Thursday, 10 July 2008

The tenth of July already, and I have been in Berlin for a month. How rapidly, then, does a routine set in and how rapidly have I fallen into old traps, mineshafts of time in which I am able to lose myself for hours? Endless caverns and tunnels explored during those middle hours of the day, when nothing has a consequence and ten may as well be four or two. And then in the evenings! How rapidly do these hours sift through the fingers like sand?

Here it is light so late (and light so early) that eating has become more of a habit and less of an activity. Cara and I, last night, watched Tarkovsky’s Mirror; she has not seen it before. My ambition was to watch it and then spend some hours writing as she slept, but in fact it was I who slept as she watched, as she made little exclamations under her breath. After the film had finished, and I was sound asleep, she turned the computer off and within an instant a rectangle of silvery light appeared on the ceiling of our dark room, directed in from outside. She raised the blinds a little to see a mirror in the block of flats opposite, a mirror that was throwing this shape of light into our room. In the mirror, Cara could see a reflection, a reflection of a woman slowly undressing and standing looking at herself, but Cara could not see the woman herself, only this reflection standing sadly and looking at herself in the middle of the night.

Yesterday I barely left the house. I visited the post office and sent some keys to England before cycling over to the velodrome, an impressive feat of architecture the majority of which lies beneath ground level. Its roof is an apple orchard, in the middle of the city next to two subway stations and the main tramline east, an apple orchard. This is where the romance ends though and Berlin, as you head further north or east especially, becomes distinctly dull. One can cycle for twenty minutes in a direction and not get through the channels between enormous modern housing blocks, twenty stories high and endlessly long. No shops reside at their feet, just car parks, sprawls of lined tarmac beneath these ugly, flat buildings, their pastel colours and cladding seeming to make them two dimensional.

So it is not all renovated squats and cobbled streets here or tiny churches in leaf-lined squares, and in the same way it is not all experimental gigs in underground cellars, cool beers by the canal and spacious warehouse galleries. There is a mundanity, but this morning it feels as though it is brought onto myself, that wasting time is something I excel at, and if only I could summon up the discipline to spend my days writing instead of distracting myself, I might be onto something.

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