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[2010]   During the recent snow storms that affected large swathes of western Europe the RTL news ran a report on how the neighbours, unlike the well prepared Germans, were failing to cope with the conditions. First to France where the uncleared autoroutes looked like Alaska in dog-sled season. Then on to similar scenes of white chaos in Belgium. The last report came from outside London’s snow-covered Houses of Parliament, where a smirking correspondent explained how just one snowflake was all it took to bring the British capital to a standstill.

As I watched this little exercise in intra-European schadenfreude I had two simultaneous thoughts. One was, ‘Oh, do stop sniggering, you clever-dick Krauts.’ The other thought was, ‘Boy, I’m glad I live in Germany.’