West Berlin, 1990
Down the telescope in the Sun’s crucible glowing magma is thrown up millions of miles in a slow motion commensurate with the distances involved. Off Libya in the Tomcat cockpit a missile lock registers with an eerie clicking sound and the MIG is seconds away from being blasted out of the sky.
Marlene emerges from her bedroom with a reptilian menace.
Kai picked me up in a brand new sports car and drove me straight through the Brandenberg Gate and we circled the television tower at Alexanderplatz like a swirling animation, the Berlin sky delivering, lit up and bigger than the tower. He then gave me DM500 from an all night bank on Ernst Reuter Platz.
Kai then went off to Frankfurt and I stayed on to help Marlene whilst she nursed their baby. It worked out well. I was determined it would. The baby arrived I arrived in Berlin: 5th February 1991. I took the pram from Belle Vue to Wansee. The rock of the wooden train sent him off to sleep. Actually we got on really well.
I did not mind being very close, and I knew when to disappear. I escaped every day run along Spree Bogen to Alexanderplatz, some seven miles. Apparently, I did this very well, but was otherwise useless. She resented this freedom, but it was for the good. We never fell out, until one day, we did.
“Good or bad news, that thou com’st in so bluntly?” I had a job in Zehlendorf. The taxi opposite, spins a perfect half circle and cruises off towards Spanische Allee. I moved to Motiv, a student home off Bismarkstrasse. I left Motiv and slept in my car in Grunewald forest. Returning by car from freezing Cuxhaven, I notched a kestrel being struckby a bus wing mirror. The image of the sudden death of such a bird etched itself into my memory.
On Christmas day 1995, when Claudia was visiting München I walked from Botanische Garten to Ruleben. That winter I ran from Aalman Ufer to Volkspark in Prenzlauer Berg. Brian visited us in March 1996, returning ours from the previous summer, and swam in the rain in Schlactensee. All the time I’d been playing football every Saturday and Wednesday either on the Reichstag lawn, Anhalter Bahnhof, Mauerpark or Jahn Stadion in Neukoeln with Frank, Arne, Tilo and Ebbe. Frank, from Göttingen, had been a Anhalter original and stood out as a mouse head blue eyed and blond with long striding legs. The N was back from a few weeks secondment at Bahnhof Noo. Remote Ebbi would get in at Yorkstrasse. I kept a record of the goals I scored and still remember actual ones.
I moved to a flat in Wilmersdorf, more central, in an U-Bahn triangle, then moved in with an English art student in Neukoelln, then moved back. Brian died in the Tor Na Coil hospital in Marycuter. Bede, my brother took me to Marsden for a bike ride after the arch had fallen in. I returned to Steglitz for six months. My architectural office was in Lichtefelde West, one station down from where I lived. From the Curtiusstrasse villa, I noticed the wind ruffling. The wind takes two days to get here from England. I felt fragile. Relentless and unforgiving with annihilating beauty. At Schlactensee a rain storm had lashed torrents of sand into the water across the path. The gravity at work becomes visible.
From the postman an underage girl in hot-pants accepts a parcel. The single small gauge tram rattles in the snowy forest. The Sachsendamm traffic scares me. So does my incurable sore throat and killer bronchitis. Claudia had arranged stuff, like a silver bell and the Gordon Highlanders Celebration Whiskey bottle on a dresser, a kind of memory of our life in Begoniaplatz. I looked
at it for a moment. I could hear the chattering builders. A black Mercedes limousine waited for me in the street but I would not get in. It was time to go home. I said goodbye to Frank and Arne took me to the airport.