Category Archives: Berlin

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 🙂

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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…

 

 

 

 

Elbow Gloom

A couple of weeks ago, I developed a little dry patch on my elbow. It wasn’t painful, just a bit itchy. I blame Berlin’s insanely hard water for this. However, I only have myself to blame when it comes to what happened next. I found some sort of cream in a drawer and rubbed a bit in before going to bed. When I woke up, I looked around the room for the bowl of acid someone must have dipped my elbow in while I was sleeping.

My fairly innocuous dry patch, about the size of a one cent coin, had turned into an angry, seeping, bloody, open wound. I did not think this was good.

Hmm, not good.

Mammy O’Grady has always sworn that salt and water can cure pretty much anything (“Got leprosy?” “No problem, put a bit of salt and water on yourself and you’ll be grand…”) so I decided to follow her advice. Unsurprisingly, my elbow did not like this much. I decided to leave it uncovered so it could heal naturally and went about my business.

Me: Umm, I’ve done something a bit stupid. 

Colin: What?

I showed him the offending elbow.

Colin: Sweet Jesus! F***! What the bloody hell is that?! Did you burn yourself? 

Me: Nah, I had a little patch of dry skin so I put some cream on it. My elbow disagreed with this course of action. 

Colin: Dear God, it looks like a burn. Go to a doctor, woman! 

Me: Nah, it’ll be fine. I’ll get some aloe vera tomorrow. That should calm it down a bit. ‘Allo, Vera! 

Colin: But, but, it’s all fluffy…

Me: Yeah, I decided to leave it uncovered so it could heal naturally in the fresh air – under my jumper and coat.

Colin: But the fluff…

Me: Yeah.

Over the following couple of weeks (yes, weeks. I know…), my elbow and I embarked on a voyage of discovery. Every morning, I’d wake up to find out what it had morphed into overnight. Scabbing, leaking, bleeding, peeling, cracking – my elbow developed quite a repertoire of repulsiveness. When it reached the point where I could hardly bend my arm, I decided it was probably time to see a doctor after all.

Just before 8 a.m., I trotted the ten seconds down the street it takes to reach the closest one. Despite the ungodly hour, this is Germany so there were already six or seven people ahead of me. I sat down to wait, wondering why a random baby beamed at me and jigged up and down every time I looked at him. Guess it’s just the effect I have on men of all ages…

After an hour, Frau O’Grady was called. I didn’t think there was much point in trying to explain my stupidity so I just whipped out my elbow there and then.

Ah, how far we had come together…

After recoiling in horror only a little, he declared that it was probably infected. I agreed.

Doc: Funny, you’re the second Irish person I’ve had in here today. For weeks on end, no Irish people, then two of you show up on the same morning. 

Me: We’re like buses. 

He prescribed me some cream and large, sterile wound dressings and I was good to go. I was to put some cream and a new dressing on it each day over the weekend and be back in his surgery at 9 a.m. on Monday morning to check what mischief my elbow had got up to in the meantime.

Prescription in hand, I strolled over to the chemist’s across the street. My eyes popped a bit when I saw the total on the display but I assumed that it was a leftover from the previous customer. There’s no way a bit of cream and some plasters could cost over €78, right?

Wrong.

Thinking I might have to go back to the doctor for a newly-formed heart condition, I paid up. Grudgingly. The worst part was that the cream was only €4 which meant that the stupid dressings were almost €75. With 25 of them in the pack, that works out at almost €3 a plaster.

These things had better be made of gold.

The next morning, after showering, I put the first diamond-encrusted dressing on my (now much happier) elbow. I bent my arm to test it and it fell off. I threw €3 in the bin and put on another one.

With my elbow now healing nicely and another doctor’s appointment in the morning, I think I will probably have around 20 of these bad boys left over. My new plan is to build a little house with them (they are waterproof) and try to make back the money I spent on them by saving on rent. I’m just not sure I’ll have much elbow room…

 

Danke, Duden

If you thought you were finally getting your head around the German language, I’m sorry to disappoint you – you now have 5,000 new words to remember.

Yes, the Germans, in their infinite wisdom, have added 5,000 words to the Duden, the official dictionary of the German language, first published in 1880 by Konrad Duden. Back then, there were only 27,000 lovely entries you had to remember. Fast forward to 2017, my intrepid language learners, and you will have to get your head around 145,000 of the tricky “little” blighters. Or I guess you could just go around shouting “DOCH!” at people all the time instead, something I’m considering doing.

DOCH!

For anyone still convinced that the Germans are all about simplifying processes for the sake of efficiency, the Duden is now in its 27th edition, comes in at a whopping 1,264 pages and is published in 12 volumes, which include Die Deutsche Rechtschreibung – The German Spelling Dictionary, Die Grammatik – Grammar, and Das Synonymwörterbuch – Synonym Dictionary. Yes, it’s simple alright – simple German-style.

It’s enough to make you want to throw your knickers in the toilet.

However, for native English speakers, the news isn’t all bad as a lot of the new words come from the English-speaking world. Consider, if you will, some new German verbs – facebooken, taggen, tindern and liken (to “like” or “heart” something on Facebook). What gives me some comfort, and amusement, is that Germans are just as likely to be confused by the changes as foreigners.

Jochem: So, what did you get up to last night? 

Jochen: Oh, you know, not much. I facebookt for a while. Wait, facebookt? Facegebookt? Gefacebookt? 

Jochem: DOCH! 

Duden.de reliably informs me that the correct form is “gefacebookt”, which sounds more like a horrible condition than a fun way to spend an evening. They also, helpfully, give a few examples of how to use this new horror-verb:

  • es wurde die ganze Nacht gefacebookt
  • sie facebookt und twittert über das Leben in Japan
  • facebookst du?

In a weird way, this actually makes life easier as you no longer have to worry about pesky prepositions. Am I bei Facebook? Auf Facebook? Who cares!? Now you can just say, “ich facebooke” – genius.

German spelling also just got easier with the disposal of, well, the German spelling of certain words. “Majonäse,” “Ketschup” and “Anschovis” are now simply mayonnaise, ketchup and anchovies.

Laptop, Selfie, Tablet, Emoji and Hashtag have all made the cut – a sad day for fans of the word “Klapprechner”. The official German word for Brexit is… Brexit. Post-truth is post-faktisch, cyber war is Cyberkrieg. It’s all starting to sound a bit Denglish, right?

Still, some German German words are also in. Here are a few of my favourites:

Kopfkino – (literally “head cinema”) meaning to daydream. 

Die Wutbürgerin – An angry female citizen. The male version, der Wutbürger, had already been added but I guess now women can officially be angry citizens too. 

rumeiern –  (literally “to egg about”) meaning to amble aimlessly around and not really get anything done

ick – how Berliners pronounce “ich” (I). I have, in the past, been lectured for saying “ick” but now it’s official; ick can ick away to my heart’s content. 

So, what do you think? Likst du the new additions or do they make you want to be a Wutbürger(in). Ick just can’t decide…

 

 

 

I speed-dated a European

With most of Germany being on holiday, my work schedule is pretty light at the moment. As a result, I’m spending much more time than I should scrolling through my Facebook feed. Still, every now and then, a little gem pops up that makes a bored blogger’s heart skip a beat. In this case, it was a post by Pulse of Europe called Speed-date a European.

Having read that it wasn’t a romantic thing, and assuming that there would be no touching involved – I’m still scarred from the Cuddle Party – I decided to ask my Irish friend, Gay, along for the ride.

Gay: What is it? 

Me: I have no idea.

Gay: It sounds a bit mad. In. 

Everybody needs a friend like this.

With the event kicking off at 2 p.m., we decided to meet at 1 for a confidence-boosting glass of wine. Well, come on, we are Irish…

Despite being billed as a “meetup with a twist, a fun way for Europeans from various countries to meet, ask questions, fight bias and smash boundaries”, we still didn’t really know what to expect. But, brave souls that we are, we sat down on the steps of the Konzerthaus, making our Popos comfortable on “I speed-dated a European” cushions.

Happy Popo

If the first surprise was how many people were there, the second was the average age. In my cynical way, I had anticipated the place being overrun with irritating hipsters in their 20s, but no, it was pretty much a sea of grey hair. I actually felt young.

(Photo by Piotr Spierewka)

In light of recent events – Brexit (BOOO!), Trump (BOOOOOOOOOOO!) and Marine le Pen (phew!) – it seemed like the perfect time to get people from different cultures together. The atmosphere was jolly, people waved various flags around and the organisers took to the stage. The opening, by a German girl and a French man, in German and English, was a little Eurovision-y for my taste but that’s why bringing a friend to these things is always a bonus. Eye-rolling and chuckling done with, we settled in for an intro to what Pulse of Europe is about and how the event would work.

Ms Eurovision: By now, you’ll all have red or blue sheets of paper.

Gay and I exchanged confused glances and looked around to see that everyone else had, in fact, got red or blue sheets of paper. He hastily got up and went to remedy the situation. Red sheets were for non-Berliners and blue were for Berliners. The idea was that you had to talk to someone with the opposite colour for five minutes, with three switches taking place during the hour. The words to Ode to Joy were printed on the sheets (in German) but I didn’t give that much thought at the time.

Mr and Ms Eurovision called out various “get the conversation going” questions for each round, but I’ve never needed much help in talking the ear off someone so they were largely ignored. My first victim was a German lady in her sixties and we chatted away happily for the first five minutes. The gong rang and we were supposed to move but, well, sitting… so we chatted away for the next five minutes, too. I could now add “speed-dating a sexagenarian” to my ever-growing list of odd things I’ve done in Berlin.

For the third round, a German man in his sixties sat on the other side of me – next victim ensnared. After a little political stuff from the stage, I spend round four in a sexagenarian threesome. The “prompt question” this time round was “what are your cliches about my country?” I’ve always thought that Ireland was pretty easy to stereotype so I was a bit surprised when my new man date came out with “sheep”.

Me: Sheep?

Thoralf: Yep, sheep.

Me: Anything else? 

Thoralf: Umm… 

Me: Wow. OK. 

Frauke: Wait, it’s green. 

Me: Yes.

Frauke: Oh, oh, RED HAIR! 

Thoralf: (looking at me a bit suspiciously) You don’t look very Irish. 

Me: Nope, I guess I was just born lucky. 

Thoralf: So, what are your cliches about the Germans?

Me: Socks and sandals, putting beach towels on sun loungers on their way home from the pub, beer, sausage, Lederhosen…

Thoralf and Frauke: THAT’S NOT US! THAT’S THE BAVARIANS!

Me: Yes, yes, I know. (I glanced down at my sheet of paper) Um, do we have to sing at the end of this? 

Thoralf: Oh yes, it’s wonderful. 

Me: It might not be so wonderful for you with me singing in your ear but OK. 

And so we did. With Bernd playing Beethoven on a banjo, hundreds of voices filled Gendarmenmarkt square as Beethoven probably spun in his grave. It was great.

Bernd plays the banjo

All that was left to do was for everyone to hold hands and dance around the square but with my “no touch” policy still firmly in place, this was my cue to leave.

No hand-holding, please. I’m Irish.

Taking our free cushions with us, Gay and I made good our escape. Still, I have to say, it was a lot of fun and a very well-organised afternoon. Pulse of Europe runs similar events in cities all over Europe on the first Sunday of every month so if you fancy some talking, singing and maybe even a little dance, I suggest you check them out.

Now, once more for Europe, all together please, with feeling:

Freude, schöner Götterfunken,

Tochter aus Elysium,

Wir betreten feuertrunken,

Himmlische, den Heiligtum…

 

 

 

 

Today was quite the day

I’m not normally one to complain (ahem) but today really took the piss. It actually started yesterday with monsoon-like rain all day, which instantly flooded the city causing major traffic delays, flooded U-Bahn stations, knee-deep water in some buses, building evacuations and, because it’s Berlin, people swimming down major streets and being pulled along in dinghies while drinking beer.

I’m not exaggerating

A storm in German is “Sturm” or “Gewitter” – a really bad storm is called “Unwetter” which, in English, would be unweather. Obviously this makes no sense at all as it’s actually ALL the weather in one go and not even remotely unweather. But hey, German…

This morning, expecting delays, I set off for my lesson a bit earlier than usual, grimly plodding through the drizzle. The bus showed up and dropped me off at the U-Bahn station. What should have been a simple ten-minute ride was made impossible by the fact that around six stations along the way were closed due to flooding. This was one of them.

So I travelled two stops, got off, got on the replacement bus and waited while another 100 people squeezed their soggy selves in. The problem with that is that the doors don’t close when people are in the way of the sensors so other passengers were yelling at people to get off at each stop; one man’s beer belly held us up for a good five minutes.

The BVG (Berlin Transport Company) representative had “reliably” informed me that the bus was going all the way to Zoo, one stop past where I had to go. But no, the driver stopped at another U-Bahn station along the way claiming that the U-Bahn was running again. She kicked us all off, down we went and no, stupid cow, the U-Bahn was not running.

By this time, I was already half an hour late so I had no choice but to cancel my lesson. I waded across the road and actually managed to squeeze into a replacement taxi. Yes, things were so bad that the BVG were transporting people using TAXIS. Then it was back on the U-Bahn, back on the bus and, finally, home. It had taken me almost 2.5 hours to achieve absolutely nothing and end up back where I started.

I wrote a scathing email to the BVG and consoled myself with the thought that I had a nice evening with my friend to look forward to – preferably with excess amounts of whiskey. Shortly afterwards, he messaged to say that he wasn’t feeling well and had to cancel. My opera singing neighbour started up and I contemplated justifiable homicide.

Still, I had to calm myself down as I had another lesson to go to this afternoon. I had carefully checked to make sure that the S-Bahn was running normally and set off. I got to the station right on time only to see the three words that every German dreads – Zug fällt aus. My train had “fallen out” and the next one wasn’t until 11 minutes later.

Argh!

A torrent of swear words, a bit like the torrents of rain, ensued. I sent my student a message telling her I’d be a few minutes late. She was actually happy enough as she’d ordered cake and would now have time to eat it. Nothing makes a German happier than coffee and cake.

After walking up the stairs (because of a broken escalator) and being accosted by a rude beggar, I eventually made it to the lesson. While I spoke flawless German, the barista insisted on answering in English – which resulted in him receiving a von Grady growl. It started raining halfway through the lesson and by the time I left, it was more unweather.

The town that I’d left just a couple of hours earlier was now a swimming pool. My boots weren’t quite up to the challenge and I squelched my way home, as engulfed in misery and self-pity as my feet were in water.

How it looked when I was swimming home
How it looked 30 minutes after I’d got home…

Grrr.

Manfredas: Hey, do you fancy dinner at the Surf Inn? 

Me: Yeah, sure. 

Manfredas: As long as it isn’t flooded. But I guess then we could “surf in”.

Me: Too soon…