Archive for November, 2007
I’d imagined that my last week in Berlin would bring forth plenty of stuff to blog about. While it’s true that it’s been a big, eventful week so far, I find myself – just 48 hours away from being on an aeroplane – with nothing to say. I can’t think of anything.
It’s the home stretch now. Everything is painted, every room is virtually empty, and everything that I need is in a suitcase. The only things left to do involve a mop and a duster. None of that matters, though.
Last night it hit me quite hard that I’m leaving Billy behind. And it was something ridiculous that triggered it. We were walking around the neighbourhood while my clothes were in a machine at the launderette, and when we walked past the exit of a supermarket’s underground car park, BIlly pulled in that direction. I pulled him back and said, “Billy, nein, das ist die ausfahrt.” And that was it. The stiff upper lip melted, and it’s stayed pretty wobbly ever since then. A couple of days ago I said I had no idea what it would be like saying goodbye to him, but I know now. It’s going to be horrible. Really really horrible.
It’s been a strange, long, and mentally-exhausting week.
Beer, milk, and cheese live on the window ledge because my fridge has been taken away. Every sound made in the flat echoes because virtually all the furniture is gone. And I spent a last few late nights watching favourite episodes of Seinfeld and Arrested Development before all my DVDs, CDs, books, and other possessions got taken away and put into storage.
Off topic, slightly: a couple of weeks ago I commented on how much more manly I feel when stood in the back of a rented van. That all got shot down when the removal men came to take my stuff to their storage warehouse. They carried three boxes at a time on their back! One of them even carried a fridge freezer down the stairs on his own. It made me feel like a right nancy boy.
And I felt a bit crap when, after buying paint, turps, brushes, trays, plastic sheets, and tape, I began painting the walls to realise I was actually rubbish at painting walls. I stood there, roller in hand, looking at the patchy mess I’d made on one half of a wall contemplating how much stress it would be to do the whole flat, and swiftly picked up the phone, called a professional painter and decorator who is now coming around next week to do it all.
It’s one of the shitty things about renting in Berlin: you have to leave the flat in the state you got it in. So now I’m spending two-thirds of my deposit on returning it to its pristine, white, A Different Corner, state.
And it’s been a week of goodbyes, too. Well, it’s be two weeks of goodbyes with one more week of goodbyes to go. Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t just do one big get-drunk-and-say-goodbye party. It’s a good question, but apart from the nightmare that it’d end up being just me and Billy and too much beer in the bath, you never really talk to people at those sort of things, so I decided to do it individually. Which has been nice and horrible at the same time. It’s not really good for the heart to be continually saying goodbye to your friends.
It all seems very real now. The empty flat and the “send me a postcard”s. Just one more week and I’ll be gone. Berlin behind me.
And the saddest goodbye is yet to come; a couple of hours before I get on a plane to London next Saturday. I genuinely have no idea how hard it’s going to be to leave Billy behind. There’s several moments every day where I get a bit lumpy throat-ed, lie down next to him on his filthy cushion, and give him a big hug.
He, of course, looks at me like, “do you wanna play with the ball?”
How about this for advance booking? The twelfth and thirteenth of September 2009!? Who’s buying tickets for a concert 22 months in advance?
Aye, most people in the village thought it was a little bit odd in this day an’ age for those four ald fellas to be livin’ together at Baxter’s Farm. There’d be the odd joke down the White Horse about them being woofters an’ ‘avin’ dirty orgies an’ stuff, but honestly, we didn’t really give much thought to ‘em most of the time. Mike, the farrier, says they’re decent sorts; come in every six weeks, punctual like, to get they horses shod. An’ the bloke who used to be the vet ‘ere – Terry Fisher was his name, good bloke was Terry, God rest his soul – said they kept the stable spick an’ span; not one bit of hay out of place apparently. Anyway, I remember it like it was yesterday. Carol had said the weather looked a bit off while we were eatin’ breakfast, “it’s black over Bill’s mum’s,” she said. I went out to help Jack fit a new carburetor, an’ I sees ‘em. Came as a right shock, I can tell you, when they rode into the village on they horses, with their hoods up, like. The Four blinkin’ Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Never expected that. Not in a month of Sundays.
Other little stories like this live in the Gee Willikers section of Flip Flop Flyin’.
With every decision – do I keep this or chuck it out? – slowly but surely, moving out, leaving Germany behind, becomes a reality.
I suppose a little context might be needed here. This drawing was scribbled in my notebook on Christmas Day last year. By the way, those of a delicate mind/stomach should stop reading now.
It’s tough for me to write this cos it’s pretty juvenile and embarrassing. I suspect most of us, to a certain extent, have a slight touch of a synesthesia. For me, I tend to visualise sounds. Maybe this is a remnant of my early-nineties house music recreational intake…
Anyway, Christmas Day is a day when lots of food goes into one’s body. Because of this, sounds come out, too. The above drawing is a visual representation of each sound that I made that particular day.
Disgusting, I know. I’m sorry.
The Noah’s Ark Burger: a toasted sesame seed bun shaped a bit like a boat, filled with bite-size chunks of meat from every species of animal on the planet.
The Noah’s Ark Veggie Burger: a toasted sesame seed bun with some butter and lettuce on it.
Am I the only one who feels that little bit more manly when I’m stood, hands on hips, in the back of a rented van?
Earlier on, I was walking down Pappelallee and had to do a quick sidestep before I stood in a big spilled-curry of a diarrhoea-y dog poo. Thankfully I didn’t step in it. On my way back home, I noticed another fellow doing the same little dance. He was lucky, too.
Fast forward a few hours and the street is dark. That particular stretch of the street has a broken street light. With my earlier jig in mind, I hugged the wall as I went past the poo area. Now, I was in quite a good mood, so when I saw a woman pushing a stroller right in the direction of the poo, I said (in German), “Excuse me-”, and before I could warn her of her imminent shit-covered shoes and/or stroller wheels, she ran off into a sprint, like she’s just come face to face with The Yorkshire Ripper.
I was shocked that I could provoke such a reaction, and watched as she scurried right through the poo zone. One of her feet skidded a little as she did this. Maybe it was a bunch of wet autumn leaves. Maybe not.
You read the rumours, an “insider” or agent makes a comment, the media discusses what it might mean for your team’s fortunes, and then, finally, it happens: your team signs the new player! Woo and hoo.
As soon as possible, there’s a press conference. The chairman and manager/coach are delighted to have strengthened their squad with the signing of this player. The player is delighted to be playing for his new team and will be giving it 110%, and that he’s here to win trophies. Woo and hoo.
On the whole, these things are fairly run of the mill. It doesn’t really matter who the team is; it’s always the same deal.
Then come the photos. The traditional English football team photo is like this:
In an empty stadium we see the smiling manager holding one end of a scarf; the smiling player, wearing his new team’s shirt, holding the other end. Textbook tabloid fodder.
Since getting into baseball, though, I’ve noticed a totally different way of doing things. Look:
It’s quite stunningly silly: wearing the team shirt over the suit and tie the player is already wearing. Without fail, it looks stupid. Makes me chuckle every time I see it.
In an era where everything is so well organised to get the best possible media coverage, how did this become a standard way of announcing a new player? I get the idea of having the player there, and – rather like a reverse unveiling of a plaque – they want to give him his new uniform to put on in front of the cameras, but surely it’d make more sense for him to nip off the stage for 20 seconds and come back looking less of a dork.
Anyway, here’s Ohne Titel 13. No offence, Orioles fans (that’ll be just you then, Derick), I picked a team at random.
Click image to see the NSFW version.
(A bit of renumbering has gone on to include the Lion Teeth drawing, that’s why there’s no number 11, cos number 10 is now number 11, etc. blah blah blah.)
If you’re in London and fancy a signed copy, you should be able to find one at Foyles (Charing Cross Rd.), Borders (Charing Cross Rd. and Oxford St. branches), and the very lovely map, atlas, and travel-book store Standfords (Long Acre, just down the road from Covent Garden tube).
I was overjoyed to see the book on a desk near the front of the shop in the Oxford St branch of Borders. And to be next to a Vogue book with Kate Moss holding her boobs, too. Slightly annoying to also be next to some old Man Utd player’s book, but, y’know, I’m not gonna complain…
And here’s a new Lollipop drawing of Prince.