Category Archives: Berlin

A few more steps

I recently became a little bit more German.

Me: Right, that’s it. We’re clearing out the living room. I don’t mind you having all the wires, cables, batteries, old phones, place mats, last year’s birthday cards, post from 2012… I just don’t want to have to look at it every evening.

Manfredas: You’re right. 

Me: I know. I’ve bought three “decorative” storage boxes. White is for documents, black is for any technical stuff, grey is for anything in between. 

Manfredas: You scare me. 

Me: I know. LET’S DO THIS! 

Ta dah!

And that’s not even the half of it. Everyone knows that the Germans love insurance – Manfredas isn’t even sure how many different types of policies he has. While I’m not quite in that league, I have taken out two more forms of insurance – bicycle and (say it with me) Haftpflichtversicherung.

You see, I bought a new bike not so long ago and, looking at it in comparison to the shitheaps most people in Berlin ride around on, I felt that maybe my beautiful Tecnobike needed a little extra protection.

I heart my Tecnobike.

Given that there were more than 34,000 reported bicycle thefts in Berlin last year, you’d think more people would have insurance. Not so. Having asked Manfredas, friends and students for tips, in the end, I had to resort to Mr. Google – and even that wasn’t easy. I eventually found the brilliantly-named Bike Ass and, for the bargain price of just €46.41 per year, Tecnobike can sleep easy at night, even if she is chained up in the basement.

Manfredas: You should also get Haftpflichtversicherung.

Me: Sounds like some kind of disease. 

Manfredas: (Sigh) No, it’s personal liability insurance. If you do damage to someone or something, it covers you. 

Me: Nah, I don’t really think I need it. 

Manfredas: Well, nobody takes out home insurance believing there’s going to be a fire, do they?

Me: No, I guess not. How much is it? 

I went with AXA and now, for a yearly pittance, I can do €50,000,000 euro’s worth of damage. Woop!

A couple of months later, I’m very happy that I have both forms of insurance. While I haven’t damaged anyone or anything (yet), the potential for this happening in Berlin seems rather high.

Example: “OK, Tecnobike, I’m going to have to leave you here for a couple of hours while I go work. But look, you’ve got loads of room and plenty of bikey company. You’ll be just fine. I’ll miss you…” 

Spacious.

You come back a while later and this has happened.

Tecnobike! Where are you!?

You might be thinking “What kind of idiot would park their car there?” or, more pressingly, “What IS that??” but if I damage either the car or THE THING trying to get out of there, it’s on me. I was tempted to do a couple of grands’ worth of damage just to prove a point, but I’m trying to be a responsible cyclist…

Interestingly, in Berlin, this is probably the most dangerous thing you can be. If you follow the rules, act like a normal human being, and show some consideration for other people using the roads and cycle lanes, chances are you’ll be the one taken out. Naturally, me being me, I’ve learned this the hard way.

So, there I was, pootling my way home on a beautiful sunny afternoon. I was heading for Karl-Marx-Allee, in the cycle lane between the lane of cars turning right and the lane going straight ahead, like me. I had started slowing down as there was a red light up ahead.

BAM. Out of nowhere, another cyclist tried to overtake me at speed (why I don’t know, as the light was red anyway), clipped Tecnobike and somehow my left leg and arm ended up crushed between the two bikes and a taxi. Miraculously, I managed to stay upright, which is good; I’ve found that roaring “ARSCHLOCH!” at someone from the ground isn’t nearly as effective.

Me: ARSCHLOCH!

Arsch mit Ohren: Me?!

Me: Yes, you, you @^$#^%^%#%$#$@#%%$^^&^&^%. You could have killed me!

Arsch mit Ohren: Uh, sorry.

We somehow managed to disentangle the two bikes and I limped to the pavement, the Arsch following me. The taxi driver had since driven off, satisfied that we hadn’t damaged his car. Eye roll.

Arsch mit Ohren: Oh, you’re bleeding. Would you like a tissue? 

Me: I’ve got my own damn tissues.

Arsch mit Ohren: You’re shaking. I’m sorry, I don’t have any water. 

Me: I’ve got my OWN DAMN WATER!

Arsch mit Ohren: Would you like to go for a coffee or something? You’re probably in shock.

Me: Are you insane?

Arsch mit Ohren: Or I could accompany you home? Make sure you’re OK? 

Me: I was just fine ’til you ploughed into me. I think I’ll be safer by myself, thank you very much. 

I finally got rid of him and, after calming down a little, inspecting Tecnobike (unharmed, thankfully), made it the rest of the way home unscathed. I was scathed enough as it was.

I watched with interest over the next few days as various parts of my body swelled up and turned different colours, my main regret being that I hadn’t turned back and run that asshole over in return. I am insured, after all…

Last weekend, there was a demonstration for safer conditions for cyclists in Berlin. While there is definitely room for improvement, from what I’ve seen, these people’s time would have been better spent learning some manners and oh, maybe how to ride a bicycle.

Berlin Demonstration von Fahradfahrern
Cycling for safety – while on your mobile. Genius. (Source: Deutsche Welle)

In the few months I’ve been with Tecnobike, I’ve seen people cycling while looking at their mobile phones, a guy cycling while reading a book, cyclists with a beer in one hand and a fag in the other, hands-free cycling, one idiot with his feet up on the handlebars, people sailing through red lights, not indicating which way they’re turning… and, of course, no lights.

Since the police and Ordnungsamt are somehow blind to all of this, Manfredas and I have started our own little “Balkonordnungsamt”. This involves yelling “Licht an du Vogel!” at the morons down below. However, as we’re on the sixth floor, it’s more likely that only our neighbours above and below can hear us and someone will call the Ordnungsamt on us.

I wonder if there’s insurance against that…

 

 

 

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Holy Orders

Since my last ranty post, I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough.

I’ve found Jesus.

Christ…

I’m as surprised as you are – turns out he’s been sitting in a souvenir shop in the Alte Münze all this time. Will wonders never cease?

Anyway, since it seems that Jesus has chosen me to be his earthly representative here in Berlin, instead of complaining about what bugs me (though I do enjoy that too), I’ve decided to be more proactive and put together a short list of commandments which, if everyone gets on board, should make life easier for all of us.

The First Commandment: Thou shalt do right (or left)

The first working escalator was installed in 1896 so you’d really think people would have figured out how to use them by now. Not so. In Berlin, the system is really very simple: stand on the right, walk on the left. Yes, that’s it. Right, left. TWO options. Rechts stehen, links gehen. Jesus people (sorry, Jesus), how hard is that to remember? Luckily, I’d polished my aggressive Berliner “HALLLLLOOOOO!” long before I started polishing my halo so a few chosen souls have learned their lesson. Clearly, however, my work here is not done.

Instructional photo – two people are going to be struck down by irritated Berliners. Can you guess which two?

The Second Commandment: Thou shalt pocket thy smartphone

For some people, the stupidity doesn’t end when they step off the escalator. No, they choose to stop dead at the bottom or top of it and pull out their phone, causing mini pile-ups where’er they go. And it’s not limited to escalators. I’m sure you’ve all seen the incredibly bright sparks who walk around a city, glued to their phone, completely oblivious to anything or anyone around them.

Well, I’m here to tell you – you’re not that important or interesting. Nobody is sitting on the edge of their seat waiting to see what you’re going to post, tweet, like, share… If you’re lost and need directions, move over to the side of the pavement and look them up. Better yet, ask a real person – if you look around you, you’ll see that they do actually still exist.

The Third Commandment: Thou shalt deal with thine own trash

When I first got to Berlin, one of the signs on the train windows made me laugh. It’s a picture of a hand throwing a bottle out the window with an “X” through it. “Who would actually do that?” I thought to myself. Well, you’d be surprised.

So brethren, if you’re drinking a beer on the train, take the bottle with you. If not, it rolls up and down the carriage, spewing what’s left of its contents and stinking up the whole place. If you’re finished treating the rest of us to the smell of your Döner, bin the wrapper on the train platform when you get off; don’t stuff it down the inside of the seat. You’d think that these things would go without saying but I guess there’s a reason Deutsche Bahn has started a Whatsapp “Reinigungsteam” (cleaning team) service. Shame it wasn’t in place when I saw someone taking a shit on the U6 platform at Friedrichstraße station. What a treat that would have been for the team…

On a bigger scale, if you have a broken printer, rickety wardrobe, holey shoe, etc., it’s not a “gift”. It’s an eyesore. Someone dumped a bed frame on our corner on Friday. By Saturday, two mattresses had joined it. If it continues like this, soon it will be like living in a Dänisches Bettenlager.

Stop the madness!

The Fourth Commandment: Thou shalt wear sandals

OK, I’m not fussy about the type of footwear but, in the name of all that’s holy (I’m getting the hang of this), please wear something on your feet. I think I’ve given you all a little taster of what the streets around Berlin can be like. What would Jesus wear? He’d wear bloody shoes, that’s what.

The Fifth Commandment: Thou shalt act like a parent and stop pissing everyone off

I’m pretty sure that anyone who’s ever been in a cafe in Prenzlauer Berg has had the same experience. You’re in kind of a hurry (or not – it’s irrelevant) so you pop in to pick up a tasty German treat to go. Brilliant, you think, only one woman and her toddler in front of me. I’ll be in and out in a flash.

Ha.

“So darling, what would you like?”

“I don’t know.” 

“Would you like a doughnut?”

“Ummm…”

“Or maybe a fruit cake?”

“Ummm…”

“You like chocolate, right? How about one of those?” 

“Doughnut.”

“Which colour? They have pink, white, yellow…”

“Ummm…”

“Or would you like the one with sprinkles? Or with little hearts? That would be nice, wouldn’t it, darling…” 

Jesus Christ. (Oops.) Give the kid anything. It’s two. It will eat it. Or not. Who really gives a damn? (Double oops.) Certainly not me or the tortured cafe worker.

You like little hearts, don’t you, dear heart? (ARRRGGGGHHHHH!)

I know there were originally ten commandments but people have shorter attention spans these days so I’m going to stop with five – for now. How wonderful it would be if people actually took note.

Without me having to smite them, that is. “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger…” Hmm, might be getting a bit carried away now. Back to being holy.

Blessed are those who wear shoes for they are also blessed with the gift of common sense.

 

 

Is Berlin drowning in its own filth?

It pains me to have to ask the question but a few things have happened in recent days (and before that if I’m honest) that really make me wonder.

Take yesterday, for example. I was on my way to the supermarket at around 3 p.m. I was just approaching it when I noticed a man sitting on the street, yelling at the top of his voice, and smashing beer bottles on the ground beside him. Now, people drinking beer in public at all hours of the day and night, broken glass and random shouters are nothing out of the ordinary in Berlin – though I did think it a little wasteful that he was smashing full bottles.

It was around then that a bottle whizzed past my head and smashed against the supermarket wall. I can’t know if he was aiming at me or if he just fancied a more challenging throw but I wasn’t sticking around to find out. I ran, the sound of another beer bottle exploding into smithereens just behind me ringing in my ears.

I hightailed it into the supermarket, which was, luckily, practically empty. I walked over to the cashier.

Me: There’s a crazy man outside throwing beer bottles at the wall. 

Him: What? 

Me: There’s a crazy man outside throwing beer bottles at the wall. 

Him: What’s he doing? 

Admittedly, I was a bit shaken so my German was probably a little hairy.

Me: He’s throwing bottles against the wall. It’s very dangerous for customers. 

That got his attention so he went outside to investigate. I pointed out the man who could have brained me but it turned out I didn’t really need to; a small crowd had gathered and another man was already calling the police. I decided there was nothing else for me to do but carry on with my shopping – now that I still had a head, it would be necessary for me to eat again at some point.

The (rather young and sexy) police showed up just as I was waiting at the cash register and it was all super-dramatic – which way did he go? What does he look like? A description being shouted back, the cops running (sexily) back out the door and peeling off in their waiting van as more sirens got closer.

As I left, I noticed that the man who’d called the police was bleeding quite heavily from one of his legs so I felt even more fortunate that I’d avoided being hit. I have no idea if the police caught him but I learned that the supermarket has cameras on its tills and he’d bought the crate of beer there, so there’s a good chance they’ll nail him. Good thing too – from what I’ve seen, that man has no place on the streets.

Of course, this is the sort of idiot that you can call the police on. But there are plenty more people out there who do their best to foul up Berlin for the rest of us. They range from the totally oblivious (morons on mobiles, for instance) to the “I’m so cool and awesome that normal rules of behaviour don’t apply to me” – yeah, I’m looking at you, gobshite who popped the cap off your beer bottle on the train today and hit me in the back with it. GOBSHITE.

However, it takes a special kind of asshole (two of them actually) to carry a sofa loaded with plastic sacks full of twigs and branches – don’t ask me why – throw the sacks over a wall and dump the sofa on the side of the street, as was witnessed by me and Manfredas from our balcony two nights ago.

FUC is right.

And while you might think that these guys are an exception, unfortunately that’s not true. Berlin has perfectly good dumps and, if you can’t make it there, you can arrange an appointment for the BSR to come and pick up your unwanted crap. Of course, you have to pay for this and that’s the problem – too many people in Berlin don’t want to pay for anything and would rather turn the city into their own personal dumping ground than do so.

I took these photos on a five-minute walk to the bakery this morning. And that was just one side of the street.

As this post has got a bit rantier than I’d intended, I’ll wrap it up by saying that I still love this city. I really do. There are freedoms afforded to people in Berlin that should never be taken for granted – the freedom to go wherever you want, to be whoever you want to be, and to do whatever you want (within reason).

The thing about freedom is that, with it, comes responsibility and that is what I’m noticing more and more these days. So many people just don’t want to take responsibility for anything – and have zero respect for other people or their surroundings.

If I’ve come across as a sanctimonious dipshit in this post then I’m sorry, but I really don’t think that a little accountability is too much to ask for.

Over and out.

Living with a German

After you’ve moved in with a German, the next logical step is actually living with him, complete with all of his goibles (German foibles). Manfredas will be delighted to learn that I’ve spent the last few months discreetly observing (and photographing) his unique German ways, and have compiled a short list of what it’s like to live with a German man.

Please note: This post may contain sweeping generalisations…

1. German men really love doing laundry

In my previous apartment, I didn’t have a washing machine in the flat. Instead, I had to buy a token from the Hausmeister (for €3.50 a pop, no less) and haul my washing down to the basement. So, I was rather chuffed that we would have our very own washing machine in the bathroom, which I could use whenever I pleased.

Yeah, right. Enter German man.

Me: What are you doing? 

Manfredas: Putting on a wash.

Me: Didn’t you just do a wash? 

Manfredas: Yes, but after this one, I’ll be good for the week.

Me: Uh huh.

One day later:

Me: What are you doing? 

Manfredas: Putting on a wash.

Me: You just did two loads! 

Manfredas: Yes, but after this one, I’ll be good for the weekend. 

Me: Uh huh. 

One day later: …

2. German men really love Tupperware

The first time I went shopping after moving in, I bought some sliced ham. I got home, put it in the fridge, as you do, and didn’t think about it again until the next day when I needed it for my lunch. But where was it?

Huh.

Yes, Manfredas had found it, opened it, sliced the ham in half, and then sealed it in one of his (many) neat little Tupperware boxes. This might seem logical – most things Germans do are – but to me, it just meant that I couldn’t see the “use by…” date any more. So, my only options were to just keep eating it until I finished it – or it turned green and started growing hair.

3. German men love using dishes

When I cook – which has been a whopping four times since I moved in over four months ago – I tend to plate up in the kitchen and then bring just those two plates into the dining room.

A German man, however, will never use one plate or bowl where ten will do. So, we end up with a little bowl for the veg, a little bowl for the potatoes, a little bowl for the salad, separate plates for the bread, and a large dish for whatever the main course is, complete with separate spoons/ladles to go with each. While it adds a touch of ceremony to every meal, I’m also bloody glad we have a dishwasher.

Germans even wash the things that wash things.

4. German men love light

Like most normal (read: non-German) people, I like to sleep in a dark room. Germans, on the other hand, seem to have a disdain for curtains that borders on the fanatical.

Me: Jesus Christ! What time is it? 

Manfredas: Just after 6.

Me: Jesus Christ! Why am I awake!?

The answer to this, however, was obvious – flimsy little blinds that prevent the neighbours from peering in but flood the room with sunlight at a time when I should be far away in the land of Nod. After a friendly discussion or two, I’m happy to announce that we now have blackout curtains, and Berlin can relax safe in the knowledge that I’m not going to fly into a murderous rage due to lack of sleep.

5. German men love gadgets

As someone who hates all kinds of housework, I was ecstatic to discover that Manfredas owns (among hundreds of other things)… A ROBOT HOOVER! Yep, meet the Roomba:

In theory, you switch him on, put your feet up and he goes around the apartment hoovering it for you. Then, when you tell him to, he takes himself off “home,” plays a triumphant little tune and goes to sleep again.

In practice, you switch him on, he immediately makes a beeline for under the sofa and stays there until you drag him out. He then hits a couple of items of furniture and goes back under the sofa again.

While I’m not overly impressed, if any of our guests ever chance to look under the sofa, they sure will be.

6. German men take holidays very seriously

As it’s only one more sleep until our next holiday, naturally, our conversation the other night turned to that very topic.

Me: Hey, is there a shortened, affectionate form of the word “holiday” in German?

Manfredas: NEIN! 

Me: Well, in Dublin, you’d say you were “off on your holliers.” No German equivalent of that? Urli? Laubchen? (The German word for holiday is “Urlaub.”)

Manfredas: Good God, no! Holidays are a serious business! Urlaub ist Urlaub! 

I realised just how serious he was the next day when I received an Excel spreadsheet of our travel itinerary – complete with petrol stations.

Me: You have officially out-Germanned yourself. 

And you thought I was joking…

7. Every German man in the world owns a pair (or several pairs) of these:

Badeschuhe!

Socks optional. But not if you’re German, of course.

So there you have it – or at least the first installment. In the interest of fairness, I did ask Manfredas if there was anything he finds odd or annoying about me but no, seemingly I’m perfect. Then again, he hasn’t read this yet.

Ah, the joys of living with a blogger…

 

 

 

Linda helps the homeless

Me: Did I tell you I’m volunteering at a homeless thing tomorrow? 

Han: Yep. ML. 

This has been going on between us for some time. For example:

Han: I quite fancy a sherry. 

Me: OMH. 

Han: Old man Han? 

Me: Correct. I had a grand-aunt who used to drink sherry. It always reminds me of her. Auntie Peg. 

Han: Peg short for Peggy? 

Me: NEIN. Peg short for Margaret. English is weird sometimes. 

Han: Ha hahaha!

But what was ML? Magnificent Linda? Majestic Linda? Selfless doesn’t start with an “m”…

Han: Mother Linda. 

Me: Ha hahaha! 

Best I could do.

Han: JML.

Me: ???

Han: Jedi Master Linda. 

Me: Ha hahaha! 

And so, on Christmas Eve, I found myself on the S-Bahn on the way to Ostbahnhof, passing Germans on bikes, tandem bikes and scooters… walking, Nordic walking and jogging. These people never stop.

Anyway, Kälte Nothilfe – it roughly translates as “cold (weather) emergency aid” – were hosting an event at YAAM nightclub to feed the homeless in Berlin for the 6th year running; they were expecting over 1,000 people. There were several different ways in which people could help but, this year, I decided I would be hands-on and actually go there. Setting everything up would start at 11 a.m. and the guests would start arriving at around 2 p.m. At 10.45, I was walking past Stump Tower.

Not to be confused with that other guy’s tower – though an easy mistake to make.

Having never done anything like this before, I really had no idea what to expect (though visions of me in an apron and hairnet slopping some kind of gruel into bowls had come to mind). I got to YAAM just before 11 o’clock along with a few other people.

As it turned out, I didn’t have any time to worry about what I was going to be doing. Several vans were parked in front of the club and I joined the human chain carrying crates of food, drinks and various other stuff into the venue. As soon as I walked in the door, I was plunged into darkness and picked my way carefully across the floor to where people were depositing the crates on counters and tables. Seemingly, they were working on getting the lights to come on…

This went on for some time. Daylight, crate, darkness, deposit, daylight, crate, darkness, deposit until all of the crates had been unloaded and piled high in the club.

I had never seen so much food in one place in my life. None of us were really sure what to do at that point but luckily someone took charge and we started sorting everything into different “areas” – fruit, veg, sweet stuff, fresh bread, tetra pak, dairy, tea and coffee, toiletries, pet food, cigarettes… The lights also came on.

I was closest to the fruit and veg so it would have made sense for me to start there but half the time I didn’t know if the thing was fruit or veg. Is an avocado a fruit or a vegetable? I figured Googling it would have looked a bit weird. And what on earth was that terrifying-looking, red, spiky thing? Clearly, I was in uncharted territory here.

Toiletries. Toiletries were safe.

Toiletries done, I appointed myself “Head of Glühwein Transportation” and starting hauling the boxes over behind the bar.

Safely transported, courtesy of moi.

I wanted to help the guy slicing the bread after that but there was only one knife. (Come on, people…)

Once everything was neatly organised, we started bringing in the Christmas trees.

The tables were set up and the decorating commenced. I realised that you can drop baubles on a concrete floor and they won’t break. Useful information. Tubs of white candy floss appeared (Weihnachtsmannbart – Santa Claus’s beard) and we draped it over the trees to look like snow. After getting through two tubs, my hands looked like Santa Claus’s beard so it was time to go to the bathroom to wash it off. Another girl was already there.

Me: Weihnachtsmannbart?

Girl: Yup. 

Even though the place essentially looks like a huge, bare warehouse, we managed to get it looking pretty festive.

I made my way to the “Garderobe” area where people were sorting out the clothing donations. I ended up working with a sweet, American, gay guy.

Mountains of t-shirts

GG: Oh my GOD! This t-shirt is soooo cute! 

(It was hideous – like someone had eaten 10 packs of Skittles and vomited the contents of their stomach onto some material.)

Me: I don’t think you’re allowed to take the stuff…

A German guy dropped a pair of trousers on the floor.

GG2: Aw, NEIN! 

Me: DOCH! (snigger)

At this stage, the guests had started arriving. As is pretty typical for Berlin, it was kind of hard to tell who was homeless and who was just artfully distressed. A Johnny Cash t-shirt that I’d just folded (badly) was swiped by a guy wearing better clothes than I was. But that was OK because I definitely didn’t have my eye on it…

I also definitely didn’t want these (sob).

By now, pretty much everything was done. The first guests were helping themselves to the food, or sitting at the tables talking and eating, and the DJ had started. I was ravenous.

As I wasn’t really sure what the policy was on eating the homeless people’s food, I thought it was as good a time as any to leave. I hit the Backwerk at Ostbahnhof and got back on the train. An old homeless man was in the same carriage. In a move reminiscent of the Latvian Snot Rocket, he pressed his fingers down hard on one nostril, expelled the contents of the other onto the floor and then repeated the procedure on the other nostril. In the reflection on the window, I could see the snot dripping off his moustache and clinging to his beard. I immediately ran over and wiped it away with my bare hands, smiling at him beatifically as I did so.

Did I heck.

I figured I’d done enough for one day and went for a glass of wine.

Happy Christmas 🙂

Have yourself a naughty little Christmas

If there’s a choice between being “naughty or nice”, I think we all know which one I’ll choose. So, when I heard about the Naughty Christmas Market, I just had to pop along last weekend and find out what it was all about.

Answer: a whole lot of vulva and a little bit of penis.

A whole lot of vulva…

If you’re looking for a nice traditional Christmas market with wooden huts, handmade arts and crafts, Glühwein and sausage, this probably isn’t the right market for you. (Actually, come to think of it, there was sausage – in ceramic form for €250. Tempted though I was, I just couldn’t really see where a ceramic penis would fit into the tasteful decor in my flat.)

If, however, you’re looking for a special gift for the person who has everything, you might consider “The Post-Structuralist Vulva Colouring Book”.

Bet you thought I was making that up.

And instead of boring old wrapping paper, why not present it in a delightful (surely this season’s must-have) cock bag?

Want.

After perusing my way through the PVC outfits, nipple suckers, nipple tassles, aphrodisiacs, high-brow literature, room of giant vulvas and elegant array of accessories…

I’m sure these will never go out of fashion.

…I hit pay dirt at the wankers’ table.

I kid you not.

Me: Bah ha haha! What are they? 

Hubertus: Wanking tissues. 

Me: BAH HA HA HA! Oh, look at the stickers! How cool are they!?

Hubertus: Take one.

Me: Free? 

Hubertus: Yes, free. 

Me: Then yes, don’t mind if I do. 

I guess Hubertus thought I looked like a wanker.

With my “I love wanking” sticker, complete with sperm-adorned heart tucked into my pocket, I felt that that was probably as good as it was going to get at the Naughty Christmas Market and left, mulling over which hapless wanker I could stick it on at some point in the future.

Watch your back.

I then promptly forgot all about it until I was rummaging around in my pockets a couple of days later. Thinking that spankrags.com sounded like it might be worth a chuckle or two, I fired up the laptop and headed on over.

This may be the best thing I have done all year.

Once I’d wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes (not with a wank tissue), I scrolled down to see what other treats the website had in store.

This was definitely the best thing I have done all year.

Under the section titled “The most memorable present ever”, it states that “Unwrapping a stupid tie, or a pack of socks makes speechless. Unwrapping this gift makes brains explode!” Can’t say I disagree. I was exploding just by being on the website.

Another section assures you that you will love wank tissues because “A thumbs up looks like grabbing a schlong. Think about it!”

I am! I am!

Spank Rags are also kind enough to offer worldwide delivery. “No matter if you live in an igloo, or a tent in the Siberian desert. We deliver to all our wankers!” This must be such a comfort to wankers everywhere.

There’s a segment where you get to meet “the girls” – Alexa from Germany, Kate from England, Narcisa from Romania, Sarah from Canada “and her other lovely girlfriends from all over the world”. I was a little sorry that each one didn’t come with her own back story but I guess you can’t have everything.

If you thought that the website couldn’t get any better, whenever you hover over a link, the cursor turns into a cock and balls. I’m not joking – go and try it.

After reluctantly clicking through to Amazon, I discovered that €9.99 will get you ten different girls on ten wank wipes – “10 full-colour tissues for a great night in!” as it says on the box. If you’re quick, you could probably get a box in time for Christmas. Just think how happy the special wanker in your life will be on Christmas morning…

Despite this feast of hilarity, I still wanted more so I headed on over to Twitter to see if Spank Rags have an account. Joy oh joy – they do!

@spankrags 5 May 2015 Spankrags in Scotland! Our stickers made it on top of the Loch Ness tourist sign. #ilovewanking #lochness #scotland

I guess wanking is as good a way as any to pass the time while you’re waiting for Nessie to appear.

Anyway, that’s probably as much wank as I can fit into one post without getting kicked off WordPress so I’ll leave it there. I wish all of you a very merry Wankmas and a happy New Wank. (OK, a couple more “wanks” probably won’t make much difference at this stage.)

 

 

Butter fingers

I have an appetite for Käse-Schinkenbrötchen that borders on the unseemly. I’m not really sure why as it’s basically a lump of bread with cheese and bits of ham on top. What I do know is that as soon as I bite into one, it’s like there’s a party in my mouth and I’m the only one invited.

Droooool.
(Image taken from baeckerhaus-veit.de)

In my opinion, the best Käse-Schinkenbrötchen can be found at the Steinecke chain of bakeries. The only problem is that by the time I get there most days, they’ve sold out of this little piece of heaven and I leave empty-handed, hungry and dejected.

However, on Friday morning, I had a good feeling. I have an early-morning lesson so, by the time I get back to my little Kiez, it’s still only around 10.30. Halfway through the lesson, my students morphed into talking Käse-Schinkenbrötchen and I knew I was in a bad way.

Lesson finally over, I hopped on the train home and raced across the street to the Steinecke. Hands sweaty with anticipation (no mean feat in a Berlin winter), I pushed open the door and dashed to the counter.

There it was. The last Käse-Schinkenbrötchen. And not just any Käse-Schinkenbrötchen – no, this one was perfection itself. Smothered in cheese with evenly distributed chunks of ham, baked to perfection… I lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. This was it – the holy grail of Käse-Schinkenbrötchen. I was salivating just looking at it.

Unfortunately, there was nobody behind the counter. A note scribbled on a bit of card informed me that the errant employee would be “gleich für Sie da”. Harumph. The most delicious Käse-Schinkenbrötchen in the world was so near and yet so far away. I waited impatiently, jigging about and drumming on the counter. (I needed to keep busy so that I wouldn’t lick the glass.)

The bell on the door tinkled and another customer walked in. She had Käse-Schinkenbrötchenlust written all over her and I started to worry that the still MIA employee might serve her first. I decided that I was willing to resort to physical violence if that scenario were to happen.

After around five minutes, the comfortably-padded employee emerged from the back of the store. She didn’t look like she was in much of a hurry to get back to her customers so I thought I would jar her out of her semi-slumbering state by roaring “Käse-Schinkenbrötchen!” at her before the other woman could jump in.

I turned to give my competition a triumphant smirk but when I turned back I was surprised to see that my Käse-Schinkenbrötchen delivery system’s hands were empty.

Walburga: Es ist runtergefallen. (It has fallen down.)

Me: WASSSSS? 

Walburga: Ja, es ist runtergefallen. Tut mir leid. (I’m sorry.)

She didn’t look bloody sorry.

Me: Drei-Sekunden Regel! (Three second rule!)

Walburga: Wie bitte?

Me: DREI-SEKUNDEN REGEL! 

Walburga: Drei-Sekunden was??

Me: DREI-SEKUNDEN REGEL! 

I was pretty sure that the floor in a German bakery would be cleaner than the floor in my flat and I’ve eaten stuff off that before and survived so I was more than willing to take my chances. However, disappointingly, it seemed that Walburga was unaware of the three-second rule. She offered me two disgusting salty things instead at which point I wanted to leap over the counter and slap them from her meaty hands.

Me: I’ll take a raisin Brötchen instead.

Having paid – I noticed she didn’t drop the money – I left the bakery in abject misery, knowing that Walburga would probably eat the floor Käse-Schinkenbrötchen as soon as nobody was looking. For all I know, that could be why they’re never available in that particular store – she sits in her little back room eating them all before I get there.

The scene of the crime

Once home, I half-heartedly chewed my raisin Brötchen, every bite tasting like heartache. Would there ever be a replacement for that most perfect of Käse-Schinkenbrötchen? I’m not sure but I’m guessing that if there is, Walburga will probably get to it first. Her and her stupid butter fingers. But I guess that’s the hazard of working in a bakery…