If you move to Berlin in search of the great escape there are municipal parks dotted all around the outskirts, a breather space for a post war generation, within the parks lie some interesting lakes. Today Berlin is a town un-paralleled in its relaxed outlook on work, life and love, but with fishing it has a different approach. A Mecca for free thinkers, Berlin is still fresh and exciting, where many cities have now fallen to corporations and conservatism, Berlin is an oasis. Even the most staunch New Yorker’s who lived for decades in the finest city in the world have found their beloved town too stiff, the bold ones have left preferring pastrami on rye in Mitte rather than the East Village.
As the 20th Century closed a dear friend of mine Jonni had to make a choice, the outcome was a life in Berlin and although I personally lost a neighbour I gained a city, my visits over the next fifteen years were varied but always loaded like a machine gun with a shot of hedonism punctuated with calm cool and traditional Germanic hospitality. If anyone suited Berlin then Jonni did.
I knew Jonni from an early age, we went to the same secondary modern school, a school that held no real pride, the teachers chain smoked their way through to retirement, a good day would involve not getting smacked in the face, this was a prayer for both teacher and child. With low expectations we all left in different directions like a band of brothers shell-shocked but happy to be alive and free. After failed career moves and some higher education my band of brothers re-grouped in Shoreditch in around 1991, this time we were armed with cameras and paint brushes but most importantly a ton of optimism. The Shoreditch years were hedonistic and my fishing days were left behind in Sussex, in the corner of my studio rested three North Western carp rods with 55’s, no one ever passed comment.
In the haze of Shoreditch (I can’t recall when) Jonni requested that we should do a fishing trip over night, from Shoreditch we transferred to a freshly dug pool somewhere in Essex or Kent where we continued our London ways. I don’t think our angling skills were that honed and with no real focus we caught nothing but I did remember waking up in the morning only to find that we were surrounded by anglers who still kept a distance from our chaos of beers cans, wine bottles, a scattering of rods, sleeping bags and roach ends… We only ever fished on that one occasion.
Soon after I would be visiting Jonni in his new city, we would often walk the parks, have lunch and look around at the lakes that ripple around the outskirts of Brutalism. It was always winter when I visited and the Russian Easterlies made the lakes stark, forbidding, no one fished, the only sign of life was the occasional lunatic who descended into the slate grey water to take a bone shaking swim.
As I mentioned at the begining, to fish these lakes posed some problems, an exam, the language and the cost. The Berlin rematch has never been organised. Jonni, I think its time you took that exam, I miss you and we need to fish.
Happy New Year Jonni, Mia and to one and all.