Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Showing posts with label Bertolt Brecht. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bertolt Brecht. Show all posts

Saturday, 23 November 2013

A letter, written in the morning (in case you have any doubts...)

Britta Huegel

Dear Darlin',

yes - trust your eyes: I remembered!
Remembered - (in the back of my head I hear a song "Try to remember the kind of September/ when life was slow and oh, so mellow. ... and if you remember then follow, follow, follow me..." - - who sang that? Ah, yes - Barry McGuire - honestly, till this moment I didn't think of this chap for decades!) - I mean, suddenly (suddenly?? It took me a whole year!) I remembered why I had changed my flourishing blog "You are Witty and Pretty" to pining away "Berlin Letters".
I wanted a change a focus!
I wanted a bracket, a brace or a staple to give my random, rambling posts a sort of unity. But, much more important: I wanted my blog to be more personal. I mean: I have the feeling to know some of you better than just acquaintances, mere ghosts in the www - I have quite a distinct image of you, by your writing, through your comments, or even by meeting you in person - and I really miss you when you go on a holiday, especially such a long one as Pondside (who acts the part of "The Silent Traveler" in China)!
So in that year dot I made up my mind to write letters to you, Darlin'.
Tentatively I started out with "Dear" - as you'll still find in my comments to your adorable posts - but that sounded so very old-fashioned to me. I KNOW that 'Darling' might be even more old-fashioned, and if for a second I would believe that you associate it with "Dear Darling", that song by Olly Murs, I would be ashamed to use it - I mean: that song has a way to worm its way into your brain - and the only way to delete it that I know is to watch the silly video on Youtube: Olly is a pretender, my dear girl: I think it right to warn the young ones among you, though I know this sort of warning is utterly in vain - never has the warning of a well-meaning experienced (much nicer than 'older') friend (the futility is expressed in the word 'well-meaning' - we all know that it means: completely without effect) - kept a hot-blooded girl from running into - now this might surprise you: JOY (you expected: unhappiness, didn't you?). I found out, till this very day, that it is a good thing to follow your impulses/intuition. (Well, a bit of thinking in advance doesn't hurt). In the Threepenny Opera our poet Bertold Brecht wrote the beautiful Barbara's Song (part here roughly translated by me)

And if he has money, and if he is nice, and his collar is clean even on workdays,
and if he knows how to behave with a lady, then I say to him: “No.”
Then one keeps one's head up, and stays in the most general sense.
Sure, the moon shines the whole night,
sure, the boat is tied up at the bank,
but nothing more will happen.
Well, you know, one can't just lie down, one has to be cold and heartless.
Yes, so much might happen, but alas, there is only a: No!  

NO! But that other chap - no clean shirt, even on Sundays...
Well, I seem to digress (a speciality of mine).
What I mean is: how come that I forgot about writing you letters? 
In real life I write a lot of them - some even on paper, though most of them as emails now - and I love to receive them. Think with glee of the postman in Hamburg, who once rang at my door and delivered a very special postcard personally, saying: "I had to see the woman who gets such postcards!" (it happened four years ago - he must have read it - or at least looked at the front side - postmen are not the same any more in Germany since they lost their status as civil servants...).
And so I dare to be as daring as him, and write egocentric (yes, I know myself by now) rambling letters to you again, Darlin', and I hope that you like it and join in with Barry McGuire,
"and follow, follow, follow me..."


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Nobody was hurt

Britta Huegel

"Yes - go and make a plan, 
be a bright chap, 
and then make yet another plan, 
both won't work."

said Bertolt Brecht in the Threepenny Opera.
My plan was taking a little stroll to the Charlottenburger Schloss - our Ascension Day was windy, but mostly sunny. And then I saw it: ten minutes ago that tree had crashed down - wrecking two parked cars, but hurting nobody.
So easily plans can be changed. (Note to self: Always leave the house ten minutes later).
I never forget how silly I thought a woman in a TV-show in Baden-Württemberg, who proudly showed her flat to the reporters: "Look here - I thought of everything. The whole flat is disabled-adapted - for the days when I am old." That woman was not a day older than 29 - (it is a long while ago that I saw it - so I could not anticipate the hilarious scene in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel", where a couple in England visits such a flat for old people, and the manager proudly shows the emergency button and a handrail on one wall to get there - "Why not put it diagonally through the whole room, if I fall down on the other side?" asks sarcastically the unnerved and still healthy potential buyer.)
No, really: the over-cautiousness is shere fright, the attempt to control everything, so that life might go on forever. But Life is a gloriuos mess. Planning is good - but as Tove Jansson's Snufkin says so wonderful:
"Nothing is stable and sure, nothing is ever really finished or say irrevocable. That is reassuring, isn't it?"

The (Prussian?) gardeners who planted the borders in front of the Schloss might have been afraid (or compulsively orderly) too: 

Britta Huegel

Sunday, 28 April 2013

"Blackbird singing in the dead of night"

Looking a bit tired at the moment? 
Some of the culprits for what is commonly called 'springtime lethargy' might be our feathered friends: at 4:18 dear robin starts its song, followed at 4:28 by the blackbird, at 4:33 the wren adds its lovely tunes, 4:38 the great tit joins in, then at 4:58 the chiffchaff, and 5:04 the trillions of sparrows we have in Berlin, (and what they chirp I don't call song). 
Our sociocritical poet Bertolt Brecht, "poor B.B.", expressed it in his inimitable unfriendly way: 
"By morning in the grey dawn the firs piss, and their vermins, the birds, start to scream..."  
Old sourpuss - I prefer those noisy concerts to Rachel Carson's Silent Spring!  
Talking of birds: yesterday a biologist might have described the look that husband and I exchanged in the underground with the reaction of male sparrows when they have to listen to the songs of their competitors:  tartish. Our amygdala was tortured by two women (each with a child) who discussed the interesting details of a friend - "and then he said..." "and I said: What???
They sat far apart, so they had to shout very loudly - which didn't disturb them a jota, but the rest of the compartment looked pained (except those lucky ones with headphones on).  
Did you know that sparrows or blackbirds that live in cities trill their songs much louder than their country relatives? Most people think that they thus try to outdo the noise of cities - but Danish biologists found out that city architecture matters too: high houses reflect sounds in a different way, so they calculate the echo of buildings. And weather is important: the more it changes between damp and dry the more complex the sound sequence. They say. In Maryland researchers listened over thirty years to the songs of sparrows (oh my God - what a (wild)life!) and found out that only the melody in the beginning of their songs remained the same over time - the middle part changed drastically, the trill at the end became shorter and shorter by time.  
The sparrow-girls throw their little hearts to the boys with the most variations - 
"O fortune, fortune! all men call thee fickle" (Juliet in Capulet's orchard).