Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

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)

Then:



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!!!

Seriously:

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").











Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Panic is knocking at our doors



Today I was a bit shocked.
Not about our empty streets in Berlin, the empty stores or the empty tube (nice, even as an older person you get a seat without having to fight about it with a 14 year old...).

Outside you see: old people, men with dogs and parents (one) with a pram.

I came back - feeling like a "Hero for just one of Day,"  - yep, I still walk out in the sunshine, think that it will give my immune system a boost, as my humour  will - though that is on the downward scale by now:
I saw a neighbour from above standing in front of our house. Two days ago he had asked me whether I would translate a letter for him from Netherland to German - yes: I am able to do that now! - and of course I said that I will do that, for free.
Now he told me that it is not longer necessary: their vacation in Mailand is canceled, and their money will be refunded. (Why the letter is in Netherlands I do not know).
Fine.

Then we went inside, to our little elevator.
He said - and hurried two steps up - : "We should keep distance. I go up first!"
Jumped in and I stared at the closed door, and the elevator. Moving up.

I, I, I, - or: Me, Me, Me .

I don't expect - even not from an elderly academic as him - courtesy any more. Women want to be equal - in all aspects - So what?!

But no - not true: I expect it still.
Especially from an elderly neighbour whom I granted a favour.

So I mused a bit about how PEOPLE might act if life becomes even more  dangerous than now.
Mused about my flight to Amsterdam on Saturday, (a big birthday), and a visitor coming by train tomorrow. (He is young, I am not).

Then I thought: "What the heck!" - I don't want to sit in isolation (a little voice in my head squeaked: "You might sit there earlier than you think!" and I said: "Shut up!")

I hope it will.

As I opened my bag to get out my keys a very shiny copper cent fell out. A promise for good luck.

I might need it.




Friday, 6 March 2020

Beauty is everywhere (if you dare to look)

                                                                                              copyright Britt Holland

Ain't that cute?
(I am proud of my photo).

First I wanted to show you how Berlin looks today: empty, void, spooky.

But then I thought: No - I want to show you something beautiful.  
Beauty still exists, and everyone could see it if they would raise their eyes from their smartphone or a foaming-mouthed hysterical newspaper. 
And step outside. Into the fresh air. 

I took that photograph above last year - but the blossoms of that very tree have begun to open up now - that is a very early start, I think. This far it was two days ago:







Monday, 2 March 2020

Chaos, Enlightenment - or just Life?



Small things usually put the proverbial "final straw" on the heap.

I possess (too) many sweaters, and yesterday, when I felt a bit moody, I remembered (!) my cozy lovely forget-me-not -blue one. (Honestly: to have to remember(!) a favourite(!) tells it all...)

That was my first irritation: am I still myself if I'm not able even to remember what I love? 

The second irritation:
I could not find it. (And I am an orderly woman. OK - my apartment is unethically large - but normally I find what I am looking for).
But I didn't.
That made me think:

1) if I cannot find it in Berlin - Berlin, where I happily spend a part of my life

then it might be in

2) Amsterdam (it is near Amsterdam, but that doesn't matter here) - Amsterdam, where I happily spend a part of my life

or, if it isn't in Amsterdam,

then it might be in

3) Bavaria    (as you know: I respect the wish for privacy of son and DiL and the triplets (though they do not care about privacy - they are half a year old now) - Bavaria - where I happily spend a part of my life now.

Seems I lost track. 
Seems - though I love it in all three places! - I lost me (a bit).

The forget-me-not-blue sweater might be just a symbol that LIFE throws at me (Nay: it hides it from me! The cozy lovely thing! My soul-comforter!)

Here you see one (!) result of my deep thinking: blogland has me back.

The Beatles sing "I say hello - and you say good-bye"   (thought that line always a bit irritating -  and prefer the Stones).

And hope you say "Hello" too!