of Preston Park, Brighton, or Whitechapel and Jack the Ripper, or maybe even notable houses of Bradley Stoke, Bristol?!  That one won’t take long at all.

I say seen almost everything, as today I saw something new.  Something that left me with a sense of shame that my own principles were once so eroded.  So what did I see, you may wonder…?

I walked past a nearby børnehave (nursery) en route to Netto and saw a child, aged about 3, face pressed up against a wire fence, their hands gripping the wire tightly and calling unanswered cries of “Mor…….” (mother) into the distance.  Other children played behind them, while a couple of members of staff stood idly by with the crowd and seemed to not notice the cries of this small child, standing alone in their winter gear.  Too late, I muttered internally into my head.  You’re in the instutions now and it doesn’t end – after this one, there’s school, then college, then university, then job.  I felt their pain, for a few minutes at least and remembered the horror of my own first day at school, back in 1975.

I’m sure of course, that even if one of the staff had heard those cries, they would’ve just dragged the child back into the crowd.  It most probably isn’t a rare occurence and the 4-year training they get probably includes a whole term of classes devoted to placating the sobbing of children missing their parents.  I jest not, here you need a 4-year course just for the right to be qualified enough to work in a nursery.  No doubt, such a story of an upset child would not have made it back to the parents and anyway, even if it had, would they care?  The conditioning to get people believing that these institutions can provide a better place for children to develop than parents and grandparents can themselves has been 100% successful here and is gradually approaching a similar success rate in the UK, even though it’s taking a bit longer there.  Actually, I have a lot of respect for the middle-eastern families in both the UK and Denmark that are very resistant to this kind of systemic family destruction.  So much so that this country is passing laws to stop or reduce benefits for parents who don’t dump their kids off in the local state-sponsored brainwashing institution daily.  They get away with it by dressing it up as integration, but dis-integration is probably a more accurate term –  of the traditional family, anyway.

It should certainly make any parent think.  Why is that fence even there?  Is it to protect, or to keep parents out and the kids in?  To a young child, it certain represents an unconquerable boundary between themselves and the parents they probably hold so important to their young lives.

I once read about a psychological experiment done on a group of monkeys in a cage.  The tallest tree gave an electric shock to any monkey bold enough to try and climb to the top.  After a while, all the monkeys had learnt not to bother trying to climb the tree.  The most interesting part was that when monkeys were gradually replaced with fresh monkeys, the implanted behaviour of never climbing the tree somehow still remained amongst the society that had developed.  Furthermore, the testers removed the electric shock punishment from the tree, so the monkeys could climb out any time they liked.  Just that, well, none of them ever tried any more.  It’s a most interesting lesson in the behaviours of a society being something developed by it itself, not necessarily the right behaviours even, but the groupthink being the most acceptable way.  Somehow, it reminds me of that child – one day the fence will be removed and they could go see mother any time they like, but in their mind the psychological fence will still exist and the bond with their parent will be gone or weakened beyond repair.  Too late.

It should be clear by now why I felt guilty and angry.  It’s because I too got conned.  Someone I trusted and once believed was a good mother tricked me into moving here on the basis my children would avoid this horror as long as possible (school is enforceable on threat of prison, remember), then once here proceeded to get the kids signed up for it all.  I was under a lot of pressure then and succumbed to it happening.  Sorry kids – I now wonder how many days you stood at a fence like that and shouted for your parents to come and rescue you, then take you back to the familiar comfort and safety of home.  I’ve since realised the person in question is worse than that, a malicious and evil mother (perhaps some might think), who has decided that the children don’t need a father, except for financial purposes.  Someone who has used every state-sponsored trick in the book to create a chasmic wound that can probably never be healed.  It shouldn’t be a surprise as their own conditioning is that a Dad is surplus to requirements, especially one with an “alternative” viewpoint on the perfectness of these systems she was brought up with and loves.  Better to be one of those monkeys than a square peg in a round hole.  He had a lot to give, he still does, but as long as the financial credits appear in the account on cue and you believe these systems do a better job of bringing up children than their own Mam or Dad could do, what’s the point in him being here?  Come to think of it, with all these state institutions, the mother will be just as superfluous some day – especially if she believes from the start they do a better job than she does.