Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Friday, 3 April 2020

Anne Ridler: At Parting

 photo: Britta 

Now we must draw, as plants would,

On tubers stored in a better season,
Our honey and heaven;
Only our love can store such food.
Is this to make a god of absence?
A new-born monster to steal our sustenance? 

(from At Parting )

Thank you, Rosemary and your wonderful blog "Where Five Valleys Meet"
You quote a line from one of Anne Ridler's poems, so I asked you who the poet was - and thus found a treasure! Born in London 1912 Ridler worked as a journalist and then at Faber and Faber. She was encouraged by T.S.Eliot when he saw her poems. Very late in her life, in 1995, she released Collected Poems - and was made an OBE in June of 2001, just a few months before her death. 
(All these pearls of wisdom I found on "", and this part of her poem too.)
And before you tell me: I know that tulips have bulbs, not tubers  :-)  

My dear bloggerfriends: We will not let a new-born monster , Co-vid 19, steal our sustenance! 

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

How to make yourself comfortable Staying at Home

"Keep calm - first a cup of tea!" is in Germany almost a synonym for British mentality  .
I am a worshipper of tea (if you put it mildly - I am addicted, you might say when you see me rushing into the kitchen first thing in the morning - not very zen-like    :-)

Now I am a bit worried about myself.

Under normal circumstances I use a stylish teapot (you see it at the back of the photo).
But suddenly I felt the urge to look for my cozy brown old teapot (and yes, Tom, I know how the English call it!).
So comforting! So soothing! So confidence-inspiring! 
(Could only be trumped by a tea urn)

So my dear blog-friends: Let's drink a cuppa together! 

And: Even black tea is healthy - so: stay healthy, please!

Sunday, 29 March 2020

A Study in Pink

Here you see the result of my planning.
My sewing machine stands up very, very high on a sort of intermediate floor (they used that around 1900 as sleeping places for domestic servants - the rooms are very high and these floors are built into the second hall) so I thought it more possible that I break my leg while trying to fetch it than getting corona (I better knock on wood!)
So I sewed one with my needle - but then I went to my Russian tailoress. She opened the forbidden door in a secretive way - we had telephoned first - it much reminded me of tales my parents told about the black market. I gave her a moon-yellow blanket and ordered 14 masks - 7 for me, seven for someone else.
Next day I was in for a little surprise : look at the photo - that was her extra gift for me - I am so thankful - and isn't it cute?

PS: When I sent the photo via WhatsApp to a friend, she asked surprised: "What - you still make up your eyes - even if nobody else will see them?" 
As a woman who managed to paint her eyes even in the teeny-weeny bathroom of a narrowboat I answered: "But I am not a Nobody - I see it!"

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Respiratory protection masks

September 1st, 1939. - Enquire of Robert whether he does not think that, in view of times in which we live, diary of daily events might be of ultimate historical value to posterity. He replies that It Depends.
Explain that I do not mean events of national importance, which may safely be left to the Press, but only chronicle of ordinary English citizen's reaction to war which now appears inevitable.
Robert's only reply - if reply it can be called - is to enquire whether I am really quite certain that Cook takes a medium size in gas-masks. Personally, he should have thought a large, if not out-size, was indicated. Am forced to realise that Cook's gas-mask is intrinsically of greater importance than problematical contribution to literature by myself, but am all the same slightly aggrieved. Better nature fortunately prevails, and I suggest that Cook had better be asked to clear up the point once and for all. (...)
She does come, and Robert selects frightful-looking appliances, each with a snout projecting below a little talc window, from pile which has stood in corner of the study some days.
Cook shows a slight inclination towards coyness when Robert adjusts one on her head with stout crosspiece, and replies from within, when questioned, that It'll do nicely, sir, thank you.
(Voice sounds very hollow and sepulchral).

This, dear blogger friends, is the beginning of E. M. Delafield's "The Diarty of a Provincial Lady".
Part Four: The Provincial Lady in Wartime. I love all four books immensely, have read them oh so often - and still have to laugh.

I could now begin to rant about the slight contradiction that our government says that they "have everything under control" and the fact that from January till now they are not able to provide a little piece of paper with two elastic bands at the side - not even for people who risk their lives in hospitals - the admirable nurses and doctors.
But I am my father's child: he survived 24 days in a lifeboat on the sea - without nourishment and water only from the nightly sky.
Thus I think for myself - and I act (as good as I can) : you might guess what the photo above shows.

I wish all of you: Stay healthy, take care!
Britta XXX

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

With your help I used my sense

I am glad.
Glad for your empathy, for a very good advice, and for having learned something.

Thank you, my brave blogger friends with all my heart for that!

In a Russian fairy tale someone says: "The morning is wiser than the evening" (maybe it is the other way round - but that doesn't matter much, it makes sense in both ways).

I asked myself a few questions. I used my brains. I slept over it. Wondered about myself, especially as I had just quoted in a manuscript for a new book the German philosopher, Friedrich Schlegel (1772 - 1829). He treats hurtful remarks like a sort of unwelcome gifts :

"It is impossible to give offence to someone if he doesn't want to take it."

I asked myself why I am evidently unable to follow my own given advices - and remembered Rousseau: "A signpost doesn't have to walk." The flowers on my balcony are unimpressed.

Maybe I thought anger a way to channel my fear about our "interesting times" - fear for all people, not only the triplets - into another direction?
But that is not my way to handle fear.
I removed my post.

Your kind words helped me immensely - thank you for that! 

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

I Stayed At Home

Sorry to let you in the dark: I had cancelled my flight to Amsterdam.

We thought it too risky - Schiphol is a huge airport with oh so many tourists from all nations - and though I missed a very special birthday, I am content with our decision.

You know: hopefully age is giving us a little more wisdom (Does it? Look around --- well... I  sometimes wonder...)

So I sit at home. Well - I do not sit all the time - I made provisions for long lonely days not by buying bulks of toilet paper (so I bought some), but in "Soul food":


... which means painting with water colour  (I bought more colours and brushes)


Yep - my fitnesses studio closed. I can do it at home. (though not THAT!)

And: this poster at my entrance door:

to give us all poise and decency and kindness - and reassuring thoughts...

As do:

Lots of spring flowers on my balcony...

Also important:

Something to work my brain... (I have a lot of books too, real ones, not only in the cloud)

I have the following video on Whats-App, but do not know how the bring it here "live":

Hilarious - I have them all on DVD (not in the cloud...) I need humour!

And of course I am not reckless - I take precautions!

Haha - too much - I was overcautious - I cannot drink my coffee!!! I need the proverbial "last straw" to drink it!!!


Take care! but live! Be cautious - but keep your joy of living! Be kind!

Best wishes for you all!   Britta XXX

Sunday, 15 March 2020

No Man is an Island...

... entire of itself" wrote John Donne - and we see the truth of it every day now.

Berlin reacts too: schools are closed, universities and kindergardens closed. I pity the parents who have to work - grandparents are asked NOT to chaperone their grandchildren (or other children like those of the neighbours) - because one fears that the old ones get infected and die. The only kindergardens open are for children of nursing staff.

That my fitness center had to close from today on: bearable, I can do a lot of exercises at home - and the staff there gets their salaries.
But what about the students working as waitress in a café: they have to pay their rent. Clubs closed, theatres closed, and..and...and...

We think about services we take for granted: garbage collection, cashiers and so on.

As you know me: even in severe situations I cannot avoid seeing unintentional black humour:
Berlin's bus drivers (poor chaps!) were ordered not to open the front door of a bus any more  -
that reminds me of the advice we got against nuclear war in the Good Olden Days:
they told us we should put a briefcase over our head in case of need...!

There might come a bigger stop to public life. Economy suffers dreadfully.

We have to wait and to hope that it vanishes soon - seems that it does so in China - I hope they tell the truth.

Keep your chin up! Stay healthy - I wish you (and us) that with all my heart.

Stay kind.

As John Donne said: "No man is an island"

PS: NOT kind: President Trump does everything to buy a German research company, CureVac, offering them (and the scientists) billions - and demands that the USA gets the formula (against Corona) EXCLUSIVELY.
Me, me, me... German government tries to thwart that. (Thwart the purchase - they can do nothing against "Me, me, me").