May 2015

 MAY 2015

General Election 2015 & Berlin

Having worked last year as a poll clerk at the European Election in Belgravia, which had a moderate turn out, I thought this  General Election was going to be a  massive turn out and possibly a change in government. At 6.40am people were actually trying to get in and vote. As soon as  we opened the doors at 7am a queue was forming and it looked encouraging. Westminster is a strong conservative area ‘tainted’ with a large group of homeless and people living in temporary hostels, side by side. Sadly as the day developed a picture emerged , postal voters stayed at home or abroad and the homeless ventured out with some hope that a Labour Government might do something for them that a Conservative government wouldn’t.  After a long and disappointing day, I returned home to get some sleep.


The following day a flight to Berlin which got us there unlike Bank Holiday weekend 2013 ) when all flights to Europe from Heathrow were cancelled.(see blog Bank Holiday weekend 2013)

We had a couple of gigs to go to in different areas of Berlin our hotel was situated in the Kreuzberg area  Hotel Die Fabrik an old converted factory which is basic but chilled with a great cafe.

Bear in Courtyard of Hotel

Bear in Courtyard of Hotel

hotel Die Fabrique

Hotel Die Fabrique

Much walking about trying to locate places on a W/END city break, despite maps and smartphones ,it is a given that getting lost is on the menu.

First gig of kathy’s… a New Zealand bar – an intimate gig with Kathy on guitar and vocals and percussionist Nancy from Chigaco. I felt like I had walked into sacred territory a mature crowd, sat around candlelit tables; mainly from the language school.

Kathy had a captive audience . We walked in and past them as they were half way through their 1st set oblivious to our plight of having got lost and confused rushing about trying to get there on time.
A jaded londoner walks into a bar and says , is the imported new `zealand beer nice,? the owner replies, well I wouldn’t serve you shit beer would I !hmmm (  I know!!) – It’s like  Wednesday a normal days work, Thursday a very long day at General Election, next day Berlin, (a city I have visited once,) feeling a bit disoriantated.

(I have probably been spending too much time in craft bars where they let you sample beers and usually reel off a list of how the brew was made, the alcohol content and type of hops used etc!.) amused by the bar owners New Zealand charm and instantly at ease I relaxed.Kathy & Nancy’s 2nd set turned into a lively  music session, a whole load of rock and roll songs everyone likes and the dancing broke out.

We had bought a weekend travel card in Berlin once you have activated it you can jump off any bus or tube and for £20 euros for the w/end, a pretty good deal.

No barriers to go through. Why can’t we do that in London?They used to.

The following night we went to the music cafe Kathy Freeman on guitar and vocals, (who also writes a great blog as Kathy x ) Nancy Darnell -Percussion and Rob Roy on double bass a great collection of country Rockabilly and Rock and Roll tunes. A collection was made  from the punters for the band.

Like the other bar, you paid your tab at the end of the session, the barman even bought us a beer and gave me a Chinese herbal tonic!; not sure what that was but it went down alright. We head back to Kreuzberg feeling like we had a good night out again and that decadance still lives!  I was relaxing watching the gig rather than taking photographs for this post, so sorry I didn’t get any photos of the band but was seated at an odd angle behind the bar,did try a couple but too out of focus.

Check Point Charlie

The following day we visited Check point Charlie museum which we took absolutely ages to locate , probably befuddled from the night before we did manage to walk for ages going the wrong way and getting out at the wrong stations several times before finding it. Last time we were in Berlin we found it easy while we were out and about near Musuem Island. We had taken a tour bus and visited the Jewish Museum.

Outside the museum now a tourist attraction.

Outside the museum now a tourist attraction.

It’s difficult to put into words the amount of information and the politics of The Berlin Wall, so have enclosed a brief extract from the Museum webpage.

The Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, founded by human rights activist Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt, is a museum like no other; from its humble beginnings in October 1962 as a two-and-a-half room display about the newly erected Berlin Wall, the museum has evolved into a more than 2000m2 exhibition that explores not only the history of the Berlin Wall and the stories of those affected by it, but also looks at the challenges facing us today as we struggle for worldwide recognition of human rights and freedom.

Here you can discover objects used to escape over, under, and through the Berlin Wall, and read the stories of those escapees who risked their lives to win their freedom. We also remember and thus keep alive the memory of others who died in the attempt –

Extreme measures to escape are exhbited some inventive methods were made in a desperate attempt to escape

Extreme measures to escape are exhbited some inventive methods were made in a desperate attempt to escape

Some got through, others didn't.  Have a look at their website

Some got through, others didn’t.
Have a look at their website

Next episode. Hastings and beyond.

love and peace