Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin
Thursday, 28 November 2013
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
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
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
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 bracket, a brace or a staple to give my
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
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.
"...it 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:
Monday, 11 November 2013
At the moment I'm writing an essay about the garden of Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.
I read a lot about this theme complex (even, for the first time in my life, an 'historical novel' about Sophie Charlotte (1668 - 1705), who begged for this garden - quite amusing to see that King Friedrich I. ('Sloping Fred') always sent her a mounted messenger with a red velvet cushion when he wanted to visit her in a special mission.
But I digress. What I will write about is my discovery that sometimes you only see something when someone else has mentioned it. At least I. How many times I have been in that park, looking attentively, always joyous because its very special width has a betwitching impact on the light; the beautiful canvas of the sky often gives his performance as Italian light blue charmer.
But never had I discovered the bust of Queen Luise (not even, I am ashamed to confess, the little Luisen-island, which 1799 was ordered by King Friedrich Wilhelm III - and when I finally found it, it took my three visits till I discovered the bronze bust - very well hidden behind a sitting place with benches and bushes). This confession will make the ardent worshippers of Queen Luise hoot with derisive laughter. Oh yes, she still has a wide group of devotees (one is an aquaintance of ours, living in Hannover, whose house is brimming over with very precious antique devotional objects - a bit surprising to me, but very charming).
But back into the park: I learned that sometimes one has to know what to look for - only then you will follow your quest and not despair till you find it, knowing in your heart: it must be there!
As it was. Added by a big surprise: somebody had adorned it!
That devotion - so simple, but so gorgeous! - brought a smile to the somewhat sad features of the queen.
And it was done with style, simplicity and a keen sense of beauty.
Sunday, 10 November 2013
When I read Sapphire's lovely post about 'Cosmos flowers and the Kururi Line', I promised in my comment to show a few photographs of 'Molly', which I took in Heiligendamm.
Tetchan, I learned from Sapphire, are Japanese rail fans.
In 1886 Friedrich Franz III, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg, granted a concession to build a narrow-gauged rail, which run from Bad Doberan to Heiligendamm, first only in summer. Later they enlarged the route and even added freight traffic to Rostock, which was not a success because of its narrowness, so they gave that up in 1969. 13 trains a day were driving.
Today it is still used, in high season at hourly intervals, otherwise every two hours, driving between Bad Doberan via Baltic Spa Heiligendamm (where it became famous at the G8 summit, being the only medium of transport for the journalists) to the Baltic Spa Kühlungsborn.
It is called 'Molli' now (but the gender is male, it is surprisingly 'der Molli', a HIM).
Thursday, 7 November 2013
Not what you (might) think (though: why not? As my statistic shows, I have the 'one-and-only-pleasure seekers' in great numbers on my blog, not as followers but in an explicit audience-address at stats, can't get rid of it)
No, I'm speaking of how to make the most out of something. Out of Everything.
Example: my balcony.
A friend of mine sent me an email last week - she was busy to winterise her balcony. With blankets and foil - the whole program.
"But my roses are still blooming", I said. "And my other flowers too. So why should I?"
To cut a pleasure "to be prepared" is in my eyes such a waste!
Of course, if I still were a gardener, I would start by now in the very last edge, but I have only a big balcony now, I have the weather forecast, and I have strong arms to rush out when frost is sneaking up at the walls of our house. "Don't be such wimps!" I'll shout at my roses, "in real life instead of such a sheltered home as here you will be able to endure those little frosty tweaks!" I might even read to them the chapter out of Saint-Exupéries 'The Little Prince', (no, not the worn thin 'heart thing') to show them that I see through their ridiculous prim affected behaviour...
Pleasure - my big theme at the moment.
We are so short of really enjoying pleasure, I think.
I have a DVD with a beautiful film of Emir Kusturica - Black Cat, White Cat - skip the advertisement and please, please have a look at it, it is such a wonderful film! (Here they put English subtitles underneath, but I think there exists a synchronised English version)
As I wrote to a young German friend about his film 'Danube Sounds' yesterday:
"... I love their equanimity and their zest for life, the modesty and the pride about the own accomplishments. It doesn't matter whether the trousers leg has a rip: those people live! (...) They do something with their own hands - this seems to be important to me: if you have to produce something for your own life, it makes you vivid, and proud - here at home they often buy one meagreness after the other, but that doesn't fill their souls, bores them soon, and has to be replaced quickly."
No - you don't see me running for the 'simple' or 'better' life, I am not one in social romanticism - but I try to bring pleasure into my life by doing and enjoying things.
Can you imagine: in a survey of a big German health insurance people complained about stress, stress, stress - that might be so, though I bet the generation of my parents had a lot more stress - but when you scrutinised the answers: they counted cooking as stress! Gardening, cleaning the house, looking after their children: stress!
I think we need a lot of rethinking here.
This morning, when I woke up, I felt the wonderful warmth of my eiderdown, listened to the drops of rain that clonked on the metal windowsill, lolled and thought:
"What a wonderful world. Thank you!"
PS: Of course now all the sourpussies of the world will tell me that it is not the norm to have an eiderdown, or even to have a roof over my head - I know that, thank you very much, but hey: this is my life - the only one I got - and I am thankful for that! At least I appreciate it - and I think that is quite a lot.
PPS: If you wonder about the photograph: it is so weird: I took away a sedum which stood in a darker corner beside that draggon - and one stalk tore off - and when I looked at it, three months later: it was still as fresh as a daisy! It is making the most of it, I bet.
Friday, 1 November 2013
Now I want to introduce to you some musicians who were with me on that narrowboat.
Above: Look at the drummer Raphael Kaletta of 'Cats and Breakkies': he was our youngest crew member.
And if I were more technically versed, I could give you a glimpse of a big project he is involved in, but I can't, so please look this up:
This is so fantastic - here you also see 'our' drummer in a road movie record on a beautiful DVD - they play music with many different bands all along the Danube river.
He also plays in a Jazz-Trio Ponciana
Another musician is Chris Alastair, here a song from one of his DVDs, 'Putty in your hands':
And our captain, Matti Mueller, who "is" three bands:
"Trouble at the Mill", "The Milltones" and "The Madrigal Minstrel Four"
Here is his homepage:
first click on the band you want to hear, than: music.
All these musicians are doing their own thing - on the boat it was just a friendly meeting, with three other musicians (a French saxophone player; a singer, and an English guitar player - but I could not find their DVDs).
So much fun to have them on that boat!