I have a friend who teaches piano. Today she said to me, “I have two students now from Australia. And both of them are called Oliver.”
“Wow,” I said, “how many Australians called Oliver can there really be? There’s only like twenty-five million of us.”
“Not that many,” she said, “because they’re all over here.”
“They’re Oliver here,” I realised, making us both laugh, yay me.
There are so many Australians in Berlin, I hear our accent in the streets. And three of my Berlin friends are Kiwis, which means that one in a million New Zealanders is not only living in Berlin but is within my own personal circle of acquaintance. This seems so astonishing and improbable.
We were heading towards the door and she held it open for me so that I could carry my bike through. I was thinking of the election in five weeks which will hopefully depose inhumanity in Australia in favour of humanity; and how I hope all these Berliner Australians will get to the booths. I thought about our strange and resonant homelands so far away and as we parted at the foot of the stairs I burst out, “You know, sometimes I kind of get the feeling, like – who’s looking after the place?”