Thursday, February 28, 2013

They're tearing down the Wall!

So they’re tearing the East Side Gallery down to make way for luxury apartments. They haven’t wasted any time. News of this fucking affront – for that’s all it can be called – only broke yesterday or the day before. They’re tearing it down as I type.
The East Side Gallery, for those of you who don’t know, is the longest surviving intact piece of the Berlin Wall, which was mostly torn down in the heady days after November 9, 1989 for the right reasons – the unshackling of chains and restrictions, the unburdening of repression, and a strike for freedom.
Now they’re tearing it for the opposite – for money, for greed, for shortsighted stupidity.
I cannot believe the city is allowing this take place. It makes no sense whatsoever. Like Tacheles before it, the East Side Gallery is/was a tourist attraction, something unique to Berlin – there was only one Berlin Wall, yes, in Berlin! – drawing visitors from everywhere to marvel at its artwork and ponder its era-defining past. They even restored it a couple of years ago for their benefit.
It stood as a chilling reminder of the Cold War, something visitors could look upon with gratitude for the freedom they now have to come and go as they please.
This is history, we have a duty to preserve it.
Would they tear down the pyramids in Egypt for luxury apartments? Or the Colosseum in Rome? Or the Tour Eiffel? It’s inexcusable, reprehensible, absolutely outrageous. It’s the final straw.
I’d have brought my son there one day, told him all about it. He mightn’t care but that’s his business, that’s his choice. Now the choice is being taken away.
What the fuck are we going to do with luxury apartments? Who’s going to come to Berlin to see them? What do they stand for? Who’s profiting from this? Seriously, these are to questions to be asked to find out how and why this is being allowed. This has the stench of corruption emanating from its very cores.
These fucking apartments should be opposed just as fiercely as the building of the original Berlin Wall should have been on August 13, 1961.
The Wall stood as a symbol of oppression for almost 30 years. Don’t let them build another one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Go raibh maith agaibh

Thanks to everyone for all your concern, best wishes and kind messages. It’s kinda overwhelming to know how many people care.
We’ll be fine, we’ll manage. There are worse things happening in the world and it’s important to keep things in perspective. This is a shit time right now, but there’ll be good times again. We’re both mature and intelligent enough not to allow our personal problems impact on the young lad. Obviously he won’t be oblivious to them but we’ll ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.
We had our first parent-“teacher” meeting this morning, when his Kita warden told us how happy she is with the progress he’s making. There was nothing new in what she said, but it was nice to hear how great he is confirmed by an unrelated third-party.
In short, he’s the best kid in the Kita and you can set your clock to his shites.
She did say she loved his incessant singing so perhaps her sanity needs to be called into question, but no matter…
Yesterday, when I brought the fella to the shop, he found a stick, had great fun bashing it off things. I had to stop him when he started bashing cars with it, joked he couldn’t do that unless it was a police car.
He looked around brandishing the stick: “Police car?”
Luckily for the Polizei there were none around. He’s good, and we’ll be fine.

Monday, February 25, 2013


So Jenny and I are breaking. It’s shit, but there you go. Deepest darkest fears realized.
We just can’t live together. It doesn’t work, it’s untenable, it can’t go on. Patience has run out, leeway exhausted, feelings crushed. We aren’t breaking, it’s broken.
Each blames the other of course, that’s probably normal, but it doesn’t matter – all that’s left are losers. Fionn, the innocent victim, is the biggest loser of all.
Anger has dissipated in the last week, since I first started these words. Now there’s just sorrow, deep sorrow and regret.
This is the last thing I ever wanted – the last thing either of us wanted – but having dealt with the terror of realization I can see no other way.
We both agree Fionn is the priority. That’s the beacon of hope. Both of us want only the best for him. It certainly wouldn’t do him any good to grow up in a poisonous atmosphere, watching the people he loves argue over nothing.
It’s fucking tragic for everyone that we have to share him, but we have to find a way to minimize the loss, to reduce the impact. We have to give him the best damn start in life we can. It was flawed from the beginning, but still, he has to have hope.
He was born out of love and he carries that love still. It’s his love now.
We have to move on, deal with it. This is Germany, it happens all the time. This is how they do it. So we’ll manage, somehow.
He knows something’s going on. He wasn’t too good, none of us were. It’s shit. There’s a calm now and he’s better, singing more than usual, but still it must be strange. It’ll never be the same.
I’m looking for an apartment close enough to be near, far enough not to go mad. Perhaps a bit of distance will allow channels of communication function again and we can at least understand the other even if we don’t agree.
At least we both understand and agree that Fionn’s the most important thing. He needs a father and a mother and we’ll both be there.
I brought him to bed the other night.
“I love you Fionnito, and Jenny loves you too, so we’re going to find a way.”
We have to.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Dog shit and a GEZ bill marked our return to Berlin.
“Welcome to Berlin!” said the dog shit, which claims the city as its own.
“Welcome to Germany!” said the GEZ, which claims the country as its own.
Jenny met us at the airport last night. The young fella ran out, but was snared in the sliding doors before he could reach her. Fucking doors obviously aren’t programmed to recognize humans smaller that 8-foot. The joy of seeing her again after a week ensured he forgot the rude reception, and he promptly rushed into her arms like they do in American films.
‘Twas a good week, far more relaxing than I thought it would be. He was on his best behavior, apart from a couple of fits toward the end when his patience was wearing thin.
He rebuffed my dad’s efforts to speak Irish with him with “Nein, nein, nein!” made faces at my mother, cursed like a docker, laughed hysterically at nothing and generally did his best to convince them he’s stone mad. I’m starting to think he is.
He likes Madrid, its restaurants, playgrounds, trains. He couldn’t get enough of the trains, was constantly calling for paella, demolished a squid bocadillo (wanted more), and he slid down every slide he saw. The carnaval kept his eyes wide and open – until he wanted to get the train again. He wasn’t too pushed about Madrid’s museums either.
I think he prefers Ireland, more cows, but tigers are the attraction in Madrid, one at the back of the zoo you can see through the fence (we’re poor, the zoo’s expensive) and the other a new friend he made who’s eagerly awaiting his return.
I snuck out while he was asleep (the young lad, not the tiger) to see two football games, Real Madrid vs. Sevilla and then Rayo Vallecano vs. Atlético Madrid the next night. Rayo’s game was the highlight, a fantastic experience. Rayo won, but the coach, Paco Jémez, was set off, so I’ll be wearing my newly procured Rayo jersey when they play Real on Sunday to offer my support in his absence.
I’d great plans to bring back a tin of stuffed olives and a bottle of brandy but we killed too much time after a whole day killing it, and had to make a frantic dash for the plane after a very hurried farewell to the parents.
But we made the plane, back to Berlín, to the GEZ and dog shit. You need to be a gymnast to get down our street without stepping in it. I’m not complaining, it could be worse. At least it’s genuine dog shit. Unless they’ve been lying all along…

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Smashed Grrman Madness

Something traumatic happens every time I’m about to go away. Or so it seems anyway. Usually I run out of tea, a cup breaks or the teapot breaks. This morning my favorite cup smashed to smithereens on the kitchen floor. Smashed. To. Smithereens. It’ll never be the same. I’ve said my goodbyes already. That cup’s gone, to a better place I hope.
Tomorrow the young lad and I are going to Madrid to visit the folks. Apparently Germans are compelled to work at the expense of fun so we’re going to a place with chronic unemployment instead. Imagine the laughs! I hear people are taking to the streets there. ¡Fiesta!
It should be good. The young lad’s been drooling all week at thoughts of all the lovely paella he’ll be eating. And the folks haven’t seen him for a while. They’ll get a shock when he starts talking German at them. For you can’t talk German to people, you can only talk it at them. Survivors have spoken of the subsequent euphoria on hearing another language. But they never get rid of the scars.
Perhaps I’m bitter because I didn’t finish my latest course in Grrman (as it should be called). The last lesson is tomorrow at the same time as our escape to the Spanish capital, my original destination before I was snared by Berlin. I didn’t go to any lessons this year for reasons of decreasing and fragwürdig validity. Before that my head was so mashed I thought I might actually learn more Grrman by not going. I didn’t.
But all that can wait for another day. Madrid is calling. If the young lad allows me I’ll be at Rayo Vallecano vs. Atlético Madrid next Sunday. ¡Aupa Rayito! Hopefully he’ll adjust to his new surroundings and I’ll be able to go.
Real Madrid are also playing at home the night before, against Sevilla, my granny’s team, though she might have been a Betis fan for all I know. Maybe I’ll go to that too. When work involves watching football games there’s no better way to relax than by watching football games.
Work’s been pretty demanding of late – oh if I told you of the things I’ve done! Well, you wouldn’t believe me. C’est incroyable. There’s been barely time to think, no time to do all the wondrous things I wanted to do. When I do have time I’m exhausted. Yesterday I was so tired I went to bed at 10 p.m. – only to find I couldn’t sleep. Madness.
Maybe it is madness. Beckett said we are all born mad, some remain so. And where do you cure madness? Yep, you got it: Madrid.