Friday, 2 February 2007

The bells, the bells...

I have never lived in a city until now. Previously, I'd have expected that city living would involve a lot of traffic noise, but I am very surprised that what I mostly hear is bell ringing from the local church.

The bells begin at 7.30 am and they carry on at regular intervals until 10pm. I enjoy the daytime bells. If I don't look out of the window at all the high rise offices I can easily imagine myself in an Alpine village, perhaps running to meet Heidi and Peter the goat herd... But tell you something: I wouldn't want to be a shift worker around here!

What is surprising is that the bell ringing seems to conflict with a key German social rule: do not make any excess noise which might offend your neighbours. For a start there is the daily period of 'ruhezeit' or 'quiet time' between 1pm and 3pm which must be observed. And woe betide anyone who makes a disturbance between 9pm and 7am...Or any of Sunday for that matter. Germany is pretty much shut on Sundays. You'd be a fool to go to the shops on a Sunday as they won't be open. But nor can you stay in and do DIY because that is classed as too noisy. So that's two favourite British Sunday pastimes out then. (Note: This is a fabulous get out for those who never really felt comfortable around power tools.)

Ruhezeit is taken extremely seriously. The hours of expected quiet are written into our rental contract - so we are legally bound to keep the peace at those times. Then there was an incident recently when an anonymous tenant from our block created a lovely sign for the communal area complaining of the excessive amount of drilling that had been going on and could everyone keep drilling to week days only?

And yet, once again, there is conflict as Cologne is a place where you can drink all night - and people take their drinking very seriously.

Perhaps it's the case that people here have mastered the art of coming home late and tipsy, all without giggling excessively, singing karaoke anthems, or fumbling with the door key...

1 comment:

Rhod and Anna said...

I would be gutted if I couldn't do a spot of DIY on a Sunday! Anna x