Another curious idiosyncrasy about the Germans – they don’t like you going the ‘wrong’ way in an art gallery. Take my visit to the Brucke Museum in Berlin; on entering I’d assumed the gait of your typical museum flaneur, ie take a few tentative steps towards a painting, stop, adjust handbag, fold arms, cock head, hitch hip and purse lips in casual contemplation, then cross legs, lean perilously to one side and at the point of toppling, slide into an 180 degree turn, collide with a short Italian, mumble an apology sotto voce without gaining eye contact then head off with purpose to a reclining nude. Repeat. Except I was going backwards. Now when it comes to German Expressionism, I can take my Kirchners before my Muellers or vice versa and since there was no chronological element to this exhibition, why follow the herd? Because I was in Germany, that’s why. Starting at the end and working my way backwards was not an option. I was told in no uncertain terms by a very severe floor walker that I should resist my urge to swim upstream and go with the flow. Later on that day, I mercifully resumed a more jaunty walking speed, pushing a clothes rail with one hand while carrying a pot plant with the other along a busy main road in East Kreuzberg. C’s play had finished and I was helping clear the theatre of random props – half eaten cheesecake, comedy meat cleaver, forensic overalls etc. although with no car, we had to shift it all by hand. Like theatrical refugees, we plodded along the cobbles, heads down against the winter drizzle, skirting the dog dirt and the crusties with their Netto trollies full of cheese balls and New Year’s grog, past the burly dope dealer and the Turkish takeaway. This being New Year, we celebrated with a cheese fondue then went outside to the River Spree to watch the pyrotechnic carnage. Here I was given the biggest sparkler I’ve ever seen, dodged horizontal fireworks and got caught up in a street fracas involving van loads of German riot police, a mini bonfire and a couple of very shouty Turkish women. The next day, nursing a banging headache, I went to a very rousing performance of Ode to Joy at the Berliner Philharmonik. For a finale, on the way home, a man on the U-bahn played Careless Whisper on his mouth organ. That was nice!