a taste of ‘Hello Berlin!’

from the diary novella by Jason S. Andrews, published December 2016

Berlin cover for TSP

 

ISBN (paperback)  978-1-925536-11-9  /  ISBN  (eBook) 978-1-925536-12-6

 

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‘I’m English,’ I say as way of explanation, which must be obvious as we’re speaking English. The only German bands I’ve heard of are Kraftwerk and Rammstein.

We go drinking in Nollendorfplatz to celebrate (Christopher Isherwood’s haunt!) which turns out to be two minutes from where we live.

I should charge considering I need to make ends meet somehow.

How have I suddenly come to live in this unusual timepiece?

It’s not just Anja I’m falling in love with. It’s damn fine living in Berlin.

‘That’s the appeal,’ Raybay said. ‘People move here from small towns where everyone knows them. Here they are anonymous because no one gives a fuck.’

My hangover is setting in and I’m disappointed they don’t actually sell donuts; we’re there for morning Bloody Marys.

Dreikornbrot and black coffee, for me, sums up Berlin; so dark, so hard, so bitter, so morish, taken with a sugary spoonful of something colourful to help it go down easier.

She is sitting in a chair, and she is completely naked. Well, not completely naked. Parts of her are obscured by the large cat she is stroking in her lap.

I don’t immediately panic. My subconscious clasps at irrational straws. ‘The sauna’ is probably a trendy Schöneberg café?

My eyes close and when they open, all I can see is Belé’s face, and it looks as if he’s going to pull a gun and shoot me in the head.

Small brass tiles with a name, birthdate, name of a concentration camp, and a death date, are scattered around the pavement in memory of the lives, families and friendships that existed here before they were destroyed.

‘The Bowles,’ she answers proudly, a gorgeous Alt-Bau (high-ceilinged, pre-war courtyard-building) and for twenty-five years, a famous West Berlin squat so-named for its location on Bowles Strasse.

It takes a supreme effort not to roll my eyes. ‘It must be tough,’ I say. She asks, ‘Does it surprise you that I was single?

‘You know… when I’m alone… I….’ After a lengthy pause, Anja says, ‘Masturbate?’ ‘Yes… a lot.’

Wolfgang speaks to me with his little member sticking out from under his fat belly, scratching himself at me, void of any shame or self-consciousness.

‘It’s a fetish club. They don’t let you in unless you’re dressed up.’

‘I’ve called, texted, emailed, I’ve even spoken to her mother. She had a theory. She said Anja had had an unhealthy infatuation with me.’

‘Are you sure you’ve never heard of me?’

‘…Have people over for coffee and make parties. That is important. This is a community. But most importantly you have to ask if you can live here.’

The man on the door doesn’t look very happy about that. He wouldn’t be happy about letting anyone so uncool inside, no less for free.

In my desperation, I stop breathing. That doesn’t help the situation, and I subtly exhale cold air through pursed lips, managing to desist the old chap.

‘There’s just so much hate in there, and I immediately lost my friends when we went inside and there was no phone reception so I couldn’t find them again and so I just people-watched.’

‘My name is Paul, I live in Berlin, I’m feeling very intense because I ate some space cake.’

The Berlin squats – especially the newer, less official ones in the east – are being phased out as Berlin builds itself up to be Europe’s trendiest city and an economic power, and soon won’t exist anymore.

Finally, thankfully, everyone is exhausted, the discussion dies out, and the woman next to me leans over smiling and says in heavily accented English, ‘Is good. Is all ok.’

A surreally vast empty space stands before me. Half a car sticks out of the ground. Metal sculptures are scattered around.

Potsdamer Platz was a bustling metropolis of casinos and cabarets, and the film making centre of the world in the ‘Golden Twenties’, where Fritz Lang filmed Metropolis, before the Nazis took over UFA to make their propaganda films.