A conspiracy of everyday things is occurring, a collusion of incidental mundanities that must mean something. Articles of clothing, cleaning products and books keep moving around the flat. Each morning I wake to a new terrain of discarded items. The bathroom shelves are not rearranged, but who puts toothpaste lined up with the books in the living room, who puts books in the kitchen cupboard! Exasperated, I stress to you – I live alone, but here I am not alone. There is certainly someone here with me.
And imagine what I found on Saturday! Waking, as usual, to builders having deciding to deconstruct the scaffolding outside my window (with noises that sounded like they were outside, then inside the flat, then inside my room and then, so loud did they become that they were surely in my head), I got up. Upon opening my eyes, some ten minutes after making coffee, I realised that the entire building had been shrouded in thick translucent plastic. All eight storeys of our back-house! Though the courtyard has been full of piles of rubble and splintered window frames since I moved in, I wasn't entirely expecting to wake on Saturday to be entombed in polyethylene. No natural sleep, no natural light, no natural through-breeze – it is enough to make you leave the house. Indeed, I nearly did, but then I remembered I had an album to release, broadband and friends visiting.
So, an evening was spent with three friends, Greek pine-needle wine, bland tomato soup and then later gin with sugary spaetkauf lemonade and real lemons. We held good long conversations about Greek, Swiss and German political representations and the respective perils (and thrills) of urinating outside for men and women. Sunday was spent recovering, one supposed final mix of the album completed and the day spent reading and watching videos.
Now, with Sun City Girls' Grotto Of Miracles ushering in rainclouds from the south, I sit down to write, to deal with email administration and think of more ways to beautifully waste time. I spent the morning in the housing and residence office near the townhall, sitting with the spluttering masses patiently holding our numbered tickets till summoned, hours after the initial ticket dissemination had taken place. I am always petrified of these German administrative procedures, although they work. Nothing goes wrong, the consequences of that happening are too great to consider.
Such is the labour of going to one office, explaining your need to register a new address, picking up the requisite three forms of flimsy paper with carbon-copy backing, going home, translating the nightmarish compounds, collecting the necessary documents, returning, collecting the ticket, waiting for the lottery of numbers to spin round in your favour, then hoping that you have not forgotten to tick a box or bring proof of previous address. Otherwise, it is a return to the queue for you sir, oh yes, get another ticket please, seat yourself, wait under forever, bitte. Where is your attention? Everytime you visit one of these places, you make every effort to have absolutely everything you need and want clear on paper and in your head. The fearsome nature of the system gives no time to inefficiency in person, leaving that to the system itself, to the physical location of offices.
After I accomplished my mission of paper, I headed into deep Neukoelln, past the Ring trainlines to hunt for nothing in particular. I spent hours absorbed in window shopping, looking at the Balkan delicatessens, the Cafe Polonia with its puzzling weekly Kafka night, the tobacconists brashly advertising FASHION AND MULTIMEDIA next to faded boxes of hair-dye, the Bollywood DVD and costume shop, the endless mobile phone shops and Tele-Cafes and my favourite, the remarkable Music-Badling with its window selection of brightly coloured minature guitars, glockenspiels and music stands, all framed by a shop-front that can't have changed in seventy years. One day, when all my paper-herding somehow pays off, I will return there and buy a bright orange lyre.