Steffen Seibert: "My wife has taught me to see"


At home there are always books around me, thousands. You talk about books, you live with books. Not least because my father has a publishing house for art books. Since we move frequently, the many volumes have to be constantly packed in boxes and later unpacked again. I love the dust, the smell, I could watch for days. When I'm twelve, my parents divorce, my mother and I move to Hannover. But the love of books is aroused. To this day I am a manic reader.


I have a record with such a children's crime, I do not remember the name, which I hear up and down. In doing so, I'm almost scared of shit. At one point the children sneak into a cellar, which is so exciting that it makes me completely exhausted. This has not changed: I'm still scared of thrillers. I just do not like being entertained by something that plays with my worst fears. Nobody will ever get me in "The Silence of the Lambs"!


At the age of 17 I meet Magdalena in Hanover, until today a very close friend. It opens a new world for me: pop music and going out. Magdalena lives with her sisters under her father's roof, a real girl's den. On prehistoric turntables we hear Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder, Bryan Ferry - great stuff. I think these girls are great, their music, the whole atmosphere, and hang me there. In the evening we go to the "Casablanca" in Hanover, a disco, then far ahead and my first disco ever. The music of this time has shaped my taste - I call it a Happy-Seichtpop disco taste. And I never actually dropped it.


Driver's license. To be able to pay for it, I sell the clarinet that I once played. The proceeds are pretty accurate, and I barely practiced anyway. A mistake, as I know today: I would give something if I could play.


Hamburg, my first semester at the university. In an English library I draw a book from the shelf completely arbitrarily. It is the first volume of Anthony Powell's romance cycle "A dance to the music of time", a kind of English Proust. I could have caught something, but I catch the work of my life. The next nine months I read nothing else, only Powell, all volumes. Gigantic! I live in this world, the London of the interwar and post-war years. Later I go to London for study. Even today I live with the characters, I often think: Oh, he's like Powell.


Magdalena introduces me to Sophia (yes, domes can actually work!). Since then we are a couple. At first she studies fashion design in Hamburg, but she gives up and becomes a painter. Sophia opens my eyes to painting, through which I first learn to see. Until today we go together in exhibitions and art museums, where my taste is much more conservative than theirs. I like figurative painting, pictures telling stories. I like Anthony van Dyke, Georges de la Tour, Lucian Freud and Max Beckmann.


We live in Washington, I am Korres-pondent for ZDF. In 1992 our first child was born, our daughter Tallulah. We call her after the actress Tallulah Bankhead. I saw that in the Hitchcock movie "Lifeboat". There she plays such a well-traveled journalist, washed up with nothing, save nothing but her typewriter and her diamond bracelet. Fantastic!


In the cinema we see "Everything about my mother" by Pedro Almodóvar. The last good movie I remember, but I do not go to the movies often. In general, one can say: I am the man with whom one can watch women's films well. I get bored with action scenes right away.


When I'm in Berlin, I buy plates for my daughter at the Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann. Sophie Ellis Bextor, Kylie Minogue, Pop. For a 42-year-old rather a bit embarrassing. But I'll bring her to Tallulah - and lend her to me for parties. Big advantage of the children's living!


At the moment I read three books at once: Martin Suter, John van Düffel and a Catholic Missal. I got that as a gift, because I am preparing to enter the Catholic Church. I regularly meet with an old prelate from Mainz Cathedral for a conversation. It's a whole new world of ideas, and I'm lucky enough to get something like a private lesson.

Steffen Seibert, born 1960 in Munich, has been moderating the "today" news on ZDF since January 2003. He lives in Wiesbaden with his wife and three children.

Germany: Lose jobs at home or lives abroad? Town torn over Saudi exports (July 2020).

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