Saturday, October 17, 2009


At an FGG meeting in Cologne, at some sort of meeting center in the country just outside town. I read in the local paper that the Oessel, some sort of symbolic traditional object, will be leaving Cologne for a procession-type trip to Glasgow. "Oh, we must go see the departure ceremony", I say. Just then, we hear the sound of bagpipes coming from outside the meeting room. The departure ceremony is taking place right here!

There is music, a speech, which I don't understand, and we accompany the Oessel, carried on a flower-bedecked ass-drawn cart on its journey into the city. When we arrive at the station, the people put the Oessel in a shipping case (much like the one for the WC, but smaller) and toss it into the passenger train, for what is just the first step of its trip. No one seems to be in charge of the case, so at the last minute EF and I jump aboard and carry the case to a compartment on the train.

After catching our breath, we discuss what we need to do. I find a stewardess in the corridor, and try to explain that we have the Oessel, and we need to hand it over to someone at the next stop. She doesn't understand the situation, so I go to the bar car, where there are about a dozen stewardesses, some who claim to speak English, but none of them who understand what I'm talking about. "The Oessel! We're accompanying the Oessel to its next stop on the way to Glasgow!", I cry. The only thing they're able to tell me is that this train isn't going to Glasgow, which of course I already know.

In a panic, I phone ER. She suggests I get off the train at the next stop in order to go to the police to get help. The train stops for a moment in a warehouse district and I get off. But where are the police? I follow a street out of the warehouse area, and find myself in a residential neighborhood. It's now dusk, and I can clearly see the flashing lights of police cars from nearby. When I reach the police cars, I see there are hundreds of police officers surrounding a house. There's something going on, like an escaped prisoner holed up with hostages in the house. The police are all wearing bulletproof vests.

I manage to find a police officer who is willing to talk to me. Alas he doesn't speak English, but I manage to convey to him in broken German that the Oessel is on the train, and that we don't know what to do with it. He puts me in his car, and we race to meet the train at the next station. We collect the Oessel from EF, who was in tears, not knowing what the hell she was supposed to do with it.

On the race to the station, the policeman explained that the Oessel was a reliquary, containing the bones of someone. I never knew whose bones they were.

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