Luyken Family Association

Reiner Luyken (*1951)
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  On Reiner Luyken:
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Ludwigshafen, 05.09.2018

Reiner Luyken, Generation 12, Ref.Nr. 12-037b (BK0479) Branch WA-A

Born: 11.10.1951 in Starnberg (Germany)

Occupation: Journalist

Father: Reinhard Luyken
Mother: Viola von Kapherr

Spouse: Sheileagh Gunn
Married: 2.2.1980 in Edinburgh (Scottland)

S. Luyken (*1980)
Lewis Luyken (*1983)
Jörg Luyken (*1985)
Annabel Luyken (*1988)

Stammbaum Reiner Luyken

Hendrich Luyken
(ca. 1550-1607)

Hermann Luyken

Johannes Luyken

Daniel I Luyken

Daniel II Luyken

Daniel III Luyken

Arnold Luyken

Gustav Luyken

Arnold Luyken

Otto Luyken

Reinhard Luyken

Reiner Luyken

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Biography Reiner Luyken

My curriculum vitae: A typical journalist, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

Educated at a classical grammar school in Munich, then apprenticeship as harpischord maker. Afterwards journeyman's time as organ builder, jobbing as carpenter and long distance lorry driver, a year in Greece. A second attempt to escape from Germany, this time to Scottland, this time successful. Six years salmon fisher, marriage, the first kids. 1982 the first writing attempt, published in "Die Zeit", a German weekly newspaper. 1984 to 1994 free-lance journalist, since 1994 working world-wide exclusively for "Die Zeit" (a German weekly journal), now as senior international correspondent.

• 1984 Stipendium by the Michael Jürgen Leisler Foundation
• 1985/1986 Reporting award by the IG Metall (German Metal Union)
• 1990 Best economy report (sponsored by the Raiffeisenbanken, German banks)
• 1995 German-British Journalist Award (by the German federal president Roman Herzog and Prince Philip, Duke of Edingurgh)
• 1996 Theodor-Wolff-Award (Germany)
• 2005 Media Award by the Johanna-Quandt-Foundation

Article from "Zeit", Christmas 2006:
(sent by Reiner)

It looks like perfect planning. We married on the 2nd of February. Nine months and 9 days later, our first daughter was born. We called her Sián and, with middle name, Saturn. It was 1980, a few hours after her birth a spacecraft reached the planet for the first time. The first son followed three years later, we called him Lewis after the Hebridean island that we can see from our home. The second son, Jörg, was born two years later. Annabel, the number four, arrived three years after Jörg. In eight years we had build up a family for which you would get liberal approval from Arabs or Afghans. If you tell them that you have two sons and two daughters they praise that as a gift from Allah.

In Europe, you belong to the social fringes with a family like that. Four children? Who can afford it? Either those at the bottom, they bring their brats up on social security, or those at the top for whom it doesn't matter how much it costs.

We belong neither top nor to the bottom. But we live at the edge of Europe on a remote peninsula in the northwest of Scotland. Here, four children are as good as the norm. The MacLennans have four daughters. The MacLeods had their sixth child not long ago. None of them of them are poor, none of them are rich. Kenny MacLennan is a sheep farmer and deer hunter. Michael MacLeod is an enterprising fisherman.

In reality, things were not as well thought-out as it may sound. Our family is anything but planned. Sián owes her life to the fact that her mother forgot to pack the pill when we went on our honeymoon. Lewis was sort of planned as an antidote against the early onset of the oldest daughter’s attitude problems as a single-child. Number three, however, stole himself into our lives. After the fateful night my wife asked the local nurse for an abortion pill. The nurse had non of it. She made it abundantly clear that this was completely out of the question. We will be thankful to her for ever. She died not long after from cancer, still a very young woman.

When my wife turned pregnant for the fourth time she had internalised what the nurse had been on about. Every child is a blessing. The more children your have, the more fulfilment you will find in life, despite all the trouble. My wife is by no means a Mother Earth. She hated to walk around with a fat belly. The early years of our marriage were chaotic. We had very little money. We raised hens and ducks and pigs. We sold potatoes, we lived from fish from the sea and vegetables from the garden.

Our house had no heating, only an open fire in the living room. Our kitchen was a corrugated iron lean-to at the back of the old stone building. Blizzards blew the snow through every nook and cranny. One morning the snow lay ankle-deep on the kitchen floor. The first winter we spent largely keeping our screaming baby - the one named after the freezing planet - from freezing to death.

In summertime I fished salmon, some money came into the house. The next winter I renovated our abode. Meanwhile, we lived in a stone cottage which didn't even have a bathroom. If we wanted to shower we had to heat water on the stove and pour it over our heads outside in the snow flurries.

My British wife was 24 years old when we married. She had graduated from art school. She weaved tapestries until late in her third pregnancy. She had an offer for a position as an artist-in-residence in the south of Scotland. Did she think about the career break caused by the children?

"I never asked myself that question" she says. "You follow a goal in life. Then things change, you do something else and you follow another goal."

Pursuing this other goal we never even thought if the government was child-friendly, or if it was lacking family-friendly policies. Don’t our children belong to us? Is it the government’s business how many children we have, and how we manage to raise them?

The children went to the local school. It is a tiny village school, the first three years are taught in one room, the eight to twelve-year-olds in another room. My wife worked as an art teacher one day a week. Before she went off she had to feed the hens and the geese. She had to take the youngest to a child-minder. The husband, meanwhile a world-travelling journalist, was, as so often, somewhere far away. The children waited for the school-bus outside the house. A heavy concrete lintel was leaning against the wall. Sián challenged her brother: "Bet you can't lift it?"

My wife heard a scream. When she ran out she saw the boy buried under the lintel. She freed him with a superhuman act of strength. He looked unhurt but was sent 130 kilometres to the nearest hospital for observation. There a nurse asked my wife where the father was. She said she didn't know. The alarm bells rang - a case for the social services department?

We had no television. But there were enough children to stage their own shows. At one time, it was a nativity play, at another time "Rapunzel". Sián wrote the script and directed, Lewis was the sound engineer, everybody played several roles. In a third play, I cannot remember any more what it was about, they recorded a flushing toilet as background noise. When it came on they were rolling on the floor with laughter and couldn't carry on...

Can one still imagine such a childhood? The village school is unchanged. But ten years New Labour, fifteen years economic growth and twenty years technical advance have radically changed life even in the remotest corners of the United Kingdom. House prices have soared. 1980 our house was worth 12.000 pounds, today we would have to pay well over 300.000 pounds for it.. Sian spent several quite unhappy teenager years at high school in Ullapool, a small port 40 kilometres away that looks idyllic at first glance. Drugs, not only of the allegedly "harmless" variety, are widespread. They threaten to undermine the family bond.

Nevertheless, Sian and her boyfriend are now moving back to her native place to live in a stone cottage, just like her parents 27 years ago. They paid 170.000 pounds for the house and two hectares of land. She wants to raise hens and pigs. Contrary to her parents they had to take out a huge mortgage. She has two university grades, she works as a "telecommuter" for a London publishing house. The boyfriend is a self-employed landscape gardener. She also wants to become self-employed at one point. She thinks about designing knitwear to be produced in India or China, a globalised cottage industry, or to launch a small publishing company.

But first comes the family. She’d like four children. Why four? "One would be lonely. Two argue all the time. With three, it is always two against one. With four, it evens itself out."

After primary school she wants to send her children to the same boarding school that she and her siblings attended after her unhappy experiences in Ullapool, despite the enormous cost. Boarding schools are, this is a stereotype of our time, inhumane institutions, or at least places that harm the children’s psychological balance. I cannot imagine anything better for family life. The daily scrapes which all too often undermine the relations of parents and pubescent teenagers remain at school. Each reunion is a wonderful happening.

Our children flourished. Maybe they flourished primarily because they are so close to each other. They always had the support of each other. After finishing school there was only one place for them to go - London. As far away as possible from provincial Scotland and from their remote home. The lure of the metropolis didn't last long. Lewis failed and started afresh in Manchester. Jörg left London as soon as he graduated from university. Sian came back. Now only Annabel is left. All became homesick, or better: they longed for each other.

Only once there was a serious conflict between two of them. It started, as disputes so often do, with an irrelevancy. Sián called home, weeping. I was furious. I phoned the guilty brother and knocked the stuffing out of him as I had never done before. He called his sister back and apologized. Since then, they are completely at one again.

The Christmas excitement starts at the end of November. Christmas is still the climax of the year. Everything must be as it has always been. On Christmas Eve, the "Christkindl" rings the bell, the Christmas tree is full of red roses (a family tradition of Russian origin), we eat Baltic herring salad and drink vodka. We are so happy that we drink too much. Christmas Day is celebrated the British way. At Boxing Day we play Pooh Sticks on a bridge over a wild creek, a favourite play of Pooh Bear and his friends. Presents play a secondary role. The main thing is being together, the feeling of belonging. Or, if you will, God's blessing of being able to be a big family.

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Picture Gallery Reiner Luyken

Old city center of Nablus
in the Palestinina West Jordan.
With a leader of the
Al Aqsa brigades.

Coigach, 2007
Winterly scene from Reiner's house

Broadcast "Lovely!,
Fantastic Scotland"
by Ulrike Bartels in WDR (German TV)

Broadcast "Lovely!,
Fantastic Scotland"
by Ulrike Bartels in WDR (German TV)


Inverness, Scotland
Florence and Reiner



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Links Reiner Luyken

Internal links
• Marriage annoncement, family bulletin 1980, page 288 (German)
• Letter from North Scotland, family bulletin 1983, page 15 (German)
• Report by Hans Luyken on an extraordinary grant by the Michael-Jürgen-Leisler-Kiep Foundation, family bulletin 1985, page 93 (German)

External links
Article in Wikipedia (German)
• Die Zeit, 23.3.2005: The Flying Living Room (German)
• Die Zeit, 11.1.2007: Big Brother is in Reality a Briton (German)
• Die Zeit, 10.6.2009: Oliver, 21, stabbed down and paralysed (German)
• Die Zeit, 26.4.2013: Edvard Munch (German)
• Die Zeit, 7.5.2013: Sailing at the Outer Hebrides (German)
Conference "Ethics and Travel" in Berlin on 13.6.2013
The Brochs of Coigach (holiday houses in Achiltibuie, Scotland)

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