I'm well rugged up and walking, my daily mild exercise, around the tree-lined streets of the Blankenese suburb in Hamburg close to the Elba (across which is the A380 factory). I stroll past some magnificent Hansel and Gretel mansions in large, lost in the woods gardens - this is millionaires row, billionaires, whatever.
A well-dressed man, a bit older than myself, is crossing an intersection coming towards me. He slows down as he approaches me and it seems he wants to talk.
He stops, so I stop. Germans are so polite when they are not trying to take over the world. So, thinks: I'd better do the same (it's a tit-for-tat utilitarianism thing). I wonder what I am up for here. Have you heard the word of the Lord? Some pfennig for the old guy?
He starts talking as I take my left earphone out. In German of course.
"Nick sprecker Doych", I say. "Ick hab kynner Doych." In my impeccable accent.
"Ach, vot language? You speak, what do you..."
I take out my right earphone and raise my sunglasses to look him politely in the eye.
He is wearing a classy red windbreaker (I can't make out the brand) over a warm jumper as the summer in Hamburg is not all that impressive this week; cloudy, blustery, cool (14deg), a spit of rain today, pouring yesterday. He has what look like expensive-frames on his thick-lensed square glasses, and he swipes the air with a thick cigar stub that trails noxious fumes that dissipate quickly in the breeze as he speaks to me. He might live in one of those billionaire houses.
He says: "You know, I have stopped you to talk because, one, you have your sunglasses on; two, you have those... he waves his cigar around... those things in your ears; and three, because I wish to ask you a question."
The man is, I am confident now, not a complete nutter, but pushing it. Eccentric billionaire.
"Der built zeitung, you know?" I must have looked blank because he asks again. "Der built, it is the, vat you say, newspaper?"
Ah yes, Bild. I recall some German scandal rag like that.
"The very first word in der Bild today, do you know what it was? The very first word?"
Naturally I did not know. I shrug.
"The first word on the page. It is bordell."
He doesn't seem to have heard me because he repeats, "Bordell. You know where women sell themselves. A bordell!"
"Brothel." Yes, I know them.
"Yes, yes, a brothel. The very first word! What do you make of that? What is your opinion?" He holds his cigar up at his face, takes a puff, as he waits for my answer.
I smile as I consider what his opinion no doubt is.
"Well," I say, "Germany is a very open minded country, a very broad minded country."
He tilts his head back a little, looking in my eye with a bit of sparkle as he contemplates my answer briefly. He then points his cigar at me with slight gesture and gently smiles.