By schorschi


One of the things I love about Germany is the whole apprentice system covering over 400 sectors from baker to journalist, TV studio technic to hairdresser, electrician to tile layer, office clerk to travel office specialist, nurse to care home specialist, stonemason to brickie. List goes on & on. Almost always a 3-year training in which you join a business, get paid from day one & around 50% of the time you go to a school, usually on blocks every few months when you do the theory which is not just your specific area but will include general business studies.

In Germany people are not judged by where they come from, their social status but from what they can do. And those who complete the training are rightly proud of it.

Many of the various Guilds responsible for overseeing the apprentices have also developed clothing to proudly show who they are. One of the most visible of these are the woodworking guilds, the joiners, carpenters & roofers.

There are regional differences but the basic dress for woodworkers is

- wide brimmed black hat (also top hat & other forms)
- black jacket with 6 pearl buttons for 6-day week and 3 cuff buttons, on the one side for 3-year apprenticeship, the other side for 3-years Wandering*
- black vest with 8 pearl buttons for 8-hour day
- black heavily flared trousers out of all sorts of material from cord to moleskin (called English Leather in Germany!) I have not found out why the two zips so close to the .... it's not to do with being left or right hung!
-white collarless shirt
-earring! (if you are squeamish, don't watch video link below at about 20 mins!)

In the photo a couple of friends wearing some of their stuff, one is a carpenter, the other a roofer as shown by the buckles. One has a silver attachment on his belt with a chain that will have some ornament, perhaps a watch or even just keys attached.

* the Wandering "Auf der Walz" or "Wanderschaft" is still done by some in the building trades. After finishing your apprenticeship you set off from home with a stick a bundle with your clothes, no money, no mobile, aren't allowed within 50 km of your home and hitch-hike your way around Germany or Europe or the World for 3 years and 1 day, finding jobs for a maximum of 3 months where you can get board & lodging and get paid.

In each town you will get your wandering book stamped at town hall & perhaps one of those small town/ city medals & attach that to your silver chain. It's a way of getting more experience of different ways of doing your job & of course experiencing different cultures.

Today is German Unity Day and a public holiday. Not a highly held one as are many religious ones that require total silence, no public music or dancing, but it is still a day of rest.

As the weather has been awful on Saturdays when two friends and a mate were going to re-roof our outbuilding, got a call yesterday they would be doing it today and start at 7:00 am.

In good German tradition, they turned up at 6:50 am & got down to it. By breakfast time (full sit down indoors with rolls, meat & cheese + coffee) at 9:00 am, one side de-tiled & felt on. By lunchtime (full hot meal indoors of beef roulades & Spätzle & salad followed by Tiramisu) both sides de-tiled, boards and even some rotten beams replaced & felted as well as much of the batten work.

Then came the rain, they had no jackets, but we have enough. Battens finished, tiles heaved up on the roof with my old tractor and laid. Even Angie in welly boots unloading the precarious loads of tiles & carrying them over to be laid. Quick outdoor coffee & cake before the final spurt. And naturally throughout water, coke etc as required.

By 16:40 pm all finished but for one gutter. All the old wood battens had been cleared away to be sawn up later for firewood, the old clay tiles on one side thrown directly from the roof on to an adjacent area that needs to be paved, the other side into my tipper trailer and will probably join the rest later after I have rolled & broken the tiles.

Good to have friends. Brilliant work, great team we made.

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