Mickey Rourke’s Face

Crouched on my knees in  Kottbusser Tor U Bahn station calling to a dog in badly accented German is not how I saw this night panning out. The saddest thing is my garbled cries of ‘sit’ and ‘leave it’ are producing a pitiful response. The young lad who owns the dog has cleverly aged himself by removing his two front teeth and blowtorching his forehead. To help the process further I offer him a couple of cigarettes, we smoke balanced on our haunches. He doesn’t speak English, it’s fair to say I don’t speak German and yet we communicate. There is something I understand here and there, though how I couldn’t tell you. A desire to converse and the serious consumption of alcohol perhaps offers an explanation.

I’ve been in Berlin for two weeks now, and feel like somebody’s cracked open my ribcage with a crowbar. How liberating. A city where young women walk the streets and feature on the walls, killing cats, pouting lasciviously, resting self consciously on their elbows. Where a thirty minute train ride will take you through districts full of tower blocks or hulking mansions or bohemian boutiques. Looking out of the window on the S Bahn, the circular track that connects Berlin’s central highlights, I can’t help but marvel at the incomplete perfection of this place. How the city manages to retain some sense of innocence while sporting the kind of haggard face that makes Mickey Rourke’s look positively youthful.

I say ‘chüs’ with a wave and a nod before tucking my hands in my pockets. Gasp at the cold, smile at the Christmas lights. There is so much potential here. I feel like the dog, the youth and I all belong; caught between the street art and the clattering trams.

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