In an Irish pub at a German airport, it's god knows in the morning. Actually, it’s close to seven, because if there's one thing working nights has given me is a sensitivity to the sunrise, and I can see that the sun behind me is changing the utility building outside from grey to pink to cream.
The beer is cold and my body does not protest because my body clock is not even close to working properly. The music is a German version of Nickleback which isn't as bad as that sounds, but I am drinking bad foreign lager at seven in the morning so what do I know about anything? One of the main walkways to the last gate runs directly through the middle of the pub which breaks all levels of the simulacra , to the point where reality is shrugging all around me.
I'm making notes only in the most general way because I've been here on a stag do.
Berlin is easily as big as any capital city I've been too but doesn't feel as crowded. Everything is a twenty to forty minute train ride across a flat city and through highly built up but remarkably green areas. Graffiti splashes the metro touches, not just Shoreditch-I-want-to-be-the-next-Banksy street art, but raw handstyles, quick dubs, and clean AF pieces in impossible places.
The city has a brutal modernist base, I presume from rebuilding after the war. I’m from Longbridge, where they built the planes that would have carried the bombs that smashed this city. Weird how even the little things can connect you. The modernist base is the canvas and pallet which new developments are built over, tying the new and the early modern together. Berliners when not crusty hippy, or resolutely Eastern European dour, dress sharply with a sense of clean lines and angular design, I suppose growing up in a brutalist landscape infers certain design values. Old world Soviet modernism rewritten with efficient style,and lived in edges. The mood of the city defaulted to dour, even in the sunshine compared to the freezing sleet. The cities ghosts still touch every corner. But so does art, and music, torn posters and warm life
Berliners themselves have a friendly streak. In the German parliament, The Reichstag Building, in the main chamber they have a giant metal eagle as backdrop. Not many people know that the sculpture, affectionately known as “the fat hen” because of its proportions, has two sides. The stern serious side that faces the chamber, and its back side, where the face is softened, almost smiling. This is, i think, perfect for how aware the German people are of how people see them and, more importantly, how they see themselves.