Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 30 August 2020

Would You Entrust this Mail Box with Your Post Ballot?


  

Dear You, 

I read Joanne's vibrating post about the American election and that she distrusts the post to deliver the post ballot

Here in Germany we hear about that distrust a lot, and if I were you I would walk miles to the next polling location to give my vote personally to be sure that it counts. 
But what of the old people, the infirm, or people who have or fear to catch Corona? 

In the Sunday paper "Die Welt am Sonntag" I found an interesting article about the American postal system. 

The United States Postal Service was founded by Benjamin Franklin because the 13 British colonies strived for independence. "The postal system" so the journalist Matthias Heine, "thus was older than the 1776 founded country which it served." 
And, he emphasises, it is the office the contemporary Americans trust most. 

When president Trump and administration chief Louis Joy, who was assigned by Trump,  now remove many, many mailboxes and lay up post sorting machines, Trump's political opponents see that as an attempt to manipulate the election. 
Instead of 33 million Americans who voted 2016 through mail, now - because of Corona, so Heine, it could be the double number of mail voters. 

As literary scholar (and always loving "the little peculiar things") I was amused to read that
 William Faulkner and Charles Bukowski worked in post offices while preparing to become authors. 

Faulkner opened his store only if he wanted, he played cards in the back-room while people waited outside, read the letters of other people and threw away what he thought unimportant. 
Charles Bukowski (you can read that in his novel "Post Office") worked lazily, but stayed 11 years. 
They could not fire him. 
And the journalist Heine ends his article with the words: 
"Trump would find in the novel (= Post Office) a few more good arguments for his distrust of the Postal Service." 

But don't get that journalist wrong: he is not pro-Trump. Some lines before he writes: 

"Trump has manifold insinuated that through post ballot on a massive scale it could come to massive election fraud - against him, of course" (Matthias Heine, tongue in cheek). 

Yours Truly,
Britta





Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Language, Decency and Manners

 


Dear You, 

if you look attentively at the picture above - which shows the Victoria-Luise-Platz in Berlin, one street away from my home - you might notice a little turret with a wind vane. (I do have a much sharper photo - but can't find it in the "cloud" of my computer among those over 16.000 photos... ). 

The turret is on the house number 9 where Victoria Luise, only daughter of Kaiser Wilhelm II (he had six sons) lived before her marriage on 2 storeys - there she went when she wanted to be alone, without the surveillance of the Imperial Court. 



I could tell you very much about that place (and the idea of the garden design; or the inhabitants of the gorgeous houses)  - but I do not know whether you are interested in historical details. 

Half a year ago, inspired by Rachel, I started reading biographies - and find it very rewarding. 

At the moment I read the autobiography of Victoria Luise. 

I don't want to judge the interesting and well-written book in regard to the deep prominent partiality and glorification of  the Emperor and the aristocracy. 

But remarkable is the "bon ton", the decency and deep respect in which this autobiography is written. (Easy, you might say, if you live on two storeys and are the daughter of an Emperor)

But that is so different from our hysterical media-world, where in serious broadcast discussions people use words full of hate and derision and vulgarity. 

Yesterday I heard a prominent young woman call the president of a well-known country (who also uses hateful foul language) "a bag of shit" - the fact might be true - but one could word it otherwise. 

What I mean is - though I might sound very old-fashioned: I miss something:  reverence for nature, for people, for ideas (also if they aren't mine). 

I am grateful to live in a democracy where I can say everything I like - but "It's not what you say, but how you say it"

The Media in the last 20 years gives more and more attention and voice to the vulgar. That might bring higher viewing figures - as bad news do (how they gloat each evening like vultures over little ugly morsels of corona!). I honestly want to be informed, but I don't want to be incited - thus I often choose to read a good newspaper instead. 

Sorry that I moan so much this time (which I seldom do, as you know). 

But I wish: 

Let decency, respect, democratic thinking, tolerance, awe for the beauty of creation come back

Mankind is fallible and weak - always was - and power and greed corrupts many.  I am not naive. 

Yet I hope. 

What is your opinion? I am really interested! 

Yours Truly 

Britta 



Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ch-ch-changes...

 


Dear You, 

yes, you were right: I took the strange photo in the Netherlands, and yes: I took it because it really reminded me of Magritte. 
It is the enclosure of the huge terrace of the house in Zoutelande (the other walls are covered with plants and trees) - but I will not show you a photo of that, though I have lovely ones - I want to keep the atmosphere enigmatic. 

For me that photo also is a sort of symbol for how I feel in Corona-times: 
I know that I live in very lucky circumstances (though as everyone I have my share of sorrows). 
Yet even the nicest place - and I count Zoutelande in Zeeland as one of those, and the fine hot weather was the cherry on top of the cream - often gives me at the moment the feeling of being "walled in" (though beautiful and with sun and an almost pink sky). 
 
Well, I will not be the only person who feels it - 
and life goes on - as the windmill above, built in 1722! which is still in use. 

You might remember: I am a wayward taoist - believing in Yin and Yang, "What goes up/ must come down" - and 
VICE VERSA! 
 
Though Corona gives that knowledge a little kink --- the way David Bowie sings:  

Ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
(Just gonna have to be a different man)
Time may change me
But I can't trace time
I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same. 

If you like: come and sing along, and I send you my best wishes! 
Toodle-pip!    Britta 




 

Friday, 21 August 2020

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Summer-Luck




Dear You, 

do you remember how exciting in Jane Austen's novel "Pride and Prejudice" the purchase of hats for the five sisters was? And so costly, that some years they must do with new ribbons to pep the old hat up. 

Yesterday in Delft I suddenly saw the sort-of-hat I had tried to order online, twice - and every time it was "Sold out" - 
 

here you see it on my knee (with the dress), it shows the colour better. 


and it was just in that pale blue that I wanted! 
Although till now I have kept my resolution not to buy new clothes this year, I became "hairsplitting": a hat is not a dress - a hat is a hat is a hat...

So I bought it - the shop assistant cried: "Oh, just the same lovely blue as in your dress!
Come to think of it: I was in Delft, famous for it's Delft blue pottery... 



I am 1.78m, so: tall. Which is a good thing for such a hat: I had never imagined when I looked on the photos online that it is so big! 

It is VERY helpful in this heat. What do you do to cool off a bit? 

Yours Truly, Britta 

Monday, 10 August 2020

A Walk in the Morning

 


Dear You, 

because of the heat I went quite early in the morning -- come to think of it: not THAT early, it's holiday time -- to the wilder part of the dunes here in Noordwijk - and again the mysterious thing happened: 
one is almost alone. 



Of course even then I remain on the paths that are allowed to be walked on. 
Sometimes the sand is thick - that's why today I had a big blister on my right foot: a little grain of sand had dropped into my shoe...  

So this morning for the first time in my life I walked on flip-flops into the village (I bought the second pair in my whole life here to use it - sometimes - on the strand, when the seashells are too pricky and cut into my feet). 
The chemist's offered "Two for one"-packs of blister-protecting plaster, which I bought - hoping that I will not need all of them -  because tomorrow we will visit Delft! 
(And you will not see me with flip-flops there!)



I walked along a little wood with many pineapples on the ground, 


 

saw seabuckthorne that (sadly) no-one will gather to make syrup from 




and at the end of the walk some beautiful houses facing the sea - this one is "Te koop!" - you can buy it 
(I think I can't 😊) 

Well, I love the sight of it, and that is that. 

I wish you a beautiful day - and share with you what I just found out (and maybe million of Chinese before me) that helps me when I am tired at the end of the day because of the heat: 

I drink a cup of hot green tea (which I normally do not like very much - I'm a fan of fine Drajeeling or honest red British brick-brew that you call "English Breakfast Tea", with milk and sugar ). 

Yours Truly, 
Britta

PS: Can anybody tell me how I can watch "preview" on the new blogger? I tick on it - it says: preview will be prepared - and then: nothing happens. 






Sunday, 9 August 2020