October 20, 2015 by helenwaldron
Writewell had finished work in the Hafen City, but instead of taking the train home, she got into the yellow metro line and travelled a couple of stops to the Landungsbrücke, where you could take your car down in a lift and cross the river in the old Elbtunnel.
Speakeasy was waiting for her on the rooftop of the Hard Rock Café, and as they sipped their cocktails, they looked down at the booths selling souvenirs and at the stalls selling fish rolls and at the many tourists scuttling between them. Above the noise rose the voice of a captain drumming up business for his harbour tour. Beyond them, across the blue-grey waters, was the backdrop of filigree cranes and the solid blocks of colour that were the stacked containers.
„Do you remember that great pub down near the harbour where we used to hang out and learn Hamburg dialect when we were new here?”
“The one where somebody always came up and talked to you? I haven’t been down that way for ages. Don’t tell me it’s closed.”
“Not quite,” smiled Writewell. “It’s an Irish pub now.”
“They’ve turned a genuine Hamburg pub into an imitation Irish pub?” groaned Speakeasy, who was Irish. “Is it called Murphy’s or The Irish Rover?”
“They used to say that our best export was our people,” he went on. “Now I’d say it’s Irish pubs.”
They were looking for a place to hold their new language stammtisch.
“This place is too noisy inside and a bit cold out on top.”
“It’s a bit pricey too.”
A stammtisch is where a group of like-minded people meet regularly, sometimes to play card games, like skat or poker, sometimes just to share their views. (It’s a hard word to translate, as you can read here).
Speakeasy and Writewell had decided to launch a business English stammtisch, an opportunity for their students and potential students to discuss work-related issues and practise their English.
“We’re better off booking a quiet room in an empty pub and putting a sign up on the table”.
Speakeasy wanted to call it a “speakeasy“, but that wouldn’t have been fair.
In the end they called it The Bee’s Knees, which is an idiom, meaning “the best”.
“And it sounds like “the business”.”
“And it sounds like a pub name. The King’s Arms, The White Hart, The Bee’s Knees. I like it.”
And so it was decided.