Christmas, like this blog, has always been a gap-filler. I like to think this weekly bulletin occupies the same place in someone’s day as a mid-morning wank or a post-prandial poo. Perhaps a short glance on the EXBERLINER blog serves as a kind of mezzanine floor in your morning, something to bridge the satisfied gap between bodily functions before the day’s work starts in earnest.
Similarly Christmas occupies a space between different stages of real life. A season that would otherwise be filled only with mud, freezing temperatures and a welter of minor viruses is given an interlude of sugary froth, poultry meat and vegetative torpor.
Newspapers also have to fill the lethargic winter months with something, and when things get slow in the holidays – if, for example, not enough people in Brandenburg have created a stockpile of homemade weapons made of fireworks – then they can always report on the state of the Christmas decorations. It has been a longstanding tradition in Berlin to treat the mayor’s attempts to give the city a more festive aspect with derision bordering on misanthropic glee.
Particularly the all-important tree next to the Gedächtniskirche near the Zoo station has become a central totem for all dissatisfaction with the regime. If there was ever a revolution in Berlin against the Senat, it could gather mid-December around this tree, have a quick pagan orgy, and start by burning it down.
A few years ago, they put up such a sorry tree that it was taken away and humanely destroyed. This year, whoever is in Berlin’s tree erection office decided to forgo the traditional evergreen specimen sent in from the Arctic circle, and installed a rubbery inflatable white cone, designed by someone called Andreas Boehlke, instead.
Seeing as it looked, well, rubbish, the civic authorities, presumably trying to be helpful, placed a gold star on top. But Boehlke had this celestial frippery removed, saying he was going for a look specifically meant to call to mind a wet piece of tarpaulin left behind by builders.