Andrea’s sister has a small gallery in deepest darkest Nippes. A cosy space where Jana’s pictures adorn the walls. Bright and abstract and at the moment, mostly red. Then there’s the one depicting flowers that Bernd, my Tischnachbar, is totally smitten with. It’s that ganze Blau apparently. He’s got this blue thing going on. And then the bursts of yellow jumping out of the florals. It screams lilac floral and grapes to me, but to Bernd, it is a masterpiece in oils (or acrylic?) and he is still unable to decide if it would look better in that empty wall space in his living room, alongside the piano. We ponder the idea a little longer, waiting for it to start…
It being the Book Reading. Wait, I’m not sure you fully understand. This book reading has spoiled any future book reading I may ever go to. And with lit.cologne coming up, there will be a few. The book reading where Isabella took us on a journey into the mind of a serial killer. With every sentence she transforms into one of her characters. Be it the unwitting Opfer or the savage Jäger (say it, Yay-Ga) out in search of innocent and maybe not so innocent prey, and then what about the police detective searching for a new case to get her teeth stuck into, suddenly getting that call from Europol “a woman’s mutilated corpse found on a balcony in Cologne”? Where her lover from the night before lay still in bed and was oblivious to the soft steps stealing across the carpet in pitch darkness. Or was he? We sit there enthralled by the theatrics that unfolded before our very eyes. Pupils wide, nails a little gnawed, and wondering – how many personalities are still rattling about inside the head of that sweet sandy-haired wordsmith. It must be getting awfully cramped in there…fortunately there is always another book, a fresh Leiche and new plot for all those characters to live out their morbid little interplay. My personal favourite is Anton Zaubert Wieder, but a brief word of warning: Don’t read it before bed, and Keep Out of Reach of Children and/or small animals (the ones that can read, the others may just chew on the corners and leave you with frustrating half-sentences).
So here we are walking home and enjoying a Kugel of Zitoneneis in a Waffel not a Becher from Eis Café Campo. The sun is shining and it is truly an inspiring spring afternoon. Dog walkers scolding dogs for doing what dogs do in springtime (not messing on the pavement – that’s apparently ok in these parts). The odd couple of youths hanging out, dribbling around shards of broken glass on the basketball court in the kleinen Wald on the way into the Zentrum. Children’s laughter like birdsong in the air. We’re wearing t-shirts for goodness sake, what could be better than that? Like I say, an inspiring afternoon.
Inspiring it would seem for…arson!
Low and behold there is smoke billowing on the breeze and not a single sausage in sight. Not even the faintest whiff of a Würstchen detectable. No plastic in there either, well nothing apparently toxic (if you’ve ever inadvertently melted plastic spoons in a saucepan because the sterilisation unit was kaput then you’ll now the toxic stench I’m referring to). It’s blowing down across the village over to the garden centre. As if that wasn’t drama enough there are flames wilding away in the forest and a group of surprisingly amiable folk observing from a safe distance on the path. What’s going on? Has anyone reported the incident?
Yes! Someone called 112.
The fire brigade is on its way. We have long since finished ice cream and waiting with baited breath for the shrill of sirens screaming from the Mili across the Dorf.
And there it is. A green and white police van pulls up in the village. And a young man sprints from the scene to greet the two uniformed officers and leads them to the action. One of them radios (but not for back-up – this is not Tatort) and they gently trot past the barrier and control the amassing crowd of what must be, let’s say around 12 people, back over the dog poop onto the lush green Wiese.
Out comes Frau Müller and inspects the drama from her porch.
Then silence as majestic and luminous, shiny red, water-extinguishing beasts glide – one, two, three, four and a fifth! direkt an the children’s noses vorbei. Mara is with us today. A spontaneous playdate like no other. Drawing pictures and playing in the garden? Not today. Is her Mum going to be thrilled at the prospect of her hanging round the local streets watching the drama instead of painting her nails? Not likely. Because you don’t get drama of this calibre in Pesch. Keine Nagellackieren today Mara. Today there is a forest fire that must be dealt with at the end of our street and the Feuerwehr im Einsatz. Action a go-go.
The long neon hose is drawn out and connected to a Wasserhydrant. Feuerwehrmann Sam extending the hose along the road at super-speed. We watch it inflate like a feeding python and then as water gushes through the tops of the trees and rains down on that ring of fire stretching over metres through the forest. No drug rings and helicopters this time – dafür a ring of fire and five engines from the brigade!
Phew. Excitement over for one day. And I wonder whether these guys happen to do kids’ birthday parties…