Thursday, 10 January 2013

Berlin? No thanks.

You can just imagine the article in The Guardian. Written by some badly-paid part-time hack from a grim northern English town. She's probably lived in Berlin for a year, knows (very little) German, and is keen to earn a bit of money.

So here goes - how "the ruthlessly efficient Germans" have finally accepted that order and duty is not everything. How they're finally coming to terms with their chaotic inner self. How their tormented Prussian souls have suddenly learnt to love squalor, unfinished building sites and outdoor toilets. Berlin, the former Prussian capital (geddit?) as the new Capital of Chaos, yo.

So far, so boring, and predictable.

But what of it really? It's true that Berlin attracts millions of young people from every corner of Germany, and ooh - even Europe. People who are fed up with the one single bus that links their village to the nearest small town. People from remote places where the bus shelter is the trendy place to gather. People who's idea of a fun night out is to hitch a hike to a club (club?) called "NYC" in italic typeface which is behind the corn fields in a disused chapel. People who like hanging round graveyards lighting candles whilst wearing long belted black leather coats.

Of course they love Berlin. It's such a big town isn't it? Full of vibe (pronounced Weib.) It's cool, hey? (pronounced kuhl). It's really creative. (Posting a promotional photo of a café with an ironic garden gnome in the window.)

So of course nobody minds that the place is a tip, and that nothing works. All part of that metropolitan feeling. Just like one imagines New York, or err,yeah... other big towns.

Berlin has become a mecca for international provincialdom. And just like other towns (the promotion of London at the height of the ill-fated "Cool Britannia" PR-campaign comes to mind) that are bankrupt, it tries to turn its run-downness into an asset. Which is fine, and has already worked wonders for property prices there. Just don't tell me all those broken-down trams, dysfunctional airports,and dilapidated concrete blocks is "the Germans" coming to terms with their inner turmoil.