(as published at Lostravellers…)
The story for this goes like so: I read Tourettes’ piece on Berlin and thought, sounds like he had a right old bender – wouldn’t it be cool if we could share yarns about what we did in the same city? We’re there at different times, with different objectives and friends, but still the city leaves its mark. And with Berlin, what a mark that is.
My arrival in Berlin was a stuttering one, and I blundered my way around the Hauptbahnhof, grappling with the bipartisan nuances of the U and S bahns and their sinewy interactions. It had been a long day on the trains: from Italy’s Alps through the spacious Bavarian plains to Berlin and I was ready for whatever the city had to throw at me.
Or so I thought.
A late night closure of the Kottbusser Tor station threw me momentarily before a kind stranger set me right. The trains were running late and I walked the last stop to Kate’s apartment on the edge of Kreuzburg, tired and tardy.
I had been to Berlin before and drunk deep in its late night mayhem and sprawling hints of empire. It looked like New York City in the early nineties, or so I thought. I had never been to New York, and only just experienced the early nineties – but there was something in the air, on the walls, in the bottom of the bottle. Cheap but sexy was their motto and I was determined to play the part.
An hour after my arrival and we were at the first bar: swigging Jose Cuervo from the bottle, and throwing euro into the MD kitty. Someone gave me a blue heart and I washed it down with a swill of Augustiner.
“Just take a bit, they’re strong okay…”
Okay. Sure. Just a bit. For now.
We roamed the wide avenues wired and taxied to a small club on a houseboat. In a twist of small world madness I bumped into an old workmate, not so surprising in a place frequented by pinging antipodeans.
Eventually the bug bit again, and we took leave of the dance floor to take more E in the bathroom. It was cramped, with 10 people in the cubicle, but the contact was good and we headed off to nod appreciation to minimal techno. Sal met a Viking princess while Min was despatched to the park for more MD. Fate played her hand and Kate dropped the new baggy through a crack in the floor, fodder for the hungry water beneath. A collective moan escaped and it was back to the bar, beer to numb the agony of absence.
On another bathroom run Kate overheard a German couple fucking in the neighbouring cubicle. “Was ist mein nam?” She moaned and we laughed all the way home.
There was only one bed in the high ceilinged apartment so we spooned, three deep under the duvet. Wrapped in a cocoon of flesh my cock stayed its hand and we stayed friends. Berlin had spoken and we had been silenced, put to sleep in the light of a still dawn.