In 2007 in Munich I presented strategic work we had been doing for a client, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, to their assembled delegates from around the world. PEFC is the world’s largest forest certification organisation, so not unnaturally, they chose to hold the event in the magnificent, yet slightly quirky, Deutsches Jagd- und Fischereimuseum München.
Though I had known of Wolpertinger for some time, this was the first time I was surrounded by so many of the vicious creatures. Normally they are a bugger to find, let alone put down, so it was heartening, amongst all the tweed jackets and guns, to see many of the little fiends finally put behind glass.
This inspirational event led to a lifelong passion to spend time at the end of the year helping to improve the planet, as people have discovered over the years from out-of-office messages:
2008 – Apologies if you’re trying to contact me as I’m shooting Wolpertinger in the Northern Bavarian Alps in hopes of stuffing them with haggis for the traditional Frankonian Hogmonayfather Day, but I shall be back online in January. And if you’re out snarking north of Würzburg, you can always try texting …
2009 – Apologies if you’re trying to contact me as I’m spending time with the family in the lowlands of the northern Bavarian Himalayas. Naturally we’re hunting Wolpertinger, plucking Christmas tree gherkins and otherwise trying to nog up. I shall be back in action in January 02010 (in the Long Now reckoning). If it’s urgent or you’re trying to get dates to meet up, Monique Gore at the office would normally be happy to help, but she’s in New Zealand. But if you want to, and you’re wearing protective clothing (vicious creature the Wolpertinger) and quite a good shot, you can always try texting … And while we’re on these subjects, a fable for the festive season (sleep in) – “The Shrike And The Chipmunks“. PS – sent from a snark-free zone.
2010 – Apologies if you’re trying to contact me as I’m in Germany fighting off vicious Wolpertingers in a desperate attempt to get the Euro, Pound, Dollar, and Yuan back on track. Just another normal holiday for a socially-concerned family trying to save the international financial system while stranded in the high, upper, northern and slightly back(ward) Bavarian Alps. Still, despite the casual exertions, every intention of being back online in January. If you happen to have a Wolpertinger arquebus and a hipflask, do feel free to text … though I may be grappling with forces beyond my control at the time you do so. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” – Philip K Dick, I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon
2011 – You will receive an intermittent service from now till January. I’m away, as ever this time of year, ranging from hunting Wolpertinger up near the oxygen line in the remote forest Wirtschaften of the northern Bavarian Rhöner Alp system, to chequing out (sic) whether or not the jet d’eau in Geneva freezes. But if you’ve had a rare sighting of Wolpertinger, do feel free to try and share some of the sauce that helped you see straight by texting … And for those of a thoughtful nature this Season: what would our world be like without hypothetical questions?
2012 – Yet again we undertake our pointless and delightful annual expedition, this year via Stuttgart, to the hunting grounds of the ferocious Wolpertinger up near the oxygen line among the remote wilderness Wirtschaften of the terra incognita that is the northern Bavarian Rhöner Alp system. If you’ve had a rare shot at a Wolpertinger, do feel free to try and share some of the sauce that helped you shoot straight by texting … “What you most need to unwrap isn’t hiding under the Christmas tree.” – aphorism of the Ancient Wild Wolpertinger Hunter.
2013 – Out and about on our annual wildlife conservation expedition in the frozen wasting lands of the Northern Bayerische Alp System trying to save a beast of lore and yore near the limits of unaided oxygen high above the sea line. No equipment as we strive to keep the watering holes open which preserve this creature’s rare habitat. Bare hands only. Makes the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog look like child’s play, Nessie a Midsummer Night’s Dream, and as for the Yeti… Albrecht Dürer’s 1509 snapshot reveals some of the terrifying details of this ferocious feral fella’, but of course he’s dead now. Albrecht I mean. Intend to return with bragging scars on 3 January.
[this beastie was carefully contrived by the Rogue Taxidermist, Sarina Brewer; you can see her work here – https://www.sarina-brewer.com/]
2014 – Wearing my sustainability passions on my sleeve, yet again I’m on another Wolpertinger conservation safari this winter, due back at work in January. We intend to follow the migratory patterns of these vicious varmints from the flatlands of Salzburgerland to the Rhöntops of the Northern Bayerische Alp System. With a ‘selfie’ handed to us by Albrecht Dürer, it should be simple to avoid skiing over the crazy critters at first, but we do intend to take the battle to them as they proliferate in the Wirtschaften further north on the edge of Thüringen. Ahh, the tales we will tell!
[this beastie was carefully contrived by the Rogue Taxidermist, Sarina Brewer; you can see her work here – https://www.sarina-brewer.com/]
2015 – And the hunt continues … Nasty brutes. Be careful. I always bring a medicinal flask of sprudel-waßer. Works wonders if they bite…
In deep Bayern Mainelli’s hunt a vicious little creature,
So ye feel safe at home, with no fear of Wolpertinger.
It’s a special way to holiday, save drunken carol singers.
2016 – Well, 2016 has been anno mirabilis or anno terribilis for some, but certainly anno confusionis for all. As the family decamps for our annual Weihnacht fortnight, I intend to take refuge in some excellent Wirtschaften and contemplate das Jahr der Verwirrung between Würzburg and Bad Kissingen. As the brain clarifies the Schnapps, perhaps I’ll take aim at my traditional foe, the odd Wolpertinger, though of course they won’t seem that odd this year.
I’d say contact the office in my absence, etc., but they’re mostly absent too, which perhaps you should be in this post-truth, post-work, post-modern, era. And as our world needs to stop leaking its sense of humour to prevent global warming, ask yourself, “what constitutes having an ‘advanced’ sense of humour?”, before reading the last thing that made me laugh out loud – Alt.Warmth. Of course, in a Kneipian emergency you can always try texting while you practise your post-Brexit translation and diplomatic skills:
“Wenn wir”, sagtest Du, “die Menschen nur nehmen, wie sie sind, so machen wir sie schlechter; wenn wir sie behandeln als wären sie, was sie sein sollten, so bringen wir sie dahin, wohin sie zu bringen sind.”
“When we take people”, thou wouldst say, “merely as they are, we make them worse; when we treat them as if they were what they should be, we improve them as far as they can be improved.”
«Si nous», Vous avez dit, «seulement prendre les gens comme ils sont, nous les faisons pire; si nous les traitons comme si elles étaient ce qu’ils devraient être, donc nous les amener à l’endroit où ils doivent être mis.»
“Se”, Lei ha detto, “solo prendere le persone così come sono, li facciamo peggio; se li trattiamo come se fossero quello che dovrebbero essere, quindi abbiamo portarli a se sono destinati ad essere portati.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in Wilhelm Meister’s Lehrjahre(Book VIII, Chapter four, 1795) from Werke, Hamburger Ausgabe in 14 Bänden, Verlag C. H. Beck München, Herausgegeben von Erich Trunz.
2017 – During the dangerous (W)interval we head, as every year, to the darker side of Europe, deep Deutschland. As the snow swirls before the locked gates, we ponder life, food supplies, and some reruns, while our traditional foes, the Wicious Wolpertingers, snarl round the corners of the Hof. This year we employ special hunting equipment borrowed from the Deutsches Jagd und Fischereimuseum that we hope will prevent a repeat of last year’s sousing incident. Those of you around on 1 January are encouraged to raise your glasses in praise of our saving-the-planet-again work. If you can’t raise your glass, we may have failed, though you should be able to watch it all again during a responsible bingeing session of Mutant Angry Crystal Zombie Dinosaurs with Penguins. That said, you may be a bit confused as Hollywood took terrible liberties with the plot (and who says I look like Brad Pitt?).
If you’re hunting too, and dying for a dram of Jägermeister (geddit), then do text, otherwise watch the lights stay on till 4 January. And what better quote for a repeat New Year’s quest than Hegel’s, “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” Oh well, in the interest of accuracy over brevity, it was actually:
“But what experience and history teach is this, that peoples and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”
“Was die Erfahrung aber und die Geschichte lehren, ist dieses, daß Völker und Regierungen niemals etwas aus der Geschichte gelernt und nach Lehren, die aus derselben zu ziehen gewesen wären, gehandelt haben.”
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), Lectures on the Philosophy of History, Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Weltgeschichte (1832).
With all best wishes to you and yours during this Winterval!
2018 – You may be asking why you are receiving an ‘out of office’ just before year end. As is well-known, we have now entered the Glorious 12(th) (Days Of Christmas). This constitutes our traditional hunting season against the onslaughts of the Wicious Wolpertinger. Man battles the forces of chaos to render a tiny shred of order amidst the insanity of modern life. Many of you will be aware of the continuing saga of one man against the unnatural, but newbies may appreciate some background: Wicious Wolpertinger – The Hunting Expeditions Of Several Years (an almost circular quest, no?).
Oddly, on our return to Blighty each new year, friends express incredulity when we state that we’ve actually seen Wolpertinger, let alone despatched many at great personal cost to avert the looming Wolpertinger conquest. So this year we take battle directly to the unseen. Realising that the disappearance of Wolpertinger corpses could have no other explanation than the same one as the mysterious bodily disappearances of the crew of the Mary Celeste, this year our battleground will be that tragic vessel’s last known location in the Azores. Technically, that would be off Santa Maria Island, but somewhat deficient in restaurants, spas, and golf courses, reluctantly we shall engage the enemy from somewhat further behind the front lines in Terceira, toasting the demise of each undetectable denizen with an appropriate libation.
We intend to tend our war wounds in Oporto for a few days afterwards before proceeding to celebrate Silvester Abend in the Franconian Alps (thankfully, after numerous expeditions these Alps are now mercifully cleansed of the little beasties) and returning home for Monday, 7 January. If it’s an urgency, such as celebrating a direct hit and needing to buy me a Mijinhas, you can try texting. Meanwhile,
«Le vrai rêveur est celui qui rêve de l’impossible.»
„Der wahre Träumer ist derjenige, der vom Unmöglichen träumt.“
“The true dreamer is the one who dreams of the impossible.”
Elsa Triolet (1896-1970), French-Russian writer.
2019 – After last year’s ‘Celeste’ial disappearance to the Azores, successful on so many fronts except the quest for game, I find myself seeking solace (and sport) in the traditional seasonal hunting grounds, Germany, of our old foe, the Wicious Wolpertinger. Yet again, one man [cue rising film trailer music], with intermittent and somewhat temperamental family support, battles alone (well, some family support from time to time…) along (though often on his own). As I (ok, some of the family too) we head for the German hunting fields, destined not to return until Monday, 6 January, for the traditional bonfire of Christmas decorations (ok, maybe not the family decorations, just the neighbours’) on Epiphany, a new strategy is needed.
What might many of you make of this deep-n-crisp-n-even analysis?
- Hill and vale in slumber sleeping (All Through The Night)
- Slumber, oh slumber, dear Jesus my treasure (Slumber Dear Jesus)
- Pleasant dreams through the night (Sleep Well, Little Children)
- Still, still, still, weil ‘s Kindlein schlafen will – Still, still, still, because the little child wants to sleep (Still, Still, Still)
- Lay Thy head in slumber fondly on Thy mother’s breast (The Virgin’s Slumber Song)
- Dormi, dormi, O Salvator – Slumber, slumber, Savior dear (Dormi, Dormi, Dormi)
- On Mary’s lap is sleeping (What Child Is This?)
- The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay (Away In A Manger)
- Above thy deep and dreamless sleep … While mortals sleep, the angels keep (O Little Town Of Bethlehem)
- Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh – Sleep in heavenly peace (Stille Nacht)
Let alone “God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen” or “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”… But this clinches it – “He sees you when you’re sleeping” (Santa Claus Is Coming To Town).
So in this time of conspiracy theories run amok, clearly Santa is in somnolent cahoots with the Wolpertinger! And not at the North Pole, but in Dreamland. The only recourse is to take combat to them. Somewhat reminiscent of A Nightmare On Elm Street, I intend to do just that.
Good night, get rest,, Ye,, too, and with all best wishes of the Season!
“Often, the less there is to justify a traditional custom, the harder it is to get rid of it.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Chapter 5 (1876).
[suspect he was thinking of seasonal out-of-office messages…]
2020 – Keen hunters among you will know that the annual Wolpertinger season opened just before Christmas and will continue till my return to work on Tuesday, 5 January 2021, when you can join me for a potentially eye-opening post-post-Brexit webinar, “Brexit & Trade – New Ways Of Dealing With Paperwork” or look for a new job, “Charting A New Chapter: How To Establish And Maintain A Portfolio Career”.
Most unusually, cut off by foggy B’s & C’s (Brexit and Covid-19) from the traditional alpine hunting grounds of Under-Franken, this year we seek our quarry on the English side of the Channel.
Hunting supply stocks have run low of late – down to our last two container loads of Belgian beer, perhaps a meagre nine intact cases of Zwetschgen, forced on to home brewing (ahh, memories of the legendary November AnnaBräu brought to us by our house elf’s Scobby Dobby Doo Brewery GmbH from Unter die Treppe, “Three drops from every glass are donated to S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare”).
While hunting Wicious Wolpertingers, we must seek sustenance on unfamiliar ground, living off the land, foraging for scraps, and rustling up supplies. Will AnnaBraü the yet-unnamed-sequel compete with Belgian beer and complement a Netflix series? Will Scotch while watching Amazon Prime substitute for Zwetschgen, perhaps a substantial Scotch no-egg? Does English wine go with Sauerbraten? And here’s a relevant illustration courtesy of the most-generous Hank Hinton documenting hunting techniques on this side of Brexit:
In truth, after finding a bit too much sustenance Wolpertinger posses are prone to circle round their leader and sing, so here’s a traditional leader (sic) that nicely jingles with the B’s & C’s:
“Though from ourselves the mischief more proceeds,
For public schools ’tis public folly feeds.
The slaves of custom and established mode,
With pack-horse constancy we keep the road,
Crooked or straight, through quags or thorny dells,
True to the jingling of our leader’s bells.”
William Cowper (1731-1800, 1784), “Tirocinium: Or, A Review Of Schools”, Poems By The Late William Cowper (1818).
Wishing you and yours happy hunting with enough sustenance, and just that bit more, to see the little blighters.
2021 – Variant Varmints At Home
Who needs coronavirus variants when we have Wolpertinger variants? This Festive Season, we have locked ourselves down in the UK for a week or so tackling this domestic plague of the varmints. Yes, in true public spirit, the Mainellis have foregone their traditional Wolpertinger hunt up the Franconian Alps to help those less fortunate at home, unable to see, or sometimes to comprehend, the immense danger they’ve been not facing up to for decades.
Along the way we will have to ‘follow the science’. This involves sampling and taxonomic ranking by regio, regnum, phylum, classis, ordo, familia, genus, and species – there must be a traditional Latin Christmas carol in there somewhere. We are particularly looking at sequencing the Om-My-Chron variant, which appears to be temporally displaced. For example, what’s temporally wrong with this sequence, champagne, aperitif, white wine, red wine, dessert wine, port, brandy, whiskey?
Armed to the bicuspids, as they say at the Harvard Lampoon, with copious quantities of sanitising liquids we hope to
be completely wipe d them out by the New Year, and return to the warm embrace of our Seasonal Cheers. Who knows, we may even be back online around 7 January. Wishing you and yours all best wishes of the Season, and a healthy & prosperous New Year in 2022!
And yes, 2022 got better almost immediately. I was asked to speak at Drapers’ Hall to the incoming Masters’ Groups. At the end, our most considerate host, Erica Stary, so kindly fulfilled some of my Christmas dreams with a most excellent February stocking stuffer.