I’ve been reading too much Joseph Roth and am making too big a deal of hotel living. (From Retrospect of Magdeburg – “I have seen this and that; I have tried to write about what stuck in my senses and my memory.”)
But when I compare the streets of Cologne a couple of days ago with the breakfast room this morning, I realise – not for the first time – how different the future Germany will be from the present one. People in Cologne – even allowing for the carnival hangover – were very diverse – increasingly so with youth – and not particularly prosperous-looking, even as they passed luxury-goods shops. Today’s breakfast room was full of stereotypical, gutbürgerliche, elderly white Germans (including leather trousers for Seniorinnen) on a coach trip. The Germans who have built the solid, well-maintained, orderly country I enjoy pedalling around in the summer. The waiting staff, in contrast, were about 50 years younger and far more diverse. However, given the professionalism with which they did their work, my cycling nirvana may be in safe hands for a few years yet.
I will be spending the next few days in the company of the British equivalent: solidly middle-class, elderly, prosperous and dedicated to their (our!) tea-and-coffee-making facilities.
The change in individual prosperity may turn out to be one of the greatest differences between the present and future.
But what do I know?