Poor life choices and terrible ideas

They say it’s easier to write entertainingly about failure than about success, and you may have noticed me wholeheartedly embracing this concept in my blog. That’s not about to change; this one is all about the various acts of idiocy committed by myself and others in my last week in Berlin, as well as at the Port Eliot festival. For some context on the Berlin stuff, see my two related posts: Ich habe déja vu and Backstage Berlin.
For this week, here are some things that I can tell you from experience are Bad Ideas. 

Ascending the Reichstag in a floaty dress on a windy day

This is a bad idea for obvious reasons. I didn’t take many photos from the top, as I was busy clutching my skirt in a not-entirely-successful attempt not to flash several hundred tourists and most of the German government.
Here I am with my language school buddies, internally praying that the momentary lull in the howling gale would continue.
On a related note, it’s also a bad idea to walk over a grate in a skirt just as the S-bahn passes under it. This was discovered in dramatic fashion by me and Amy, as well as a nearby gentleman who seemed highly amused by our Marylin moment.

Trying out the weirdest available ice cream flavours in a bid to “be different”

These flavours are uncommon for a reason. I seem to have developed some sort of bizarre complex about the fact I usually end up choosing from the flavours I actually like (chocolate, caramel, mint, pistachio etc.) Under the pressure of the deciding moment, I’m prone to suddenly blurting out something along the lines of “I’ll have a scoop of frozen-pea and yoghurt/ham and blueberry/[insert other pointlessly horrible combination here], please!”

Recent mistakes caused by this self-sabotage include a green tea flavour ice cream so disgusting I actually binned it (it tasted like nettles and sadness,) and an intriguing but ultimately horrible coconut and cinnamon. I need saving from myself…

Putting sugar on chips

I should point out that this was not a deliberate experiment, but a hideous consequence of me being a bit dim and mistaking it for salt. Having found the chips disappointingly un-salty even after adding the “salt”, I then poured on more sugar, before noticing that the chips tasted of sugar. Please take my word for it that this combination won’t catch on.

This. This is a poor life choice.

Berlin is VERY hot and quite apart from my other reservations about the plastic horse’s head, it’s just not a thing to wear in July…

Wearing a sleep mask in 30°C weather

OK, so this one is more of a necessary evil than a terrible idea, but until my three weeks sleeping in Laura’s curtainless living room in the Berlin summer heat, I didn’t even know eyelids could sweat. Fortunately, my occasional insomnia has been behaving itself recently, so I’ve managed to get my 8 (or 9, or 10) hours anyway, but I have on occasion woken up genuinely panicking that I’d gone blind.

Having delicious blood

This is a particularly bad idea when combined with spending a lot of evenings in delightful riverside locations, because apparently mosquitos also have great taste in picnic spots. I’ve been covered in infuriatingly itchy bites for the last few weeks, including one on my elbow which is the size of the moon, one right in the middle of my forehead, and two on my back which people keep helpfully pointing out to me. Mind you, it’s nice (in a twisted sort of way) to know that no matter what I do, bitey insects will always love me.

We went to this ridiculously huge outdoor cinema in the woods, which was awesome – for an idea of scale, look at the man at the bottom left of the screen. However, it was also an absolute haven for midgies.

Developing a game called “Guess the coin” and playing it in public

You may be sceptical, but this is actually quite entertaining, though liable to make people think you are a bit weird. In case anyone’s interested (I know you are), it involves taking a selection of coins – preferably in multiple currencies, eg €/£ – and having someone shut their eyes before guessing the eponymous coin just by the feel of it. I’m a pro.

Whatever this is

It’s hard to see here, but there were about six people pedaling. The people of Dresden clearly lead wild lives.

Leaving your worldly possessions unattended by the side of a lake

This is a bad idea because you might get robbed. My evidence for this is that we got robbed, at Schlachtensee, one of Berlin’s more popular lakes. Fortunately, not all of our stuff was taken, as we’d had the forsight to hide half of it in a tree (or, you could argue, the idiocy to leave half of it in plain sight) and we didn’t have to undergo an embarassing journey home in bikinis. I’d highly reccomend the lake, offputting crime stats notwithstanding – it’s great for swimming in and unbelievably easy to get to from the city centre.
Here’s Laura rummaging through the bin in a fruitless attempt to find the bag, which we hoped had been ditched. This got her some odd looks.

Getting your wedding photos done here

This is mostly a bad idea because of the hilarity it will cause the many people sat around unashamedly watching you awkwardly pose and pretend to splash each other. I also ask myself why they wanted the backdrop to their new life together to be a statue of burly mermen and a busy road.

Allowing yourself to be persuaded to go clubbing, even though you know you HATE clubbing

I knew I’d end up doing this, and I knew I’d hate it, but it just seemed churlish not to even try clubbing in Berlin, the world capital of kooky nightlife. Sure enough, I found myself heading out at the hideous hour of 1am, having consumed enough wine to make me believe I might just enjoy a good dance. An hour later, in the queue, things weren’t looking so rosy. A group of mildly obnoxious people had just pushed in front of us, claiming that as they were “real Berliners” it was totally fine, and I was falling asleep. After paying the 12€ entry fee, I briefly contemplated dancing but decided that sitting would be an infinitely better activity. I lasted a good five minutes of chatting to Amy and Laura, and then fell asleep at a table, then a bench, then a sofa, finally giving up and taking the bus home at 4am.
I can’t fault the club itself – it was really cool, and had an admirable ratio of comfy seating areas to people, as well as decent music and a dancefloor that wasn’t unbearably hot. This proves incontrovertibly that what I hate is clubbing as a whole, making the ordeal worthwhile because of the cast iron excuse it will give me in future potential-clubbing situations.
There were many pretty lights and these cool veil things, as well as a pond. If it had been four to five hours earlier I’m sure I’d have loved the place.

Losing all interest in your actual subject and taking up a new one

This is just inefficient, even if your new favourite thing is German. As my travels are nearly over for the summer, I have made an executive decision to like French and Linguistics again, start revision and live by a healthy, organised schedule for the next two months. So far my procrastination from this has included starting learning my scales on the piano (something I should have done fifteen years ago), writing this, reading several classic English novels, and doing extensive internet research into topics totally unrelated to my degree. I have also decided to write a novel and learn to play jazz. We shall see how that goes.

Leaving Berlin

This is a bad idea because Berlin is great. Nuff said.

Staying up until 2am on the morning of your 4am departure

Having drunk just enough beer to convince me that this terrible idea was, in fact, a very good one, I stayed out for far too late in an (admittedly very cool) lakeside bar instead of going to bed like a sensible human. I paid for my moronicity two hours later, when I had to drag myself out of bed and through a newborn hangover to the airport, which seemed to have some kind of parent-and-child convention going on, judging by the number of noisy brats roaming around.
A bonus of leaving at a godawful hour of the morning was that I got to see a very stunning sunrise.

Baking a cake for a competition on two hours sleep and a hangover

This will result in the first cake being an unmitigated disaster, which will cause you to have a mental breakdown and shout at the cooker for a bit, and then you will have to make another cake, and then you will have to spend several hours decorating it, because you already invested so much time, and then you’ll only get third prize, which sounds great until you notice that there were only three cakes in the competition.
This cake was meant to “celebrate the Port Eliot festival,” which is where I’ve been for the last few days.

Putting on an unwritten, unrehearsed show when you’re one of the headliners of a festival

This apparently results in a year 9 drama class, going by a certain act at the Port Eliot festival who shall remain nameless. While the festival was great fun (albeit even more middle class than Hay, something I didn’t realise was possible), the “anything goes” mantra did result in some of the oddest shows I’ve ever seen. This particular one was a shambles – she had us lying on the floor making rainforest noises, having claimed that improvisation by the audience provides the best entertainment (Note: IT DOESN’T). I left when she started claiming to be primordial man. Apparently it got weirder after that point.

Performing an entire show having forgotten which direction the stage is facing

This band (Matthew and me) were generally pretty good, aside from their unbelievably awkward stage presence. The guitarists spent most of the set trying very hard to rock out whilst facing the unimpressed-looking drummer. The keyboardist was sipping from several cans of cider and doing what looked like lunges, pausing only to announce her impending marriage to the bass player. She became horrified when said bass player cheerfully invited the entire audience to the wedding.

Being the most pretentious man in the world

This is a bad idea because it will make people scoff at things you say. During a talk about food, I had to stifle my laughter at the endless streams of bullsh*t being talked by an extremely poncy chef. Gems included “Milk, to me, is a concept,” and the claim that he had to be able to look the cow that had produced it in the eyes before he’d ingest the stuff.

Being Michael Gove

This is a terrible idea for too many reasons to list here, but mostly it’s a terrible idea because children will make a mocking effigy of you and enter it into a scarecrow competition at the world’s poshest festival.
The book in his pocket is labelled “Gove”, just to clear up any remaining confusion. Other scarecrows included a floral dalek, Marie Antoinette, and “Crowzilla.”

Despite (or perhaps because of) its many oddities, the festival was great fun. My highlights were some extremely entertaining performance poetry from Elvis Mcgonagall among others, and a bizarre but excellent gig from a wolf-hat-wearing Gruff Rhys. The festival’s held in the grounds of a country house, so everything is extremely gorgeous and was even more beautifully decorated. We even got free floral headgear:

Now that you’ve been warned about all of the bad ideas, I’m sure your lives will pan out flawlessly. No need to thank me. I don’t know if or when the next post will appear, given that my life for the next year is likely to be significantly less filled with exciting adventures, but there may be the odd cartoon or collection of musings. Over and out.*  

The bonus picture is an example of French bus companies putting all their eggs in one basket. Clearly there are laws about the number of emergency hammers required by a bus but no mention of their placement… On another bus I actually saw nine hammers in a line over the window. Well done France.

*Yes, Dad, I wrote that phrase specifically to annoy you. 


One thought on “Poor life choices and terrible ideas

  1. Pingback: Everything you need to know about Port Eliot Festival* | Just an anglophone

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