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…and a bottle of rum December 26, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

No, actually, it was all a fairly abstemious affair. Which was nice. I got into the Christmas spirit rather late and living with a Russian, for whom Christmas means nothing, means that it’s never going to be the huge celebration in this house as it is back on the island. The worst oversight in this lack of preparation was that there was nothing in the house that we wanted to drink so we were gagging to get through our bird, salads and potatoes done Komi(not Commie)-style so that we could get out of the house and go and get some booze inside us.

Now the weather hadn’t obliged us with Christmasness all winter, really. In the evening, there was a sprinkling of snow, but only for politeness’s sake. To respect tradition. Whereas today, there is proper, delicious, thick, constant snowfall. I’ve never thought I’m much of a smell-man, but when I popped out on to the balcony, I had an olfactory flashback to a school skiing trip to the Swiss Alps when I was 15, my first time in proper mountains. The right-angles made by the metal slats in the fence-thing that stops us falling off the balcony are now filled with perfect little ski-jumping slopes. I expect miniature Finns to be whizzing down them forthwith.

But where was I? Yes, the weather. So yesterday evening, it was just a fairly arctic, but unsnowy, wintry evening. We trolled down to Unter den Linden, hoping one of the Christmas Markets might have forgotten to close, and, joy, one had, and we managed to get a wonderfully warming mug of Glühwein with a shot of rum in it, then some almonds… and then they remembered to close. Buggeration, we thought. We weren’t even in the swing of things yet. Unter den Linden was deserted. The Russian got cockgrow from the huge Christmas tree outside the Russian Embassy whereas the British Embassy, just round the corner, had nothing but a few policemen for decoration. We minced down as far as the Brandenburg Gate, got cold feet at daring an escape into the West, leapt on the S-Bahn to Oranienburgerstraße and lolloped to Hackescher Markt in search of signs of life. (There really is no need to ever look for solutions beyond Prenzlauer Berg.) Just when I always think we’re not going to find anything open, good old Cafe Cinema always subtly reminds you of its unshowy existence and it’s there, come rain or shine, Christmas or not, humming away. I can highly recommend it to any Berliner – temporary or permanent. Yesterday, of course, it was peopled mostly with us lonely foreigners/tourists, which made for such brilliant people-watching, I can’t tell you. A squillion different nationalities, all fitting their stereotypes (more or less) perfectly. Well, the Finns were a bit effusive, but were young so perhaps hadn’t discovered the joys of silence yet. The Greeks were dolled up and jolly. The mature Portuguese looked tormented by the smoke. The Israelis discussed things ardently and seriously. The Danes were scruffy and cool. The Americans behaved according to form, sort of loud and sympathetic. And the Germans beamed with inward pride – must do the organs no good – at how funky their Hauptstadt was. Cafe Cinema’s such a good, solid kind of place. You don’t have to be a wanker to go there (I was thinking of writing, ‘but it helps’, but that’d be unfair) and we had some scrambled eggs and beer to round Christmas off, which was bliss.

Keeping in Christmas mode, I’m feeling public-spirited and need to divert you to some other Yuletide Blogland musings. I Hate My Neighbours has a couple of festive posts about Christmas bog roll. And, back in the Bundeshauptstadt, the Hauptstadt Blog captures some of the Christmas spirit photographically.

Right, I’m going out to play.


1. BerlinBear - December 27, 2005

Couldn’t agree with you more about Cafe Cinema; it’s an excellent spot. And I couldn’t agree with your Russian more about the excellent Christmas tree outside the Russian embassy either. Very impressive. There are some photos of Unter den Linden immediately pre-Christmas on my blog, if you’re interested.

2. BiB - December 28, 2005

…and sitting in the cheapo warmth and comfort of Cafe Cinema, you can look across to the overpriced shithole C-Matto across the road.

Has my browser or your blog gone to cock? Everything’s gone very BIG indeed on your blog. Emergency! Emergency!

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