Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 27 February 2021

DELIGHT Two: SHOPPING in small towns and villages

 

photo by Britta Hügel 


No travels to little towns and villages at the (long) moment, AND the shops are closed everywhere in Germany. 

The only living person a lot of people nowadays see at all is the Amazon delivery man. Or the postman - which makes me think of the time when little shops in villages were also the post office... 

But I agree with Mr. J.B.Priestly: shopping in small towns and villages is fun and a delight. 

"We begin (to shop) as small children clutching our pennies and staring over the counter in a sweet agony of indecision." 

Oh yes: I remember Mr. Meissner, the chemist's, just over the street - you could go there with 1 Pfennig (!) in your little hand and he would take down an enormous tin can, open it (ahh - that heavenly smell!) - and took out one heaped teaspoon of black sharp salty rhombic salmis - mmmmhhhh! 

"We who begin to buy only when we are at the mercy of our instinctive drives do not want a whole floor of neckties or saucepans, with lifts to take us to cushions or tobacco. It is when shaving brushes and cheese, toffee and potato peelers, liver pills and socks, are heaped together that we go berserk, shopping like mad." 

Every time I see the scene in the village shop when watching "Saving Grace" with Brenda Blethyn, where the two elderly ladies, having drunk a very special tea, hide behind the counter, pop up with big goggle eyes that pop out of the spectacles from the joke items - I have to laugh out loud, every time! (Well, you could put me beside an old-fashioned laughing bag and I would roll around with laughter 😂) 

What do you think about shopping in little villages - or do those kinds of old-fashioned shops still exist in your area?


PS: As Tasker and Joanne asked ... here I will try to explain what "Salmis" are. One picture says more than hundred words - though in this case I doubt it. 

See why: 



"Ah, liquorice!" you might say. 

Yes and no. They add something that sounds horrible: sal ammoniac - which gives a sharp tang and taste (liquorice is more sweet, salmis are WHOW! Salty-sharp). 

People in northern countries love them and have many varieties: the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden - and the region where I come from, Bremen in Northern Germany - countries that are more cold. 

It drives up your blood pressure - maybe this is why we Northerners love it (though I searched for it in Edinburgh in vain.) 

I cannot say more to it - you have to taste it. For a lot of people ONCE is enough forever - the others I would call dangerously addicted  :-)    (you can buy it in every chemist's shop...) 







Sunday, 21 February 2021

DELIGHT One: Fountains

 


The last days I was a bit "under the weather", although the sun came out and I got some (personal) very good news. (I will tell you another time). 

So I did what I always do when I feel sort of blue: I looked into my bookcases and took out "Delight" by J.B.Priestly. It was first published in 1949. 


" FOUNTAINS. I doubt if I ever saw one, even the smallest, without some tingling of delight. (...) The richest memory I have of the Bradford Exhibition of my boyhood, (...) is of the Fairy Fountain, which changed colour to the waltzes of the Blue Hungarian Band, and was straight out of the Arabian Night." 

Priestly complains that there are only few fountains in Great Britain: 

"We hunger for them and are not fed." He asks for letters to The Times and even for demonstrations to get them. 

"Their cost is trifling compared to so many idiotic things we are given and do not want. Our towns are crammed with all manner of rubbish that no people in their senses ever asked for, yet where are the fountains?" 

The fountain on the photograph I took at the Victoria Luise Platz, a few steps from my home. The man who designed in 1902 the whole quarter, Mr. Haberland, insisted on many "Schmuckplätze" - Ornamental Places? - where you will find every time a fountain - in always diverging design. 

When they start to sparkle after winter, you know: now it is really spring.   


Query: What do you think about the delight of fountains? Are there fountains where you live, or nearby - and/or do you remember a very special one? 




Saturday, 6 February 2021

Haircutters and Political Mutants

 



Hahaha: the BZ (= Berlin Newspaper) is sort of equivalent of The Sun. Gossip and "sensations" - like our infamous BILD Zeitung, horror, but often amusing headers. 

Here they title: 

                   "Berlin Hairdresser continues cutting during Lockdown. 

                     Policemen among his customers! 

                    Appointments via Dating-App!"

In Germany the haircutters are not allowed to work during lockdown - so you see many lopsided self-cut fringes, striking white streaks amid the parting of deep black hair etc. 

The Germans are very angry to see many of our politicians mysteriously immaculately coiffed - although they should look like this by now: 



1: "Open the hair salons! 

2: More and more mutations in Germany!"

(If you know some of these politicians, but not the mutants, here they are: first our Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, third chancellor Merkel, last Bavarian governor Söder)