Saturday, 18 October 2008

Typical Saturday, typical autumn. Released from the vanguard of my days – the word-processed novel – I retreated instead into a doleful recreation. (The novel is done, by the way, that circle is completed and it is certainly not yet a novel anyone would want to read, or indeed a novel at all. It is a short story and it needs editing.) That slow kind of morning we all know ensued; cereals and coffee, reading English newspapers that are three weeks old, bemoaning the lack of interesting mail. All we were looking for this morning, Cara and I, was a provocation, something with which we could begin the day.

But nothing arrived and so I went into the yard, freshly swept of its inches of fallen leaves, armed with a spraycan of black metal paint, the aforementioned old newspapers and masking tape. My bicycle has started to betray its origins, various layers of paint have begun to peel away revealing discoloured yellows, purples and a white undercoat. So I took to it with matt paint, masking off the wheels and silvered areas. Afterwards, I rode it around and despite looking five years newer, there is yet another suspicious noise emanating from somewhere near the pedals. And so another Saturday morning closed, wasted a highlight of what my life could have been. I refuse to go shopping on a Saturday because it strikes me as a defeat of sorts. Instead, of course, I merely sit around at home deliberating over what tea to drink, fixing imaginary problems with my bicycle.

In the afternoon - oh glorious Berlin afternoons - Cara and I rode to the top of the hill and down again; Pankow, Wedding, Prenzlauer. Falafel shops were visited, no deviation there, and we peered into the dusty windows of second-hand shoe stores. Still, I have not found my winter shoes; still I maraud about in a pair of floppy, holed fashion plimsolls that barely lasted me a summer.

Then onto Torstrasse and the first record shop, the only record shop. The usual actions were performed, new releases browsed, pulled out and then the labels themselves investigated, one-by-one. The hegemony of British record buying, of my entire knowledge, is gleefully ripped apart in these circumstances. No one knows of the bands I speak about here, even those I consider mainstream, those with enough money tour, with enough label support to put out press campaigns alongside their newest releases. I in turn am subjected to new histories of course, new ways of seeing. And what can be learnt here in these places! Just suppose that each record that sits here, with its tiny handwritten identification sticker and clear plastic bag, can be seen as a document of only one place, of only one recording. But of course, this is not true, each is potentially subjected to the input of multiple personalities, of multiple places. So we have a room full of the oddest testaments to our humanity, little plastic communications each with their own frame of reference, each without any reference at all.

The process continues, a fistful of CDs is taken to the counter. No vinyl, too importable, not listenable enough here; the record player is in another, colder room. Vinyl has always held an air of permanence for me beyond anything else, beyond any other dreamed nostalgia.

I listen to the CDs, buy two, cycle home, and listen to them again. Soup warms on the stove, soup from yesterday and we decide that later we will go to the cinema. There is a Neil Young season on, his celluloid representations only, and I know very little of the man so we will go to watch a film about him. Thus, these are the simplicities of yet another Saturday up by the white lakes of Berlin. There is nothing to say and we take slow pleasure in not saying it.