Versal is participating at a special event this weekend at the Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore. If you happen to be in Berlin, come on down for literary discussions, drinks, and a special reading from Versal 9 by yours truly. Harriet Lee and Rosa Rankin Gee from Her Royal Majesty and Tale of Three Cities will be there, as well as Paravion Press, Paul Rekret from the University of Richmon, London, and musician Edward Dowie. Should be a cracking evening.
It almost didn't happen. My being in Berlin I mean.
I'm a terrible expat. I've been abroad for about 9 years and I have not taken a train ride to Berlin. In fact I've never been to the city. This is particularly shameful because–although my olive skin and Mediterranian features would suggest otherwise–my mother's side of the family is German. German Lutherans.
So I was more than excited–a bit giddy actually– to wake up yesterday at 5 a.m. and catch the ICE 141 to Berlin from the Amsterdam Amstel.
Can you imaging how deflated I was to discover that every train in the city was cancelled?
You didn't read that wrong. Every train.
Needless to say there were a lot of angry and frustrated people trying to get their trains. I was sent to Bijlmer Arena to catch a bus to Utrecht where I was assured I could catch the ICE, only to find large, swarming crowds of people trying to catch the same bus. The closest I've seen to a fight in Amsterdam was when an out of service bus going direct to Utrecht Centraal arrived and everyone pulsed forward in a huge wave. Madness I tell you.
Eventually I ended up in Amersfoort waiting for the ICE. I arrived in Berlin five hours late. As soon as I could I dropped of my bags at my friends apartment (I have a big stack of Versal copies to sell at the event) and hit the city.
Being the guy I am I went in search of a bar. This area is full of the big, spacious bars I tend to shy away from.
Why would I want a lot of light and fresh air?
Instead, I found the smokiest townie bar I could and plunked myself down on the barstool. I pulled out my copy of Wittgenstein's Mistress, ordered a .5L, and got down to the dirty business of being an alien without the language in the land of my ancestors.