It should be emphasised that the bad economic news in Germany - that real growth this year will only just scrape over 1 per cent - would be received in Britain as an excuse for breaking open the champagne. The good times, however, are most certainly over; firms are cutting back. If you are lucky enough to find a job, then there are a few basic rules to follow. First, address everyone, especially those you work closest with, with painful formality. Secondly, brand into your mind that only the existence of rules and regulations for every aspect of human existence prevents an instant collapse into chaos and barbarism. If you cannot find a rule, do not move. Never improvise.
One should not worry about trying to buy a house, for most Germans still rent. A des res of 150 sq m - they do not count bedrooms here but square metres - can be had for between DM2,000 (pounds 835) and DM2,500 (pounds 1,000) a month. In the old days - that is, two months ago - it would have been a good idea to buy a car in Germany. The same Rover Metro 100 was, for example, over pounds 1,000 cheaper in Germany than England. But that was before the pound went potholing.
Germans are a hospitable lot as long as you play by the rules and studiously avoid the use of irony in speech. Beware of the fact that shops close just when you need them most, as well as the tradition of newspapers printing, at great length, yesterday's news tomorrow.
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