@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you

Transitory, on ice and breath, a sweeping movement of a coffee-stained Frankfurter Allgemeine. The check-in announcement screams at me as I exit arrivals, stone faces, no signs. Where is my welcoming party?

Thirty hours of cracking your bones in seat 32F and this is what you get, though it might be what you deserve. Nobody’s going to come to get you in GMT+1 except the stipple dreams that you coloured for yourself when you thought it was OK to exchange everything that defined you for a one-way ticket.

@germanforayeaTaxi smells like pretzels. How do u say ‘I need a f**king smoke’ auf Deutsch? #jetlagged

Continue reading “@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you”

Immer 88

Immer88

Chic (adj.): a half-refurbished ground floor space in a former East German apartment block.

Austere plaster swimming with granite and silver adornments, dub music playing softly from speaker cones, retro phones converted into candle holders and pink shag in the toilets – Irving hated this restaurant. The food was overpriced and unexciting, the cocktails nauseatingly pretentious (anyone for a Strawbunny Chokehold?), and the patrons were invariably overdressed proles with huge teeth, or chihuahua hugging metrosexuals with their dress pants on backwards. That’s why, out of all the upmarket promi-troughs, it was Charlotte’s favourite. Continue reading “Immer 88”

Reflections on Berlin

It’s 8:30 in the morning — a summer morning if you want to be all chipper about it.  I’m strolling up the main street in my neighbourhood, sunlight filters through the elms onto the newly laid cobblestones.

I notice a man in paint-splattered boots enjoying a breakfast beer on the park bench. His arms are covered with faded dragon tattoos — the kind that indicate age and lack of foresight. Around him, a flock of sparrows bounce to and fro like popcorn on a grill. Someone occupying that bench before him had started the day with a flaky mound of dough from the bakery across the street. Whether he has just finished work or is on his way isn’t clear, but when he rises to leave, he places his bottle neatly underneath the rubbish bin at the end of a row of empties. Someone will be along shortly to collect them for recycling money. Continue reading “Reflections on Berlin”

No favours

PROPELLED BY THE PLASTIC BAGS that dangled at her sides, Bertilda lurched over the defiant mid-March snow, past the dilapidated bikes and empty beer bottles, and into the square.

She’d bought more than she’d needed of course: the bags bulged with French apples, new potatoes, flour, bread, cabbages as big as footballs, they were so heavy the plastic was cutting into her fingers. It will be worth it, she thought. There’ll be plenty to go around, plenty of leftovers for Daniel. Who knew if his new wife (what was her name again?) could cook, or even if she did at all? Continue reading “No favours”

A Year of Compliance

“Gentlemen-”

“And ladies!”

Herr Nussbaum looked over his rimless glasses at the stout woman sitting across from him and licked his lips. The taste of his morning Bloody Mary scuttled to the back of his throat.  “Gentlemen… and Frau Bauer,” he continued, spitting out the name. “You all knew this day was coming, but no one knew it would be as bad as this.” He threw the report into the centre of the table and it landed with a clap. “Months of scouring the footpaths, dragging up and down the streets of outer suburbs, camping out at traffic lights, lobbying for tighter, more exact laws—”

“And the overtime!” Continue reading “A Year of Compliance”

The director

Gunther’s feet curled in his snow boots. How long had he been waiting? How long had he been listening to that screaming?

That crying that gashed at his nerves like a chainsaw through a sheet of tin? With a twitching eye he regarded the woman in the cobalt fur coat: she was rocking an all-terrain stroller backwards and forwards, cocked-headed and cooing at the woollen cocoon inside. But the baby only replied by screaming more loudly. Continue reading “The director”