Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 26 November 2012

Return of the Drama Queen

Dear You
Honestly, I had thought that she had disappeared some time ago - of course with a bang, not with a whimper. Oh no: no early retirement for my Drama Queen.
Yes, I'm speaking of my Alter Ego. (You might blot out 'alter').
Like all those old rockbands she gives a revival tour, promising it will be her last (you bet!).
I shall get wary when words rise in my mind like: "Awful! Catastrophe! Core melt accident!"
I heard them, last week, when I discovered that Google on Blogspot (which is the same) flatly refused to print even one more photo of mine. First I thought it only concerned "Britta's Happiness of the Day."
"Awful!", I thought, but then, being of a Pollyanna-nature, I tried to see the hand of the Tao in it (no later than that I should have become Very Wary). "You were thinking about giving it up already", I told myself with what sounded like my grown-up voice. "So what?"
Then I tried to load up a photo on Britta's Letters from Berlin: Red Card. Finish. ("It is so UNFAIR!", howled my Drama Queen, "they didn't even warn you!")
I sat down and wrote a post - here - and DQ dictated the title: "I NEED YOUR HELP!" (she seldom uses other than capital letters). An hour after posting it I had cooled down. I remembered that I am no longer 17. I thought of a quote from adorable Sophia Loren: "For me - and I think for many other women too - the 30th birthday was the most problematic. At this age Youth lies definitely behind you. You can do the most wonderful things, but never again somebody will say about you: "Yes, and yet she is still so young!" 
Oops! So I rushed to my computer and deleted my dramatic message. I told me with a stern parental voice that I can google on my own - and look up myself how to enter Picasa.
And I found two things I had completely overlooked in my dramatic haze:
1. no need to get excited about Google breaking my data protection. Or better: too late - from the moment I used blogger I had given my consent that they might surf through my hardware disk (HOWL!) and - though I still own the copyright - they might give my pictures to others, advertisement and so on.(Only FBI does need a search warrant - Google doesn't. And that is in their terms "irrevocable".).
2. and I had seen everything blurred: when I read that after using up your free 1GB, you have to buy the next 25 GB, I 'saw' that it will cost me about 25 Dollars a month ("NeverI already pay for my website!") - but looking closely there stood: it will cost a little bit over 2 Dollars per month - I think I can manage that :-)
       Drama Queen doesn't give up easily: "Think of the SCANDAL with the shop window mannequins!" (the newspaper wrote that they have now cameras inside to watch the customers). I thought about it - hope I look my best in their pics and wonder into which age-group they will assort me :-)
So DQ left, sulking. Not without giving me a beautiful poetic image (see: Drama Queen is very imaginative, full of ideas, a master of putting things into the spotlight, and of the art of timing - we had the last Sunday before Advent commemorating the dead). So she said:
"Might be a good metaphor for your death."
"WHAT?"
"Well: think of your life as a photo-blog like Happiness. Beautiful. And then, without a forewarning, God says: "You have used up your 1 Gigabyte." And you might howl as you like: Life is over."
She lowered her voice and whispered in the raunchy voice of Mae West:
"Hope you had a lot of  fun before!"

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

"Dreams in a Bottle"


Dear You,
when I went these days through the KaDeWe (our parallel world to Harrods - and much too near to our flat), I discovered at the beautiful counter of Shiseido an old acquaintance in a new outfit: they put the Shiseido icon "Eudermine" into a 'traditional' dress. "First launched in 1897" - though they changed the formula a bit over the years. 
Apart from Eudermine I still long for the then (! around 1980)  version of the perfume "Zen", in a  milky-black bottle of obscured glass. It disappeared from the European market, and I was deeply disappointed when they throw the new 'Zen' at the market here - not the real thing, a thousand miles away from the original. I love a few of Shiseido's products - but think their massage techniques much more important - I followed them always religiously with good results. 
But though I bought their Vintage Limited Edition of Eudermin -  for me is the other version of the flacon lovelier: clear, elegant and slim.  


A propos perfume: how do you keep it: do you tell others which brand you use? (I had a friend who kept it as an absolute secret). Do you use the same perfume for years, or do you change it? 
How do you find the one perfume you are happy with? Do you still remember your first perfume? 
I send you some lovely-scented greetings (well - ther WAS a time when I did just that -- a few drops on the stationery - heaven...) 

Britta 

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Safe in Safes

Britta Huegel


Dear You
of course you were right in your last letter to hint that all these Chinese Teahouse columns and statues are gilded, and not pure gold. If they were, they wouldn't stand there for long - we have a big problem these months with thieves that come and brazenly steal copper wires or tracks of the S-Bahn - and then people stand at the underground station and freeze, waiting for the trains that will not come... 
I grinned at your remark about the political farce concerning the vast amounts of German gold that are stored in foreign countries: at least the Americans allowed the members of the German parliament to enter the vaults of the bank, but denied them their wish to look at it - and the Banque-de-France downright denied even the first step. 
Why is the Christian Democratic Union so distrustful? 109 million ounces of German gold, we are assured, lie safely, I repeat: safely! in the safes (sic) of America and France and Great Britain. Does it matter that the politicians are not allowed to see it? 
Hony soit qui mal y pense - and if you do, my dear, you may join the new public campain "Bring our gold back home!"
Come to think of it: maybe they already have. 
And put it secretly into a very safe place. :-) 


Britta Huegel

Sunday, 4 November 2012

'Earl Grey with a Mandarin'

Britta Huegel

Dear YOU, 
yes, admittedly: they were a bit over the top with their crush on chinoiserie, Frederick the Great and his court. But you can't deny there is a big element of surprise when you walk through the wonderful parks of Sanssoucis in Potsdam and suddenly you stand in front of the Chinese Teahouse: 

Britta Huegel


On the roof sits a big Chinese Mandarin with a parasol - both in pure gold! The golden figures of musicians and tea-drinkers in Chinese costumes are as the 18-century artists THOUGHT they might have looked (I was to polite to take pictures of the vast crowd of foreign guests from Asia, who took photos bowing often, I suspect to hide their supressed bouts of laughter...)
Inside you find a beautiful hall with little niches for a cozy tete à tete - or look at the artfully painted walls and ceilings:


And when you come home after a long hearty stroll through the vast old English park, with abundent red and gold colours of its own, and the crispness of the air has tired you out, and you climb into your bed and close your eyes, then, suddenly, you realize the genius of the architects: behind your closed lids you see the uplifting sparkle, the unearthly glitter and shining of this poetical bulwark against grey-bare November-tristesse:

Britta Huegel

They captured summer - the colours of sunshine and light - something to dream of in chilly ice-cold winter's days...

Britta Huegel

Friday, 26 October 2012

Berlin's Festival of Light

Britta Huegel

Dear YOU,
you remember that, coming home from our holidays, I complained about the missing roller blinds in front of the window - and NO, they are still not there (we do have curtains, of course - I am not like the Dutch Puritans - even of today! - who believe that their life is so sinless that it should not be open to God alone but to everybody else marching along their (curtainless) windows, house-owners murmuring defiantly "I have nothing to hide."
I have - but that's what curtains are doing. And these days - to be precise: the last 12 nights - I had every reason to enjoy what I see in all its splendour: for this time Berlin has again its  Festival of Light. The blue rays I see every night from my balcony remind me of Metropolis. The Dome is covered with milles fleurs. A very coulourful Brandenburger Tor, and, and, and...
But do you know what I like most? The 'Eiermannsche Turm', beside the ruin of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, that was destroyed in World War II , melted down by bombs to only 68m height instead of 113m. When the architect Egon Eiermann 1957 made a proposal for a new church - without the ruin! - Berlin's citizens protested vehemently - with good results: the ruin remained, and West of it Eiermann placed the octagonal church and Foyer, East the hexagonal belltower - both with the characteristic honeycomb facade with coloured glass bricks, each a unique specimen made in Chartres. They inaugurated the church on 17.12.1961 (4 month after the building of the Berlin Wall).
Ha, and a good housewife might shudder: this year they cleaned those beautiful windows for the very first time!!! It was worth it:

Britta Huegel

And, very special: you can see this 'Light Festival' every evening in the year.
We only have to cross a few streets!

With sparkling  regards
Yours                                  Britta


Saturday, 20 October 2012

...a postcard or letter?...


Dear YOU,

thank you for this beautiful postcard!
Britta Huegel
I grinned when I read your text:

"Dear Britta, 
in the exhibition 'Man Ray, Lee Miller and the Surrealists" I discovered YOU on a photography by M. R. - as proof I send you this postcard with the warmest regards from very sunny California..." 

Oh I love getting "real" post! Of course I am happy that we can correspond via email. But there is a difference: sitting in the parlour, anticipating. The postman only comes once - in Berlin early about 9 o'clock in the morning. We hear a 'clonk!' when the letters (advertisement and bills, mostly) drop through the letter-slot in the door. Yes: we don't have letterboxes here, the poor chap has to run up even to the 5th floor and bring the letters per pedes. Why? Well - the owner of the house doesn't want to disturb the beauty of the marble entrance hall...
Ah: to feel the texture of the envelope! Crisp paper, heavy or not? The choice of a beautiful stamp. The handwriting. You see by the holes on the postcard above that I collect letters from my friends since school days - I have vast amounts by my friend Atie where the envelopes were all decorated with drawings or collages - once she glued the paperthin seeds of lunaria - annual "honesty" - around the sides of the envelope. And the postman was as glad as I when it arrived whole and complete.
In Hamburg a postman once rung my bell and came up, though there we had letterboxes at the groundfloor. He said: "I wanted to see the woman who gets such exciting cards!" (Did he read them? Was he acquainted with the Law of 'secrecy of the post' - and did he believe that it also includes postcards?! A young friend of mine had chosen his favorite cards with - very elaborate :-) - taste).
Yesterday in The Guardian a graphologist had to look at ten letters and guess who was the writer.  His guesses were astonishingly accurate. Title: "Beyoncé, Obama, Lady Gaga - what does their handwriting say about them?" - I loved especially his sentence
"It looks as if this person either hasn't been taught how to write, or has forgotten all about it – maybe someone under 30. " (It was a Royal person - "Someone who is conscious of the distance between them and the rest of the world? The gap between words is larger than usual, a graphologist would note.") 

See: that is the downside of e-mails: we cannot impress others by the gap between words that is larger than usual - though of course it is :-) 

With aloof noble greetings 
your friend                                 Britta


 

Friday, 12 October 2012

A Picnic

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
Yes - with good reason you complain that I didn't write for such a long time, so sorry! Have been busy - and will be for a while - but I enjoy my 'secret' project, and it makes me aware that time is a valuable resource - I have to budget it, and that is not the worst thing that can happen. The postman comes day after day with parcels from Amazon...
Above you see that we still have some time to enjoy ourselves. A picnic in the gardens of the Jewish Museum in Berlin: you can buy the picnic baskets all ready


- though Had-I-But-Known that the deckchair is orange, I would have chosen another scarf; and Had-I-But-Known that it was raining all the time I would have chosen another day, or at least other shoes... But my name isn't Mary Roberts Rinehard, and yours is not Ogden Nash: "Don't guess, let me tell you!" - or do you know a way to sit in a deckchair and look elegant?? I don't and gave up looking for a solution - life showed me that it is better to sit clumsy than stand ornamentally. Despite the drizzle it was very nice - inside of the museum a jazz-band was playing, and our group of twelve people had a lot to discuss.