It’s not perfect, but it’s mine…it’s where I spend the vast majority of my time

Note the man peering around the barrier behind the table; he is wearing a padded helmet.

Thanks to Tim Minchin for today’s title.

This is a bloody brilliant place. The thought occurs to me from time to time just as I’m walking along the street or waiting on a train platform. But Berlin has a great way of simply giving you things to be grateful for, shoving them in front of you so abruptly and with so little warning that you almost trip over them. Thus it was that when I got onto the Ring-Bahn on Wednesday to get home from Sch├Ânhauser Allee I found that the one carriage I had got into had been decorated with wild and colourful party decorations. Noticing that people were giving me funny looks over my shoulder, I turned around to see that right in the centre of the aisle the same people had arranged a picnic table displaying a homemade orange-drizzle cake, baskets of sweets and chocolates each individually hand-wrapped into take-home packets, another basket filled with little bottles of champagne and an array of champagne glasses so you could properly toast whatever you felt appropriate. Next to all of this was a disposable camera with ‘Please use!!’ written on in German. The men on the carriage all took cake; the women all shyly came and rifled through the baskets as if out of pure scientific interest before giving up the pretence and taking a handful of chocolates; the kids on the train all yelled ‘Geil!!’ and grabbed things in fistfuls. I don’t think I have ever felt such gooey-happy energy bubbling frothing around a train carriage before and I don’t suppose I will again. No-one knew who had done it or why, but for whatever reason it had happened and it wasn’t even that surprising because in this city weird and entertaining things happen on a near-daily basis.

I think essentially all Berlin residents are, to a certain degree, simply a little bit barmy. You absolutely cannot get on a train without there being at least one person in the carriage who is talking to themselves and another person who is sporting a hairstyle which looks like it was created by Salvador Dali. Bizarre things happen so often that your entire bizarreness measurement system is thrown out of whack; when you encounter three dogs wearing sunglasses in one day you just cannot live with a normal spectrum of weirdness as your reference point because you will never cease wandering around astonished and mesmerised to the point of mental collapse.

I love this city because it seems almost like it is trying to make me laugh, and more often than not it succeeds. Just the little things are beautiful and fantastic in their simplicity. I will never forget sitting outside a bakery in the Alexanderplatz train station and watching a train driver come out of the bakery with an enormous strawberry-jelly cake (breakfast, we assumed, it being 9am) and with dignified clumsiness and a quiet muttering of “Schei╬▓e.” throw it directly onto my bag. It is sweetly hilarious that my local bakery offers to give you a whole free bread roll if you collect 75 Euros worth of receipts from the store. There is almost always something to laugh about or at the very least raise an eyebrow, from the guy at primary school reception who takes off his jacket and pretends to the kids that he’s doing a striptease, to the guys on the U-Bahn who I see every week playing a Turkish version of ‘Hit the Road, Jack’. 

Everything here is just so interesting, and I don’t mean that in the ‘fascinating’ sense but in the ‘cannot be indifferent to it’ sense. I have found that everyone I meet has something strange to say to me, the latest being a woman I encountered today who spent the whole journey from west to east telling me about her career as flick-book artist and world’s leading flick-book scholar. She has just written and released the world’s only specialist book about flick-books and it has flick-book animations printed into the margins which show how a flick-book is made and used. (Flick-book sounds cooler in German: ‘Daumenkino’.) And I met this woman by pure accident! In my hometown you are lucky to see a pigeon fly a bit wonkily to brighten your day. 

It must be that in such a vast and contrasting metropolis the people are simply so varied and extreme that their sheer proximity to each other causes them to be unusual and do unusual things. Perhaps it is because we all spend our days shunting into high-speed metal tubes and pouring out into Crayola graffiti explosions. Maybe it has a little something to do with the fact that drinking in public is legal and widely accepted at any hour of the day. I have no idea; all I know is that I am addicted and I am definitely coming back to this nuthouse after graduation…

Rose T