Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players

Britta Huegel

Today I got a letter from a class-mate I haven't seen for - um, well... let's say: for a very, very  long time. To be accurate (haha): since our A levels.
She sent me this photograph - guess who of the four beauties I am in this Oscar-winning play?
Oh - you only guessed because I was tall even then - here stooping because I was insulted by that old bickering witch  decent housewife with the unbecoming headscarf - and you'll never guess what I was accused of...  
I played a lot in amateur theatre - and I liked it so immensely that I wanted to become an actress.
I may have told you before that the theatre of Wilhelmshaven (I lived in Bremen) offered me to play there - I repeat it, because I'm still a little bit cross at my parents, who received the letter with the the offer and didn't show it to me, of course as always meaning well for me - they suggested I should study something sensible.
Well, nowadays I see that maybe they were right (though I would have preferred to decide myself). Thinking of most of the other parts I played, they always showed a lot of leg, I was often wearing chic hats, and had to look vain (evidently the 'stage directors' didn't recognize my inner beauty). With that haircut - I thought - I could have run through Paris, "Out of Breath" together with Jean Paul Belmondo! (I  often tended more to Modesty Blaise than modesty. Glad to have outgrown that).
Later my employer, the Federal Employment Agency in Nürnberg, discovered my hidden talents and I acted in two films ("Counselling in Groups" and "Data Protection" - not very glamourous, I fear - though even then I tried my very best).
We have some actors among our friends, and I see that their life isn't always easy. But - and that is oh so important (to me, at least): it is very exciting, always. (You won't chorus my parents' song now, don't you - I know it - by heart).
Growing wiser (my best running gag, I know) I see the global play:

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.
As You Like It Act 2, scene 7, 139–143 

Thursday, 16 January 2014


Dear You, 
oh I have to post the email I got today! As you hopefully have noticed, I gave you the address where you can order the wonderful CD "Wild Goosechase Expedition" of Scottiswoode & His Enemies from which I nicked the video "Beautiful Monday" in the last but one post. If you have forgotten were you put it: you can find the CD here:

Sunday, 12 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions - Yes... You Can!

Britta Huegel

Can you imagine?
It took me five years - FIVE YEARS! - in which every year I wrote down the good resolution (among others): "Learn to prepare a Bavarian cream". 
Well - though I love to cook and bake, and prepare an excellent Mousse au chocolat, I was too anxious to make this crème bavaroise. Pretended to have too much to do, though actually I feared words like "beat the egg-cream diligently in the bain-marie to a 'rose' - you recognize that rose-state when you blow softly over the wooden spoon and there forms itself a rose" - aha! I also have high respect for 'gelatine' - in Germany you only get it in form of stiff leaves, which you have to water, then press the water out, then slide them one by one - softly, softly - into the hopefully stiff beaten egg cream.
So every year I used my stays in Munich to go to the gourmet food - temple Dallmayr near the Marienplatz ( and bought it there, highly content with what I got - and even more intimidated (Pearl of Wisdom: if you compare yourself, don't do it to the professional's ideal).
But this year I said to husband: "I will do it - now! Don't want to face another New Year's Eve with this unfinished business!" 
Of course I said this on the morning of Christmas Eve - still having to do the elaborate and not utterly uncomplicated Christmas Dinner for next day, of which the Bavarian cream should be the dessert (I was at least clever enough to arrange a meal in a beautiful French restaurant for the second day). So you saw this woman swirrling through the kitchen (YES - one has to prepare a raspberry puree too - haha: also with gelantine..)
Well: it worked out lovely.

Britta Huegel

You see that on my happy face:

Britta Huegel

So I am really proud of having done it. Finally. And I see - again - that many 'fears' are unfounded - but that I can only find out by doing it
So - after this deep insight - you might ask: what comes next? And you might hear me call:

                               WHERE IS MY HARLEY-DAVIDSON? !? Pronto! 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Beautiful Monday

You can order the CD "Wild Goosechase Expedition" by Spottiswoode & His Enemies here: (17 titles, very different and worth each of them!) or
Dear You,
can you imagine that I DO LOVE MONDAYS?
People stare at me and wonder - but for me, Monday is like a clean sheet, a promise, a little new start every week. Of course I love the big start - New Year's Day - as well. Love Filofaxes to be filled with projects and plans, new lists, crisp new address books - in short: I love 'new' beginnings (but am faithful to old ones, too).
                 And I do love surprises: we had so many even in December and January:
- First on my birthday two days before New Year, when around noon the bell of our flat was ringing. Imagine:  for a tiny second I thought: Who is this beautiful tall young man standing in front of me? It was our son! He had come all the way from Munich to see me - and our lovely daughter-in-love came too (she had been one day in Hildesheim to see her parents), and so I got the biggest birthday surprise + present of my life!
- Second on New Year's Eve: we greeted it in Berlin from a roof-terrace in Prenzlauer Berg - the Fernsehturm was surrounded and illuminated by a gorgeous firework, and we were among a lot of friends of many nationalities, singing and celebrating and eating a dinner that a famous American Macrobiotic cook had prepared with other friends - utterly delicious.
- And then, two days ago, I met Jonathan Spottiswoode again, whom I first had come to know on the evening in London before we entered the narrow-boat - together with Matti (the friend and musician I showed you some posts before) and Angie Stricker (a beautiful singer) he sang in "Gelegenheiten", a little bar in Berlin, housed in a former butcher's shop.
Jonathan has a passionate, wild & tender husky great voice, very sexy, and the lyrics of his songs are stunning, giving us insights by putting something we all might have experienced too into a new perspective, focussing it, and you think "Yes, exactly". Beautiful lines about love of the seemingly ordinary, passion, acceptance, courage, willpower - strong and stirring.
Back to the bar 'Gelegenheiten' in Neukölln (Berlin): come to think of it this is the third remodelled butcher's shop I saw in a row: they opened a little café in one b.s in our street, we ate a gourmand French dinner in another b.s. in Prenzlauer Berg - and now this bar - it seems to be highest fashion to remodell and integrate the old painted tiles and stucco into a new destination - all dating from the beginning of 1900.
               So: What a great start with so lovely music and people this year! 
And today - Monday! - we celebrate our Wedding Anniversary!
After that I'm looking forward to a bit more routine and everyday life. But - although most of us have made resolutions for the umpteenths time - you know me a bit by now: presumably that time of 'routine' will not last very long...

My best wishes to you! And remember:
"Take another look at me: We all are beautiful! And we're all gonna make a difference. Beautiful Monday!" 


Sunday, 8 December 2013

Toodle-pip! (For a while I have to leave you...)

Britta Huegel

When I move... house...
... When I switch to a totally new parfume (from 'Balenciaga' to 'Shalimar' now) ...
... When I buy a new hat -
all these are indicators that 'something is going on'. All three things together have happened now.
My friends wouldn't be astonished to hear that I moved again - one said to me in Hamburg, where we moved three times in six years, (and then to Berlin): 'My next present for you will be a subscription for a movers company'. 
No - I only moved inside our big flat. Surprised Husband when he came back from university in Hildesheim: I had hired two men who secretly helped me with the big things like wardrobes, writing desks etc (though it still was a lot of work for me, how many tableware and glasses does a woman need?) - and now I am writing in the room with the three big bay windows, and Husband writes in the room opening to the balcony, (though I can still see our balcony from the chair where I sit reading).

Britta Huegel

As a teenager I was always fascinated by a line in a Thomas Mann short story, 'Tonio Kröger', where Tonio, a romantic youth with black curls and a mother who played the violin was deeply (and hopelessly) in love with the blond Hans, the model of a Northern German, said:

'But we are not gypsies in a green caravan, but respectable people, consul Kröger, the family of Krögers ... Quite often he also thought: But why am I so odd, being at variance with the teachers and alien among the other boys? Look at them, the bright pupils and those of solid mediocrity. (...) How orderly and approving with all and everyone they must feel! That must be good... But what about me, and how will all this go off?" (rough translation by me)

Well - how will all this go off? I mean: in my life. Oh no - don't fear - absolutely nothing dramatic has happened - it is more the feeling that I am entering another passage in my life soon. And not only because I have my birthday on December 29.
I need some time - Me-time - to sort all this out. Am a bit tired. Aimless. Not my true self.
So I will leave you for a while - but return, promised.
Next year :-)
(Ha - if you won't miss me you might even put me on your blog-lists - where I am very often not, a lot of you forgot to change that when I abandoned 'You are witty and pretty'. Don't miss my comeback!).
I will still translate a few poems on 'Britta's Happiness of the Day'.
And of course read your blogs.

So: I wish you all a Merry Christmas! And a Happy New Year! 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Lost in ... Movies

Dear You, 
when I look out of my window I see big lumpy snowflakes dancing over the the whole street, and a very strong gale urges them to move quicker. Yes, Berlin has got its share of the hurricane 'Xaver' - though luckily not with those masses and masses of water Hamburg has to cope with. 
Winter has arrived - outside you see only those who have business to do - meaning: dogs and their owners. Some cars. 
I had a wonderful week with my friend, who visited me - meaning: we sport dark under-eye-circles, because we chatted far, far into each night. Meaning: wonderful new little restaurants were explored. Meaning: exhibitions, walks trough different Kieze (residential quarters) of Berlin, and beautiful shops. And cinema: we saw a hilarious new film - 'Fack ju, Göthe' - (yes, I think you will understand that - it is the German onomatapoetic way how a person who comes from what they nowadays call the 'educational alienated class' would write the four-letter-word and the name of our prince of poets) - in the newly reopened cinema at the Zoo, the famous Zoo Palast
When we moved to Berlin three years ago, the Zoo Palast was hidden behind wooden panels - you see a section of it on the picture above that I took then (on tiptoes). It took 3 years to rebuild this jewel of the Fifties - which is soaked with film-history. Built in 1956 - though before it had started in 1915 - showing e.g. 1927 the first release of 'Metropolis'. Destroyed by bombs in 1943, then rebuilt and extended. From 1957 till 1999 it was the official contest cinema of the Berlinale - and has seen many famous film actors on its red carpet (e.g. Romy Schneider, Errol Flynn, Gina Lollobrigida, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Sophia Loren, Jodie Foster, Tom Hanks, James Stewart). 
About 4,4 millions Euro were invested into the completion of the new interior and building - the owner says: "Going to the movies shall become a celebration again. The Zoo Palace got back its soul by us.
7 cinema halls with (only) 1700 seats, meaning: enough room for long legs - you can almost lie on the comfy leather chairs! - and more than 100 employees, from the liveried (!) porters to the cloakroom attendants - everything in style and elegance. (Sorry that I didn't take pictures of the new glory that evening). 
Ah - and hurray, hurray: the cinema is in a very, very nice walking distance to our flat! 
So: if I am late with a new letter, dear, bear with me: I might be sitting in the palace, a princess lost in a new (or old) movie. 


Thursday, 28 November 2013

They Pinched my Purse - But Not my Spirit

Dear You, 
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!