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The Wild West June 24, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Darlings, West Berlin is all a dark forest to me, as our friends in Russia say. Every time I venture there, which is about as often as I venture to Ústí nad Labem, I am always mystified why anyone lives there at all, or why it isn’t just closed down and the whole population billeted to somewhere much nicer or the whole semi-city isn’t just transported to England or somewhere it’d suit better and have done with it. But exist it does, and I am a great one for believing in facing the truth. Wish as I might, West Berlin is attached to the rest of the city I call home and no big fuck-off park (plus zoo), river, or bits of wall are going to tell me otherwise.

Due to a misunderstanding, I ended up in that part of the city for a date – not a raunchy one. I mean a social engagement. Is there a better word for it in English? A rendez-vous? A meeting? (Business was not involved. Well, apart from the business of drinking) A tryst? (Though there was nothing surreptitious about it) – about a squillion hours early and was loth to get myself back on the train to more civilised climes, plus I’ve just discovered that a two-hour single ticket doesn’t allow you to go back and forth – interrupting your journey? Bitte schön. Aber retracing your steps? No way – so I whipped out my guide-book, my West German for beginners and decided to hang West for a couple of hours. The promotion terrorists are even more ruthless over there in the West. Not only is the best restaurant in town a Dunkin’ Donuts, but you have to take an even more circuitous route to not sign up for a two-week free subscription to Porno Weekly, not get a T-Mobile keyring and not offer to save the planet and all its animals. If it wasn’t that, I was fighting to not give away at least 90% of my cigarettes. “Haschte eene Zigarette vielleischt?” I begrudgingly proffered my fags. “I’ll take another one for my friend.” “No you fucking won’t,” I enacted, wordlessly, and scarpered.

But far be it from me to be a tourist who’s decided he’s going to have a bad holiday before he’s arrived. What was good about the West, in comparison to sleepy old Pankow, at least, is that Fussballfieber was alive and well. And when else might one get to see, unless an active participant of Orange Revolutions, Ukrainian flags fluttering in the breeze and car horns hooting in the best Slavic attempt I’ve seen yet at being Latin? I’m chuffed to bollocks that the Ukes are through, of course, although their hijinks did see me witness the first bit of hooliganism of the Weltmeisterschaft. A Uke in a car honked when the density of Tunisians on Tauentzienstraße was higher than it’s been in a long time. A livid Tunisian decided to retaliate with violence, but only had something soft in his hand, yet threw the feather – or whatever it was. Perhaps a bit of snotty tissue – at the long-since-departed Uke-mobile with vigour. Some more placid Ukrainians crossed the road cautiously.

Still, you can’t live on Fussballfieber and fresh air alone. I was bored. And time passed as slowly as only it can when you are hours too early for an immediate event. I popped to the Tiergarten for some peace and quiet and a nice sit down. Four rotund gents walked by in identical outfits of white t-shirt, blue shorts, white trainers and sports bags, as if on their way home from games. I assumed they were English but was mystified to hear them speaking Dutch. “Well I never,” I think I didn’t think. Then I realised it wasn’t Dutch. “Oh, so that must be that Plattdeutsch which Germans will always tell you is virtually identical to English,” I didn’t think, again, but should have. Then I realised they were Liverpudlian. Good legs for rotund gents, mind.

The Tiergarten is famed, in addition to its zoo, beer gardens and beauty, for its homosexuals. They loiter there at all hours of the day in their quest for love, orgasms and venereal diseases. I knew this full well in the corner I traipsed through, but daytime should be safe enough, I thought, and I promise I was only there because it’s the first bit you come to when you walk in from Zoo Station. It was deliciously peaceful. A couple lolled past me, uncomfortable on my rickety bench, in a rowing boat. It was an idyllic scene until the he of the couple started to rock it to show his lady-friend how good in bed he was. I tried to sit silently, philosophically. Which was boring, so I whipped out my mobile and wrote SMSes to everyone I know. “I’m in a beautiful park,” I wrote to best friend in London, in an attempt at poetry. “I’m in Montreal,” came his terse reply. I sat onwards, my bottom ever sorer. I leapt back up, thinking a one-step walk would miraculously make two hours pass. I went to pass three 17-year-olds on a bench. “Oi,” they cried. I ignored them valiantly, hoping my cigarette bulge wasn’t too obvious. “Oi,” they repeated, cocksurely. I puffed out my Hawtreyesque chest and turned round. “20 euros for my mate?” cried the one in the middle. I wrote the other day here that getting old is wonderful. Paying for sex was yet to enter the equation. “Not a penny over 19,” I said. No, I didn’t. I sniggered haughtily and went on my way, secretly as shocked as a Mother Superior who’d just seen her first penis.

There were still hours to go and, I’m sorry to say, I had to seek solace in a fast-food establishment by S-Bahnhof Tiergarten. I knew that Frauentausch would mark the thin end of the wedge. But, darlings, it was full of totty. Forget Castingallee and groovy types in Prenzlauer Berg. If it’s rough totty you’re after, Burger King Tiergarten is the place to be. I chomped through my whopper and decided to make use of their sanitary facilities to kill another twelve seconds. My heart sank when I saw a gent, saucer primed with planted 2-euro coins, loitering outside. I hoped he might be having a dust around when I came back out so I could sneak past without leaving him a tip. But as I went to wash my hands, his head popped round the corner and he thrust a towelette at me so that I didn’t have the hard task of raising my hands to the dispenser myself. Begrudgingly, for the second time in one post, I left him some change and went off to meet my friends.

It’s not safe over there, I tell you.



1. Bowleserised - June 24, 2006

Ach, apart from the wannabe rent boys, this all sounds very familiar to me. Last time I eat “Asia pan”.

2. lukeski - June 24, 2006

Shevchenko is a stereotypical male ‘Slavic Beauty’ – as are the Klitschko brothers – or should that be Ukrainian beauties?

3. Ed Ward - June 24, 2006

Best thing about West Berlin is, if you keep on going west on the S-Bahn, you wind up in Potsdam, which seems very familiar.

4. lukeski - June 24, 2006

My post should, of course, be over here

5. BiB - June 24, 2006

Lukeski, I can cope with misplaced comments if you can. Perhaps Shevchenko is just a bit too pretty. How old is he? He might be the type who’ll be much better-looking at 40 than 30. The left-hand Klitschko – I see we’re going for the German version. They’re megastars here. Constantly popping up on TV – is my personal favourite, though perhaps they’d be more handsome if they hadn’t had their faces pummel(l?)ed to smithereens. I’ve seen photoshoot snaps of them both, smothered in make-up, and the same brother manages to look quite queeny for a big, chunky boxer. They’ve got the heavenly Slavic skin though, no denying it. (Lukeski, speaking of misplaced comments, I have been unable to leave you comments since you’ve gone for comment moderation. Is there a glitch?)

Ed. Hello! The bus-journey between Potsdam station and Sanssouci reminds me so much of bits of St. Petersburg. Grand but decrepit buildings. Lovely.

B., a Finnish friend once ate a Currywurst in the environs of Zoo and was sick for the rest of her holiday. But now, in a more conciliatory mood, I’m trying to think of nice bits of West Berlin to not be seen as… something nasty. Well, there’s bits of Kreuzberg, I suppose. Plus the Grunewald. And Schloss Charlottenburg has nice grounds. But surely the rest should be teleported to the Berkshire countryside or something. Isn’t Prescott – or is he history? – constantly talking about concreting over the rest of England and needing more homes?

6. lukeski - June 24, 2006

Too bizarre – I’ve switched it off now, so if you could head over and comment (and win an shiny new CD), I would be eternally greatful. How was Berger, BTW?

7. BiB - June 24, 2006

Berger was fucking heaven. He flies back to New York today. He didn’t go to London, malheureusement. Your ears ought to have burnt a good deal while he was here.

8. lukeski - June 24, 2006

I thought I just had some awful disease…

9. leon - June 25, 2006

When I’d literally just arrived in Berlin to visit Daggi (I came on the sleeper from Brussels and had a couple of hours to wait) I thought I’d take a stroll into Central Berlin, but got the direction completely wrong and ended up pretty much in the Grunewald somewhere.

10. BiB - June 25, 2006

Leon, me old china, we don’t normally see you round these parts of a weekend. You are, nonetheless, and, as ever, more than welcome.

Oh dear, Grunewald is quite a wrong turning. Still, a pretty one.

How’s that career-planning coming along?

11. leon - June 25, 2006

Am attempting to book some concert tickets and to finish my latest oh-so-hilarious D&F instalment.

The careers train is stuck at a signal somewhere, I think, or has possibly jumped the tracks entirely and is now on its roof in a field.

12. BiB - June 25, 2006

Thank god. I hate the D&F hiatuses.

Our career paths look spookily identical.

13. leon - June 27, 2006

Still a few words left to go.

It does include my best-ever pun, though I say so myself.

14. BiB - June 27, 2006

Well, I await impatiently. You are a tease.

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