Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Toodle-pip! (For a while I have to leave you...)

Britta Huegel

When I move... house...
... When I switch to a totally new parfume (from 'Balenciaga' to 'Shalimar' now) ...
... When I buy a new hat -
all these are indicators that 'something is going on'. All three things together have happened now.
My friends wouldn't be astonished to hear that I moved again - one said to me in Hamburg, where we moved three times in six years, (and then to Berlin): 'My next present for you will be a subscription for a movers company'. 
No - I only moved inside our big flat. Surprised Husband when he came back from university in Hildesheim: I had hired two men who secretly helped me with the big things like wardrobes, writing desks etc (though it still was a lot of work for me, how many tableware and glasses does a woman need?) - and now I am writing in the room with the three big bay windows, and Husband writes in the room opening to the balcony, (though I can still see our balcony from the chair where I sit reading).

Britta Huegel

As a teenager I was always fascinated by a line in a Thomas Mann short story, 'Tonio Kröger', where Tonio, a romantic youth with black curls and a mother who played the violin was deeply (and hopelessly) in love with the blond Hans, the model of a Northern German, said:

'But we are not gypsies in a green caravan, but respectable people, consul Kröger, the family of Krögers ... Quite often he also thought: But why am I so odd, being at variance with the teachers and alien among the other boys? Look at them, the bright pupils and those of solid mediocrity. (...) How orderly and approving with all and everyone they must feel! That must be good... But what about me, and how will all this go off?" (rough translation by me)

Well - how will all this go off? I mean: in my life. Oh no - don't fear - absolutely nothing dramatic has happened - it is more the feeling that I am entering another passage in my life soon. And not only because I have my birthday on December 29.
I need some time - Me-time - to sort all this out. Am a bit tired. Aimless. Not my true self.
So I will leave you for a while - but return, promised.
Next year :-)
(Ha - if you won't miss me you might even put me on your blog-lists - where I am very often not, a lot of you forgot to change that when I abandoned 'You are witty and pretty'. Don't miss my comeback!).
I will still translate a few poems on 'Britta's Happiness of the Day'.
And of course read your blogs.

So: I wish you all a Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Lost in ... Movies

Dear You, 
when I look out of my window I see big lumpy snowflakes dancing over the the whole street, and a very strong gale urges them to move quicker. Yes, Berlin has got its share of the hurricane 'Xaver' - though luckily not with those masses and masses of water Hamburg has to cope with. 
Winter has arrived - outside you see only those who have business to do - meaning: dogs and their owners. Some cars. 
I had a wonderful week with my friend, who visited me - meaning: we sport dark under-eye-circles, because we chatted far, far into each night. Meaning: wonderful new little restaurants were explored. Meaning: exhibitions, walks trough different Kieze (residential quarters) of Berlin, and beautiful shops. And cinema: we saw a hilarious new film - 'Fack ju, Göthe' - (yes, I think you will understand that - it is the German onomatapoetic way how a person who comes from what they nowadays call the 'educational alienated class' would write the four-letter-word and the name of our prince of poets) - in the newly reopened cinema at the Zoo, the famous Zoo Palast
When we moved to Berlin three years ago, the Zoo Palast was hidden behind wooden panels - you see a section of it on the picture above that I took then (on tiptoes). It took 3 years to rebuild this jewel of the Fifties - which is soaked with film-history. Built in 1956 - though before it had started in 1915 - showing e.g. 1927 the first release of 'Metropolis'. Destroyed by bombs in 1943, then rebuilt and extended. From 1957 till 1999 it was the official contest cinema of the Berlinale - and has seen many famous film actors on its red carpet (e.g. Romy Schneider, Errol Flynn, Gina Lollobrigida, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sophia Loren, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks, James Stewart). 
About 4,4 millions Euro were invested into the completion of the new interior and building - the owner says: "Going to the movies shall become a celebration again. The Zoo Palace got back its soul by us.
7 cinema halls with (only) 1700 seats, meaning: enough room for long legs - you can almost lie on the comfy leather chairs! - and more than 100 employees, from the liveried (!) porters to the cloakroom attendants - everything in style and elegance. (Sorry that I didn't take pictures of the new glory that evening). 
Ah - and hurray, hurray: the cinema is in a very, very nice walking distance to our flat! 
So: if I am late with a new letter, dear, bear with me: I might be sitting in the palace, a princess lost in a new (or old) movie. 


Thursday, 28 November 2013

They Pinched my Purse - But Not my Spirit

Dear You, 
I was happy this morning when I read Susan's comment:

"Oh dear Britta... Watch for your little green notebook of thoughts to become a best seller. A quote or two within will touch the heart of the hardened thief and bring him to write and right! Well... Maybe! I am so sorry for your trouble and aggravation. I hope all is sorted out. Warm thoughts to you...Susan" 

Which was a consolation, and reminded me that I wanted to write letters to you, instead 'Waffle on Raffle'. (Proudly slap my back for that one, haha). 
So I'll start anew. 
When I stared into my handbag yesterday and could not find my purse, I knew that very moment it had been nicked. I can't say why, but I knew. Not a nice feeling - (though interesting that the first and only time it happened before, long ago, there I had felt a cold grip at my heart - this time I was shocked, but not horrified. Rod Stewart might be right - "The First Cut is the Deepest") 
Shocked I was yesterday - not only because I had quite a lot of money in my purse, not only because I thought of the legwork I will have to do, but because someone had entered my privacy - (and sorry to say: in the spectrum of characteristics I am in many items far on the alpha male side - though not my legs, thank you very much :-) - so maybe the Tao wants to teach me a Lesson to work on: getting mellow while ripening...  
So: shock first, anger later. (Mellow, girl, mellow!
Anger at myself - normally I am quite careful (not cautious or anxious): and I took my handbag with me when I went to order the coffee in the Coffee Shop. But then the room was so crowded, and the armchairs so small (now we have our winter coats and caps and scarves and gloves to put somewhere - and no cloakroom, of course. We all sit with our mugs in all that clutter and try not to dribble the cappuccino on it... 
Till then the day had been so nice, though hectic: I had not only managed to wrap 24 little packages for Son and daughter-in-love (thank you again, Susan, for this wonderful word I learned from you!). You know: each year something deeply mysterious happens when I try to discuss abolishing Advent calenders : my children have fallen into the Fountain of Youth - are twelve years old again and thus need it - so I collect the items over the year (and love it)... Yesterday I had also baked my 'Ultimate Brownies' - I do that only once a year (Lesson: make something rare, and people long for it...)  
But I disgress: 
after the post office, I lunched with a friend in a little Italian restaurant, then in the Coffee Shop we chatted, forgetting the rest of the world.  
But into that cold world I was brought back with a bump - nothing is perfect (for long).  
Being one who tries to see the silver lining, I think now: Good that I took the more expensive dinner - and Had-I-But-Known I would have ordered champagne. 
Drawing a more general lesson from that: shouldn't we always? Order champagne? But you and I know: then there would be no money left for Advent calenders, postage stamps, or brooms - which reminds me, my dear, that I will now tidy and clean our flat - I want to restore order where I have control... (Stop that smart-alecky sniggering, dust bunnies!
And you, Dear You: have a beautiful day - and clutch your hand bag, as Moomin Mama always does! 


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

A.J.Raffles, Arsène Lupin and the Whole Caboodle...

Britta Huegel

Dear You,

well: I'm glad they left me the key to our flat (Hans is in Hildesheim, teaching at university) - and also, quite astonishingly: my expensive smartphone (must have got to the ground of my handbag).
So I could use the phone to ring the bank to ban two cheque cards of mine. I could use the phone to ban the season ticket of the underground. I could use my phone to speak to the local administration to get an appointment for December 4th, to make an application for a new ID card AND a new driver's licence - and hurray: in about six weeks after that maybe I'll get a new ID card/ driver license.
To stress the silver lining: by now I am an expert in popular music - dideldidum, dideldidum - which I was forced to listen to while waiting to get my calls through (and to add insult to injury: they take money for those minutes and minutes you wait! "Sorry, all our employees are busy at the moment" - I bet: the one poor guy who is the whole staff needs the soothing tones while looking in horror at sixty-two telephones ringing at once...)
Can you imagine that under the emergency number of the bank they first play a few advertisements??
Maybe we should suggest that to the police too: "Oh, they threaten your life? May we offer you a course in self-defense for the next time (if there is a next time, hahaha - if not: do you want the number of a flourishing undertaker?" Dideldidum, dideldidum - or even better: "Plum, plum trallala" as Jean-Paul Belmondo so stubbornly sang when put under water in "Breathless" by Jean-Luc Godard) If you only rapport petty theft, the living person at the end of the phone - yes, there was one - suggests the Internet to you.
You see: I'm angry. Of course a bit at myself: I was sitting in a coffee shop in Berlin, which was quite crowded, and talked with a friend. Saw, that two men (oh, in Germany we have to be so overly political correct - Where Angels Fear to Tread - who didn't look quite like the typical blond-curled Bavarian German) sat first there - without coffee - than there - without coffee - and I know that I thought: "Strange - maybe they are just looking for a better place?"
They found it - one of them, the other stood in the middle of the room - just beside Silly Me. When in the fitness center, which is only three houses further up the road, a little bit later I wanted to present my member card, it wasn't there. Nor my purse.
It took a few seconds to sink in. I went back. Nobody had noticed anything - how could they, when even I hadn't noticed anything? (Though it is absolutely clear what and when it happened and by whom - no mistake in that. Had the purse to buy the coffe, and only one other person than my friend came near me). There are a lot of errands I have to do now (wish they had kept the money, Merry Christmas, but returned the cards).
What interests me: what will the thieves do with my little notebook, clad in lime-green silk, which they nicked too? Learn the elaborate quotes by heart, and the lines I've written in it??
Or maybe write their first "Gentleman Thief novel"?
I always preferred detective novels. Always.
Give me one Inspector Morse for three Raffles.

Britta (starring in 'Purseless in Berlin')


Monday, 25 November 2013

Video about Worth Admiring Russian Inventiveness (and I mean it)

Britta Huegel

Dear You, 
yes: winter stretches out his icy hands, touches my flowers on the balcony, and they shiver - so I will have to put them on the balcony floor, put little wool caps and balaclava helmets (I always wanted to use this word, balaclava, at least once in my life) on their green coiffures and put them at rest.
Wish the same for my heart - must be in some sort of crisis, all circumstantial evidence seem to indicate that. (As a story teller I will keep the arc of suspense till my next post)
But it is Monday (a day of the week I'm utterly in love with - I know, I know, most people aren't and they write hateful songs about it - but not me: I love vigorous starts, even if only imagined, love the freshness and the possibilities of the first of seven days lying promisingly and glittering ahead of me).
And I love to laugh: in a not-mocking, yes I can say: here in an admiring way. I love the following video (you need a bit of patience, as for most good things). Those Russians know how to help themselves - in a sort of crisis they don't sit around and moan: they have bright ideas and the will to act - that is the right spirit! 

In this sense I wish you a beautiful, sparkling week!


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, 14 November 2013

Really, Really Vexed with 'Vogue' editor Alexandra Shulman who finds older women hideous

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Today I want to share an article from The Guardian with you - because I really got furious when I read it (and it is absolutely irrelevant whether you are 48 or 60: the Vogue speaks of women over 30!). I'm not a subscriber of 'Vogue' - which I regret, because otherwise I could unsubscribe now.

" appears that Alexandra Shulman, editor of Vogue, feels that elderly women trying to be fashionable are "slightly ridiculous and absolutely hideous" (When fashion ends at 30, G2, 5 November). !

from this I quote: "Shulman, who says: "I don't think people do really want to look at older women as … exemplars of fashion and beauty." Why? Because they would look not only "slightly ridiculous" but "absolutely hideous". Vogue may talk about older women, but it doesn't show them. Older for Vogue means over 30."

I cannot imagine that any woman, being a few days over thirty, will support that magazine.
This was the link that made me find the insult: