Today is my stop on the Beer and Sauerkrautblog tour and I am here today with an interview with the author!
Title: Beef & Sauerkraut Author: John Morgan Publisher: Clink Street Publishing Published: 9th June 2020 Format: Paperback Source:: N/A Add It:Amazon. Goodreads. Summary: John Morgan was born in the UK in 1938 and qualified there as a chartered surveyor.
He moved to Zurich for three years in 1969 to work for a US conglomerate.
He then moved to Germany, where he eventually established a successful property consultancy firm together with a Dutch partner, selling this in due course to a German bank.
John has a German wife and four sons and now lives in retirement on Lake Constance. Having dual nationality and conversing today mostly in German, he is now uncertain whether he is British or German!
Why have you written Beer & Sauerkraut? Having since 1972 spent most of my time in Germany since, I have grown completely oblivious to the many aspects of life here that seem odd to people coming from abroad to work or study in Germany for the first time. It is only when we have visitors from abroad that my memory is now jogged by their comments and I realise how strange I also found so many things when I first came to the country.
There are several books about Germany in English that try to explain life here, some of them being very humorous. However, most of the authors are foreigners and some seem to have only a very superficial knowledge of their subject. I first had the idea of writing a serious book on the subject, with just the odd cartoon to lighten things up. However, I soon had so many ideas for cartoons that I decided rather to create a cartoon book with just a little text explaining the cartoons for those not acquainted with life in Germany. In this way readers can (hopefully) be amused by the cartoons but still learn a lot about Germany and Germans at the same time.
What is your favourite drink to consume while writing? Normally, I like to drink either tea or coffee while writing. Probably I would be much better off with a cold drink because I often completely forget to drink my tea or coffee, being so engrossed in my work. I then end up drinking my beverage cold!
If by the late afternoon I reach some milestone or other in my writing, it is definitely time for a good old-fashioned English gin and tonic, together with my wife, which I suppose not only proves that there is still some good English blood in my veins but also that my wife has also become at least slightly anglophile!
Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing? As far as I know, I only have two bad habits while I am writing. First, I almost lose all sense of time but eventually my stomach reminds me in no uncertain manner that it’s time for lunch or supper! The second bad habit is that I become completely unaware of my surroundings, not even hearing my wife when she is talking to me. However, those magic words: “Lunch is ready!” immediately bring me back into the real world!
Who do you think would enjoy reading your book? I know from showing extracts from my book to friends and acquaintances in Germany that most foreigners who have settled in here will be interested in reading my book, as it pinpoints so many aspects of life here that seem so different from their home countries. I also suspect that many people living elsewhere in the world will have an interest in finding out strange and amusing things about Germany and thereby having a good laugh. Also, there are many people of German heritage living all over the world and many will be curious to read something light-hearted about the land of their forefathers. Quite apart from that, there seems to be general interest in humorous books at the present time to help us think of something other than the Covid-19 pandemic.
How would you entice people to read your book? Germans have a reputation for being serious, very hard-working and good at soccer! However, there is much more to Germans in Germany than this, even some very funny aspects. Read this book, and you will really find out what makes the Germans tick!
If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why? I would definitely choose to live in a space odyssey. When I was still at school, there was a radio series called “Journey into Space”, the leading character having the name of “Jet Morgan”! For a time, “Jet” became my nickname! Our physics teacher at school almost ruined my grand dreams of becoming a space traveller one day when he seemed to prove by complicated calculations that we would never be able to develop a rocket powerful enough to escape the earth’s gravity. It didn’t take many years for him to be proved completely wrong! Despite our physics teacher, I never tired of dreaming of travelling through space and time one day and that is the fictional world I would love to join!
If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why? Having such a wide choice makes things very difficult but I have decided that I would become a friend of George Smiley, who features in Smiley’s People and several others spy books written by John le Carré. I often visited West Berlin on business when I was working for a US conglomerate during the “cold war” in the early 1970s. At that time, one could “feel” the tension in the air in the city and I sometimes found myself being photographed with telescopic cameras by the East German guards at the Brandenburger Tor and at Checkpoint Charlie. The world of Smiley’s People was never far away!
About the Author
John Morgan was born in Chatham, Kent, in 1938 and his first memory is of sleeping in an Anderson air raid shelter in 1940- 1941, whilst the German air force was bombing Chatham Dockyard and surrounding areas day and night - John’s father and many of his family worked in the dockyard, building and repairing ships for the Royal Navy.
Having attended Sir Joseph Williamson’s Mathematical School, Rochester, John trained to become a chartered surveyor, qualifying in 1959, when he also married a German girl, who completely changed his views on both Germans and Germany, as well as giving him an interest in learning German. After working for some time in London, he became a partner in a firm of surveyors in Maidstone but left in 1969 to take up the post of European director of real estate and construction for a large American conglomerate with European headquarters in Zürich. His work extended from Sweden to Greece and from Dublin to West Berlin but most of his projects were in the UK, Germany, Holland and France.
John’s wife died suddenly only a few months after the family moved to Zürich, his three sons being only aged seven, five and 18 months’ when this disaster struck. John’s firm immediately employed a full-time housekeeper for him and in 1971 he met and married an attractive German nurse, Marlies, then working in Zürich, who at the tender age of 23 was brave enough to take on John and the three boys. Within a matter of months, the family language became German. John and Marlies had a further son in 1975 and in the meantime have some 10 grandchildren.
In 1972, the family moved to Frankfurt, where John set up and ran a commercial property development company for a British group for a few years. At that time there were no qualified property advisers in Germany and in 1979 John and a Dutch partner filled the gap by founding a firm of commercial property advisers that became the leading firm of its type in Germany, eventually having eight offices and some 300 staff.
As it was difficult to find qualified staff, John was the driving force behind setting up the German Society of Chartered Surveyors and arranging for a number of local universities to establish courses In Real Estate Economy. He subsequently became a member of General Council of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in London and the President of the European Society of Chartered Surveyors in Brussels. He assisted in establishing societies of chartered surveyors throughout the whole of continental Europe.
Having sold the property consultancy business to a German bank, John returned to the UK in 1994 to carry out research for a PhD in sociology and real estate economy at Reading University, being awarded his doctorate at the beginning of 1998. He then returned to Germany and worked as a consultant for several years before finally fully retiring in 2010.
Over the years John was a regular speaker at real estate conferences in Germany and the UK and wrote numerous articles for German newspapers and journals, as well as being a contributing author in respect of several textbooks in German concerning property investment. In 2017 John wrote his autobiography with the title Chartered Survivor.
John now lives on the German side of Lake Constance, in the village where he met his second wife at a carnival in 1971. He is, of course, bilingual and has both British and German citizenship. He no longer knows whether he dreams in German or in English and has a serious personality conflict when Germany plays England at soccer!