Saturday 8 March
The wound upon my head, the crack from Krakow, is healing. Bateman and I are thrilled to find seven want-away scabs on the pillows this morning; an aged caterpillar I am finally being wrapped in God’s special, Batson-shaped chrysalis (while not a believer I cannot help but find Charles Dickens’s alternative theories unpalatable – descended from cockneys indeed!) and it is quickly doing its work. The only slight drawback, or rather drawing together, is of the skin around my left eye, which thanks to the healing process gives that side of my face the look of a timid woodland creature. Perhaps it my lupin-like aspect that allows a swaying street fellow, all safety pins and bone-thin pantaloons, the courage to insult me with a lazy finger as I adjust the settings on my daguerreotype machine. But this is before our fantastic idea to hire bicycles. With such technology we soon leave the detritus of the street far behind us, later advancing surreptitiously to give them a jolly good parp. A bell would be more thrillingly officious but by the time we are all out of bed the usual hire places have been cleaned out and we resort to borrowing a variety of models from the Circus on Rosenthaler Platz, several previously untested outside the ring.
In a recent pamphlet (Miss Jordan subscribes to the things and then leaves them lying about) I was informed that the single male over thirty has been ‘singled out’ by Dickens as unfit to propagate the species. It is perhaps one of his more acute observations and one that only adds to the inappropriateness of Rosa and myself being nicknamed Mutti and Vati simply because we have the only fully functioning ‘bikes’ and a more than vague sense of direction. Bateman, on his unicycle, insists on veering off the chosen route looking for kebab houses; DH and Larry Pekalowski find quibbles aplenty aboard their tandem and when they have both refused to pedal for ten minutes (soon after Larry called DH a ‘frickin’ clownhead’) it is no surprise to see them arcing gracefully into a ditch. If there is a degree of schadenfreude on my part I can only blame the Germans for inventing it (we later visit the relevant museum and pay tribute to its founder, the notorious practical joker Wolfgang Landmine).
Once mastered our ‘motion machines’ successfully transport us across the suspiciously flat and open city, tearing down metaphorical walls between east and west. They also accompany us on what will be my final bout of evening entertainment this holiday (the bank’s senior carrier, Doom, informing me discretely that funds are at an all time low). Appropriate in its inappropriateness it takes in gambling and a ‘biker bar’, and ends with us being beaten at darts by an outrageously wigged someone who may - or may not - have a bull’s eye. A breathless ride home along long, dawn-tinted avenues, crossing cultural bridges with Rosa.