Monday, May 26, 2014

Tempelhofer Freiheit

I cycled to Tempelhof earlier. I was so pissed off I wasn’t allowed vote on its future and I decided I’d better go and make the most of it before I no longer could.
Jaysus, it was glorious. I had an abandoned airplane to my back as I sat against the fence and let the sun’s warm rays caress my face. Birds were chattering, chirping, twittering as I sipped my beer and surveyed the expanse around me. There was just grass, grass and trees, and far way – almost too far to see – I could see the edge, the horizon, where people were cycling, rollerblading, flying kites and generally just mucking about.
That’s where the fuckers want to build their luxury apartments and “affordable” housing that nobody can afford. Anyway, I’ll come back to that…
I cracked open another beer and kept looking around. Every so often a passer-by would amble past, or a cyclist would rummage by softly. Bees buzzed and the birds kept chirping. It was perfect.
I thought to myself, “Tempelhof, don’t ever change.”
Tonight it was confirmed that 64.3% of my fellow Berliners – the ones allowed to vote – thought the same, and that 59.2% of them rejected the greedy politicians’ plans to build around the edges of Tempelhof for their developer friends.
Tempelhof is saved! Tempelhofer Freiheit ensured. Berlin, you’ve done me proud.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Toilet training a human

I’m at the fucking end of my patience. Three shites yesterday, four the day before, three already today, and it’s not even six o’clock.
When I picked him up from the Kita I was presented with the customary bag of shit-encrusted clothes, the customary embarrassed apology, the customary shrug and shaking of the head.
Nobody knows what to do. I’m at a loss, they’re at a loss, Jenny’s at a loss.
The only one who doesn’t give a shit is the young fella, who proves it all the time by producing them.
I told him today when I picked him up to tell me if he needed to do another, that I had a nappy in the bag and could whip it on if necessary. He assured me he would. Fifteen minutes later he’d done another.
It’s not like he doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do. He’s happy enough, even proud, to pee in the toilet or on a tree. But he has a block when it comes to shite. He refuses point blank to shit in a toilet or in a potty.
Instead we’d reached the compromise agreement where he’d say he needed a nappy. That was fine until he’d have the nappy on for an hour while we’re waiting for the anticipated shite to come. In the meantime he’s playing, fucking around – not giving a shite.
Lately he only shits in his jocks. He seems to making a point of it, going out of his way to shit as often as possible to ram his point home.
The whole thing has been going on since December, if not earlier, when it was decided the time for nappies was vorbei. Apparently it’s not good to pressure the kid in situations like this. Some kids are quicker than others and you keep being told, “He’ll do it when he’s good and ready.”
Well, fuck it, I’ve waited long enough. I’ve enough of scraping shite off jocks into toilets, enough of scrubbing the things clean. It’s around six months now with no end – bar his own red one – in sight.
Lately I’ve been getting him to clean his own jocks and clothes as much as he can, get him to do as much of the dirty work as possible. As I type he’s scrubbing his jocks from today. It’s a beautiful day. We were supposed to be out looking at the goats in Schönholzer Heide.
I don’t know what else to do. He seems oblivious to it all. At least the washing machine is working again.

No pictures will accompany this post.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Xabi the Trabi

I was startin’ to think splashing out on a 1973 banger wasn’t such a good idea. I couldn’t get the damn thing started for over a week and I was already getting parking fines because I couldn’t move it.
I’d only barely managed to get it home from Mitte. I drove the whole way without ever finding first gear. The gearstick is up by the steering wheel. I’d no idea what I was doing. I spent the whole journey terrified it would conk out, as it threatened to do on numerous occasions, particularly when going over tramlines. But I got it home. And then couldn’t move it.
In the end I had to join the ADAC and get them to sort it out. “I’d like to join. By the way, my car’s fucked. Can you come and fix it?”
They were incredibly friendly and sent someone around within an hour. He changed the spark plugs und viola! It roared to life, sending great clouds of black smoke on top of the unfortunate cyclists cycling by.
I was terrified it would conk out again but I drove it around the block. Then I turned it off, tried to start it with your man still there. It worked! It even worked the next day when he wasn’t there!
It started again this evening after it had been left for two days so I’m hopeful that I have the hang of it now. We’ll see how it reacts in winter but that’s a long way away now…
And I know where first gear is now. That’s always a good start.
I’ve named it Xabi. Xabi the Trabi. The young fella loves it. Jaysus, he loves it...
“More spins! I want loads of spins!”
He wanted to spin over to Lidl across the road. The car is parked beside Lidl across the road.
I think he likes the noise, the smell of petrol, the feeling you’re in a car, or at least something trying to be a car. It roars along, at a snail’s pace, but it roars along nonetheless.
There’s no fuel gauge. You have to have a rough idea of how far you’ve travelled and how much fuel you’ve used. Then, when you’re filling her up, you can’t be using any of this unleaded shite – it has to be the proper traditional petrol – and you need to manually mix in two-stroke oil yourself. Apparently the ratio is 1:50, whatever that means. I guess I’ll learn.
Peter, the fella I bought it off, seems a cool dude. He knocked a good bit off the price and gave me an original old DDR flag as a present. “Frisch gewaschen,” he told me. I’d told him I was interested in the history and all that.
He pointed at the fire extinguisher to the left beside by feet when I was giving it a testdrive. “Kaputt,” he said. The handbrake is also kaputt.
There are cables running across the floor from the boot, where a 12V battery should be, for the CD player on the dash. Peter seemed more keen to show me the CD player and the speakers at the back than the actual car itself. There may be a Rammstein CD stuck in the CD player. Peter is a bit of a metalhead. He’s also selling five pythons in case anyone is interested…
So now I’ll be driving around in a revered East German icon. Possibly the revered East German icon. The DDR didn’t have that many.
Peter gave me all the old paperwork, going back to when Herbert Krause of Uthmöden first bought the car in June 1973. Herr Krause was 50 at the time and he drove it until he was 89. He only died in the past year. He has a diary going back to 1973 in which he wrote and detailed everything he did to the car, in great detail. The entire mechanical history is there, in a notebook.
So I have an obligation to Herr Krause to look after his baby. I will. I hope it looks after me.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Ireland: Latest visit home

Ireland was a multitude of ladybirds, big bumble bees and something else I can no longer recall. So much has happened in the couple of weeks in between…
The young fella remembers better, no doubt. He had several cows (a whale) of a time. They were inquisitive cows, as always. They all gathered at the gates and gawked at us like they’d never seen people before. Maybe they’d never seen people like us. I need a haircut again.
But I’d never seen so many ladybirds and bumble bees. The ladybirds were ladybirding and the bees were beeing, as we all are.
They buzzed by like lawnmowers, buzzin’ around, looking for pollen to gather to put in their little pockets so they could bring it home to make into honey and put it into jars there. That was the young fella’s explanation and I saw no need to correct him.
We found the ball down by the river that we lost the last time, last Christmas. The tide and intervening storms brought it right back. I got a hurl and a new sliotar so we were able to whack that around too. Jaysus, he loves hurling.
I nearly lost him though. We went to the zoo and while I was queuing for tickets he decided to wander in by himself. I spent a half-hour, if not an hour, getting increasingly worried as I looked for him outside. I must have walked up and down the road outside the zoo a hundred times, then down through the grass, looking behind every tree in Phoenix Park. It’s a big fucking park. He was nowhere to be found.
You imagine the worst in situations like that. The ticket checker at the zoo entrance said he didn’t see any kids wander in by themselves. Your wan at the other entrance hadn’t noticed him either. Your man eventually stopped me as I was walking by for the umpteenth time, said there was a kid reported lost inside. He’d been in looking at the snow leopards.
He was grand – the young lad, not the ticket fella. He ran up to me when he saw me, gave me a hug. Then when I started giving out to him he burst into tears. I guess he must have been worried after all. I couldn’t give out to him anymore. Hopefully a lesson was learned. And we got into the zoo for free. Happy days.
We spent two nights up in the Wicklow mountains, where he spent the whole time telling me we were in Ireland. He was just happy to be there. We saw Gav, Delphine and Sid. That was great.
The rest of the planned meet-ups didn’t go so well. I found out my German phone doesn’t get all the text messages it’s sent, so plans to meet Jill and Tony, for example, floundered tragically. I’ll make sure to bring my Irish phone the next time.
But the rest of the time was spent catching up with the family and the aforementioned ladybirds and busy bees. Anyone else we only saw briefly. The whole trip was too brief, and exhausting. You need a holiday after a holiday like that.
Poor aul’ Moley stayed in Ireland. He liked it too much, or he was too tired to return.
“Will we go again in Ireland?” the young fella asked me today, and not for the first time since. I guess we have to go back. I just need to gather my strength back first…