Henning Wehn: 'Allo 'allo, where are the stereotypes?

Who Said The Germans Weren't Funny?

Then again, there aren't any now, either. Unlike at previous tournaments, all quarter-finalists bar Ukraine are European or South American heavyweights with an impressive track record of footballing success. Thank God for that.

I'm sure we all enjoyed Trinidad & Tobago earning a draw against Sweden, Senegal beating France at World Cup 2002 or Northern Ireland winning 1-0 against England last September. But the minnows must not outstay their welcome. Nobody wants to have random countries such as South Korea or Turkey in the semi-finals ever again.

I therefore ask Ukraine to see the bigger picture and leave next Tuesday's semi-final to the two great European football nations - Italy and Germany. I know for a fact that the Argentines have a plane to Buenos Aires waiting to take off immediately after their quarter-final defeat against Germany.

Without trying to pander to you Britische I must admit that I was very pleased to see the back of the Australian team. Those annoyingly positive Antipodeans are hard to like even for a neutral. Having a Dutch manager didn't endear them to me, either.

The World Cup is my first extended trip back to Germany since moving to the UK. I must admit that I am surprised about the good-natured, humorous, friendly character of my countrymen.

Having lived in the UK for the past four years, I am so used to the British stereotypes about Germans that I had expected to find the locals wearing lederhosen, goose-stepping up and down the Hauptstrasse, eating huge amounts of bratwurst and singing David Hasselhoff's latest songs. This is ludicrous, of course: we prefer the Hoff's old material.

So it took me a few days to rediscover Germany as a country blessed with natural beauty and populated by pleasant people; not the grotesque version of popular British folklore. This message seems to hit home with the travelling England contingent. All the supporters I spoke to were impressed by German hospitality. Not that it's too difficult to provide better service, food and transport than what they get at home.

But old habits die hard, and I'm sure that once British telly and the tabloids realise you might be about to drop the German stereotypes they'll bombard Britain with ever more reruns of 'Allo 'Allo! and Dad's Army and war movies full of fake Germans shouting "Jawohl, Herr General". Let's hope so, or I might have to write a new stand-up routine.

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