Have you ever stood in front of a person, speechless of how bold, rude and insulting, yet hilariously funny they are? Welcome to fucking Ireland, ye manky shitehawks! Because this is exactly what the next months would consist of. Never again will I be able to have a normal conversation in English without “taking the piss” out of “your man” or “your one” or accidentally turn fully offensive. First you have the common banter – That´s basically just a back and forth between 2 or more people, cracking jokes about situations, each other or other people. Then you add some funny racism about stereotypes to that, cheekiness, boldness and voila – There you have a typical Irish conversation. Not many things are off limits. As a German the obvious choice was clear: Loads of jokes about the war, Hitler, the SS and such were sent my way. Really offensive jokes. Or so I thought at first. For the first 3 or 4 months I had no idea what was going on. Any stuff like this, the offensive jokes, making fun of the world wars, joking about Hitler and so on is an absolute no-go in Germany. I got very upset with people and even unfriended one of them on Facebook (Hey, Antho!) but we´re best buddies now – However, one thing I did not quite understand back then: You have to fight back unless you want to be free prey. They´ll hunt you down, so you better step up your banter game and what better way than hanging out with the lads and listen to them do it? The same goes for the British I may add, especially the English.
The first day in work was a classic example. I sit in the classroom where we received training and there we were asked to introduce ourselves. I was in the country for 4 days at this point and had not really come into contact with any Irish or English people outside of the hotel. So, being German I stand up, very stiff, strict, efficient and start to introduce myself in my then even stronger accent. “Hello. Mei name iz Stefan änd I am vrom Germany.” Suddenly I hear an austrian but also english accent behind me: “Yahaaa aus Deutschland, das ist ja klar!”
Who the serious hell just interrupted me in front of everyone? I turn around and see this smirking, lanky goofball sitting there, a huge smile on his face looking straight at me. That guy is English though, why does he speak German with an austrian accent?! He cracks some more jokes at my expenses and the whole classroom bursts out laughing. I must´ve turned bright red, being so angry. I also had no comeback, adding to the frustration. Stephen. That name I would remember! Stephen actually lived in Austria for years, hence he speaks German, with an austrianenglish accent – Hilarious! So it went on and on over the next days. He would start something, take the piss, I would try and fire the volley back and so on. It went so far that in the second week the trainer would not let us work together on assignments. Little did she know that we had actually become best buddies by then. We had a talk outside the classroom and I was told what the banter game was all about. My advice: Don´t take it so serious. They want to test you, see how you´ll react, check if you´re sound like.
Here are some pictures from the Galway office so you can visualize where I used to work:
And so it goes on and on. Communicating with Irish and British people is all about that. Not taking yourself, misery or situations all to serious. Try and have a bit of craic (fun) with it, life is too short to get wound up over nothing. As I said, it took a while to adjust. But what followed then were insanely funny conversations, verbally burning people to the ground, ripping into them and taking the piss big time. At the same time receiving verbal banter was part of the game as well. And you can even do this with complete strangers in a pub, if you dare! Because the Irish are fantastic at insulting you in such a charming way you only realize it a few hours later. Give and take 🙂
Living in Sweden now I have to be very careful how I approach people. Swedes are… rather sensitive when it comes to this topic and also rather reserved, much like the Germans. But I´m sure that changes once you get to know them better. and in the end, with me you don´t really have a choice afterall now. We´ll see if something comes up at Midsummer next weekend, maybe I can make some new friends!
Bringing the banter to Sweden! 😀
Catch ya later,