The ‘Wald Chappell’

My aunt Kathrin has been, throughout her life, a great a collector (and teller!) of funny stories, also exchanging letters full of word jokes (across multiple languages) with friends and family. We recently visited my aunt, and she gave me an envelope full of these gems.

My absolute favourite is the following story, which, as far as I know, is otherwise not to be found on the web.  I’ve typed it in, so that many more may enjoy!

This is an old story, and may require a brief explanatory note for some of the younger people among us, and those not familiar with the term WC.  In British English, this refers to a “Water Closet” or flush toilet. These facilities were, back then, not inside the house, but somewhere outside – such as in a small building attached to the house or in the back garden.

The “Wald Chappell”

An English lady wanted to stay in a small German village in the mountains, and knowing no German asked the village schoolmaster (who knew a little English) to help her.  On her return home, she remembered she had not enquired if there was a WC attached to the house.   She therefore wrote to the schoolmaster for full particulars as to the WC, but as he had never heard of the abbreviation, he did not understand and consulted the pastor who also knew a little English.  The pastor came to the conclusion that the lady was a devout churchgoer and wished to know where the Wald Chappell (Church in the Wood) was situated, and he wrote the following letter:

Dear Ladyship,

The WC is situated about seven miles from your lodgings in the centre of the pine forest, amidst lovely surroundings, and is open on Tuesdays and Fridays.  This is unfortunate for you if you are in the habit of going regularly, but you will not doubt be glad to hear that a number of people take their lunch and make a day of it.  As there are a great many visitors in the summer, I advise you to go early.  The accommodation is good and there are about 80 seats, but should you at any time be late, there is plenty of standing room.  The bell will be rung ten minutes before the WC is opened.  I would especially advise your ladyship to pay a visit on Tuesdays, as on that day there is an organ accompaniment.  The acoustics on the premises are excellent, the most delicate sounds being audible.

I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for your ladyship and have the honour to be etc, etc.

P.S. My wife and I have not been able to go for eight months and it pains me very much, but it is such a long way off.


Australian Lawyers And Scholars Are Encouraging Civil Disobedience In This Year

Julian Burnside: What sort of country are we? | The Conversation

UW scientists are pioneering research on ‘body maps’ in babies’ brains | UW Today

The pattern of infants’ brain activity corresponded to the body parts being used, providing the first evidence that watching someone else use a specific body part prompts a corresponding pattern of activity in the infant neural body map.

And much more… interesting research!

Danish Happiness

This article “Denmark is the Happiest Country” (Huffington Post, Oct 2013) is from a while ago, but quite worthwhile particularly in the current federal political context in Australia.

Relevant aspects are personal welfare as well as the overall social and political climate, and economic prosperity. It’s a pretty complete package.

The article notes that people feeling well cared for is a key factor, and that’s obviously not about seeing more police on the streets or politicians making scary announcements about terrorism. It’s also about caring for those around us. That’s a local social aspect, as well as an international issue (how to respond to a refugee crisis).

Other matters of importance are equality (in every respect), education, healthcare.

Worth a read. Of course, those who most need to learn these things are the people who don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they’re currently doing. But still.

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Dutch Court orders Netherlands Government cut CO2 emissions by 25 percent by 2020 | Climate Citizen

A Dutch court in a landmark legal case has just handed down a verdict that the Netherlands Government has the legal duty to take measures against #climate change. Further, the court ordered that a 25% reduction of CO2 emissions, based on 1990 levels, must be accomplished by 2020 by the Dutch government in accordance with IPCC scientific recommendations for industrial countries.


Sue Higginson, Principal Solicitor for the Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) NSW, said that the same legal arguments are unlikely to be used in Australia, “Dutch civil laws are much more specific in their terms than Australian laws.” she said.


With Australia, such a case would be much less straightforward as we do not have the incorporation of international human rights or general duty of care directly in our constitution or legal framework.

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