It seems our sole writer and contributor, Dan, wrote the first four paragraphs of this diary entry after a very long day, and was a little frustrated at the time. If you wish to skip straight to the main narrative, which is considerably more jolly, scroll down past the opening 373 words of pure bile. Don’t feel bad. He’ll never know.
I am getting very behind on these diaries at the moment, as I am frantically busy trying to… well, live… and… stuff. A couple of articles ago I got hired, and at the time of writing I pretty much burst into flames of excitement. However, in my initial jubilation, I neglected to account for the fact that, while my job situation was now solved, the gigantic question mark of where I would live after Christmas and how the hell I am ever going to be able to get registered still remains.
German bureaucracy is nipple-twistingly frustrating; overzealous, needlessly complicated, and utterly illogical. The path I must somehow walk is as follows: find a Berlin flat, move in, and register as living there. That sounds simple, right? NEIN. To move into a flat, first you need a document called the Schufa, which is like a credit check, as well as proof of regular earnings, a release form from your old landlord, and more. In order to get the Schufa, you have to have a German bank account. In order to get a German bank account, you must… register to a Berlin address. To register, you need… that’s right, a Berlin flat. FUCK! GERMANY! CHILL OUT!
So after a couple of months of ignoring it, the time has come when I can run from the registration no longer. I can’t earn money without it, as I need a tax code, which you are given once you have registered. This would be okay – a simple way around this is to sublet (which requires no Schufa), get yourself a subletting contract and permission from the landlord, then register. Okay, so that’s not so bad, then, yeah? Sigh… nein.
Many German flats have already registered their max number of tenants – people live there for a while, register as living there, and then bugger off into the sunset without taking their name of the list of people who officially live there. Therefore, many flats can’t add any more names to the register of who lives there, as there can end up being 7 people registered as living in a two bedroom apartment, which can bring the law down on the current tenants. It is just the absolute tits.
It’s me, Dan, and I’m slightly more sane now, having been to sleep and woken up as fresh as a daisy in a springtime meadow. The prior, bureaucratically baffled version of me has now slunk away into the peaceful valleys of my personality. Shoo, Sad Dan, be gone with you. You’re no use to anyone.
No, I’m going to be positive, and continue slowly chipping away at making a life here. Hard work, blind optimism, and a high pain threshold will win the day. Now, to answer that burning question in your mind: whatever the devil has Dan been up to since his last blog post? Oh my sweet child, pass me my reading glasses, sit on my knee, and I will ruffle your hair in a grandfatherly manner and regale you with tales of my adventures.
Last Sunday I went to Mauerpark with Victoria. Dave was supposed to meet us, but, in accordance with the ever-more-apparent laws of the universe, Dave did not make an appearance. Mauerpark was freezing cold, and we shivered in the stallside bustle and the gluhwein aroma, a clear blue sky above us. We browsed the assorted tat for an hour or so, sifting through such valuable and useful articles as lone flippers and framed photographs of other people’s families. We also stumbled upon a mysterious jewellery box which, when we got it open, turned out to contain a clump of fur. So, so many questions.
Victoria’s friends, Dan, Oli, and another girl whose name I never learned, arrived after dark and joined us. The biting cold eventually forced us to flee the park, instead heading for a refugee festival a few tram stops away. We found the ‘festival’ inside a gigantic old theatre, gutted of seats and stripped of all but basic spotlights, leaving a gaping, sparse stage and stucco walls stained with years of boisterous thespianism.
The hall was packed with people, most of whom I assume where refugees due to the wild mix of ethnicities and languages zipping around. Down the length of the hall were stalls selling hot food from all over the world, curries and samosas and strange, delicious smelling stews. Along the back of the hall was a bar offering beer and free tea. I had 15 euros to my name at this point, and opted for a tea. I just like holding something while I socialise – it makes me feel like I’m doing something other than sitting staring at the person I’m talking to. Makes conversing a bit less intense. This meant that I had about 5 cups of tea in a very short period, and my stomach was churning for hours after.
We sat right at the front of the theatre and watched artists perform on the stage. We were baffled by the seemingly catastrophic ineptitude of the sound technician: mics didn’t work, speakers were crackling, songs started and stopped six times in a row. A rap group took to the stage, all swagger and low slung pants, only to spend 5 minutes yelling at the sound guy at the back of the hall, before declaring “That’s it,” and unceremoniously fucking off. We sat watching this dismal display unsure if it was secretly a comedy routine and nobody had let us in on the joke.
After an hour of successive musicians entering the stage and storming off after several attempts at coercing the sound guy into doing his job, we were utterly perplexed. It seemed we had wandered into the shittest, most palpably awkward festival ever. However, we felt simultaneously stupid and relieved when the very first artist retook the stage, this time with full light show and background projections. We had arrived early, it seems, and had unintentionally sat through the entirety of soundcheck. Oh.
We sat through all the artists we’d already seen, the words of whose songs we essentially knew by heart now. It got sickeningly tedious very quickly, as you would expect after watching the same variety show fifteen times over, like some special ring in hell presided over by a demonic, giggling Louie Walsh, complete with little tap dancing faun legs.
Two poets took to the stage. One was a scrawny literary looking type; the other had a shaved head, thick neck, and was dressed in knackered jeans and a paint splattered rugby shirt. He looked like he should have been called Kev, or whatever the Syrian version of Kev is. Kξv, I suppose? Kξv and his mate took turns reading their poem in their own language, but as this was neither German nor English, the crowd was not exactly rapt. Kξv’s attempts to settle the crowd proved increasingly fruitless.
Several minutes into their poem, Kξv stopped talking mid-sentence, put his microphone back on its stand, and stormed off the stage, yelling German obscenities at the crowd for their insolence. He marched through the sea of tables, two hundred eyes on him, two hundred mouths hanging open in total silence. His partner shuffled his papers nervously on stage, as Kξv barged out of the hall and slammed the door behind him.
The evening’s conductor, a tall woman in colourful African dress, swept onto the stage, smiling frantically. “Do not worry everyone, the mood is not bad, it is good!” The crowd half-applauded. If you have to yell ‘the mood is not bad’ in order to placate a terrified crowd, the mood is absolutely categorically irrevocably Bad. She laughed awkwardly, and invited the next act on stage. Oh god, this party had died. Vic and the others quickly downed their beers, I finished my 6th tea, and we left in haste. We passed Kξv in the foyer, sitting alone and smoking angrily, scowling at anyone that dared catch his eye.
We spent the rest of the evening attempting to cleanse the soiled rag of a memory that was Kξv and his furious poetry. We drank at Vic’s before heading to a kebab shop, in which we drank whisky and discussed everything from the pros and cons of circumcision to euthanasia, then headed to Madame Claude, the upside down bar, where all furniture is stuck to the ceiling. Later, the others wanted to go out. After an hour of debate, Vic and I convinced Dan and the others that their best option was to go to Kater Blau, despite it being 3am on a Monday morning. They were unsure, but finally agreed due to our blaring testimonies that it is heaven on earth. I had no money, and so had no choice but to head home.
They went, they queued for 90 minutes, they took a pill in the queue, they got turned away at the door.