I have not translated the entire website - but at least here you have


Once upon a time there was a pyramid who had to scratch her back. But how could she do that? Churches have towers which they can use for scratching. The Great Chinese Wall, for whom the pyramid felt an old sympathy, had watchtowers. But the pyramid had nothing to scratch herself with. The camels would have helped her, but they could not reach the itching spot. The storks can fly, for them that spot was not too high. But the pyramid complained that their bills were too pointed and too hard. She wanted to go into the city and look for help. But it was not so easy for her to move. While she was built they had been giving her so many huge stones, and these stones still lay heavily in her stomach. And then the nearby sphinx growled in such a threatening manner and beat the sand with his tail. Such a sphinx does not like it at all when his pyramid feels like going off on her travels.

Usually that sphinx was a quiet fellow, lying in the sunshine and miaowing. He was wise indeed, and so the pyramid asked him how she could scratch her back. Now the problem with these sphinxes is that they do not like giving answers, the rather ask questions. So the sphinx asked: “Well – to start with – which side is your back?” The pyramid was stunned, for of course all her four sides looked perfectly alike. She mused for a while, but the itching went on and on. Finally she cried: “What a rubbish! I want to scratch my back – so my back is where I want to scratch myself. That’s perfectly logical, isn’t it. And the sphinx shall go to Hel ... sinki!” After this, the sphinx was upset and did not ask any more.

The storks felt some pity for the pyramid and wanted to help her. They knew that on the other side of the sea there lived a little cat, and cats have a certain reputation in the field of scratching. Shouldn’t they fetch the little cat? But little cats are so afraid of flying. And then the storks would not return to Egypt before next year, and of course the pyramid would not wait that long.

The famous duck might have helped them. She of course would not mind flying. But she was a very attentive member of a bible study group, and she was not fond of the idea that she might be forced to burn bricks for the Egyptians and, who knows, maybe build some more pyramids for them. Then she had learned that it might take up to forty years until one has finally got out of Egypt. So she would rather not go there. (She did not know yet that Egypt at times had been an esteemed asylum as well. That would be discussed at a later meeting of her bible study group.)

The untiring storks spent day after day in the Egyptian Museum reading old script rolls. Some­where somebody must have written down what to do with a pyramid that has to scratch herself. But as much as they searched, they found nothing about this important subject. They suspected the museum mice to have eaten the respective script rolls. After all, there are say­ings about church mice gnawing even the altar bible. But the museum mice thoroughly rejected these allegations. They declared that all script rolls concerning this matter had already been destroyed by the great fire at the library of Alexandria. That was what the museum staff always stated when something was missing. So there was nothing the storks could do. And their time had come, they had to leave.

Meanwhile, the pyramid had even written to Mexico. She had some distant relatives there – at such a distance that not even the travelling storks had ever been there. She had written her relatives a letter with her finest hieroglyphs. After many days, she even got an answer, and what an answer! A lot of strings with knots in it. The poor pyramid could not understand a piece of it.

She was so forlorn that she started crying. Her tears made the Nile flowing over. It was a great flood, and the pyramid liked it. She hoped the Nile would come to her. Then she could take a mud bath, and that would certainly stop the itching of her back. The people who lived in that area, however, did not enjoy the flood at all. They did not want to have a mud bath, let alone such a huge one that a complete pyramid would fit into it. They constructed a large dam which prevented the Nile from causing floods, and the pyramid was as desperate as before.

But then some people had a really good idea. They placed a couple of lamps around the pyramid and the sphinx, to light them at night in different colours. That looked very nice. They even used laser. With laser, even surgeries can be made, so they are good for scratching a pyramid, too. Of course, one has to handle the laser carefully and aim very well. At first, the man operating the laser was not ready to listen to the pyramid’s wishes. But then the pyramid proclaimed: “If you will not scratch me thoroughly wherever it is itching, then I will take all my stones and emigrate.” This frightened the man. With no pyramid to illuminate, he would lose his job. So he gave in and pointed the laser to all the spots where the pyramid wanted to be scratched. Thus we need not say: if she has not passed away, her back is still itching. For it is not itching any more already now.


Author's own translation. German original in:

Marec Béla Steffens, Der Straßenbahnschaffner von Venedig (The Tramway Conductor of Venice)