A few nights ago I attended a Christmas performance by the Albion Band in the New Vic theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and one of the songs they covered was “Silent Night”, the last part of which was sung in German.
That reminded me of the time when I attended German evening classes during my time at Allied Steel & Wire. This happened one evening a week in Allied Steel & Wire’s training centre in Castle Works, with occasional full day sessions in Abergavenny. During one of our evening sessions prior to Christmas we learnt how to sing “Silent Night” in the original German version, which somehow felt more authentic than the more familiar English version.
It was a good education because the evening classes emphasised the actual speaking in German, rather than the little exposure we had in secondary school, where the emphasis was more on grammar and syntax. After all, during my time in secondary school we only had one weekly lesson for two years, just enough to make me aware of the complexity of its grammar, but I was not comfortable speaking the language.
So when Allied Steel & Wire offered the opportunity of some in-house evening classes, I jumped at the opportunity to come to grips with conversational German. Even after all these years the pay-off is there, allowing me to get by on the small number of number of occasions we’ve been on holiday in Germany.
Unfortunately, the lessons stopped after two years – presumably the company was by this time starting to feel the pinch financially, and non-essential expenses (none of the participants had to contribute to the cost of the evening classes) were being cut back.
And although I was not aware of it at the time, it may have been a harbinger of things to come.