17 January 2006

The First Goose

BerlinBear avatar Have you heard about Doretta, Germany's "First Goose"? No? Shame on you.

Doretta is a goose who was adopted by the former Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. He paid for her upkeep, thus ensuring she would not become Christmas dinner. This was after Schröder's step-daughter kicked up a big fuss when she discovered that Doretta had been personally selected for the Schröder's Christmas dinner table after the Chancellor paid a visit to a goose farm. The step-daughter won that particular family argument, and Doretta was spared.

I say 'she', though actually Doretta is a 'he'. At the time Schröder adopted Doretta, they thought he was a goose, but no, he was actually a gander. But, thought Schröder, what's good for the goose, is good for the gander, and dutifully kept paying. This, incidentally, may be the first time that that saying has ever been applied literally.

Anyway, that's the background. The subsequent story goes something like this: when Schröder lost the election, it was announced that the goose payments would cease as they only applied while he was Chancellor. So it came to pass that one of the first questions the media asked Angela Merkel when she became Chancellor was whether or not she would be taking over from Schröder in supporting the First Goose, Doretta. The answer came back that Doretta was not a subject with which Germany's first woman Chancellor would be concerning herself. In other words, Doretta was on his own. In other other words, it was probably only a matter of time before Doretta ended up on a Christmas dinner table after all.

But no! After being made redundant as First Goose, Doretta got himself a proper job. And no, it was not in one of Berlin's many drag clubs. He had probably heard that the changes to Germany's unemployment benefit system meant that he had little chance of ever staying above the poverty line and keeping his head off the chopping block. So now it has been announced that Doretta will in future be gainfully employed with the Berlin organisation Leben mit Tieren, which uses animal-assisted therapy to help people in need improve their social, emotional and cognitive functions through interaction with animals.

How nice! The former Chancellor has gone on to become a media consultant and gas tycoon, while the First Goose has become a social worker. I guess Doretta must have taken the "Du bist Deutschland" campaign, calling for more solidarity and social commitment well and truly to heart.

Deutsche Welle has the whole, weird story.

Now don't say that The Capital Letter doesn't keep you informed about the real issues!