Saturday, 1 November 2008

Happy New (Celtic) Year!

Today is Samhain (Scots 'Samhuinn' or Irish 'Oíche Shamhna'); the beginning of a new annual cycle in the celtic/pagan Weltanschauung. So of course yesterday evening was that spooky festival to mark the transition from light into dark, from life into death, known as 'hallowe'en. So how cool was it that in Brandenburg where we live(and in most former East German states) 31st October is a national holiday?!

Or rather, yesterday was a holiday to mark Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg on 31st October 1517 and thereby starting the Reformation. Nowadays he would have published them to his blog and poked his Facebook Friends to read them. Maybe. Anyhows, there are a lot of pumpkins around the village and the door-bell kept ringing throughout the evening. Seems fair; Germany gave the UK and America most of its Gemütlichkeit Christmas traditions, whilst the USA reciprocates with kids wandering around in the dark dressed as mass-murderers and corpses, operating a Mafia style protection racket. You give us da' sweets and da' house no gets hurt. Capiche? Though then again the Süßes oder Saures (trick-or-treat) tradition started with the Celtic folk, who once occupied most of Western Europe including Germany, and who took it to America (in the Irish, Welsh and Scottish emigrations), who have reimported it back to the European continent. So what goes around, comes around I guess. Or so the received knowledge goes (i.e. Wikipedia), but when I were a lad nay high to a grasshopper's knee in Yorkshire in the Sixties we trick or treated: turnip lanterns rather than pumpkins, but all the same.

Sowieso, we didn't answer the door-bell last night, and found in the morning that the gate-post and bell-push were covered with a sticky-sweet lemony goo. Maybe it was lemon curd, in which case couldn't they have at least left us the jar of it? It's been a long time since we've had that on our toast.

Other notable events:
we had a nameplate engraved and we have fixed it above our letter-box on the gate-post. Apparently it is a necessity to have your name on the letter-box otherwise you might not get your post delivered. Up until now we have had a hand-written announcement of our residency, which has elicited some curiosity amongst the locals. If only we had left it another day before screwing the shiny new name-plate on, because it is now covered with yellow goo (see above)!

The terrace and 'Sockel' are now finished at last! That's after about two months when the builder estimated it would be done in a week. However, rain has run down the Sockel facing in places and washed it off before it dried. The builder will not be paid until it is 'fertig'.

I joined the local library! All it took was my passport and twelve Euro annual fee, and I can now get out as many books as I want. Unfortunately, they are all in German for some reason. First off then, the librarian is ordering me a 'German for Beginners' language course Hörbuch I can pick up next week.

Yesterday was the event of the final flight from Tempelhof Airport. It has an interesting history: the name 'Tempelhof' itself is becuase it is on land owned by the Knights Templar in mediaeval times (Dan Brown take note). From being a parade ground for the Prussian army it became the site where the first demonstration of the practicality of mechanised flight took place (by the Frenchman Armand Zipfel), in the same year but BEFORE the Wright brothers. Germany's national airline, Lufthansa, was founded here in 1926. Architecturally though it is that Nazi visionary of a pan-European Germania we have to thank (or otherwise), Albert Speer, for Templehof airport's stark neo-classical-pruned-harshlessly-to-its-basics design. I admit to have an emotional response to its history and its role in the Berlin Airlift, but frankly I think it is an unattractive collection of buildings with no future useful function other than as a monument to Nazi intellectual jejuneness and later to a divided Berlin. Let the Air Bridge sculpture and the tree monuments to those who died bringing supplies into West Berlin survive, but turn Templehof airfield into a green park for the people of Berlin and let the hangar buildings crumble into a Romantik neo-classical ruin.
Here are a few of my photos of Tempelhof Airport taken this week:







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