Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 29 February 2016

The present of an extra day

©Brigitta Huegel

Sweet February Twenty-Nine! 
This is our grace-year, as I live 
Quick now! this foolish heart of mine; 
Seize thy prerogative!  

This lines of Walter De La Mare tell us to enjoy the extra day of the Leap Year.
I wish you a wonderful new week!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Snow - again!

©Brigitta Huegel

I love the little vase that a famous German potter made - he used copper in the glaze, and it cracks so nicely emerald green on the darker ground. I have two vases by him - a big one and a small one, though I prefer the little one: just right for snowdrops.

©Brigitta Huegel

These husband brought from our garden in Hildesheim, and I felt a sudden pang of homesickness and nostalgia and burst into tears - though I absolutely don't want to go back. Strange.

Added: Richard Uhlemeyer vases.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Mugaritz, 2 Michelin stars, Nr.6 - World's Best Restaurants 2015

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You,
one of the highlights of the Berlinale is the "Culinary Cinema'.
First we saw a documentary about the Mugaritz, a Basque restaurant, and Daniel Brühl, the actor, read the German text, so we could concentrate on the beautiful pictures and witty words.
Then Andoni Luis Aduriz cooked with his crew the menue. It was the first time in my life that I ate a dinner from a cook with 2 Michelin stars, whose restaurant Mugaritz was rated 2015 the 6th best restaurant in the world.
It was delicious, and I might sound philistine when criticizing it as "a bit tame". The Menue:
"Sweet potatoe baked in quick lime, black truffle" as a starter (slightly sweet, and the truffle not overpowering...),
"Threads of king crab with vegetable mucilage, macademia and pink peppercorns (a lovely, slightly sweet shredded mousse),
"Cod fish covered with pine nut cream and fried 'kokotxas' skin" (a white fish cube, a blond cream, and deep-fried fish skin),
"Tuna belly, beetroot and horseraddish" (a bit of colour here, but many people including Yours Truly did not touch the Tuna: coming from Northern Germany I learned in early youth that a fresh fish does not smell. It just doesn't . Full stop)
"Whisky pie" - a lovely dessert.
Conclusion: my palate might not be refined enough to taste the very subtle nuances of the dishes.
I love variety and my teeth are very good - figuratively spoken I don't enjoy white cauliflower with white sauce, white rice and pale chickenbreast (minced :-)
But I learn easily: the Berlinale is a social event - "to see and to be seen" is as important as the movies. The hunt! The endured pains of waiting for hours!!
Not for nothing the opening film was called:  "Hail, Cesar!".

Friday, 19 February 2016

Peace begins with a smile. (Mother Teresa)

©Brigitta Huegel

"A half dozen recent studies demonstrate the power that a simple positive interaction with a stranger has to make us happier " they write in Psychology Today
Well - for this Berlin is the right place. 
I have lived in many towns and cities - and even succeeded to have wonderful conversations with unbeknown Scots in Edinburgh (while English people had warned me that this would be almost impossible). 
I have very interesting conversations in trains. 
And in Berlin people very often smile at you often, quite unexpectedly. At first I was really surprised - 'What did they want?' my Northern soul asked cautiously. 
They smiled because they are (often) happy and content with there life here. 
And I smile back. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

This is NOT a Chinese Takeaway!! (Keeping up Appearances)

"No you cannot have another number 21 with rice instead of noodles!"
"Now will you please get off my slimline white telephone with last number redial?"

Happy Birthday, Patricia Routledge! (She turned 87 yesterday).

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Vers(a)e instead of Vice

One is often in for a surprise if you go through life with open eyes and open ears.
Though: that with the ears I'll take back.
OK - I have the hearing of a bat - which is quite annoying sometimes, especially when the person in the flat above your bedroom wears iron-clumps as bedroom slippers, thinks that a carpet on the floor board from 1902 - creak, creak - is utter luxury, and has to visit the loo three times at night. (Remember? We moved our bedroom in this big Berlin flat 4 times - he follows...)
Hearing loss is now mainstream: not a symptom of growing old any longer - the young show it off proudly too. Uni-deafness instead of unisex. (Huh? Eh?) Deaf by disco-music, deaf by in-ear headphones.
You (hopefully) heard me complain about the ghetto blaster tunes at "A Quiet Passion" - yesterday I saw 'Maggie's Plan' - and - in another cinema: the same tornado howl!!!
The silver lining?
This infernal noise overlays all those spectators' crunching through hectoliters of popcorn while dear Emily D. is reciting her poetry.
Bliss - a different "Sound of Silence"...

PS: By the way: absolute silence in case of the Staatsbesuch from Israel - Gwil wrote, he couldn't find information in Austria, and Husband said, even the Hildesheimer Allgemeine (newspaper for a tiny city near Hannover) did not mention it. Strange.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Yes!!! A Breakthrough!

©Brigitta Huegel

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You, 
Thank you for crossing your fingers! It helped me and all those with tickets to cross the street. In the first photo you see only the start of setting up...) The Zoo Palast showed the movie at 12:30 a.m. (in the evening you had to drive -- well: sneak - through half the city to Friedrichstadtpalast).
They even put protection around the groundfloor windows of the Waldorf Astoria. Normally I visit after a film their Romanisches Café (you can eat there too) - but this day was everything except normal. I thought about the guests who had booked their expensive rooms long in advance - strange surroundings for them. President Netanjahu's visit came quite as a surprise. Mrs. Merkel and he will talk about the problems between Israel and Palestine.

©Brigitta Huegel

Being quite early (to be still able to dash to the Friedrichspalast in case of need) I got a wonderful seat: horizontal and vertical middle - and an aisle in front of me, so I could stretch my long legs during the movie comfortably.
The movie "A Quiet Passion", which depicts the life of Emily Dickinson, was really good (in my opinion - some people left the cinema - maybe the last third was a bit weepy). Beautiful décor (I instantly decided to upholster two armchairs with a fabric they used and which I once had); of course little action, because we all know that Emily was a sort of recluse; wonderful recitations of her poems.
But the cinema operators must have misunderstood the movie's title - "A Quiet Passion" - they ghetto blastered the sound to my threshold of pain.
Well: the very young are often aurally handicapped nowadays, "thanks to" headphones and discos.
I hope I remember to take my earplugs for todays movie with me!

Monday, 15 February 2016

Berlinale and the Protection of Mr. Netanjahu

©Brigitta Huegel

While I was painting my Amy-Winehouse-eyeline this morning thoroughly, the radio announced: the Israeli Prime Minister Netanjahu visits Mrs. Merkel today. For his protection they ordered the Highest Security Level around the Waldorf Astoria - which is OK (2012 there were up to 2.400 policemebn protecting him).
But I (and not only I) have a problem: the Zoo Palast, a big cinema and very important for the Berlinale, is on the other side of the Waldorf Astoria.
Meaning: the movie tonight is transferred to another cinema.
But there is no information for todays movie "A Quiet Passion" which I have a ticket for - in the Zoo Palast, at 12:30 a.m.
Dear reader - cross your fingers for me, please - that I manage to get in - in time - and: at all....

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Nobody hurt

Yesterday I had a little explosion in my kitchen.
Before that I saw that the light in the fridge was extinct (as you might know the light in the fridge is a symbol for the last sign of hope in a cold world :-). and I mused about the deeper meaning of that.
But even more I worried (very deep down I'm a realist) about the freezer compartments of the fridge...
Then I saw that the red key of the plugbar looked - somehow, don't ask me why - strange.
As Paul in "Yellow Submarine" I thought: 'I'm a borne button-presser' -  and pressed.
A 10 centimeter darting flame sprang up - (well: might have been 7 cm, or even 5) - and I sprang back, without thinking - while the plugbar playfully threw the red button-cap after me...
All's well that ends well: I bought a new plugbar - the caretaker's son was happy to earn a few quid for pushing the fridge so that we could plug in the new plugbar - and now he (this fridge is definitely male) hums again.
Sounds like "Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow" by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to me.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Orphaned: Rose Aphrodite

See? Evidently I have a problem with two things: writing a short post, and writing more often.
(The second is a form of politeness: I fear that I might bore you stiff).
But you are grown-ups and  know if you want to read or not. So from now on I will scatter little notes between 'real' posts.
Today a rose strayed to me; Rose aphrodite. Sometimes someone in our house, with a balcony but lacking the heart of a gardener, not wanting to feel like a murderer, impatiently maroons a rose (or other plants) in our Hinterhof (a back yard). This one survived winter in a small pot. The photos in the Internet show a glorious rose.
I adopted her, of course, fed her, and dream with her of summer.

Monday, 8 February 2016

Waiting For - no, not Godot - but: The Berlinale 2016

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
at the moment you could see me with "Thermacare provides patented heat relief for back, hip...and  so on"; a nice hot cherry pit pillow on my stomach and one under my feet, after a deep warm-up of an infrarot lamp on my forehead and a nice, hot tea inside me.
"Oh, poor you - are you sick?" you might ask me caringly.
No, not yet.
But I feel like an icicle because I did something I would not have done for myself.
I promised an acquaitance (she stood herself in another queue in another part of Berlin) to go and manage to grab two Berlinale tickets for us. Easy-peasy, I thought - I will be there on time, at 9 o'clock in the morning (as my acquaintance had told me), and presto!
Hupp- haff, or: hahaha.
When I arrived I wondered, why very young people sat there - in a very long queue - on little camping chairs. Oh boy, was I naive!
The selling started at 10 - to arrive at 9 was only lax prudence, because The Initiated (most of the others in front of me), had arrived at 6 or 7 o'clock. In the morning! Only to get cinema tickets!!!
I would never... but well: I promised...and being Prussian, I stay to my word of honour. Ever.
So I stood.
2 long hours in the cold.
The young woman, sponsered by Audi, kindly served a non-alcoholic glogg - thank you, thank you!
Not being excessively shy, I had long conversations with two women in the queue, one a judge, the other a barrister  - for one I bought a third ticket - because you are only allowed to buy two... and only three days in advance - really: you have to be very pernickety to read and understand the very difficult order-management for the Berlinale! (Make things rare, and people will buy).
Thank God it didn't rain. Nor snow.
Should not complain: I even managed to get those two tickets (not taken for grantedness - often tickets are sold-out after 10 minutes!)
For one evening George Clooney is announced - well: you could serve him on a silver platter to me, with a little ribbon around him: I will never stand there again for two hours!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Starfish politics

©Brigitta Huegel

I was always fascinated by this little story by an unknown author which I found in an anthology of Celia Haddon.

An old man walking the beach at dawn noticed a young man ahead of him picking up starfish and flinging them into the sea. Catching up with the youth he asked what he was doing. 
'The starfish will die if they are still on the beach when the sun roasts them with its mid-morning heat,' came the answer. 
'But the beach goes on for miles, and there are millions of starfish,' countered the old man. 'How can your effort make any difference?' 
The young man looked at the starfish in his hand and then threw it to safety in the waves. 
'It makes a difference to this one', he said. 

That is a good answer, I think (regardless of whether it is biological truth or not).
So many people want to save the whole world. They have big words of scorn for what is going on.
And then they are not even able to keep peace in blogland, mistrusting and misunderstanding almost deliberately to find a cause of 'not getting involved'.
I am not a dreamer - I don't think that the world is all harmony - it never was.
I believe in helping a bit - and if many do that, the world will become a bit better.
Not perfect - but better.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

London in 1927 & 2013

Dear You, 
I just found this - in an article from the Londonist - and share it with you - so beautiful!
They restored a film made by Claude Friese-Greene.
Have to see London very soon...
(Query: can you be homesick when you weren't born there?)