b e r l i n t o 2 0 0 9

[ 09:10 friday 2 january – schonefeld airport, berlin ]

my first despatch of the year comes from schonefeld airport’s excellent bakery, where i sit watching snow falling on the tarmac outside. timur dropped me off an hour ago. i’m trying to avoid rapid movement. or indeed movement of any kind. a week in berlin to see in the new year has left me feeling somewhat delicate.

between my arrival last saturday and today’s departure i have got up in daylight precisely once. every other day i’ve woken in the late afternoon after the sun had set, breakfasted in a turkish cafe round the corner from yilmaz’ flat, made my way to the conference centre at alexanderplatz, passed eight hours at the chaos communication congress, then departed there around two in the morning to commence a night of revelry in kreuzberg and neukoln’s multitude of charming underground bolt-holes, finally returning home between six and eight in the morning.

new year was the piece de resistance. starting with a dinner for twenty in timur’s huge basement we proceeded to rampage through the streets and take over any parties we found along our way. a toy guitar remained slung around my neck ready to irritate anyone in my vicinity with cheesy eight-bit melodies. timur and i developed a dreadful scouser routine which we performed for lucky travellers on the trams. then we ended up somewhere in alexanderplatz where performance artists had been let loose in a rabbit warren of tiny rooms. there was some kind of romantic interlude here but my memory is hazy. then there’s a gap and i’m at another party in neukoln with jan talking earnestly about what was important in 2008. at some point i staggered home, guided by my faithful gps, collapsing at yilmuz’ flat around eleven in the morning.

by nature i’m not a hedonist. on the contrary i’m prone to be shy, introverted and self-conscious. all my life i’ve felt frustrated with the limitations this imposed on me and have struggled to overcome them. i’ve made steady progress over the years, gradually beating down my self-consciousness enough to dance, interact with strangers and nurture the seeds of a more exuberant me. the past week represents a triumph for these efforts.

mum disapproves of such decadence and points out i’m too old for it. but at the grand age of thirty-seven i find i can generally out-dance revelers a decade younger than me. for so long as i have the energy for it and it gives me such pleasure then i intend to continue. it’s a healthy counterpoint to my overly cerebral personality and my desk-bound work.

my favourite memory from the whole week is sitting on the back seat of a tandem with timur in front, yulmaz’ piano accordion round my neck, cack-handedly blasting out songs as we pedaled round the streets at twilight on new year’s eve. timur has an exceptional gift for instigating such occurrences for which berlin provides an incomparable canvas.

so everyone, let’s make this a good year shall we.

: c :

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