Itchy Fingers

The Internet is not happy with me at the moment, and henceforth for the time being I can’t upload any photos for this post. It’s probably a good thing, because the photos I have ready to implant into this post are heinous proof of the shameful thing of which I am about to write, and I would under no circumstances post the second one on the main page of this blog at all; oh no, that is relegated to the ‘after the jump’ bit, the huge and crusty underbelly of each blog post iceberg. 

So the first photo is a scarf. It’s blue, with white tassels and three little white flowers on it, and it’s hanging on a shelf next to some books. This photo is here and begins the post because it’s the first and by no means last thing I have crafted since I’ve been in Berlin. I know what you’re thinking: “Rosie, you are in the coolest city in Europe and you are spending your time fiddling about with wool. I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed.” But the fact is that no matter how cool or interesting this place is, I have realised that without a project I can’t be happy. I get itchy fingers. 

Which is why, when I moved into my new place and discovered I didn’t have a bin in my room, I made a bin out of old newspaper instead of buying a one-euro bucket and saving my time and effort and the knees of my trousers. And that’s photo two, the photo I couldn’t bear to post on the front page. A newspaper bin.

Anyway, onto the main topic of this blog post, which is ‘cool streets in Berlin’. The thing about this city (well, one of the things – I don’t want to do it a disservice) is that not only does it have cool districts but also, here and there, you will find a cool street, one isolated little stretch of ruler-straight road that for some reason has become infested with brilliant shops, fantastic restaurants and bars, and the kind of graffiti people take photos of, crank up the saturation so it looks ‘gritty’ and then print it out on canvas at Snappy Snaps to hang it in their bathroom. One example of these kinds of places would be Simon-Dach Strasse, another is Kastanienallee. In the day they swarm with people and the shops sell everything from yellow-submarine-teastrainers to exclusively cupcakes and nothing else. At night the lights and shop signs gleam in every colour imaginable and the asian places hang out their lanterns and the whole stretch glitters. It’s exciting there and beautiful and very non-English; I love these bits of the city. Oh, of course people complain that these places used to be ‘real’ before they got popular and now they’re not worth the bother, but they’re just not appreciating what such a place is like compared to a place like my old village where the liveliest place was the British Legion club. They’re not over- or underrated; they’re rated just right in my book. And listen up, haters: some things in Berlin are cool because they are just COOL.

You see, there’s this irritating dialogue going on in this city constantly, the to-and-fro of ‘Oh X used to be awesome before everyone discovered it, and now it’s expensive and totally last century.’ Like a cold spreading round a classroom of kids, ‘coolness’ hops from district to district and leaves the ones it has already visited with sniffly traces of the infection that used to be there. Mitte was the AMAAAZING place to be at first; then it became the tourist trap (despite the fact that it’s beautiful and diverse and deserves it entirely) and people turn their noses up at it. Then Prenzlauer Berg became groovy and everyone went there and acted ‘real’ for a while before suddenly they realised that it was popular and therefore no longer groovy as a result of its grooviness; now it’s just filled with young yuppie families with little kids and people affectionately call it names like “Preggslauer Berg”. Then it was Friedrichshain, which again deserved it entirely because Friedrichshain is saturated with colour and life and noise and fun. So people moved there and got annoyed that people were moving there and then everyone decided to swarm over to the border of Kreuzberg and Neokölln. No doubt that will become passé too, with time, and let us not forget the poor West, which hasn’t had the opportunity to be cool since the wall came down and everyone instantly decided it was ‘bürgerlich’ (bourgeois) just because they happened to have not been oppressed there, the bastards. As an outsider (I’m certainly not yet an insider, but then again who is) it all seems incredibly pointless – all these places are still great, well worth visiting and wonderful to live in! They deserved their coolness, and certainly don’t deserve derision. People of Berlin, wake up and smell the 80-cent coffee; there’s no point in crawling over to the damp drug-infested bits just to show how ‘real’ Berlin is the only place to be.

Rose T