Amok Mama: Walking on RED

Inspired by a poetry slam, Jacinta realizes what makes a good person and a bad person – and it isn't charity. At least in Germany. What kind of person is SHE though?

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Photo by Javier Vidal (Flickr CC)

I get sick of poetry slams to be honest. I just go to so many – at least one a week – and sometimes I think I actually hate them. Sometimes I think I would actually rather stay in and watch Columbo on DVD. Sometimes.

“God, this is a crap slam,” a slammer said to me the other night. “Isn’t this a crap slam, don’t you think?”

I looked at him, and felt all cynical and bitter and stuff like that.

“Aren’t they always like this?” I said, sarcastically. “Half the time you’re offended, the other half the time you’re bored, and they always go on too fucking long.”

So… I take it all back, kids. Last night I went to THE BEST SLAM IN THE WORLD EVER. God, it was fantastic.

The idea was that living poets compete against dead ones and I might never have had so much fun in my life. And I certainly never understood so much in a German theatre, not even including Agatha Christie or Dirty Dancing. Everyone was brilliant, and the winner, Sulaiman Masomi, was even better. He was amazing. The text he won with was about walking over the Ampel on red. It was quite an old text, in poetry slam terms – three years old, we’re talking the Jurassic period – so you could still hear the anger he wrote it in, even though he himself wasn’t angry anymore.

So, of course I got to thinking of all my walking-on-red experiences. I couldn’t believe it when I arrived in this country – grown men and women, standing around, for literally HOURS on end, waiting for the man to go green. But at some point I got really integrated. I remember one time, when I was back in England, my mum walked out on red, and I gasped at her, totally shocked: “Mum,” I said,” you are far too old to walk on red!”

I guess it was having a kid that did it. I didn’t want him to grow up to be totally TOTALLY fucked up, so I had to pretend to be semi-normal, and plus those cars go pretty fast sometimes. So now I wait too. Whenever somebody crosses the road on red I tut disapprovingly and say to my son: “And he looks like such a nice lad, doesn’t he? Oi, oi, oi, oi, oi, oi. I bet his mum didn’t use to make him breakfast in the morning when he was little, that’s why he’s prepared to saunter across the road, dicing with death.”

One time this business guy walked across the road on red. Rico gasped and then turned to me, totally shocked.

“Mum!” He said, flabbergasted. “I didn’t know that man was going to be a… bad guy!”

But I guess I’ll never really be a Total German. The other day we were late for school – like, totally late – but there were no cars coming for miles around. No, make that miles and miles. Literally miles and miles and miles around. It was like there’d been some nuclear holocaust or vampire invasion or something. THERE WERE NO CARS.

“I think this Ampel‘s broken, Rico,” I whispered discreetly to my son, and we ran across. There was a semi-Penner woman at the lights with us. You know that special Berlin sort of person, who is almost homeless? One of those. She started screaming like a mad woman: “A woman like you should have her kids taken off her, you shouldn’t be allowed to have kids, what kind of mother are you!” It was really embarrassing.

“I think she doesn’t realize the lights are broken,” I said to my son, trying to style it out.

“Erm, Mum,” he said gravely. “I think she thinks you are a really bad mum for going on red.” A tiny pause while he thought about it. “And I agree with her, actually.”

Still, we made it to school on time in the end, so at least I’m still a little bit integrated, I s’pose