I’m sitting in a bar with a friend, just a few hundred metres from a stretch of remaining Berlin Wall that flanks the river on this side of town. It’s late October, it’s well past dusk, and the rain that has consistently fallen since I arrived in this city is busy reflecting and animating the electric lights of surrounding buildings, passing cars, and the occasional glare of the overhead trains that intermittently rumble past our window. My first impression of this city is that it is hard, brutal, monochrome. Why then do I instantly feel comfortable here?
The bar is ambiguously lit, allowing each table complete anonymity amongst the dark corners of the room. I laughingly describe the décor as ‘heroin-chic’; it is stark and decaying. This isn’t my usual type of haunt, but I do find comfort in it. The graffiti that has grown like wild ivy outside, consuming concrete and metal, appears to have spread its way in through the doorway and infected every aspect of the building with its imperative to communicate. It’s ugly; it’s unflinching; it’s reassuring. It says that Berlin is owned by its people, not by statesmen or sterile corporations.
Adrian Sturrock is a writer, occasional musician, teacher, and ethnic minority (except when in Wales), specialising mostly in observation and unconsidered opinion. He currently lives in Buckinghamshire, England, with wife, Natalie: his travel companion best friend, and the person responsible for keeping him out of trouble on social media. Adrian has written articles for a variety of online publications, as well as having excerpts of his poetry/lyrics displayed alongside those of Benjamin Zephaniah in Luton Town Hall. His first book, The Sat Nav Diaries has achieved a string of 5-star reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, resulting in it being nominated for the 2018 Kindle book Awards. His second book, RANDOM, is due for release in February 2019.