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LIFE IN COLOGNE.

CATERING FOR BRITISH TASTES.

(From a Special Correspondent of the

"Morning Post.")

COLOGNE, Feb. 2.

After an aJbsence of a few weeks I find a curious change in Cologne. The air of hostility which was apparent, during the first days of the British bcdipation seems to have vanished completely, and merchants and shopkeepers are novv bent on profiting as much as possible by the presence of our troops. They could not be more eager or painStaking if they were angling for tourist trade in peace time. They have been characteristically quick to note the trend of British taste, and have tried to satisfy it. When the army entered there was a great demand for souvenirs. Helmets, officers' belts and badges and other trappings of the beaten army were eagerly sought for and as difficult to find.

VVould-be purchasers had to visit a dingly little music shop in an obscure street behind the Neu Markt, where a password whispered over the' counter was necessary in order to inspect a stock of helmets concealed under iiddles and accordeons in a back room. As a special attraction an lion Cross or two would be produced:' As soon as: the appetite for spiked helmets and Iron Crosses became 'known military outfitters promptly put their wares on the market, and shopkeepers bought liberally for British consumption. To-day you will find windows in the High ■.Street filled with specimens of the glittering head-dress known as a Pickelhaube, and whole rows of brand-new Iron Crosses with' black and white ribbons attached to- them, it is no exaggeration to say that Iron Crosses are now being manufactured for the British Army, and they sell readily at nine shillings each. Bookshops, cigar shops, and jewellers' shops carry them as a "side line.". You can even buy them with; your morning, newspaper at some bookstalls.

' it is difficult to understand the mentality of the shopkeeper himself, who wears the ribbon of the Iron Cross, which he earned <is a soldier fighting against the British, and who sells a facsimile of the decoration over the counter with-a bland smile, wraps it in brown paper, and then mentions his new stock of Gernian shoulder-knots and sashes. British trade is the thing. Window signs in English invite attention to the wares. Such articles of military equipment as can be procured are offered at astonishingly low prices. Attendants who six weeks ago knew no iUnglish and were proud of it, now speak the hateful' languge - quite well enough to do business,, and they know a little more every day,, for they study it at night. Kinenias that accepted patrons' in khaki with sullen reluctance when we first came to Cologne now advertise their films in English. One of the largest in the High Street has a humorist as a sign writer, and his flaring placards in slang describing the various atractions of the bill always attract amused soldiers. Another kinema shrieks in large letters: "English pictures shown here twice a week. Do not miss them." "Phrase Books for the English Soldier" have\ been hastily compiled to meet the universal want and are on sale everywhere. Stranger still, the London newspapers are sold in the streets, and the girls and men who hawk them about can see a prospective purchaser two hundred yards oft, whikr the prices are given in English tor the^ convenience of British soldiers. Shops selling cameras and other photographic goods—and there are many in Cologne —are enjoying a spell of unlooked-for prosperity. Many officers and ,men have taken up photography, in their spare time, and these shops are sometimes filled with soldiers waiting to hand in a set of films to be developed and printed.

English-speaking porters are now to be found at the doors of the cafes and. at the box-oiiices of the theatres and kinemas. Many of them are ex-soldiers who worked in England before the war. The people of Cologne, in fact, have settled, down to make the best of British rule, and to do business. They are not treated harshly in any way. Certain regulations have been relaxed, and they' can now circulate freely in the British zone, provided they Have their identity cards. The city goes to bed punctually at nine o'clock, and after, that hour the streets are silent and deserted save for the .presence of an occasional British patrol. Very few military police are in evidence. The only sentries are those outside the Governor's headquarters and in front of che' hotel occupied by the Army 'of Occupation. You can walk through the heart of the city without seeing any other sign of British rule.

British soldiers mingle with the crowd, and sit side by side with civilians in the cafes and places.of amusement just as in French and Belgian towns.. Not very long ago the mania for rooting out foreign words from the German language was universal in Cologne, as in the rest of Germany. On the door of my hoted bedroom is the usual notice to guests arrived there before the war, with such words as "office," souper, and: diner erased and the German equivalent inked in. To-day there is more English spoken in Cologne than ever before, lOnglisht text-books have a ready sale, and teachers ■of English ; find their. services in great demand. All is forgiven. "It is your business we want."

:mt

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19190514.2.4

Bibliographic details

LIFE IN COLOGNE., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9609, 14 May 1919

Word Count
894

LIFE IN COLOGNE. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9609, 14 May 1919

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