I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss.
I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged.
Around ten o’clock I set out for Checkpoint Charlie. I say that I set out for Checkpoint Charlie, but i would be less than truthful if I stated I got there easily. In fact, I threw my destiny into the hands of Fate to get there at all. For the first time I did what I understand is a favourite pass time of tourists, I executed a complete circle and returned to the Hostel. At least I wasn’t lost.
I set out again, knowing I was to go past a particular building, and also go through a large field. Surprisingly enough, after a ten minute walk, I unexpectedly came to Checkpoint Charlie. And there were the people from the group I was travelling with, who shuffled me into their midst and thus near the front of the line.
Going past the British soldiers was a matter of seconds. You gave your name and the time you expected to return and that was it. Then told you were not allowed to take any photos, you headed to the East German barrier. Here they took your passport; you filled in forms; you had to exchange some of your money for East German money (which you had to spend in the East); got little slips of paper stuck into your passport; walked to a further barrier where you again showed your passport, and then the next thing you were doing was walking in East Berlin.
We had been told to walk along the street until we came to Unter den Linden and then stay on it. We could go down side street, but always return to Unter den Linden. And that is what we did – more or less.
What I had expected of East Berlin was a dark, grey, dirty city, with haggard, suspicious-looking people in 1950’s clothing slinking along the streets with large bundles in their hands. I actually saw little difference in the people, or the place, than what I had seen in West Berlin.
Yes, it was more run-down looking, and there were more ruined buildings, and even buildings that were war-scarred, but it was clean and neat, and the people were like anyone else, though there were far fewer on the streets.
[More to come another day]
I first visited Europe years before the Euro was the accepted coin of the realm. In fact, there were many coins of many realms, and all that money caused a fuss. This was partially rectified by using Traveller’s cheques. And though Traveller’s cheques are still available, their use is not recommended, as so many places won’t even take them.
I kept a daily diary of this trip, and plan to make it a part of any memoirs I might write. So I’ve hauled it out and will make some blogs from it. But they will be greatly abridged
Berlin, a city (to say the least) that I had heard about, once upon a time. It’s most noteworthy fame, in my opinion, the capital of Hitler’s Germany. And the present, the only city cut in twain by a wall – that infamous wall which causes so much consternation. And I was landing there – and walking into history.
We eventually arrived at the Youth Hostel, or Red Cross building, or whatever it really was. It was a cold, grey, imposing stone structure that reminded me of a second-rate castle somewhere in the Alps. It was plain and simple, there was never any hot water. I was very tired and dead feeling, so I grabbed a bottom bunk and rested/slept for a few hours. I eventually roused myself and went to take a shower. I do not know how the Germans managed to do it (they manage to do many things), but they were able, by some device, to get their water straight from the head ponds of Siberia.
I went out for a walk after my shower, not so much to sight see as to thaw. I didn’t go very far, just looked in some store windows, and went down to the end of the road, a short distance really, for it ended quite quickly with an old, decrepit-looking wall. I thought to myself, that if this were all the East Germans had to get over, there wouldn’t be much trouble to do it.
As fodder for a writer, I have had the good luck to have two murderers as neighbours. Well . . . almost. One committed his murder a month before he was to move in, the other committed his murder years after he moved out. But, still – it’s the spirit of the intent.
Murderer Two lived in the apartment directly across the hall from me many a long year ago, and committed his murder last year. With a knife. The other murderer used a knife, also. Small world.
While living across the hall from me, Murderer Two was often a cause of disruption. He was prone to parties with unruly and uncontrollable guests. I arrived home one afternoon to an event of screaming proportions occurring across the hall. I was within minutes of phoning the police when someone else did so. Police cars and vans appeared on the street and in the driveway. Ten to a dozen officers entered the raucous apartment. People in various states of inebriation and addiction were taken away. Murderer Two was found hiding in his closet. He did not return.
Last year Murderer Two was charged with the murder of his room mate. No party, though they were both drunk. He claimed self-defence, though the victim was stabbed twelve times. It was established stab number nine was the death blow. He was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Murderer One was a month away from moving into the apartment across the hall from me. He was going to replace one of the occupants moving out. One evening however, he visited the apartment past mid-night. He arrived in a taxi. He had a dispute with the taxi driver (over what, was never clear, but probably lack of payment). From the back seat he slit the driver’s throat and fled the scene. A couple of hours later other drivers of the taxi company were searching for him. His cab was spotted at two in the morning. The engine was still running.
I awoke at six to the sound of a huge engine on the city street. I looked out my front window and saw a police mobile investigation vehicle, engine running. Police cars and vans and an ambulance and a fire department vehicle were all present. Out my back window – in the driveway, was a taxi, police officers, and a body under a tarpaulin. The man had been killed four or five metres from me. I had heard nothing. The investigation took hours at the scene. The body remained. Mid-afternoon it was removed. The taxi was towed away. The fire truck was used to hose away the blood.
I had seen the murderer a few times before, visiting his friends next door. He was arrested in a restaurant kitchen where he worked as a cook. He reportedly had been drunk, had problems with a girl friend. But the exact reasons he was there that night, or why he murdered, were not revealed. He also was found guilty and sent to penitentiary.
II no longer live in that apartment house – but not by choice. It caught fire and was eventually torn down.
My mind confronts so many intangible truths that you sometimes seem – or is it just hope on my part – to be my only peg of reality.
Have you noticed whenever we finally believe we know the reason for something which happens, it often occurs that the real reasons are exactly the opposite.
Everything walks a line – as narrow as those upon this page – between profound revelation and mindless absurdity.
As I look through my window, the shadows cast through the trees on the next building, take the shape of a French poodle carrying a parasol.
Is even Nature absurd?
Nature is nothing but reality, only the intangible can be absurd.
As I’ve said too many times (and why do I repeat myself yet again)
you spend too much effort – and a wasted effort, for how can it be other –
on futile quest and query.
The only truth to be found is in sour milk, or pleasant fornication.
These things are real, these things exist.
Absurdity is kittens playing, or the Prime Minister’s latest speech.
These are the things we look at with amusement or contempt – we know not to expect much from either.
Quit you silly endeavours and join the world which surrounds you.
Don’t enter the world that your head surrounds.
All important answers can be found between someones legs.
(image) https: //content.etilize.com/Original/1011505126.jpg
The Celts knew every celebration has its risks.
The Druids taught them this, and the Druids are correct. Samhain is a festival of the harvest; the end of summer; the preparation for the winter to come. Samhain is a juncture.
As they all know, junctures lead to sundry places. There is both the leaving and the coming. A time of disquiet. A time of danger for those unprepared.
It holds the magic and the power of midnight. Midnight is a powerful time because it is the juncture of two days. Midnight of Samhain thus holds double the power. It can not be avoided. It must be met with all the power mortal man can muster. It must not be met alone.
On the Eve of Samhain, the border between Life and the OtherWorld is breached. A door swings invitingly open, but it is not inviting those who live. It is inviting those who have died. The Dead who still miss their lives. The long Dead who still are curious.The distant Dead who get a whiff of fresh air, and have their memories stirred.
So the Dead approach.
The Dead approach. The living must prepare to meet them, just as they prepare for the vicissitudes of winter. The same threatened cold holds sway over both. The living assemble the treats and threats that will assuage the longings of the Dead.
Because the living have a healthy fear of death, they equally wish to avoid the Dead. The Dead can prove to be envious, and attempt to relieve the living of their lives. Lanterns from the earth are hollowed out of turnips. Their light will guide the dead to safer places (safer for the living). Candles will shine through carved faces. Some faces are friendly and welcoming. Some are ugly and fierce, to give aggressive Dead a pause.
There will also be treats to entice the Dead – apples and pastries and savouries and some roasted game fresh from the bonfires. There will be ale and other spirits to keep the Spirits at bay. The living will wear costumes and masks to disguise themselves from those Dead who might wish their company to be more permanent.
They will remove the masks if the Spirits are friendly.
They will dance and sing and raise a right ruckus to entertain the Dead.
The boneyard is on the outskirts of town. Revellers approach with noise and caution. A bonfire is set. The moon hangs from the trees. The gated fence stands closed and latched. The living pause and watch. And listen.
Is it the wind, or do the hinges scrape the stone?