Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Back on Kurs

Whatever weight came off my mind on clinching a place on my latest German course came back this evening once I started it. I’m doing Deutsch C1 for the third time. I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing it again so I’d better get as much of that grammar and Wortschatz into me as physically possible, Schatz. I’ll be applying glue to my eyes and ears before every lesson to ensure it sticks.
My new classmates seem very nice. Usually there’s one social leper who sticks out a mile you notice straight away but there were none this time around. Crazy. Out of 25 people including myself, you’d think there’d be at least one weirdo, one socially inept fuckwit, one lost cause all the others take pity on and then try to avoid. But there weren’t any!
Unless. No. It couldn’t be. I’m not the fucking weirdo, the social leper! No. Of course I’m not. Damn.
Well, screw them. I’m not going there to make friends. I have enough, more then enough, too fucking many. I’m going there to learn German which I’m more determined to do by the day. The Germans have been getting way out of hand on way too many issues now and I need to get my language skills up to a level where I can write angry letters in their language to let them know about it. Of course, as soon as you write anything in German it sounds angry, but you know what I mean.
For example, I learned today that it is verboten to open a Kita (Kindergarten) on any day but the 1st or 15th of the month. You are only allowed open a child-minding facility on one of 24 predetermined days of the year. I don’t know why, nobody knows why. Whatever gobshite thought of that in the Making-Things-Verboten Office must be very proud. No doubt they’ll have it etched on their gravestone, although that’s probably verboten too, except on the 20th of the month.
There’s no lack of material. So I’ll be paying attention in those classes to take it all in. Especially now that no one is taking to me. I’ll be hanging on to Frau Klebe’s every word. That’s her real name. Frau Klebe. Klebe is the German for glue. Maybe this time, just maybe, it will stick.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Teflon rodent

So the lying rat is leaving the sunken ship before his cronies, mute as it was sinking with their tongues up his arse, can trot him off. No matter. The ship sunk, with it the harbour, drowning all the non-Teflon covered rats conned into voting for them in gigantic waves of debt. It’s the price all rodents, regardless of how they voted, have to pay for the gullibility, stupidity and greed of those infected by his feral ways. Beneficiaries from his slithering, conniving and scaly-tailed dealings remain covered in Teflon of course, the Teflon of “the law” there to protect them. It's easy to blame one slivering rat when many are to blame, but perhaps now we can hope Ireland will never experience a plague like them again.

Any resemblances to any real rats, living, dead or in between, are purely coincidental and regrettable. Though it’s highly unlikely any real rats could be so despicable sewers would vomit at the stench of their presence, I certainly would not want any of our four-legged friends to be mistaken for the rat-like creature I’m referring to. Thank you for your infest.

A low life in high office

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sankt Pádraigstag

After Berlin’s first ever St. Patrick’s Day parade was such a roaring success last year, it was clear this year’s féile was going to be even bigger.
The snake was there again of course, bandied about by six enthusiastic snake-handlers, with Sankt Patrick himself there to lead the whole green-clad procession past bemused onlookers and picnickers in Görlitzer Park.
Yes, they were havin’ picnics, the weather being decidedly unPaddy’s Day-like with the sun splittin’ stones, and 20°C drawing out the crowds to celebrate Lá Féile Pádraig.
Jaysus, he must be chuffed with himself after looking down on all the shenanigans being carried out in his name.
Hundreds showed up – no squinting necessary by the excellent Derek Scally (whose parade report you can read here) – all sporting at least one item of green clothing, some with even more. I wore green jocks, socks and my usual green t-shirt. Of course it’s what’s inside that counts, blood and guts and stuff like that, but if they’re green you’d want to get yourself to a hospital.
They even got a pipe band (albeit Scottish) and the ambassador to say a few words. The band didn’t say a few words, just the ambassador did. The band instead tortured Kreuzberg’s cat populace with their best impression of their brethren being strangled. Feline fine? I thought not.
The crowd shared the ambassador’s enthusiasm for a parade to rival Munich’s (any excuse to bash the Münchkins) before setting off for the jaunt through the battered park.
One of the dogs from last year was there again, joined by a few newcomers. There were no issues with the local punks’ dogs either, arse-sniffing pleasantries passing without incident this year, the weather doing its best to ensure bark without bite.
"Ist es ein Festtag in Irland?" a Turkish family asked when the nipster ran over to raid their picnic.
"Es ist Irlands Festtag," I replied.
They approved, and so did everyone, it seems, when the parade did a much shorter route than last year and promptly finished up for all to get more drink and prepare for the match. Maybe the ambassador couldn’t hack the longer trek. All them fine dinners must weigh heavily on a fella’s stomach...
The match didn’t work out when the pub couldn’t get the internet connection going. Perhaps ’twas just as well.
Instead we drank and sang and danced to the music and drank some more as we thanked St. Patrick we were Irish (unlike him). Ireland’s a great country when you don’t have to live there.
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! 

Sounds of the parade can be enjoyed here, courtesy of the Mädels with a microphone. “This is deadly craic isn’t it?” Begob and begorrah, it surely was.

Grüner than green

Yeah, the Fernsehturm’s green, but they didn’t kill themselves. It could – no, should – be greener.
Fuck it, it’s not askin’ a lot. If you’re goin’ to make it green anyway then you may as well go the whole hog and make it really green.
But this is Germany. Obligations are fulfilled but only to the point deemed adequate by a form and a stamp. No more than necessary. They might be accused of overindulgence. Mein Gott! We wouldn't want that!
So it’s a half-arsed green, the minimum legally acceptable requirement to be called green. Happy St. Patrick's Day – within reason.
I was genuinely excited to hear the Fernsehturm would be green for St . Patrick's Day. Green! For Ireland!
It’s green alright, but any less green wouldn't be green at all. We’re not important, but their condescending little tip couldn’t be more green inducing.

Irish now, more than ever before.

Addendum; After a day of sober reflection and feeling green the following day – Maybe I’m being a little harsh on our hosts. Maybe they did their best, and simply do not understand the culture of going mad for St. Patrick’s Day. Fuck it, it was green, and for that I should be thankful.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Ceithre bliana caite

Four years ago to the minute – give or take an hour (I’m not German) – I arrived in Berlin to begin my new life here. Four years! Mad.
It feels like a significant anniversary, I don’t know why.
My beloved Fernsehturm will be green later to mark the occasion! To help celebrate a Welshman who drove the snakes out of Ireland...
I’ll be celebrating too, celebrating what, exactly, I don’t know, but it’s going to be sunny, Saturday, and I’m off – a combination which has almost certainly never occurred in my lifetime before.
I wrote loads of philosophical shit to mark the occasion, but I’m not happy with any of it, so I’ll leave it. ’Twould do no good. Maybe some other time. I’m pissed off I spent all that time writing it now, but I’d be even more pissed off if I gave the wrong impression.
Meanwhile, if any of ye are near Gorlitzer Park later, the second annual St. Patrick’s Day parade is taking place. Last year’s was great, so I’ll be down there again, celebrating Ireland from a safe distance. If you pop along, say hello. I’ll be the fella with the hair. And I don’t mean just one.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Berlin is dying

Gaps being filled at a staggering rate, every one of the thousands of apartments as exclusive as the next, premium penthouses promiscuating through the cityspace. Property billboards compete for tenants, enticed for now by shiny new clubs, chandeliers in purple and gloss hanging from majestic ceilings, cocktails over €8, guys in shirts – shirts! – hair slicked back, girls in heels, tits almost too, hen nights, stag nights, gobshite nights, gorged excess, money, money, money, more than sense, laughter with no sense at all, loud, raucous, invasive, erupting in drunken rancour, fights, puke, smashed glass, the smashing sound of progress. It won’t be long till it’s just like anywhere else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Metal mickey München

Little pricks are given great importance in Munich. It may seem a boar to the rest of the world but Münchkins are sticklers for detail. In no other city would the poor creature need to display his copper codger so profoundly. But little pricks are revered here, as Hitler himself found to his delight.
Perhaps he stayed for their big-bosomed hospitality. (Little pricks somewhat paradoxically having a weakness for big bosoms.)
The Bayern Munich Münchkins laid on tonnes of grub and lashings of Weißbier for the journalists at the match last night. I got some grub, but it was too late by the time I finished up to sample any of the beer. Work didn’t seem to prevent any of the rest of them from guzzling it down like they were extinguishing fires in their sizable bellies.
They’re decent too (the Münchkins, not the bellies). The U-Bahn driver stopped after he’d closed the doors to let me on the last train. If that was Berlin, he’d have waited until I arrived at the door panting and out of breath, and then pulled off, slowly, so I could hear his cackle reverberating as he shook with Schadenfreude.*
Hospitable? Decent? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. These are hastily-formed impressions after all. You can only really learn about a place if you’ve lived there your whole life, and even then you might decide on your last day you may have been wrong all along. You could just change your mind with your last breath, when it’s too late.
They take great pride in pretzels here, white dough baked and covered in great clumps of salt. They’re also proud of their Spätzle, though I have to say it’s crap compared to the Spätzle I had in Köln. Still, I’m slowly getting a feel for this land I find myself living in..
They’re an educated bunch, the Münchkins, judging by all the newspapers you can pick up anywhere. It’s great! They have boxes lying around and you simply lift up the flap for whichever newspaper takes your fancy and off you go. Free newspapers abound.
Perhaps it’s because their language is incomprehensible, even among themselves, so they need to have everything written down. Even the mad fella decided to write here, to get his views known. Gibberish of course, but that’s the way with little pricks. They loved him all the same.

*Addendum; later Wednesday – the first train I got to on my return to Berlin waited until I just got to the door before taking off. I didn’t hear the laughter, but I’m sure they were pissing themselves.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Frühlingsgefühling around

Winter’s over. I know this because I finally got myself a winter jacket, Murphy’s Law being the only one that counts.
It’s a proper winter jacket, designed to keep you warm at minus 300 degrees. I was sweatin’ buckets trying it on in the shop. But I hope it will see me safely through many more winters and, more pressingly, late kick offs in cold stadiums.
It’s a replacement jacket for the one stolen at the boxing recently. In recent years I’ve lost four jackets to slivering thieves, and I don’t plan on losing anymore. One was stolen from a pub in Dublin, another from a bus in Mexico (stuffed with cash from the ATM), another from a wedding (with my driving licence inside so they know who they stole it from), and the replacement for that was snatched by an opportunist taking advantage of the melee in Munich a couple of weeks back. If anyone steals this one then I’ll go without a jacket forever more.
Now that I have it, of course, I don’t need it. The sun’s splitting the trees as I type, buds are budding, flowers flowering, grass grassing, you get the picture...
I suppose it won’t be long before everyone’s going around with Frühlingsgefühl, silly smiles plastered on their happy faces, drunk with the relief of having survived the Berlin winter. They’re less grumpy than usual, might even say hello to you. Before long they’ll be drinking beer and grilling sausages in the park. It could be Wurst.
Yes, Frühling ist gesprungen as the locals don’t say. (Spring has sprung doesn’t work as well in German, another example of humour being lost in translation. It’s not the Germans’ fault, it’s their confounded language.)
Time to Frühlingsgefühl around. As you can read, I’ve already started...

Addendum; later Friday – shortly after I wrote what I wrote earlier, the sun disappeared, the clouds gathered and that was that. Proof, once again, that Murphy’s Law is the only irrefutable law. Zu früh gefrühlingsgefühlt? At least now I have a jacket.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Snotshot of madity 2: First emergency

We’d the first emergency. Jenny rang me in work to say the nipster had fallen. Twice. First onto the back of his head, then onto his forehead, directly where he bore the scar from a previous collision. Then he puked. That’s not good.
So she rang the doctor. Of course you need to give three weeks’ notice if you want a doctor to do anything in this country. But whoever she rang said to bring him straight to a hospital. So she’d to bring him to the Notdienst in Wedding. A taxi.
I couldn’t do anything of course. I’d to wait for Poldi to equalize for Cologne and for 22 fellas to stop chasing a ball around a field and try and maintain an interest so I could write about it. Then get their quotes.
So I did anyway, then pedalled like bejaysus to the DRK Kliniken where I met them in the lobby, your man with a huge bump on his forehead.
The staff were pleasant and friendly but I didn’t care much for their customers, the desperate and needy, a rough looking bunch too. Poor fuckers. No one wanted to be there.
They wanted to keep the nipster in overnight for observation, but had no beds, so they sent us to the hospital in Friedrichshain. I carried him on the U-Bahn. He seemed grand, grabbing the railings, looking at the fellow passengers, taking in all the excitement of Berlin public transport by night. He was getting tired by the time we completed the journey on the tram.
We got there anyway, more friendly nurses. I reassured the nipster he was spending the night in a hotel and the nurses were really waitresses to attend to his wishes. He seemed happy enough. He got to his hotel room and promptly explored it, pulling the bins around, wrecking the place like a proper rock star.
They set up him up with cables stuck to his chest and belly so they could monitor him. Like one of those poor monkeys stuck in a lab somewhere. I told him he was going into space. He didn’t care.
So I left him and Jenny there while they monitored his condition overnight. Again, he seemed grand, but at least he was in the right place if anything needed to be done. And his closest confidant was by his side too...
Frightening thoughts can go through your head at such times – you always think the worst – but there’s only so much you can do. You do it, of course, but there’s no point in worrying then.
They kept them in until 5 p.m. today before giving him the all clear. I reckon they had enough of him pulling the place apart.
“Bis bald,” the doctor said as she was checking us out, before she corrected herself.
“Hoffentlich nicht zu bald,” I agreed.
You’d think he’d be a little more careful after his non-misses, a little more cautious, wary even, but no, he was still tearing around like a lunatic. When we got him home he tore and threw himself around a bit more. He literally threw himself backwards at one point, forcing me to intervene before he crashed into the chest of drawers behind him.
We’re quite fond of him. We want to keep him. So I’ve ordered him a crash helmet. It cannot arrive too soon. Once it does, he’ll be wearing it permanently.