Article

Berlin Potsdamer Platz

Picture postcard from Berlin: Wanderer in the wasteland

5th November 2018

I left my countryside home to make a new one in the city. I flew from Bedfordshire to Berlin. In one afternoon, the dimensions of my life lurched around so quickly that I didn’t have time to get seasick.

In the U-Bahn I can bury my head in a book and the miles blend together. I step in here, I dream, and I step out there. All the usual places and all the usual faces become a little village. Everything unfamiliar and inbetween – even my very own neighbours – might as well be worlds away.

Victory arcs, public parks
Ashen birds, weathered words
Head in the sand, phone in the hand
Cranes after cranes, midnight trains
Rivers of cars, starless sky…

My first room was near Tempelhof Park. This derelict airfield is a wasteland of unfiltered, unprocessed space in the middle of a world where distances are pulped and purified. In this way, it’s an oasis; in more ways, it’s a desert. Flat, featureless, it creates the same illusion as a lake, where the opposite shore seems close but your progress leaden.

Feeling its emptiness made my life seem overfull. Feeling its silence heightened the racket outside. If, for a moment, Tempelhof tastes like normalcy, then the rest of the city, any city, becomes unbearably absurd.

Sometimes I visit my hometown and climb hills with a smile.

The Fountain is out now.

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Potsdamer Platz station in sketch

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