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Blackleaf

Rent-A-German

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Now you can rent your own German, just like The Mirror's Kevon O'Sullivan.

The Mirror

5 August 2005

A GERMAN ABOUT THE HOUSE

EXCLUSIVE: THE HIT SITE WHERE US BRITS CAN LORD IT OVER FRITZ

By Kevin O'Sullivan

IT'S not the kind of website you'd deliberately search for. Rent-A-German is more something you'd stumble across in a bored moment while surfing the net.

But once you've started wondering why anyone would want to fork out up to e1,200 (£750) for the services (strictly above board) of a German, you can't get the idea out of your head.

A few days later, I'm at Gatwick airport waiting for Sebastian, a 26-year-old student from Munich.

He arrives bang on time, of course. So there seems little point in asking to see his passport. He shows it anyway. He's definitely German.

I hand over e500 (I strike a hard bargain) and start wondering what to do with him. His contract states that as well as being entitled to three meals a day, two litres of water and one hour of daylight, he can "decline to participate in activities.

"If the German does not feel comfortable in the material or emotional environment, he is free to leave."

The testimonials on the website at www.treib-stoff.com/rentagerman/ seem positive enough, but hiring your own Teuton is anything but cheap.

There's the family package. For 800 euros, your German will cook food at your home, entertain the kids, and discuss sport and politics in a distinctive Boris Becker accent.

The business package, at 1,200 euros, is for the well-heeled executive. Your German will travel with you to conferences and chat during coffee breaks. But rent a German for a week for 950 euros and you get a free extra German for a weekend of your choice. What a bargain!

Sebastian is famished and I warn him that he'd better digest the gentle art of cooking a full English breakfast - an instruction that falls on deaf ears because he has no idea what one is.

During the hour-long drive to my house, he chats about Germany's record unemployment figures, the general distrust of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and the social unrest in his country.

I talk of eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, mushrooms, toast and the fact that my hunger level is fast becoming an international crisis.

Chez O'Sullivan, a stone's throw from the home of Sebastian's heroine, Gwyneth Paltrow ("Would she like to rent a German?" he begs), I put him straight to work.

In the natty apron I provide, my German is soon hurling food into a frying pan and brewing up some good old English tea. In superior Brit mode, I demand that Sebastian waits upon me and my wife Henrietta and we tuck into his cuisine. And damned good it is, too.

So good that I allow him to cook himself a plateful, on the understanding that he sloshes HP sauce all over it. It's his first "full English". He loves it. He even gives a mug of tea the thumbs up.

THE British way of life is starting to suit my German. Until I up the ante and turn him into my very own slave. I get the poor guy to hoover my carpets, walk my dog and even sand my front door.

Yes, it's unfair, but he hasn't gone on strike yet. So what next? How about renting a couple of DVDs? Off we go to my local Blockbuster where I pick up Great World War 2 Battles and The Battle Of Britain. Sebastian seems unimpressed. What, don't Germans like movies?

Then I take him sightseeing around London and we proceed directly to the Imperial War Museum, where my crass plans to rub his nose in it fall disastrously flat. Gazing at the instruments of war, death and destruction we both fall silent. There is no comedy value in this.

Sebastian tells me: "In Germany my generation was taught of all the wrongs of Adolf Hitler. As a nation we are so worried about making the same mistakes again that we dare not even joke about other countries. We are obsessed about not being racist."

On that bombshell, we head to the Daily Mirror's offices and some serious business - I need my filing cabinet moved and my colleagues need cups of tea.

After I show him our proud photo montage of England's legendary 5-1 annihilation of Germany, he's soon hard at work. Desks are shifted and tea is delivered. My ritual humiliation of this charming, sweet-natured man is backfiring. And my female colleagues are enraptured by my handsome rented German.

Down to the pub for a pint of English bitter and much chatting-up of the ladies. Just like German football teams, Sebastian has a winning way about him and soon I'm on the defensive as he draws all the admiring looks.

In fact, both of us have been laughing all day at the mad notion of this nonsensical website. The man behind it is Sebastian's brother, Johannes Blank - a 30-year-old website designer who grew tired of people raising their eyebrows when he revealed his nationality.

Over the phone, Johannes says, "Whenever we Germans are abroad and we're asked where we're from everyone goes, 'Oh... Germany!' So I thought, why don't they hand over some cash to find out what we're really like?"

Since Rent-A-German was launched in March it has become an unlikely money-spinner. More than 200 Germans have signed up to be rented out, and business is booming. One amused American general is even said to have floated the idea of hiring 5,000 of Johannes' team with a view to sending them all to Iraq!

My day has uncovered an amazing fact. Contrary to everything we Brits believe, there is common comical ground between our two countries. Waving Sebastian off at the airport he even tries a couple of German jokes on me.

"Karl Marx is in hell, being forced to walk everywhere with an enormous rock on his back," he says.

"Buckling under the weight he is enraged to see Adolf Hitler sitting at a table scribbling in a notebook. He asks the Devil, 'How come I have to carry this rock around for eternity and all Hitler has to do is sit there writing?' 'Well,' says the Devil, 'He's translating all your books into Yiddish'."

And there's time for one more before Sebastian runs to catch his flight: "How do an English couple put in a new lightbulb? The wife holds the lightbulb while the husband goes outside to twist the house around."

Now that's NOT funny!

mirror.co.uk

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And this is in the World Events section?

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It's an event that's happening in the world.

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One of my feet toes hurts.....that is also a event happening in the world.... tongue.gif

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