WARNING! You are now reading a lengthy intro!
My thoughts these days are often drifting to Berlin. Ha! If you think that is because RA is filming in the German capital, you are wrong. Since dear old Richard is making himself very scarce, and scarcely creates any tweeted diversions, his current project Berlin Station is only on the margins of my mind. Instead, I am looking forward to not one, but two trips to Berlin this year. I am surprised myself. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would come to like that city so much. For most of my life I thought that Berlin was grossly overrated.
I confess, I had formed that opinion *before* I ever visited Berlin. It merely rubbed me the wrong way that Berlin was *always* considered something special. Even during the – admittedly rather boring – pre-reunification times. Berlin always enjoyed special status – as an enclave, West-Berlin was an “island” city, surrounded by East Germany. As such, bizarre exceptions were applied to Berlin, which included, for instance, the lack of an official closing time for bars and pubs (responsible for Berlin’s reputation as a great place for nightlife), as well as excluding male Berlin residents from being drafted into the West-German army. It was given what we call in German Extrawurst (literally “extra sausage”) – or special treatment. I sniffed at that.
The first time I visited Berlin was only six years ago, on a long summer weekend, with Mr Guylty. We arrived at lunchtime, dropped our bags in our accommodation and immediately jumped on the U-Bahn (underground) to go into town. When we surfaced from the underground, my breath was nearly taken away: We emerged right in front of the Brandenburg Gate, the 18th century triumphal arch that has come to symbolise Berlin, much like Big Ben does London, or the Eiffel Tower does Paris. And despite summer heat of over 30°C, I felt goosebumps running up my spine, and tears pooled in my eyes. There was the Gate, a sight I grew up for 19 years to believe that it was unreachable, basically a no man’s land, inaccessible from the West, and a prohibited zone for the East-Berliners. Standing there, 20 years after the wall had come down, brought it home to me that Germany really was unified. Berlin elicits strong emotions from me – maybe that is why I do not find it overrated anymore, but a vibrant, exciting place I would not hesitate to move to.
That’s a very long introduction to a shrine post, you may think. Well, it leads into the explanation why today’s shrine container came into my possession. The image above is well-known in Germany – the Brandenburg Gate, obstructed by the “anti-fascist protective wall”, seen from West Berlin. The sign reads “Warning – you are now leaving West-Berlin” and harks back from the time when the wall did not yet exist (it was erected overnight in August 1961) and traffic between the Russian and the British sector of Berlin was still possible. Why the sign was never demolished after there was obviously no point anymore for the warning, I don’t know. Maybe it was left symbolically, or as an expression of West Germany’s refusal to accept the separation of Berlin and of the country as a whole. In any case, it became an iconic sign, and when I saw it in a souvenir shop on a subsequent Berlin visit a few years ago, I had to have it. I have carried it with me for the last few years, in its original function as a mint tin. But now the time has come to say good-bye to it, and give it a new lease of life as a RAPS.
Phew, you have made it. My lengthy explanation is over, let’s get to the RAPSean nitty-gritty. Here is the little icon, posing with two other Berlin souvenirs:
It’s a small tin, only 6x4cm in size. But hey, the contents are still a sight for sore eyes…
Someone is clearly hiding – but enjoying himself, snuffing and smiling, fluffing some feathers?
Yes, Mr A’s shenanigans with colleague Michelle Forbes have made it into a shrine. It was just too good a candid image to let pass.
Sorry, Michelle, you are being obstructed by some fluffy feathers – after all this is a fan love facilitator that focuses on Mr A only. But many thanks for taking that selfie and sharing it with us! The Armitage Army approves whole-heartedly of the accompanying statement. ®🅰️=☁️😇
Here’s a better look at the bottom of the shrine – with RA having some cycling fun and Daniel Miller doing his spy thing…
And if you strain your little eye you may spy
something someone else…
So, first he took Manhattan, now he takes Berlin…
This shrine, btw, is going to Berlin. I have designated it for my so-called “RL RA friend” D___, with whom I have been to the Berlin premiere of DOS, and who graciously accompanied me to the Crucible SD in 2014. No worries, the surprise is not blown. D___ does not read here, she is more sensible than that 😄. I hope she will like it as much as she likes Berlin.
Myself, I part gladly with the trusty tin. I have plenty of others in my stash, should I need to replace it. And I cannot wait to see more glimpses of Mr A’s work and time off in Berlin.