The Wild West June 24, 2006Posted 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.