Optative future October 2, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
God I fucking hate blogging. So time for some blogging.
Darlings, I think I’m going to get myself a brand new friend. And I’m not even going to have to walk in the pouring rain to do it. (And nor will I pay the slightest attention to Jane wearing a turtleneck.) No, it’s a neighbour.
Now that I’ve turned 102, I’m just about to get fed up of this urban living. Any minute now, I’m going to start reading Loot, or Craig’s List, or wherever it is these things are advertised, and get me a nice smallholding somewhere. A few sheep (to keep me company), a mute dog, probably some chickens clucking round the place. Perhaps another farm not too far down the road where I’d be invited for Christmas dinner (once they’d hidden all the sharp items) and with a woman of the house who’d drop me in my paper, chocolate, bananas and benefits every Saturday morning from the local shop, which would be a good 45 minutes’ drive away. She’ll probably be driving a C-reg – I mean first time round – Morris Minor, even if her husband wouldn’t say no to one of them four-wheeled drive things. And god it will all be beautiful. And quiet. And, who knows, maybe even one or two of the ladies from the (distant) village will think I’m an eligible bachelor (as long as Mrs. Morris Minor doesn’t tell them about the benefits), though I wouldn’t be surprised if a rumour soon started going round that ‘he got up to all sorts when he lived abroad’.
Anyway, that’s all in the future, and far be it from me to narcissistically wank my optative future onto a screen for all and sundry to read about.
So before I pack my bags and move to my mythical future, rooted firmly in the past – I was always rubbish at grammar – I’m going to wring this urban living dry for every last drop of human contact before going monastic… This evening, I rustled up a quick dinner of fried gruel à la sauce gruellaise and looked mournfully out the kitchen window, trying to emblazon the image of the Hinterhaus into my addled brain for ever.
Berlin’s good for spying on the neighbours. I mean in comparison to London, at least. I suppose in other compact-living European cities, the opportunities are much the same. But Berlin’s good because of the houses often having a Vorderhaus (front house) and a Hinterhaus (rear house). You might even have a Seitenflügel (side-wing) if you’re lucky. We live in just such a Vorder-+Hinterhaus-house. We’re in the Vorder bit. Then there’s a yard and the Hinter-bit beyond that, positioned at just the right distance for you to watch every damn thing going on in the bastard.
Now our area is still demographically confused. It can’t decide whether to pull the plug altogether and admit it’s died off nicely without anyone noticing or whether to battle on for all it’s worth and struggle to see another dawn. My neighbours are mostly remarkable only for being the least remarkable bunch of people to have assembled in close quarters outside a stag-do party with its own t-shirts. Clones of happy suburbanites. Apart from the old witch on the top floor who hasn’t realised the Stasi have shut up shop and still pops out to post her anonymous letters to them every lunchtime, I’d say few of them are harbouring any earth-shattering secrets.
A boring family with an ignored cat moved out. And in moved a singleton who’d mistaken the demographic and still thought Berlin’s Ruislip might live to see a brighter day. His flat’s on the ground floor. It has its own bit of garden in the yard. He resolutely tore up the garden the family with the ignored cat had left and made it his own. Through his open curtains, I could see him feverishly beavering away inside the flat too. Making it his own. Making it habitable. And ten out of ten to him because he seemed to do all that with relative speed. I compartmentalised him as someone I would never have the remotest sniff of human contact with and got back to living in wilful ignorance of my surroundings.
Until today… I sat eating my fried gruel à la sauce gruellaise. It was early for dinner, but already getting dark. I plumped for pretending the days are still long so ate in relative dinge. Yet the new neighbour was in his kitchen with the lights switched flagrantly on. I surveyed him as well as I could when only able to snatch the odd furtive look. He looks nice. 30-something, probably. Hair quite long but not in a way that makes me want to kill him. He was eating alone. And, which instantly sent him soaring in my estimations, I saw him pour himself a second glass of red wine. And not even seven o’clock! The clothes-horse was up too.
“Poor neighbour,” I thought to myself. “He’s obviously just split up with his girlfriend. Moved to a new pad. Got a bit of garden. Done it all up in his own way. And now he’s having lonely dinners with only the clothes-horse and the odd furtive glance from the miserable queen upstairs in the Vorderhaus for company.”
I think it’s time I extended the hand of friendship.