Please may I interrupt my writing schedule (8,000 words and counting) to tell you a few things, about me and about Berlin.
Firstly, if I lived alone permanently I would talk to myself out loud and eat straight from the fridge without bothering to use a plate, so I am very grateful to my darling family for keeping me on the right side of civilised.
Secondly, I like to shop but very large department stores confuse me and I have to head for the coffee-shop for recuperative chunks of cake. Yesterday, however, I found the perfect department store – just one size up from bijou, it has an excellent mixture of designer wear to just look at and more affordable street-wear from a mixture of French, British and German designers. The Galleries Lafayette on Friedrichstrasse is beautifully designed around a central glass cone, so I couldn’t get lost. It was also conveniently having its summer sales, so I found one or two lovely items at seriously reduced prices. Having enjoyed that success, I then went down to the foodhall and discovered to my absolute joy, that they have a concession for the Laduree macaroons which are, frankly, the most delicious things I have ever eaten in my life, ever. I ordered four small ones – rose petal (!), salted butter caramel (!!), chocolate and pistachio – but only ate the first two and took the other two home. They are a pastel taste sensation. I love this city!
Then I went into bookshops and flirted dangerously with buying more books than I could carry. Next, I walked up Unter den Linden to Bebelplatz – scene of the Nazi’s first book-burning in 1933 – where there was an open-air book fair. I bought some more books, this time for my kids. There were white marquees up, with writers giving readings, and a children’s tent with books to read, pictures to colour in and a man doing a reading from a pirate-book. I also picked up a flyer to LesArt, a centre of literature for children and young people based in Berlin, that arranges literary events for kids and trains adults, whether parents or professionals such as librarians, how to foster a love of literature in the young. Did I mention that I love this city?
Then I went for a very long walk to the Jüdisches Museum in northern Kreuzberg. It chronicles 2000 years of Jewish history in Germany, and is stunningly detailed, with interesting multimedia effects that even the youngest visitors could enjoy. There is one section dedicated to the Holocaust, and this is reflected in the architecture – an imposing steel-clad building designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind. Inside, the building is divided into three axes – the Axis of the Holocaust, which leads to the empty and haunting Holocaust Tower; the Axis of Exile which leads to a garden of tilting concrete columns that left me feel nauseous and anxious and which is supposed to evoke the discomfort of exile, and the Axis of Continuity, which leads to a very long, steep staircase and the rest of the exhibition. It was very impressive, and tiring.
This morning I took a walk along the Landwehrcanal, zigzagged through various Kreuzberg streets, and ended up in the Hasenheide park on the border of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Then I strolled back to my favourite Kreuzberg hangout, Bergmannstrasse, for an early lunch of salad, carrot juice (we writers have to keep our strength up) and hummus at Knofi.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some writing to do …