what the Black Forest and London have in common

When I was a child there was a popular fairy tale film “Das kalte Herz” (“Heart of Stone”) which was set in the Black Forest. However, because I grew up in East Germany, I had never heard of a Black Forest and hence, thought it must be some sort of fairy tale forest and certainly not a real place. – Now, thinking about London it quite feels the same. In Berlin, one is surrounded by images of London – on large advertising panels in the streets or on buses, in TV documentations, in magazines. I still remember exactly what these places feel like; I easily see myself passing by the places shown. And yet, while looking at them wistfully, they don’t seem to be real places but from a world far away behind an iron curtain.

being at the end of the world

I wish I could discover the awesomely raw music by Jackson C. Frank again and hear his song Marlene like I did the first time. The song seemed to come from the unknown, unfolding like a long ribbon. Although listening to it repeatedly, I could not remember the tune just the atmosphere. Someone has written about Marlene on Youtube I’m stunned. Blown away like you can only be when you discover beauty for the first time. The moment I realised that the song is not a about a love story but a trauma in which Frank nearly burned to death when being a child, now being haunted by the girl he liked back then but died in the same fire made me just cry.

panta rhei

What departing really means is that everything that is significant now loses its importance in the future. It is the nature of change that things one cares about now will become less relevant and drift from the centre towards the edges of one’s life. Once I’ve left the stream of London, the city will never be the same again. It will become a stranger and one day I might even wonder what I’ve ever found so appealing about this place. It is most likely that soon, I will never find MY London back. It will be a mere piece of memory, getting smaller and smaller.

No man ever steps in the same river twice (Heraclitus) – and no man ever steps in the same city twice. How much I fear what is going to happen.

day in brighton

I haven’t heard a song by Tracy Chapman for probably 20 years. After her performance at the Nelson Mandela 70th Tribute Concert in 1988 she became a huge star in East Germany and then I loved her. I had forgotten about her – until today when a street musician in Brighton played her song “Fast Car”. I stopped and listened to the lyrics which I didn’t understand 20 years ago not only for lacking language skills and strangely, they were so close to me: You got a fast car / And we go cruising to entertain ourselves / You still ain’t got a job / And I work in a market as a checkout girl / I know things will get better / You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted / We’ll move out of the shelter / Buy a big house and live in the suburbs / You got a fast car / And I got a job that pays all our bills / You stay out drinking late at the bar / See more of your friends than you do of your kids / I’d always hoped for better / Thought maybe together you and me would find it / I got no plans I ain’t going nowhere / So take your fast car and keep on driving.

family warmth

On my daily morning walk to Tufnell Park tube station I pass through an old narrow street which leads to a social housing unit showing some architectural eccentricities; a couple of oddly shaped conservatories, inwardly even more oddly designed are stringed together in however quite a charming and little metropolitan way. Passing by, I always encounter the same people. There is a blond woman, slightly aged but still strikingly attractive and stylishly dressed, leading a blond boy on her one hand, in the other a pushchair containing a girl; she appears to be stressed and over-worked. There is this woman with the slightly bloated face, looking somehow miserable but not disillusioned as if hoping for better to come. I miss the teenage girl I used to see who was always on her mobile, a gruff, swearing girl of a similar type like the main character in the film Fish Tank; I later saw her in a nurse uniform and was somehow relieved so as if one didn’t need to worry about her anymore. But of all my morning ‘acquaintances’ I like most a father and his little son cycling by. They speak Spanish, and they would often speak with each other, entertaining stuff as it looks, and sometimes they laugh with each other, the father in all his mildness, the son with a bright little voice, the father on the front seat, the son on the back seat. They convey this warm feeling of an intact family in which everyone seems to be protected against the evil of the world.