Back at the flat, Geordie reads me the opening chapter of Max Schaefer’s Children Of The Sun. It’s a magnificent piece of writing. The novel explores the history of connections between gay men and right-wing skinhead culture in Britain. Folsom is on the week we are there and over the next few days I see gay men wearing fetish gear that very occasionally borders on Gestapo style. The thin line frightens me, it might frighten me even more were I Jewish, as Larry Mass points out in Confessions of a Jewish Wagnerite. But these men are free to do as they wish. They are at least free.
I’m starving. Schwarzwaldstuben is a cute bar/restaurant where I consume the largest goat’s cheese salad on the continent followed by some kind of fried pasta arrangement and Rothaus beer which is the nicest thing I drink on the whole trip apart from the lovely wine which I will never remember the name of. The waiter is a 9 out of 10. We see lots of these. Really, it’s not worth calling anything less than an 8. Especially in a city with trams, it’s just dangerous.
My friend Kostya was in Berlin the week before us and has concealed a postcard of Marlene Dietrich behind one of the litter bins on a corner near the restaurant in an act of psychogeographical treasure hunting. Alas it is nowhere to be found. I expect it was sluiced away by the rains. Oh well.
Next it’s off to the Philharmonie where Marek Janowksi conducts the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester through two Brahms followed by Busoni’s Piano Concerto. There is a mixed choir followed by an all male choir. Any kind of vocal harmonising floors me at the best of times so I’m damp about the eyes when the first note hits.
'What can you do with it? It's like a lot of yaks jumping about,' said Sir Thomas Beecham on Beethoven's Seventh. This kind of applies to the Busoni, which at times, I kid you not, is like Rachmaninoff meets John Williams. But it's so vibrant and unruly it eventually endears itself to you.
I have gone a pretty full arc of emotion by the time we leave, which of course means only one thing, that a drink is in order. In fact we have very nearly made it to the front door of the apartment when I hear music and see a shaft of red light spill onto the kerb from a bar with no name so we dive in on impulse. At the back of the room is a crucifix emblazoned with the legend ‘CLOSER TO GOD IN HEELS’. There is no beer and due to a linguistic breakdown with the bar tender Geordie emerges from a fug of cigarette smoke carrying €44 worth of spirits instead. Oh well, we are on holiday. Chin chin.