The Laundromat & The Dornröschen
Christine and I hoped that day two in Berlin would be very chilled-out, yet, considering we both drank enough to finish off a gaggle of veteran alcoholics and moshed the night away in a scauldy nightclub, the act of chilling-out would, invariably, take effort. We were, to put it mildly, a little worse for wear, and both suffering from a serious dose of Irish Flu.
It was then, in this most undesirable state that I decided, forthrightly and without discussion, that I hadn’t brought enough clothes with me, and therefore ought to go to the laundromat.
So, I left the hotel and quickly found myself flopping along the scorching hot pavement in a terrible daze, carrying a shopping bag full of dirty laundry. (Mostly underwear. Don’t ask). On and on it went. Truly, an eternity. But really, I think it was closer to fourteen minutes. Which, to be fair, is actually a long time when every second feels like you are pissing Weissbier out of every pore.
Well, bright idea this turned out to be. Berlin on a Sontag, is quite a bit different than London. On a Sunday, most shops in Berlin have that nagging tendency to be closed. In London, we’re used to livin’ la vida loca, where a man can eat a patisserie from the Pakistani-run boulangerie, while getting his shoes shined by a young Pakistani bootblack, on his way home from visiting a Pakistani lady of the night at a Pakistani-owned brothel; all before the priest of Pakistani-origin says Mass. Is that too much to ask?
Anyway, all this aside, the feckin’ laundromat was open alright. The only problem was, get this, it was self service. I’ll tell you what, forget the heat, I almost fainted right there and then when I couldn’t find a customer service assistant. Nietzsche said that when we killed God, nothing would or could ever wash away the resultant Rivers of Blood. Well, that’s exactly how I felt about my sweaty, baking barse.
The Spirits of Mauerpark
Having unsuccessfully attempted to wash away the River’s of Sweat, Christine and I thought we should not let the hangover defeat us. No, we would defeat it by going to a park and drinking in the sun. And that is exactly what we did.
We hopped on a bus, which pretty much took us all the way there. I had been to Mauerpark before, when visiting a friend, but that was sometime in winter. This visit had the feel of a summer festival, which in a sense it was. The only difference being that it was free, with a considerable lack of wanky dickheads. (The worst kind of dickhead).
When we arrived, we walked up to the park entrance. You couldn’t miss the lush green trees standing tall around the perimeter. People were lazily bustling around here and there, with no real destination to go to. In the distance we heard the rumble of drums and the rhythmic thrumming of bass guitars. Once inside, we walked along the stalls where we saw artists and food vendors selling their wares. Jesus, so this is what Germans do on a Sunday! Pretty sweet.
The sun was still hot and hanging high in the sky, but the early evening was fast approaching. The occasional cloud gave momentary relief from the heat, and now that the hangover was beginning to dissipate, we were starting to feel like actual humans again.
True to my Irish upbring, and wearing the cloth of a modern and progressive Ireland, I bought myself a flat white and a large bag of greasy potato wedges. And with our respective booty (…in the pirate sense) we found ourselves upon a kind of grassy knoll, with dozens of people looking down at one of the bands as they rocked the day away. This is where we parked our booties (..in the Nicki Minaj sense).
It wasn’t too long after we had demolished our potatoes and drank a glass or two of wine (which I had hidden in my bag) that we heard a cacophonous roar coming from behind a hilly row of trees to our right. Lots of joyous shouting and laughing. Time to investigate.
“By the beard of Zeus!” is about all I could blurt out when I saw it. An amphitheatre full of people. I’m no judge, (and you can see for yourself) but I would say there was at least four million people sitting around the stage.
Whitney Houston’s “Wanna Dance” was being belted out by some God-awful karaoke-ist, but it didn’t matter. Before long the whole crowd was joining in and singing and bopping up to the stage to dance.
Christine and I have a strange, Stockholm Syndrome-like relationship to that particular Whitney tune. When we worked at The Dominion theatre together The Bodyguard played there for about sixth months. I can’t tell you how many times I actually considered hurling myself off the upper circle just to cease the never-ending barrage of Whitney songs. But now, I dunno. I think I love them. Strange that.
So that was the day. The karaoke lasted just about as long as the sun did, yet occasionally I was met with an odd feeling. You know when you’re feeling a bit shaky or hungover or just a little bit more fragile that you’re used to, and then you see -I don’t know- a dad buying his son an ice-cream, or a young lady giving up her seat to an aul fella on the bus, and then you burst out crying?
Well, that’s kind of how the evening went for me. I had a very positive, if extremely fragile, unifying view of humanity, sitting there with Christine, in the warm ochre atmosphere of the amphitheatre, being stared at by a perverted dog.
My heart was full. So full in fact that my hangover got the better of me for a while, and I began to feel sad that this show, this performance we call Life, is going to end one day. And in a strange logical backflip, this made me savour the evening ever more and really appreciate where I was, and who I was with, and that, really, we’re fine -like, in the end, we’re all fucked obviously- but we’re grand.
Join me for Part 3, coming soon!