Saturday, 1 November 2014


Merlin, a 14-year-old from Göttingen, has been with us this week, part of a group on a half-term twinning deal. We were to have had a second boy, but he cried off at the last moment through illness - which meant that Merlin had to work that much harder on his English.

He wasn't missing anything, he said, being away from home on Halloween. All the action takes place on St Martin's Day, when children process from house to house with colourful paper lanterns made in school, sing a song - the last line of each verse is "Rabimmel, rabammel, rabum" - and get sweets in return. No trickery required. (I have since discovered that the lantern procession symbolises the light that holiness brings to the darkness, just as St Martin brought hope to the poor through his good deeds.)

Merlin's father is Martin (too).

The book Sarah kindly gave me last Christmas tells us that Göttingen "has nurtured 40 Nobel Prize winners". Compared to how many from Cheltenham I was wondering.

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