The Berlin Diaries – The Eggs

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Dave turned 23 last weekend. It was Friday night and I was three sheets to the wind, sitting cross legged on the floor of a colleague’s bedroom with a handful of workmates, listening to music and getting ready to head to some tropical-themed party across town. Dave called and told me to head to his flat, as everybody was there. He asked me to bring some drinks but the signal was bad; all I could really make out was that he wanted me to come over. Continue reading

Travelling Back In Time To Break My Father’s Nose, or, The Weirdest Story I Have Ever Written

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Do you think you could beat your father in a fight? What about when he was in his prime? My uncle asked this very question at my father’s birthday dinner last weekend, and my father, without a hint of irony or humour, gazed straight into my eyes and told me he would ‘massacre’ me, even now. He’s 59 years old with a hernia and a beer gut, I am 25. The hubris. This simply won’t stand. Something must be done.

I am going to break your nose, old man. Not now, not today, while you’re old and feeble and your best years are behind you. There’d be no satisfaction in that, there’d be no challenge. No, father, I’m going to go back to the 1980’s, I’m going to find you, and I’m going to make you wish I’d never been born. Continue reading

On Jeremy Corbyn and Leadership

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This post is not travelling related, but listen: shut up. This post is about politics, it is about ideologies, and it is about bravery.

The UK will have a general election on the 8th of June. Current polls have Labour some 20 points behind the Tories. If nothing changes in the next six weeks, Labour are set to take a pasting, Corbyn will be savaged, and a triumphant Right will cheer the fall of left wing politics across the Western world. Because, you know, the idea of affordable housing and fair pay for nurses is fucking nightmarish. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – When The Devil Drives

 

I wrote an article for Unilad a while back, which you can read here, if you fancy. It’s an abridged version of the account of the virtual reality orgy thing I went to a month ago. I was paid £120 for writing the article, however I was told it could take up to 30 days for the money to go into my bank. This wouldn’t usually be too big an issue, except that for the past fortnight I’d been living off around €20. Continue reading

Fidel

 

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I am furious.

Fidel Castro died earlier this week at the age of 90. I have been busy over the weekend and have therefore missed the majority of news on the subject. However, when turning on my laptop this morning, I am appalled to see the ferocity of attacks against the Cuban leader. As the days go by, I am growing increasingly apoplectic at the state of the political world. A vain, unintelligent, and cruel television star is president of the USA, Britain has voted itself poorer in a referendum based on lies, the far right is on the rise around the world, and hateful rhetoric is growing, palpably. Now, Fidel Castro is gone. Cue the outpouring of hatred against him. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – A Jolly Good Battering

The sun rose on Monday morning, and gentle rays of sunlight drifted in through the curtains. The old schoolteacher who lives upstairs was practising the piano again, and the notes floated down to me like snowflakes. I lay sprawled in bed fully clothed, hanging, desperately dehydrated and unable to move, but I was happy. The weekend had been a heavy one. Mike Skinner, Kater Blau, Slaves, all brilliant. There was but one last gig to attend. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – 13th October

After the blissful mayhem of the night before, I woke up in a smiling golden haze, bleary eyed, no hangover. The Austin girls were gone, left for an 11am flight after a couple of hours sleep. I got dressed and floated through into the lounge and kitchen, greeted by everyone I passed on the way, all smiles and hi fives and back slaps. I felt like the coolest guy in the world. Continue reading

The Berlin Diaries – 10th October

A lot has happened in a very short time, and my intentions of writing a blog post every day have been booted right out of the window and into the street. I need to get out of the mentality that I’m on holiday, because I’m not – I’m here to work, and to live. I’ve been spending too much and drinking too much. I’ve not applied for any jobs yet, although I’ve applied to dozens of flatshares. I can’t get a German job yet because they wouldn’t be able to pay me as I don’t have a bank account. Can’t get one of those without a German address. And so on. So a flat is priority number one.

I checked out of the Generator hostel on Sunday morning at 10am, passing one of the Kiwi guys on my way out. He was just getting in. He looked like he’d had a fun night. I checked out, nicked a towel, and stumbled under the weight of my bulging backpack to the U Bahn, then headed back to Kreuzberg. It feels like home in this district now – I know my way around, I’m learning the tube system, and buying tickets is a thing of the past. I’ve got a hundred trains and never seen one conductor. It’s a €60 fine if you’re caught, so I reckon if I get caught once in every 30 journeys I’m saving money.

I arrived at Come Backpackers hostel for check in. I was a little unsure when I first entered. Generator was a big corporate hostel, elevators and stark corridors with hundreds of rooms, a big brightly lit foyer. Come Backpackers looks like the living room of a sweet little old lady who’s gone stark raving bonkers. It’s all in one open space – kitchen, longue, reception desk – and is full of knackered looking, mismatched furniture. The walls are strewn with off-kilter, faded wallpaper.  Each lampshade is different, and blackened pots and pans hang above the sink. There’s a gold trimmed classical painting hanging skewwhiff on the wall, and all the character’s faces have been adorned with googly eyes. Potted plants skirt the room, slumped on beaten up cupboards. In the centre there’s a mannequin dressed in baggy jeans and a Disney t shirt. It gave me a heart attack the first ten times I walked past it.

I’m in a dorm with two thick-eyebrowed, thick-accented French guys who are staying long term too. The first night there was also an Aussie girl whose lips had randomly swollen up to three times their size after a night out and were causing her a great deal of embarrassment. My first evening was spent reading quietly, desperately wanting to make a friend but too shy to dive into a conversation. I went to the bar on reception and got a beer to read with, and this enormous ginger man asked if I was queuing. He was at least 6’4, and made me look like a midget. We got talking. He was called Tom, and was a 22 year old Australian from Adelaide. We sat together and started buying rounds. I’d not eaten much all day, and was absolutely crossed eyed wankered in no time at all. A couple of Aussie girls heard us talking and chimed in, which I took as my cue to slip away for a kebab and bed, world spinning from strong German beer.

Next morning, I bashfully bumped into Tom in the corridor. He asked why I just got up and left without saying anything, and I bumbled and flapped around with excuses while he watched me, eyebrow raised. He headed out for the day, and I set off out for breakfast. I’ve found that I can eat breakfast for under a euro a day – a couple of bread rolls, a banana and a glass of water make for a decent meal. I walked around Kreuzberg a little more, exploring roads I’ve not been down. I found a community garden full of allotments and shacks. It was like a little eco-village in the middle of the city, a fenced-in garden the size of a city block with mini windmills and outhouses containing everything from bars and cafes to a mini library. I spoke to a girl working there, and she said I was welcome to come down and help out on Thursdays and Sundays. I bloody well might.

That night I was sat with Tom again, discussing all kinds of rubbish, and I got up to make a phone call. When I came back, Tom was sat with a table full of people he’d invited over. I was introduced to Emily, Mary-Alyson and Gabby, three lively girls from Austin, Texas, and Bob, from outside Toronto, Canada. Bob had a tattoo of different twenty sided dice on his arm, an ode to his love of role playing games.  The drinking games soon started, and it wasn’t long before we were falling out of our chairs laughing and pissing off the whole hostel. Our personalities meshed perfectly, and no topic was out of bounds – everything from the wrongdoings of the Bush administration, to the psychology behind horror movies, to the girls’ explaining how girls were just better in bed than guys, full stop.

Tom and Mary-Alyson copped off, and disappeared into the dorm room. The rest of us talked until 5am, when the room had emptied of almost everyone else. We went out to a shop and stood on a street corner talking about our favourite books. 5am, street corner, talking about Jack Kerouac’s writing to role-playing Bob and two lesbians from Texas. That moment encapsulates why I had to move here. It was just perfect. Spontaneous and free and inspiring and everything I hoped it would be. I know there will be tough times ahead, and times when I feel like I’m in over my head and Berlin is nothing like I imagined. On that 5am street corner though, it was everything I’d wanted.

I went to bed with a smile on my face.