Berlin, minus 18

(Part of Lou's diary from Berlin.)

Having finished my copy of Stasiland I now feel ready for a stay with my ex-ECA film making buddies Tali and Johanna in East Berlin. I am hugely excited about the Berlinale Talent Campus. Guest speakers include Kossakovsky, Juliette Binoche, Herzog and Mike Leigh. And the company of 300 other 'New Talents', from all walks of the film making. For what it's worth, I'll also be spilling the beans on new films at the Berlinale.

7th Feb 2012

On arrival in Berlin the moisture in my nose freezes on the short one minute walk to the airport station. An odd sensation, like having badly mixed concrete in the nostrils.

It is -18 degrees. Some say -22. The numbing cold rises rapidly up from feet to stomach. It is too cold to remove my hands from their pockets to hold the map I should be following. Better lost and moving than still and searching. My mind jumps to the lesson of Oates, the bloke who travelled with legendary 'Scott of the Antarctic'. Childhood stories say he insisted on letting the cold kill him whilst walking into the Wilderess, rather than dying standing still. Now I understand. I understand Oates. While there is movement there is hope.

The warning signs emerge as I enter the city: streets empty but for lunatics and homeless folk, as life crawls downwards from stabbing winds to the warmth of the tube stations. 

And another observation on my walk to Tali’s apartment. Something I had only read about happening in Tsarist Russia: the city's river is frozen into little broken blocks.

Like the inside of my nose. 

After two hours of searching, following the very fast German directions of a baker and a taxi driver very badly, I greet Tali and her central heating with joy. She advises going out when absolutely necessary. Like when the last tin of baked beans has formed a layer of mould that is too thick to get a solid metal fork under it, I wonder?