Thursday, 31 July 2008

Small victories are always the sweetest

There has been a quiet war being waged in Europe. It’s been between the “faceless bureaucrats” in Brussels and the German Capital, but at the same time it’s been a war that all of Europe could have been effective by, if the Germans had lost.

Brussels had the, in reality, eminently sensible idea of standardising all European traffic signals so that they all looked the same and there would be no confusion.

But, this threatened an identity that had slowly been asserting itself. Western Germany had always used what is politely described as “Euroman” the Red and Green Men at traffic lights. Euroman is pretty similar to the ones used in the UK. Eastern Germany had a more cheerful character with a jauntily cocked hat and a look of speed in green mode. Since the fall of the wall “Osties” the identity that former East Berliners, and East Germans, started to describe themselves as, have held onto the figure. In Berlin it was always a way of telling where you where. Did the little green man have a hat – Yes, you were in the former East Berlin, No, you were in the West.

But the EU rules would have done away with the Ostie man and given then “Euroman” instead.

After years of fighting this it looks, at least in Berlin, that a victory has been won. Not only is the Ostie Green Man still in place, but also all new traffic lights in the city carry the charismatic crossing device. He can even been seen on that most Capitalist of places the Kurfurstendam.

Perhaps this is the new threat from the East, and it is still Red (apart from the ones that are Green)

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