Keeping Up with the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters by Philip Oltermann - review by Miranda Seymour

Miranda Seymour

Stuck in the Mittel

Keeping Up with the Germans: A History of Anglo-German Encounters

By

Faber & Faber 268pp £12.99 order from our bookshop
 

In a book that presents a range of improbable juxtapositions between two nations and two cultures, brightly narrated and pulled together by Philip Oltermann – a youngish German who can’t quite decide whether he’s an Anglophobe (the food) or an Anglophile (the jokes, the tolerance, and weirdly, the warm beer) – one item shines out. That particular treat is a gift to the reader, and one for which Oltermann deserves the gratitude of anyone who relishes end-of-the-pier-style comedy at its finest.

Every year on New Year’s Eve, German families gather around their blessed box for the near-religious ritual joy of watching a black-and-white 18-minute comedy sketch from England. Dinner for One presents, in one single flawless take, the ninetieth birthday of a frisky old lady and the four admirers whom she

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