More comments please

2 06 2009

Come on people, where are the comments? Must I pimp myself out for quick comment screw just to make myself look good? I think I need to start a ‘contact me’ page as well, just to see what messages I receive that way. Maybe you’re all just shy.


So to boost the hit ratings:















you make my London Bridge go down.


But many thanks to my last commenter, who is clearly impressed by my dedications to Hot Bill Kaulitz.


My kicks are now below the waistline

1 06 2009

I’ve lived in Germany a good few months now, and yet I’ve only just discovered my latest German celebrity crush! This is more evidence that I am slowly turning German.


It’s Bill Kaulitz from Tokio Hotel, everyone!


Oh Bill, you make my London Bridge go down, down, down

Oh Bill, you make my London Bridge go down, down, down


It’s the anime features, the androgyny, the knowledge  he is probably way too young for me (but not that young). That PERFECT NOSE.


I’m loving the way the fans have made all sorts of Bill youtube dedications; montaging his gorgeous picture against a whole host of ill-matched songs. Yes, that’s ‘Lady Marmelade’, ‘London Brigdge’, ‘Sexy Back’ (yes!) and strangely ‘La Booooooomba’. OMG, I just saw video footage of the Kaulitz twins cuddling lion cubs – TOO CUTE TOO CUTE TOO CUTE TOO CUTE.

I get my kicks above the waistline

24 05 2009

You know, 5 euros might not be a great deal of money but if I’m paying 5 euros for a Drag Queen show, I want a bit more for my bucks. All I can really say is that last Friday Jackson, C and I had the most bizarre and surreal evening, to rival many that I’ve had in the past (Wurzburg summer 2001, anyone?). Watching a Drag Queen attempting (badly) to pose on one leg on top of an old orange box, at the end of every badly lip-synched song, just made me think of a senile grandmother – the lips drawn back from the teeth in a forced grin, the wavering leg and the bleeding lipstick edges really turned my insides, aided by the bad Sekt I was drinking.  The three of us thought we would never escape, and it did take more than 4 hours after our arrival for us to manage to get out – alive. It just wasn’t Ru Paul’s Drag Race, there was no bass in the walk. There weren’t even any Barbara Streisand or Annie Lennox covers.

I’m not sure if anyone but the three of us who went together will truly understand what we experienced/suffered. I actually suspect there might have been dubious ‘group activities’ occurring once everyone had consumed enough of the liquor chocolates that were passed around. At one point I asked C if I was missing the trick, the punchline or the green fairy that might appear on my shoulder.  I’ve never craved an out of body experience so much; my curiosity to find out what the senses of the ‘performers’ where receiving, compared to what befell my eyes was extremely high. Will anyone else ever understand the ‘Aldi Champagne Truffle’ advice I was given by an extremely shouty lady? Will anyone ever share my pain after being slapped, hard, on my backside by same lady as we finally escaped the….the…..menagerie?

Bread, eggs, coffee, gender

16 05 2009

I’ve just translated a tagline on the back of my paper bakery bag; in German it reads “Leidenschaftlich Kernig”, which in English means “Passionately Corny”. This isn’t an emotion I’ve experienced myself, and I’m wondering if I’ve been missing out all these years.

Given that underneath there is a picture of a woman on the bag, I’m sure it is the woman’s emotions to which the line is referring. Modern life is bringing a whole new host of emotions to me, especially after the weeping into the microwave lasagna event.

I’ve noticed some areas of Berlin are beginning to smell a bit like a giant egg right now; summer must be approaching. Whilst waiting for the night bus home, clutching my cakes from the all-night bakery, I really don’t want to be inhaling a giant whiff of sulphur from the drains. Anyway, soon I’ll get a bike which means I don’t have to get the night bus home. I can also check more things off my list of ‘gradually becoming more German’. For example:

Taking a boat ride whilst drinking beer – check
Eating ‘Vollkorn’ bread for breakfast – check
Shouting back at people who shout at me on the street – check
Wearing scarves indoors – check
Spending hours drinking coffee and not working – check
Riding a bike everywhere – almost

Whilst on the topic of coffee, or ‘Kaffee und Klatschen’ as one might say in German, I have to voice my sickening disappointment at reading the following on a McDonald’s leaflet.

“Ein Kaffee ohne Kuchen ist wie ein Kleid ohne Handtasche. Überstezt in Männersprache: wie ein Auto ohne Soundlage.”

In English:
“A coffee without cake is like a dress without a handbag. Translated into Man Talk: like a car without a stereo system.”

Is this really how far we have progressed? That the general population still think that men and women speak differently? Or rather, we are still conned into thinking we should speak differently, and if we do we can’t understand each other? Do not underestimate the power of mass marketing and the twists and turns of semantics that convince us that men and women do come from different planets – we don’t.

This type of language is dangerous, dangerous stuff and can only hinder the efforts of those who want to break down gender divides and barriers. Of course I am not negating schools of thought that promote ideas that women/men do bring different skills and talents to situations, that perhaps others haven’t yet learnt to utilise, or were socialized differently to not use, but – what I don’t agree with is the view that all women do is talk about ‘dresses and handbags’ and men talk about ‘cars and sound systems’. I think I can grasp the idea behind what a Kaffeklatsh is without it having to be translated into ‘women’s speak’, but then again – this example did come from McDonald’s.

Thankfully Berlin offers a growing space of resistance against corporatization and commercialization and mainstream dogma. Places where people can go and not feel under pressure from the stifled divides of the man vs woman world. It is possible to be ‘woman’ or ‘man’ and enjoy being that, but without feeling a compulsion to act in strict binaries the whole time. It’s so boring.

Faces of Berlin

1 05 2009

Three faces of Berlin…

Following up on my posts about bin hokers and plate hokers, my latest encounter has been with a remarkably verbose drunken lady. Sitting down on a park bench to eat our ice-creams (oh, I love you Berlin, and all your ice cream shops), Jackson and I were approached by a lady dressed in pastel colours and dream catcher earrings. She immediately picked up that we weren’t German and switched to fluent English, this despite the smell of Aldi’s cheapest wine and the type of spirits sold in those miniature bottles, flowing off her breath. Coupled with the collection of bags that she’d dumped on a bench nearby, a gentrified conversation didn’t appear too promising, but – never judge a book by it’s cover. Our newest acquaintance had more than enough sharp observations of the differences in mentality across Germany. The Berlinerish ‘Landkreig’ (no one ever, ever gives way on pavements or opens the door if you are coming through), the peering through curtains and judgement of neighbours, compared to the more open and easy-going manner of Hanseatic area. Of course, living in Berlin one soon appreciates that ‘God knows everything, but the neighbours know more‘.

UPDATE: Jackson just reminded me of the strange joke the lady made about Jackson speaking ‘Egg speech’. Somehow she moved from Ireland-isch, to Eier-landisch, to Egg speech. It does actually make sense: eier means ‘eggs’ in German; but our new linguist found the joke immensly funny for far longer than is usual. 

I’m never sure if people I meet on the streets, who clearly display signs of alcoholism, madness (who are we to judge?), and general dirtiness, spin out embellished stories, or do tell the truth. The lady in the park had, accordingly, sailed around the world many times, and was an accomplished yachtswoman. I’m leaning on the side of believing her, and why not?

Later that day I also had an impromptu conversation with an old Vietnamese man. I was buying Summer Rolls on the spur of the moment on my way home, and the restaurateur started talking to me. I told him I’d visited Vietnam a few years ago, which is where my love of Summer Rolls started. He, in turn, told me his story (which was certainly more interesting than my love of Asian food) of arriving in West Germany decades ago, as a guest student. Apparently after the Berlin wall was erected, and then when the war in Vietnam ended, Gastarbeiters and students from the north of Vietnam were invited to Eastern Germany (the communist connection), and many students were invited from the south of Vietnam into Western Germany. The restaurateur had been an electrical engineer for many years, before starting a restaurant with his wife. I think being a foreigner in Berlin, and recognisably so (I lack the required accent), has made me somehow more susceptible to being approached by many characters wanting to tell their own story. In the true sense of narrative history, everyone has a story to tell, but often no one takes the time to hear. My new friend also gave me some fortune cookie so I’d “know what’s going to happen later”. I opened mine up at home the paper strip read “You will have success on Thursday“. But it was Thursday! So have I already had my success for the day, was it to come in the remaining 3 hours, or come next Thursday? Or on another Thursday, ten years away? Tell me for certain!

Or maybe my success is linked to this:

Another reason why I love Berlin is the chance to meet Daniel Brühl, the face of Berlin, on the U-bahn. I’m 99% certain it was him, and 1% certain it was a spitting-image copy, but as I went down the steps at Potsdamer Platz, he was coming up. It was actually a second or so afterwards that I realized that I might have unknowingly experienced a star-sighting. Oh, missed opportunity! Actually, our eyes did meet….sadly, nothing else did.

Daniel, if you were at Potsdamer Platz at about 7.45pm, then, you know – call me!

Mein Gott

25 04 2009

I wish I lived in Witzleben, Berlin. Then I could in all honestly say “life’s a joke”, whilst shaking my head in despair as the fine particles of our crumbling civilization scatter around us. Schadenfreude even invades the place names round here. The locals can quite happily say ‘we told you so’, perhaps whilst mixing in a Cambridge Footlights’ song (circa 1995/6/7?) that chimes out ‘shit happens, and life’s a bitch and then you die’.


For the record, personally I am fine, but once in a while I like to comment on the state of affairs that I witness around me.

Dirty hands, 80 cents and David Bowie

21 01 2009

Like bad sex all I ever get from visiting DIY shops are dirty hands and a headache – DIY shops, and anywhere that sells flat-packed furniture. Nevertheless, on my last visit to Ikea I did completely indulge myself in what I can only describe as a GIANT CREAM HAT. I’ve had one of these before in Stockholm and I think they’re a January/February delicacy. Just a giant puff of cream served with red berries; then you need a gallon of coffee to wash it all down and prevent your throat momentarily closing due to the build up of  lactose-phlegm.  Anyway, that was yesterday. Today takes us to postmodernism and illusions, hallucinogenic for some, illuminated with halogen for others. 


I’m declaring myself the postmodern Christiane F of 2009. Much like the Bowie-loving, drug addicted teen protagonist of the 1981 film, I too love to hang out at train stations! But for all the GOOD reasons. I’m smitten with Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof to a degree which is is more than necessary for a train station, but I need to quickly explain the difference between ‘Hbf‘ and any English train stations. When I traveled on a train out of Berlin back in the hot summer, the cheeriest train conducter I’ve met waltzed into my carriage (all glass and cushioned head rests and halogen-spotlighted vanity mirrors!) and sang ‘Kaffeeeeeeeeee? Capucccinoooooooo? ‘ I actually declined because I was so stumped, and half expected him to put out his hand for a 5 euro bill afterwards. 


England – trains late

Berlin – trains on time!

England – cup of weak tea/coffe/chocolate with floating rawhide

Berlin – proper cafes!

England – stale Cornish Pasty (if you’re lucky)

Berlin – Italian ice cream parlour!

England – yesterday’s copy of the ‘Daily Diana’

Berlin – Virgin media store!

England – small shop selling polo mints

Berlin – chemist, CLOTHES SHOPS, food court, supermarket

England – curling egg sandwiches, costing £5

Berlin – sushi, miso soup and noodles!

England – shambling psychotic strangers intent on starting conversations with you

Berlin – super-glossy businessmen connecting to WiFi and calling Geneva on their iPhones!


I actually go to the Hbf just to go to the Hbf! Maybe buy some new clothes (ok, before the pound started on its slippery slope), get some sushi, have an ice cream, marvel at all that shiny, shiny glass, hear Bowie singing ‘Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just the flame‘ in my head. Everything I need is in that Hauptbahnhof and I’ve really got no excuse to leave it. I could just shunt back and forth on one of the S-bahns for a bit of a scenery change, but that’s all. Apparently you can also get all the way to Kazakhstan, but then I don’t believe everything I read on Wikipedia. I’m not that much 2009. Nevertheless, that would be one hell of a train journey!


A Taiwanese friend of mine told me it’s quite normal for her to meet her friends in the main train station when she goes back to visit, but things have always been super-swishy over in the Far East. I also like the local Hauptbahnhof here  because when you come out of the main entrance, it’s really, really eerie. Exiting at dusk reveals a big concrete, open plaza and then laid out in front of you is the government area, the Reichstag, and to the left you see the “Death Star” TV tower way out in the distance. Behind looms the megalithic glass construction of the station. Our images reflected back, and back again. Truth, standards and ideals lost in a labyrinth of mirrors; the reason and order of the Reichstag, symbolised in the the Brandenburg Tor, glinting back in the glossy windows. It’s a sharp shock returning to the heavy damp air of Berlin after being swaddled in the constant flurry of advertising, the shooting in and out of travel, consumerism, people, 80 cents to spend a penny. Train stations no longer about serving trains. Wir kinder vom Hauptbahnhof – I wish you a very happy 2009. choo choo. choo choo.