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Donnerkrieg July 8, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I’m a day late with this, and the quite fantastic storm that we had in Berlin yesterday has already been blogged elsewhere, but it can be blogged again, and it was so marvellous – I’ve always said – well, OK, not constantly. It’s not the only thing I EVER say. I mean I often say – that the best storms I’ve ever seen have been in Berlin – that it even had consequences…

Perhaps it’s because Berlin is in the middle of the North European Plain, or whatever it’s called, that, like that tornadoey bit of the US, there’s nothing to get in the way of and break up a good storm and we occasionally get thundered to smithereens. Local Berlin news is awash – boom boom – with pics of policemen up to their knees in water and folk redoing their roofs. We got away with nothing worse than an upturned clothes-horse which had tipped some of the clothes into the soily bit of our one-and-only plant that needs any attention. (We are strictly cactus folk otherwise. Can’t cope with high maintenance.) (Mind you, the one-and-only plant, which is called a Decembrist in Russian, because it’s only meant to bloom once a year, can’t cope with the weather either and is sluttily putting out months too early.) But, darlings, why was lightning war – Blitzkrieg – called Blitzkrieg and not Donnerkrieg, or thunder war? I don’t know if Blitz has the same sense of speed in German that it has in English, and I couldn’t help thinking, as I stood sheltering for at least two eternities under a random balcony yesterday waiting for the lashing rain to pass – it didn’t – that surely thunder was the noise of war. Nothing lightning about it at all. The thunder was so loud that not only did I experience a quiver of fear, I even got to witness the shortest dog-walk in history. A man appeared with his dog from the house whose balcony afforded me the vaguest of protection. They took a gazillionth of a step, then the dog looked plaintively at its master and turned around and dashed for its door. The man made a friendly witticism to me, which I – quelle surprise – didn’t understand, but I humphed approvingly and hoped, as ever, that there hadn’t been an element of a question in it.

The Russian and I had been out on separate chores. We thought the weather had better put paid to those and arranged to meet. We were a couple of hundred metres apart but set a time in the distant future to factor in underside-balcony-hugging. I hugged galore. There were other spectacles to be seen in addition to the world’s shortest dog-walk. Mostly it was folk running, but there was the odd – in both senses – type who revelled in the chance of catching their death nicely. A topless gent splashed by on his bike, in what was the most flagrant display of flippancy of the storm.

We set Berlin, the café formerly known as Amsterdam, as our meeting-point. Darlings, from Berlin or elsewhere, homosexual or otherwise, I can’t recommend this place highly enough. The gent in the centre of the photo, in the black shirt and tie – I presume he’s the boss – is the friendliest and jolliest gent in the world. But he’s got the level just right. No fawning. Just perfect. That man could lighten the mood of an England football team about to take penalties. He’s that good. The food is delicious and cheap. It’s not unknown for the bar-staff to be gorgeous (although I was secretly disappointed that the total dreamboat wasn’t on duty when I squelched in yesterday and one who looked like Charles Hawtrey on chemo was) and they have been well primed in matters of charm by their heavenly boss. There’s even a hotel upstairs. (OK, ad over.)

So I squelched into Berlin having given up on the rain ever ending. The perfect boss gave me the perfect welcome. I looked around for the Russian. He was nowhere to be seen. I sat down next to a lipstick lesbian couple nuzzling each other nicely. It was 6pm or so and pitch black outside. The lighting was dim. A billionth of a second after I had sat down to rest my water-clogged bones, the gramophone struck up something by Cesaria Evora. The Lusophone world may be pulsating with England’s football Nemeses, but you could translate Volksmusik into Portuguese and it would come out beautiful. Apart from a minorly nagging doubt that the Russian had perhaps been struck by lightning, the atmosphere couldn’t have been more perfect. To round it off, I thought I ought to, by rights, go home and have frantic sex, preferably on the rickety kitchen table, crockery and Teasmades smashing all around us, with a woman with an eating disorder, luscious flowing locks and small but eager breasts. Jane Birkin sprang to mind. Then we would cry and smoke for the rest of the evening.

The Russian walked in.

I could not have been happier. I sat, drank, ate and smoked with the man I love. We managed to get through a whole meal without the slightest of carps (although perhaps I did advise against a second glass of wine, primly). Nature provided the most perfect setting. The service was delicious. Cesaria cooed. The ruched curtains gave me glee. The prices were so low we tried to pretend we hadn’t paid the bill the first time round so we could pay again. We said warm goodbyes to the perfect host and, reluctantly, left to return to normal life.

Thoughts of translations had shattered the idyll within minutes. We trotted onto Schönhauser Allee and deliberately turned the wrong way to put off reality for a moment longer. Within half a second, we bumped into our friends the Frenchies, here for work/holidays/the World Cup. “Where are you going?” we asked eagerly. “Er, we thought we’d go to the café formerly known as Amsterdam for dinner.” “We’ll join you.”

Some things are good enough to be enjoyed twice.

(Excuse the red herring Wimbledon photo. As if I wasn’t ecstatic enough, Amélie only went and beat the loathsome JHH – “tellement platte qu’on pourrait la faxer” or “so flat you could fax her” as a female Belgian friend once said – in today’s Wimbledon final. I repeat. I could not be happier.)



1. Wyndham - July 8, 2006

Good for you, that sounds my kind of place, and for the record I don’t like carp either. But I lost my drift there with all that talk of small but eager breasts. I have no idea what eager breasts are but I’m going to go outside and consider the question carefully.

2. BiB - July 9, 2006

I am now worried by the use of the word breasts. I don’t know if this is Alzheimer’s or not speaking English enough, but can that word be used in the plural? I think I should move back to England. By the way, JHH’s loathsomeness is nothing to do with the (minuscule) size of her bosom.

I think Germans and Poles eat carp for Christmas, so avoid being invited to either country for the festive season. I presume you’re busy, now that you’re a freelancer, organising intercultural, pan-European blog-meets, but arrange the Berlin leg, therefore, for any season other than winter…

3. Wyndham - July 9, 2006

Wyndham Global ’07 is in its early planning stages, of course, but I’ve now factored in the seasonal fish dishes – I’ll see you in May.

4. chendaberry - July 9, 2006

A whole lot of white asparagus in May. If you like that kind of thing..

5. chendaberry - July 9, 2006

p.s. still confused about the plural breasts comment..

*chendaberry goes off to check in a mirror*

6. Bowleserised - July 9, 2006

BiB – two is the customary amount. Last time I checked.

(lovely post BTW, especially the Birkin reference. Last time I chopped my fringe I was hoping it would come out Birkinesque, but as the rest of me is not Birkinesque, I don’t think the fringe would be the magic touch required.)

7. BiB - July 10, 2006

It must have been a linguistic slip, then, but I think I got confused with boob vocabulary. I know the naughty words are plural, but then there’s bosom, which can be singular or plural, nicht wahr, and then I remembered poitrine is singular in French, because I remember an Irish person I knew in Paris was livid at having her wonderful poitrine complimented, and I thought there’s nothing I’d love more than for someone to compliment something or other of mine, and I thought I’d be awfully successful with men if I were a straight woman, and reminded myself I’d be livid if I didn’t come back in the next life as a heterosexual, working-class female in Berlin, and then one can say both breast and breasts, can’t one? Heaving breast, and all that. Still confused. And I know a shrink could have a field-day with my choice of word for forgetting English with.

Mind you, on the number front… This reminded me of that newspaper in England – was it the Daily Sport? – that had Gazza’s image etched into the white cliffs and a London bus found on the moon. I believe they went in for boobs in a big way. They had one starlet called Tina Small, who, naturally, had the largest breast(s?) in the world. Then they had a scoop with her sister/cousin/friend, called, amazingly enough, Trina Small, who had three for the price of two! That’s what I call quality journalism.

8. BiB - July 10, 2006

…and actually, while we’re on grammar, I’m a bit unhappy with ‘roofs’. I initially wrote ‘rooves’ but was unsure about that word too, and changed it, but I think my dic might be more American than British. I’m sure I’d say rooves, or is this a quirk of mine, or a real Anglo-American difference?

9. Ed Ward - July 10, 2006

Sorry, it’s ‘roofs’ wherever English is spoken.

10. BiB - July 10, 2006

Ed, I bow to your greater knowledge and shall sign up for elocution lessons immediately to have that v deleted from my pronunciation of said word in the plural.

11. Blonde at Heart - August 16, 2006

As far as I remember, Blitz has the same meaning of speed as in English. And if I remember correctly, there should be a German word for the set of a lightning and a thunder. Do you know that word or I am just hallucinating?

12. BiB - August 16, 2006

Do you mean das Gewitter, perhaps? That’s a thunderstorm, I suppose. There are excellent ones in Berin. Really, the best I’ve ever seen. Although I was caught in a sub-tropical storm in New Zealand, and that was deeply impressive.

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