Friday, April 04, 2008

What I Saw: Berlin 28/03/08 'till 30/03/08

My first impressions of Berlin? Dark. Ok, so it was late by the time we finally arrived on our paper aeroplane, but even so, as we circled the city I was struck by what appeared to be large patches of darkness in what I thought was a large European city. At ground level things were still gloomy. Where London is all bright lights big city and by the way it might be night but we can still see clearly what you are doing so we thought we would cctv your behaviour in case we might want to use it in evidence against you later Berlin seemed made for mischief, all dim lighting and dark shadows - perfect for lurking.

Joseph Roth agrees. On p100 in my Granta edition of What I Saw when he's talking about traffic policemen the following:

"After dark a flashlight would be a useful thing, or, better yet, some proper street lighting. Even some populous and quite central parts of Berlin still look like the deepest and darkest provinces after nightfall. The economizing of the city authorities must have cost quite a lot of people their lives."

To be continued...


  1. this is great stuff, Matthew, keep 'em coming. I was just thinking the other day how hard it must be to be a criminal in London these days, what with CCTV and everything. What chance do you have?

    We went to Berlin in 2006. Germany beat Poland the day we were that and millions of the buggers were out marching (not like that, but the streets were flowing with people in football colours), celebrating and noise making.

    You might think this would be a good thing, but I am a 90 year old in a 32 year old body and it all got a bit traumatic. We watched England v Sweden from the safety of our hotel room.

    I'm sure it's a lovely city though.

    I'm reading one of Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther Private Eye books set in post-war Berlin because they said it was Chandler-esque on the cover. Is it bugger. Anyway.


  2. Enjoying your Berlin stuff Matthew - used to live there many years ago.

    Nice picture of the Fernsehturm. When the sun shines, and from a distance, the light shining off the 'Kugel' at the top gives a crucifix pattern - this was known in the days of the GDR as "Rache des Papstes" (Revenge of the Pope) 'cos the story locally (and I'm not sure whether or not this is true) was that they demolished a church to build the tower originally...