Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Excommunicated

We've been excommunicated! No interweb, no phone, no way of contacting the outside world - well, except by going out in it I suppose.
Our ironically-named Easybox died, I guess it found things weren't as easy as it might have thought, so now we're waiting on Vodafone to send out another. Whether it's an Easierbox or a Couldn'tBeArsedAnymoreBox, like the last one, is something we have to wait until Monday to find out. Monday! They can't send it any sooner. Schweinhunde.
This, in case some of you smart arses were wondering, is being painstakingly typed on my mobile phone that has a keyboard only a mouse could comfortably use. So don't expect many posts before Monday.
I suspect the church may be behind this excommunication and sudden death of the Easybox. My contempt for all forms of religion, parasitic industries that they are - combined with the local church's attempts to lure my son into its clutches - led to some scathing words which I'd planned to share with youse (to youse a word a friend of mine likes yousing) but evidently the gods currently in fashion deemed the Easybox a neccessary sacrifice to prevent their publication. The church is fond of Easy targets. But I won't get into all that again - this keyboard's too small. And I'm hungry.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiokopf's Universal Sightung

Radiohead’s first foray into the world of print media brought us to Kreuzberg today to get our hands on The Universal Sigh, the band’s first newspaper!
Not knowing what to expect but an expectation of the unexpected, I was surprised to get what I was told to expect – an actual newspaper, albeit one devoid of news (yet still more informative than many).
I didn’t expect it to be in German, however, although I realise it’s not altogether preposterous for a newspaper in Germany to be in German.
I guess they were being nice and catering to local demand, even if Berlin is home to more Auslanders than in all the Auslands put together, but still, Radiokopf in German?! Jaysus.
Released worldwide at noon (local times), the paper was free, making it affordable even for most Berliners, and it was snapped up at a relatively polite pace with no pushing, fighting, gunshots or screaming despite the lack of an orderly queue.
The nipper, a big (but yet the smallest) Radiohead fan, was very excited to get his little mitts on a copy, and of course his German is better than mine – he’s been living here his whole life after all – but I haven’t gathered to strength needed to read any of the articles yet. German articles are full of articles – der, die, dat, dit and so on – meaning you need to be very articleate to read them.
Instead I contented myself with pictures and artwork, looked up Pitchfork and found that a New Zealand magazine posted a PDF version in English! Grand.
The nipper was delighted though, and is now eagerly awaiting details of a hoped-for tour. His infection for the music, combined with the danger he poses to my clothes, convinced me to invest in a back-up for my favourite Radiohead t-shirt. It should be arriving any day now, unless one of the Schweinhund neighbours stole it already.
All this newspaper publishing malarkey was apparently to promote The King of Limbs – another fantastic album – weeks after everyone already (legally) downloaded it, but it led to speculation the band may have other surprises in store, hence the certain uncertainty. In the end there were No Surprises (yet), in itself the most surprising thing of all.

The artwork featured here is not by own, but the pictures of it are, so I'm not sure who owns the copyright to what. The nipper is mine of course, at least until he gets a job.
I have a couple of spare copies (in German) of The Universal Sigh, worth a fortune, but free for any genuine fans who promise not to try and flog them for capitalist gain. You'll have to pick them up yourself though.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Train tracks of thought

Cycling for the S-Bahn home today, I passed over three pairs of train tracks, set into the concrete, innocuous. They were rusted, disused, but aiming for Sachsenhausen, a couple of hundred metres to my left. Whether they marked the route of human freight trains to Oranienburg’s concentration camp, I do not know, but they’re still fucking there, streaks of ignominy, guilty or not. It makes you think. Meanwhile a shiny new car dealership advertised Mercedes Benz and Smart cars. Vorsprung durch Technik anyone?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bubbha

The chubby cheeked little feller’s gettin’ big. Big? Flippin’ HUGE more like. The nipper’s now got six bellies and four chins. The bellies flop to his sides when you lie him down. He has an insatiable appetite and it shows. He even dreams of food while sleeping, moving his jaws and licking his chops in anticipation of the snack he’ll call for when he wakes up.
He’s already doubled his weight since he was born. In two months! I don’t know if that’s normal. (Unlike some, I haven’t read a single baby book, preferring instead to get my baby trivia in the pub.) But we’re happy with his progress. The more he eats the better I say, although his mother – coincidentally his lunch – might privately disagree.
The aforementioned cheeks are the chubbiest I’ve ever seen on a human. I do not think a nipper has been produced with cheeks chubbier. They’re massive, in the literal and culchie sense of the word.
He’s been having a hard time the last few days though. He hasn’t had a dump for almost a week and is feeling the pressure. Like Angela Merkel, he’s full of Scheiße. So we’re waiting with bated breath for the inevitable eruption. The last days of Pompeii...
When he’s in distress, music seems to soothe his troubles. Luke Kelly has a captivating effect and Radiohead’s latest album seems to be a particular favourite. Jenny sings to him every night so I’m sure it’s only a matter of weeks before he has a band up and running.
He simply LOVES people talking to him. He lures them in for a chinwag with his chubby cheeks and responds with happy grunts, stretches and killer smiles. As mentioned before, his smiles are contagious. So he’s quite a sociable fellow, and people seem to like him despite his terrible manners, farting and puking away with impunity. Won’t be long before he’s sneaking off to the pub, if he isn’t already. (It would explain the beer bellies. And the manners.)
He’s also got a peculiar fascination for shelves, their corners in particular. He spends hours swinging his head back and forth as he looks from one shelf corner to the other, comparing angles, no doubt noting their shoddy workmanship.
After last week’s unsuccessful venture to Rangsdorf, he seems to have developed a taste for excitement. He was complaining today as we went for a walk in a boring park. So the verboten has its appeals, even at such a young age.
Two months ain’t long, but already he’s showing a joie de vivre, albeit a sleepy one. For his second monthivarsary celebrations last week, we brought him to a Mexican taqueria in Kreuzberg. He slept the whole time, wasn’t arsed at all with the festivities. I even had to drink his tequila! Next month it seems, we’ll have to do something really exciting.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heilige Pádraigstag

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! A bit late I know, but yesterday we were at the very first St. Patrick’s Day parade in Berlin! A rag-taggle bunch of festive stragglers dressed in varying degrees of degreen following four girls brandishing a snake being banished around Görlitzer Park by the very man, St. Patrick himself. Brilliant.
Derek Scally of The Irish Times reckoned some 250 desperadoes took part “if you squint” and at least two dogs (only slightly less desperate) joined in the fun too. There was a bit of consternation when the congregation ran into the local hounds belonging to the punks and drug dealers who like to call the run-down park home, but once the customary barking and arse-sniffing pleasantries were exchanged, we all proceeded as before. The dogs sniffed and barked too of course.
A fella dressed in a leprechaun outfit complete with orange hair and beard followed behind on his bike, towing a trailer blasting out diddley-eye music, while a lone drummer accompanied the snake up front as it wound its way though the muddy patch flanked by graffiti and sorry stumps of trees.
The weather obliged by being typically Irish, damp drizzle pissing down from the greyness accompanied by a bitter chill to ensure it could only be described as fuckin’ miserable.
The nipper slept, or at least pretended to sleep, through the whole thing. He’s only impressed when engaged in dangerous and highly illegal activities it seems, and so a bunch of revellers traipsing around a park in the rain held little interest for him – although I’m proud to say the parade was illegal too, making it the third unlawful activity the nipper’s been engaged in in the space of four days.
It ended where it began, in a Mexican restaurant on the edge of the park. Where else? Judging from the racket, tequila and diddley-eye were made for each other. Fiesta mór!
¡Viva San Patricio, the hombre who drove the snakes out of Ireland!

Yesterday also marked three years of my being an Irish Berliner! Mad huh? I'll get philosophical about it all in another post, another in my increasingly lengthy list of posts to write once I find the time.

Spotted in The Guardian

The world’s most little known famous journalist became a little less little known today when articles he wrote for Spotted by Locals’ Berlin guide appeared in The Guardian!
No doubt the articles on the Silberfisch and Schwarze Pumpe were seized upon by the UK’s most prestigious newspaper (not that there’s much competition) for the delicate turn of phrase, inspirational whatsits and hauntingly accurate and poetic je ne sais quoi.
They overlooked other Spotted articles I’ve done, the latest of which touches on the story of the ghost stations of Berlin and the city’s shameless rebuilding of the Berlin Wall in the chase for tourists’ dollars. Seriously, they’re rebuilding the flippin’ Wall! I'll have to write a proper post about that too.
The Spottiness continues. Next week the Spotted honchos want to interview me AND publish a picture of me. Through some mad coincidence of camera lens fate, I only have pictures where I look ridiculous. They say the camera never lies, but I say they’re wrong, and I’m never wrong, even when I’m right. That one of me wearing the hat opposite when I had the red beard was actually a police mug shot, taken by surprise.
Fame and (especially) fortune may remain distant pipe dreams, if not great big tube dreams, but as long as stuff’s being published, I can go on sleeping. Metaphorically of course, and nipper permitting if not.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Niptoe's first adventure

Today, to mark the two monthiversary of his landing, we brought the nipper on his greatest adventure yet – to the abandoned former military airfield at Rangsdorf! It’s the airport from where Colonel Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg flew with the bombs to assassinate Hitler.
We were caught. So our excursion was about as successful as von Stauffenberg’s plot.
The nipper wasn’t as excited as I was about it all to be honest, even going so far as to sleep on the train as we made our way there, but he perked up a bit when I lifted the fence and Jenny wheeled him under in the pram. We were in!
We eventually discarded the pram due to the uneven terrain, and Jenny carried him on as he looked around with increasing discomfort as we passed empty hangers and approached the shell of the main terminal building. I assured him the Russkies were gone and any Nazis long gone before them, but the nipper was having none of it.
Perhaps it was unfortunate that the pangs of hunger struck at that particular time, but in any case I shall have to have a talk with him about basic etiquette while sneaking around places you’re not supposed to. Certainly, crying and wailing for grub is not very discreet or helpful to keeping a low profile while trespassing in an area surrounded by a link fence with “Betreten und Befahren verboten!” plastered all over the place.
The security guard came along in his car when we had nowhere to hide, directly in front of the main terminal building. We played the stupid tourists’ card, “Do you speak English?” and he very nicely informed us we weren’t supposed to be there and that we should leave.
So the exploration was cut short, but the nipper got his grub as soon as we hopped back out under the fence, and slept all the way home in the train. Enough excitement for one day.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Überlin

I’ve been writing an awful amount of Scheiße lately, utter ráméis about tea and hair and the like, and it’s got to stop. When I started this here blog, I did it to communicate my impressions and experiences of life here with people back home – my new life as an Irish Berliner – for those who wanted to read it. Some people care, others don’t, but I’m pretty sure nobody gives a rat’s ass about hair or tea. I will not write about hair anymore. Barring major circumstance I’ll not write about tea either.
I no longer know why I write a blog. I thought it was for myself in the beginning. A sort of diary. Maybe it is. The travels in South and Central America were interesting, but now the herd wants to rein me in, assimilate me into herd life. Am I really so conceited I think my mundaneness is more interesting than anyone else’s? I could write and write about the nipper – he’s fucking brilliant – but everyone’s nipper is brilliant, and while I may think my nipper is the best, so does everyone else (regarding their nippers), and nobody wants to read about mine if he is.
So it’s not for me, or such a thought would not occur to be. I guess it’s for you dear reader, whoever you are. Why, though, is another matter. A raison d'être has to be more than simply être. Mere existence is never enough. Forget raisons, I want sultanas and currants d'être too. Life in Berlin, a city I love in a country I don't, should provide plenty of material. Tomorrow I go exploring.


This post has been amended slightly following an afternoon’s pondering on raisins and their brethren, and to project a more agreeable tone following the arrival of more tea(!) this morning. I won’t write about that – I promise – unless I go mad and buy a teapot.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Teariffic

The tea arrived yesterday! The situation had been allowed deteriorate to critical levels and so I’d taken matters by the scruff of the neck and ordered 240 bags directly from the Barry’s Tea online store. Hang the expense! (Not as bad as I previously thought actually.) It’s a sad house indeed which doesn’t have any tea, and there wasn’t a moment to lose if I wanted to avoid that calamity.
I could barely contain my excitement as I contemplated the special delivery from Ireland. My tongue was hanging out of my head as I ripped open the very fancy packaging to feast me eyes on the anticipated wonders inside – six boxes of loose tea. Huh? Classic Blend, not the Gold Blend I’d been expecting. Jaaaysus. They’d mixed up the order!
A quick email to Barry’s and an hour later, a response apologizing for the mix-up:
“We will send you a replacement order as soon as possible. No need to send back the Classic, enjoy!”
Of course I put the kettle on straight away. Tealicious!
This morning at 10am or some ungodly hour like that (yes, they make the poor fuckers work on Saturdays here), another package arrived, covered in familiar wrapping. My tea! 240 bags! They must have sent it immediately after sending the other shipment. So there were two pots of tea for breakfast this morning, and who knows, there may be yet another shipment en route. Teariffic!

The stockpile’s healthy once again, and may (although I doubt it) even get me through to July when I’ll be able to stock up again. We’re going home!!! Nipper and entourage will be returning to coincide with Noddy’s return from Australia to celebrate his wedding with a piss-up which has Ireland’s breweries brewing overtime in anticipation of expected demand.
Jaysus, little did we know the last time we met, that the next time we’d meet, I’d have a nipper and he a wife! Sully’s the only one yet to make a move...
The nipper may be only seven weeks old, but already he has a long list of admirers waiting to make his acquaintance. Then of course, there are all the sheep and cows we have to introduce him to too.
I forked out more to fly with Aer Lingus. I would rather stick forks in my eyes than fly with Ryanair who are nothing but a shower of Scheißes. Only one way is booked for now – with such a piss-up in store, it would be unwise to plan anything at all for afterwards. Who knows if we’ll make it back at all! But we’re going home... Now that is teariffic.