Is it Germans who are so trusting, or just Berliners? A woman cycled up with her grandchild, I think grandchild, in a netted baby trailer and parked her bike under the tree where we were standing. We were waiting for the guy who repairs cameras, as I had dropped mine onto the cobblestones an hour before. His window was dusty and the handwritten sign promising, “Ich bin gleich wieder für Sie da,” was not convincing. Peering in I had the impression he maybe hadn’t been “there for us” in a century or more. The woman glanced up at the staircase leading into the house she as visiting. She glanced at us. “Sind Sie noch ein Paar Minuten da?”
The child was sleeping and the stairs were steep: she clearly didn’t want to have to rouse him carry him, lock everything. Oh, yes, I said: we are waiting for the camera guy, we’ll be here a few more minutes, “wir passen auf Ihr Kind auf.” We will look after your child. Oh, thank you, she said, and bounded up the stairs – actually bounded – without so much as locking her bike.
Is it Berliners who are so fit, or just Germans?
The camera guy came strolling magnificently down the street carrying a little notepad. His belly was broad and his gait wide and easy. “That’s him,” said my partner, “it’s got to be.” And we were right – the guy pulled up outside the shop window and gazed at the small group which had gathered. “Ein richtiges Kamera-Party,” I said, we’re just having a bit of a camera party. He laughed, the sun is finally out and everybody is happy. The shop is called Camera Ambulance. Just as he was unlocking the door the grandmother came leaping down the stairs to collect her child. “Danke,” she said, and I told her cheerfully, “Der wollte nach München, um seine eigene Karriere zu folgen – ich habe ihn überredet.” He was keen to set off for Munich in pursuit of his own career – but I talked him out of it. “Ah! that’s a relief, many thanks,” she said, giving her fresh beautiful smile. On the cycle ride home we followed a woman with such a gloriously high round arse that as she was pedalling I turned to point her out to him, and he was on the verge of pointing her out to me. Berlin is filled with beauty. And babies. Perhaps it is not so much an attack of baby fever as the fact that all the babies who exist hereabouts already have now woken from their long sweet winter sleeps and taken to the streets, they are strolling in carriages, towed by their parents’ bikes, sitting nodding in half dozens in the large buckets on wheels by which local kindergartens transport their charges. If you gaze in at the window of a Kinderladen (a local ‘children shop’) you will see sweet little low tables with tiny chairs set with plates and sturdy cups, at which the Kinderladen staff crouch down to sit at child level, while everyone is served a proper hot lunch.