I recently visited my dad and when scouring through the bookshelves, as I always do when I visit him, I came across a little, somewhat worse for wear, book, The Nürnberger Trichter. It is only a short book, 20 pages or so, and it is written in German, but I found myself taking this book and flicking fondly through the pages trying to remember the story I once knew so well…
So right now you are probably wondering what a ‘Nürnberger Trichter’ is. It is German, for Nuremberg Funnel. Nuremberg being a beautiful city in Germany where I spent some time as a teenager and have visited numerous times throughout my life as it also happens to be the city that my mother grew up in.
It is a city full of fabulous history, the home of Albrecht Dürer (a famous artist and sculpture), Lebkuchen (a yummy Christmas gingerbread), and the magical Christkindlesmarkt (a beautiful, beyond words, Christmas Market). It has also had its darker periods in history, the city blackened by the Nuremberg rallies which preceded World War II and resulted in another namesake, the Nuremberg Trials.
The Nürnberger Trichter (written by Franz Kaiser) is legendary to my childhood, but with most childhood fables, you don’t really understand the full meaning of the story until you are able to reflect back on it as an adult, just as I am doing now.
My mum often read this little book to me as a bed time story, and I loved the folly of it. Essentially the story goes like this…
Hienz (Hans Wurst in the original poem), a young boy, who would rather spend his time in class daydreaming, is told by his teacher that he is so daft, that if he were to seek out the ‘Nürnberger Trichter’, he may be able to funnel some brains in to that rather empty head of his (nothing like a bit of in-class humiliation). Quite inspired by the notion of having to apply himself in his studies even less, our Heinz sets off on a quest to find this ‘funnel’. Of course, marvelling at his stupidity, an opportunistic shopkeeper was only too happy to sell him a generic funnel, which disappointingly and somewhat predictably, did not work.
So young Heinz, set off on a greater quest, to go to Nuremberg, and if not find the funnel, then to himself create a device that would indeed do as the funnel promised.
Of course our Heinz, he never did succeed in creating such a device, but in his journey in search of knowledge, and the researching of his inventions, he realised that it is not the end result, but the journey itself, to find the funnel, that in fact creates the result.
This story really resonated with me, as I myself, have so often set of on journeys of discovery only to find that the journey itself was indeed the discovery.
I found it even more interesting to discover, that I still had a keyring of a genuine “Nürnberger Trichter” on my current set of keys, purchased myself, blissfully unaware of what I was purchasing, some 20 years ago.
I felt compelled to take my little book home with me and have another read, and I enjoyed the story as if it was the first time. Mind you, it was no easy task reading it in German, but I actually even enjoyed that. I couldn’t help being amused at myself ‘Googling’ the Nürnberger Trichter to see what it came up with.
What I did find interesting was the original Heinz was actually called ‘Hans Wurst’, which is what dad used to call me when I did something silly. I had never really grasped the origin of the meaning, and upon further thought it made sense that in my own mind I had translated it to ‘silly sausage’ – ‘wurst’ being the German word for ‘sausage’ . While ‘silly sausage’ is said to be an English saying, I couldn’t help wondering if maybe Hans attributed to it in some way as well.
And so, a journey to my fathers, became a little journey back into my childhood, and debatably, this ‘silly sausage’ is now just that little bit wiser for it.
This post was written by Petra Frieser – Pebbles + Pomegranate Seeds