Zigzag to Berlin

On departing Dalston Junction last Saturday, I mismanaged my packing so badly I alighted the Eurostar on the station master’s whistle. My violent, sweating omnishambles of a departure saw my finest cotton’s stuffed into Sainsbury’s bags and an elderly Australian couple trampled upon at the platform.

Any romantic notion I had of travelling across Europe by rail evaporated at passport control. I could barely breathe for stress and fatigue. Everything had gone smoothly until that point – freelance tasks, new clothes, storage, doctor appointments, dentist bills, direct debits, and craft beer goodbyes.

My packing mismanagement aside, I loved my continental train journey and miles and miles of leg room. Going on a first-class time machine through spicy red forests you feel part of something bigger; no longer marooned by shoals of mackerel, herring and cod. Moving over land is the best way to travel if you have time to spare.

Before I arrived at St Pancras, I had been on standby in an AirBnB flat with bourgeois professionals I can barely remember. I have no patience for fake relationships nowadays. London is like Zurich with arts and entertainment; terminally transactional with its rising rents and contactless pubs, the glittering skyline throws down light onto the roadbed below.

With Dalston now a distant din, I will keep moving forward until I am forced to come back for the bread. Now deep into the orange fall, the spectre of Soviet socialism is all around me. In the face of strangers and city lights, I zigzag past the Berlin Wall everyday and have frequently gone the wrong way since my arrival.

I have no idea how I managed to get this far.


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