Ladeez und gentlemen, wilkommen in Berlin, a city of grand grafitti and decadent dog dirt, big cakes and long sausages; a city that loves to shove a stiff finger at the establishment yet tut tuts if a pedestrian crosses the road willy nilly on a red Ampelman. Other paradoxes: it’s bad form to woop like a demented banshee at the Berliner Philhamonik but absolutely de rigeur to let rockets off in the hand or better still, chuck them at unsuspecting passers-by. Shabby chic is very big in Berlin, although, I have to say, in East Kreuzberg, it’s more shabby than chic and quite often, positively dangerous. Take C’s apartment; we had to stick rows of Handiman pocket tissues on all the door lintels because obviously the Berliners of 100 years ago were Liliputian and big strapping gels from England had not yet been invented. C’s bathroom was quite a challenge too. The toilet and wash facilities were, for some odd reason, separated only by a waist high wall and a plastic curtain and, since the shower was accessed via an uncloseable door to the kitchen, it was possible for three people to simultaneously eat, poo and wash while keeping up a lively conversation. The ‘bath’ was also obviously designed for a person of reduced stature, quite possibly a gymnast. It was a little like a hip bath but as there was no plug, the only way to wash was to lie back with bent knees and wave the hand-held shower up and down until all bits were cleansed. Unfortunately, I never worked out how to turn over safely to do my back parts and I couldn’t stand up because my size 8s wouldn’t fit into the flat part of the bath unless I had one foot in directly in front of the other, Egyptian style, which rendered me unstable and likely to topple over the small wall and into the toilet. The sleeping arrangements too were a tad unconventional. While I was sleeping in the living room, C’s bed was a bunk bed in the walk-in wardrobe next door with a high up picture window that overlooked the living room. For privacy, C had festooned this handy portal with a nifty little curtain made of J-cloths which he took great pains to draw every evening and open every morning. My first morning in Berlin, C and I went on a wander through the local park to marvel at the drug dealing, to the Tempelhof where they’re growing vegetables on the disused runway and to admire a rather fine urinal that was wonderfully clean and had some intricate tiling on the splash back. Later on I took a bite of C’s Currywurst (anaemic sausage drenched in chemical sauce) which is quite possibly the WURST thing I’ve ever tasted – if you don’t count the ‘pizza’ I once ordered in Turkey that was so inedible, it made me gag although being British, rather than complain, I folded it over and walked out of the restaurant with it under my arm like a clutch bag. More to come…..