Love and Chaos Part 4(c) Chris 1

23rd December 2020

Berlin 2020 with the Cathedral (left) and the TV Tower. Photo by Martin O’Shea

Part Four. Berlin. Summer 1994

Chris wore a cotton top with white and purple horizontal stripes, faded black jeans and Converse All Star sneakers. Richard wore his slim-cut blue Levi’s and a light, dull-green, woollen jumper with brown, leather waistcoat that Chris had picked up from one of Berlin’s many second-hand clothes stores. They looked cool and felt cool, Richard thinking he looked a little like Kurt Cobain on the ‘Unplugged’ show, and planned to grow his hair out. Possibly bleach it.

They met Monika at a bar for brunch at the area Richard now knew as the Wasserturm, or Water Tower. The Sunday afternoon pavements were covered with chairs and tables, children running and dogs hunting stray food. All the bars were busy, but Monika had saved two seats and waved to them.

Richard had been in Berlin for just over a week and had been out drinking with Chris nearly every night. The previous Friday, The Gang had meet up, this time going around the bars in the northern part of Prenzlauer Berg, around Schönhauser Allee U-Bahn, where Chris lived. Gabi had driven over with Lorelei, both seeming relieved to be away from their boyfriends. Andreas was there with Silke and Nice Guy Kai. Some other friends had turned up, and it seemed that Monika knew every waitress and barman in Berlin and that all the women were really cute, and all the men were really friendly. Richard mentioned this to Andreas;

“You haven’t been here long. Just wait.”

There was only one downer. How to behave to Lorelei, because there was no sense in hiding it; he was totally in love. Meeting her caused all the emotions to collide like a ‘super-charged particle accelerator’ as he himself described it. There was the initial excitement that almost caused his heart to burst, the gasping for air, as the tension grabbed him by the throat. Then came the terrifying doubts, wondering how she felt and how he should act and react to her. How to play it cool, when he just wanted to go over and confess his love and throw himself at her cute, little, painted-toenailed, feet. And he wanted to kiss her so much, he thought he would go crazy.

The subject of today’s lunchtime summit.

“You know how I think it went ?” asked Chris, referring to the previous evening, “Brilliantly. She digs you. Big time.”

“But the boyfriend ?”

“No, I don’t think you have to worry. They are like flatmates. They share a bed, but make nothing.”

Richard thanked Monika for the information, before Chris continued,

“And she laughed at all your jokes. Even the ones I didn’t even get.”

“She was just being polite.”

“Oh, right. C’mon, she’s into you.”

“I hope so.”

Monika silently ate her lunch, then was relieved to be able to change the subject.

“Oh, next Saturday, Erika is giving a performance. I said we’d go.”

“Sure.”

“Yeah, cool. Who’s Erika ?”

Chris answered,

“Barmaid slash Performance artist. Does … kinda improvised … what would you say, Moni ?”

“Performances.”

“Exactly ! She … ah, you’ll see. Oh, Arizona may come. He wants to hang out with us.”

“Arizona ? Oh, from your studio. Don’t think I met him last time.”

“No, he’s cool. Little bit older than us, mid-thirties. Bit of a character. You’ll see.”

After a lunch of sausage and eggs, fruit and the obligatory Sekt, Monika left, as she had to get home to work on some dress she was making. One of several ways she earned money. Chris explained, as they took a stroll,

“Some mornings she gets up and cleans a bar, sometimes works the door in a club, sometimes hands out flyers, sometimes does check-out in a small supermarket, sometimes does dressmaking, alterations, sometimes does haircuts . . . you know.”

“How do you keep up ?”

“It’s not easy. I need something like a periodic table, like all those chemistry dorks used to have on their walls.”

They walked up Rykestr, turning around and seeing the TV Tower loom over the Wasserturm, through the trees of the park. Then a turn into the main Danziger Str, and one block east to the Ernst Thälmann park with its massive statue.

“These girls are amazing,” said Richard. “Silke, Gabi, Moni … Lorelei. Oh, man ! They should form a band. Just look at them: Moni with short, black hair, Silke; spikey, Gabi; curly, dirty blond and Lorelei’s luscious locks. Forget All Saints, it would be the hottest chick band, ever !”

“I know. Amazing, isn’t it ? I thought after Ute, that’s it. But it worked out just fine.”

“Advice, c’mon, spill; how do I get Lorelei ? What moves did you pull on Moni ?”

“Oh, it was a breeze, baby, couldn’t be easier. Ute dumped me. There I was, allein in einer grossen Stadt (alone in a big city), got a shitty job, no money, live in squalor and just lost the love of my life. Began going out with some of the Biberkopf staff after work, drinking. At one bar, I meet Monika. She asks why I’m looking so sad. Got so much sympathy … that, my friend, is how to get women.”

“Act all pathetic and make them pity you ?”

“Hey, I’m the one with the girlfriend, remember ?”

“But I’ve got no one to dump me.”

“Well, that can be easily solved.”

“Could always leak it that I was dumped in London … came here to forget my pain … ?”

“See … now you’re thinking. And that, Amigo, calls for a drink.”

Chris had taken some days off from Biberkopf to be with Richard, but was now working five nights a week, as well as occasional days at the studio. The following Saturday, after seeing Erika’s performance, Lorelei asked Richard,

“What do you do all day ?”

They had meet at a new café in one of Prenzlauer Berg’s back streets. It was the familiar converted shop space, a plain room with large, wooden tables, and just candles and ashtrays for decoration. Soundgarden on the CD player. The barman with two or three friends at the bar. It was very quiet, but was still very early for Berlin.


The gang, on the night of Erika’s show, was without Silke, who was working, but with Nice Guy Kai and one of his new girlfriends.

From the bar, they drove to Kreutzberg, Pearl Jam pounding out of Monika’s car stereo as she twisted and turned around Alexanderplatz.

Another Hinterhof, south of the river. A mixture of junk and broken furniture, some sorry-looking plants, broken glass, empty beer crates and cigarette butts. Twenty or so people, standing around, drinking, smoking, laughing, shouting.

Erika’s show was through one of the doors that led off into a basement, but was locked. It was Berlin, performances were not expected to start on time.

The Gang all got another drink, passed around cigarettes and talked. Richard was unable to get any idea of what the performance would involve, but enjoyed seeing the individual reactions, Andreas and Kai appearing very cynical, Monika supportive and Chris nonsensical.

A man walked into the Hof, alone, dressed in leather trousers, with a mauve T-shirt and bottle-green, velvet jacket. He wore yellow-tinted glasses, had thick sideburns and a four-day growth of beard. He looked around, then waved to Chris.

Arizona Al.

Introductions were made, then a door opened and people began paying the entrance and descending into the converted performance space.

Inside, the walls were painted bright orange with various murals showing scenes derived from Bruegel and Bosch; sinners being devoured by demons, or put into lakes of fire. Arizona Al was somewhat taken aback and was particularly struck by one group in a corner, showing four men who appeared to be musicians, though their instruments were more like weapons. There was a blond woman next to them, who appeared to be in severe discomfort. He pointed it out to Chris and asked what it was.

“Don’t know. Kinda spooky, isn’t it ?”

“Yeah, like, man, what’s going on ? This some kinda devil-freak joint ?”

Chris was about to mention the illustration to the others, when the background music abruptly cut out. People began turning to face the small, central stage area, and moving forward.

Erika marched onto the stage, commanding everyone’s attention. She had curly, auburn hair, which was moused and thick. Her face was brightly made-up, thick, red lips and long lashes. She wore a black and white basque, fishnet stockings and high heels.

She made sure everyone was looking at her, before walking around the stage, striking a pose, and clicking her fingers. On cue, the music began, Marlene Dietrich numbers, which she mimed along to, or acted out.

During ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’, she was joined onstage by a friend, also in lingerie, but with short, brown hair and a few layers less of make-up. They performed a mime about falling in love and raising a happy family, Erika taking the male role.

The opening line, about a young man who had never been kissed, brought sighs of sympathy from Gabi and Lorelei, and made Richard feel uncomfortable, in case The Gang thought it applied to him.

Arizona Al, like Chris, Richard, Kai and all the other men in the audience, was just enjoying the sight of what he referred to as “Two smokin’ babes,” cavorting around.

After twenty minutes, the show was over and Eighties German pop music helped to clear the space.

Outside, people got drinks from a bar area and stood around in small groups. That was when Lorelei asked Richard how he spent his days.

“I get up early, fix myself breakfast, and go back to bed. I read a lot, walk around, wait for Chris to come back, then go to the local bars. Of course, I spend a lot of time thinking about you.”

Lorelei smiled, then turned away.


Erika came up to them, dressed as she had been on stage, but with a leather jacket now over her shoulders.

They all told her how much they had enjoyed the show.

“Very nice,” said Chris, with a knowing glance at Monika.

Al introduced himself, then had some questions about the practicalities of performing, whom to ask, how much could be made.

“Yeah, don’t want to monopolize you, know you got a lot of people to see, just one more question, don’t know if you’d know, but there’s this picture in the corner, it’s like four dudes and some blonde chick and, I don’t know, it’s kinda … weird, you know, like … “

He made a gesture of terror and fear. The others had all stopped talking to hear, and see, Al’s own performance, knowing that Erika only had basic English. She was silent for some seconds, trying to process the inquiry, then she understood, and looked to Kai for confirmation.

“Oh, Ja, that’s based on an old German folk … “

“Legend. Folk tale.” Kai to her aid.

“Genau (exactly)a folk legend. It’s from the Medieval times and is from the Black Forest area. It’s called The Concert Of Grotesques. Do you know it ? It’s a great story …

Subject Index: Writing and film

4th December 2020

Seahorse Productions: my films, theatre and writing

Ao Tuong (dreams) 2020 // short film // Seahorse Productions 30th April 2020

Bad Faith 2005 // short film // Seahorse Productions 6th May 2020

Inferno 2007 // short film // Seahorse Productions 25th May 2020

Shadow Sonata 2014 // short film // Seahorse Productions 8th June 2020

Steppenwolf (2008) 2014 // short film // Seahorse Productions 15th May 2020

Waiting Fo(u)r Godard // one-actor play / Royalty-free // Seahorse Productions 5th September 2020:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/09/05/waiting-fo-u-r-godard-a-play-for-one-actor-two-laptops/?fbclid=IwAR3Sbi0dIZJSQGZOVB749tNA5YSE_zYzbF2UWwEhQX92IH8gvF3ep5ptvnY

Cinema

Close up // Iran 1990 (Abbas Kiarostami // Cinema // 25th February 2021: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/02/25/pessoa-and-kiarostami-the-disquiet-of-close-up/

The Cranes Are Flying // USSR, 1957 (Dir: Kalatozov) // Cinema // 13th June 2020

Distracted // UK, 2018 (Dir James Devereaux) // 9th August 2020

Harold Lloyd // Hooray for Harold Lloyd // 28th June 2020

Noirish Project // UK, 2018 (Dir James Devereaux) // 11th July 2020

Music

Peter Green tribute // 18th February 2021: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/02/18/peter-green-1946-2020/

Writing

Fernando Pessoa ‘Book of Disquiet’ // Cinema // 25th February 2021: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/02/25/pessoa-and-kiarostami-the-disquiet-of-close-up/

Love and Chaos: A novel set in post-Wende Berlin of a pre-internet world. Set between the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Elliott Smith.

Title page, photo by Ana Svarz // 11th November 2020

Contents // 11th November 2020

Part One

Richard – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/11/love-and-chaos-part-1a/

Chris – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/11/love-and-chaos-part-1b/

Melanie – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/11/7839/

Marina – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/13/love-and-chaos-part-1d-marina-1/

Richard – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/14/love-and-chaos-part-1e-richard-2/

Chris – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/14/love-and-chaos-part-1f-chris-2/

Claudia – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/15/love-and-chaos-part-1g-claudia/

Chris – 3 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/16/love-and-chaos-part-1h-chris-3/

Richard – 3 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/17/love-and-chaos-part-1i-richard-3/

The Divine Poet From Florence https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/17/love-and-chaos-part-1j-the-divine-poet-from-florence/

Chris – 4 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/18/love-and-chaos-part-1k-chris-4/

Shoulder – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/19/love-and-chaos-part-1l-shoulder-1/

Steffi – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/20/love-and-chaos-part-1m-steffi-1/

Part Two

Richard – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/22/love-and-chaos-part-2a-richard-1/

Chris – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/23/love-and-chaos-part-2b-chris-1/

The knock on the door https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/24/love-and-chaos-part-2c-the-knock-on-the-door/

Will – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/27/love-and-chaos-part-2d-will-1/

Firefly (prologue): https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/30/love-and-chaos-part-2e-firefly-prologue/

Firefly: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/11/30/love-and-chaos-part-2f-firefly/

Nuno: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/01/love-and-chaos-part-2g-nuno-1/

Chris – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/02/love-and-chaos-part-2h-chris-2/

Richard – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/03/love-and-chaos-part-2i-richard-2/

Part Three

Richard – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/05/love-and-chaos-part-3a-richard-1/

Chris – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/06/love-and-chaos-part-3b-chris-1/

Kurt C – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/06/love-and-chaos-part-3c-kurt-c-1/

Richard – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/07/love-and-chaos-part-3d-richard-2/

Hitch – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/09/love-and-chaos-part-3e-hitch-1/

Chris – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/13/love-and-chaos-part-3f-chris-2/

Part Four

Richard – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/15/love-and-chaos-part-4arichard-1/

Lorelei – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/18/love-and-chaos-part-4b-lorelei-1/

Chris – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/23/love-and-chaos-part-4c-chris-1/

The Concert of Grotesques: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/28/love-and-chaos-part-4d-the-concert-of-grotesques/

Gabi – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/12/29/love-and-chaos-part-4e-gabi-1/

Chris – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/02/love-and-chaos-part-4f-chris-2/

Monika – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/09/love-and-chaos-part-4g-monika-1/

Richard – 2 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/12/love-and-chaos-part-4h-richard-2/

Arizona Al – 1 https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2021/01/21/love-and-chaos-part-4i-arizona-al-1/

Art & Literature

Three poems and some Shakespeare // Auden, Betjeman, Larkin 19th July 2020:

https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2020/07/19/three-english-poems-and-some-shakespeare/fbclid=IwAR1WoY9acqpt_cOeeoXgFmYOKfJfLl73qtFO1zKJl80Luwaiop9aimgtJbo

Portrait, Landscape, Still Life (Wyndham Lewis, John Constable, Paul Cezanne) // Adult Class, Level 1 // 19th December 2018: https://thaypaulsnotes.com/2018/12/19/adult-class-level-1-lessons-1-2/

Subject Index: People & Photographs used in ESL Classes

4th December 2020

People

Alice in Wonderland (book and picture) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Archimedes // Adult Professionals. Mechanics. Theme: Archimedes // 26th February 2020

Buzz Aldrin // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Louis Armstrong // Young Learners, Level 2 // 1st June 2019

Art: Dali, Dada, Surrealism // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Asian salesgirls (mobiles) // Adult C, L 1 // 20th February 2019

David Bowie // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Isabard Kingdom Brunel // Adult Professionals / Mechanics Part 2 // 23rd January 2020

Fillipo Brunelleschi // Adult professionals // architecture

Robert Capa // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: War Museum

Captain Cook // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Tom Cruise // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Salvador Dali // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Salvador Dali // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Dali & his art // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Dali // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Dali, Dada & Surrealism // 23rd April 2020

Charles Dickens // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Fyodor Dostoevsky // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Crime & Punishment

Nguyen Du (‘Tale of Kieu’) // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Le Duan // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Bob Dylan // Adult C, L 3 // 3rd December 2019 /// Adult C, L 3 / // 19th August 2019

Guy Fawkes // Adult C, L 3 // 5th November 2019

Guy Fawkes // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Alfred Hitchcock // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Sherlock Homes // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Lê Hoàng Hùng // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

James I // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

The Joker (Heath Ledger) // Young Teens // 27th February 2019

Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Pham Nhat Vuong //Adult C, L 3 //5th Nov 2019

Scarlett Johannsson // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Franz Kafka // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Franz Kafka // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Dr Henry Kissinger // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Stanley Kubrick // Young Learners 4 // 16th November 2019

Christopher Lee // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Bela Legosi // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

John Lennon // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

John Lennon // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wyndham Lewis // Adult C, L 1 // 12 & 19 December 2018

George Mallory // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Sir Ian McKellen // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Man from Taured // Adult C, L 3 // 12 November 2019

Ho Chi Minh // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Ho Chi Minh // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Wei Minzhi // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Peter O’Toole on Letterman // Young Teens // 17th January 2019

Marco Polo // Young Learners 5 // 10th November 2019

Elvis Presley // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

REM // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Mies van der Rohe // Adult professionals // architecture

Shakespeare // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3

Ringo Starr // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

T-ara // Adult C, L 3 // 23rd September 2019

Tchaikovsky // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Theseus & the Minotaur // Young Learners 5 // 6th October 2019

Tsai Ing-wen // Taiwan: Listening Extra 12th April 2020

Alan Turing // Young Learners 5 // 17th November 2019

Vlad The impalor // Adult C, L 1 // 2 January 2019

Christop Waltz // Adult C, L 1 // 26th February 2019

Ludwig Wittgenstein // IELTS // 28th January 2019

Natalie Wood // Adult C, L 3 // 15 August 2019 \ 12 November 2019

Photos

Alcimbado // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Animals // KG 1 // 2nd March 2019

Architectural styles // Adult Speaking Class, level 2 // 9th January 2020

Art // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: Art // 13th April 2020

Asian icons // Adult C, L 3 // 15th August 2019

Bad note-taking // Teenagers // 12th January 2019

Basquet // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

John Bercow // Young Learners 1 // 13th April 2019

Siddharta, the Buddha // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

David Carradine (Kill Bill) // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Henri Cartier-Bresson // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Marc Chagall // Young Learners, Level 1 // 26th May 2019

Marc Chagall // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Kalpana Chawla (Indian astronaut) // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Child proteges // Young Learners, Level 4 // 1st June 2019

Chimp feeding tiger // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1:What do you need ? // 21st May 2020

John Constable // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

Christmas, Germany // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Christmas, UK – food // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: food // 19th April 2020

Corona virus in Vietnam // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

Countries // Young Learners, Level 5 // 29th August 2019

Cute Japanese cafe Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Cute McDonalds girl // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2

Benedict Cumberbatch photobomb // Teenagers // 20th January 2019

Daisy & Anna // Beginners’ English Part 4

Julie Delpy // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Dynamo (magician) on bus Travel talk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Travel talk // 5th May 2020

Families // Adult C, L 3 // 7th November 2019

Food: English breakfast // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Food (UK, USA, Korea, Sweden) // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Gandhi // IELTS: Hello, India // 24th January 2020

Gym equipment // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3. Theme: Health // 27th January 2020

Hamley’s toy shop // Young Learners 2 // 26th April 2019

Kitchen items // Beginners’ English Part 4

Kraftwerk // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

Interesting buildings // Young Learners 3 // 13th July 2019

Jazz stars // Young Learners 1 // 24th April 2019

Jun Ji-hyun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Las Vegas hotels // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

London history and architecture // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: London // 18th April 2020

Lost in Translation // IELTS // What do you like this film ? // 6th April 2020

Wyndham Lewis // Teenagers: Architecture & Mythology // 13th March 2020

May Day – Nigeria, Hawaii, USSR, UK //Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: May Day // 5th May 2020

Nelson Mandela // Adult Speaking Class, Level 2: Describing clothes // 19th March 2020

‘Man Pointing’ // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Market research call centre // Adult C, L 3 // 8th January 2019

Mike the Monkey as animals // KG 1 // 7th December 2019

Ho Chi Minh’s house // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

National Museum, Seoul // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1: information // 16th April 2020

Noble laureates // IELTS // Writing exercises // re-arrange poor writing // 12th May 2020

Kim Phuc // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Ngo Than Van (Veronica Ngo) // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Nicholas ‘Elvis’ (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 1st May 2019

Robert de Niro // Beginners’ English, Part 2

Pete (friend) on bass // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Pete with Kenny Jones // IELTS 5-6.5 // 25th September 2019

Poland (Krakow) // Adult Speaking Class, level 2

Ms Quynh (friend) // Young Learners 4 // 26th October 2019

Rock stars // Adult Speaking Class, L 3: Describing people // 27th May 2020

Ronaldinho // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

Russia // Adult C, L 3 // 4th December 2019

Seurat ‘Sunday Grande Jatte // Young Learners 1 // 16th March 2019

Shops // Young Learners 3 // 3rd August 2019

Shopping – compound nouns // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Shopping in Viet Nam // IELTS // 10th April 2019

Signs (Indonesia) // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Signs (Singapore) // 21st August 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 4 // 22nd June 2019

Sleeping student // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Nicola Sturgeon // IELTS 4 – 5 // Implementing precautions // 25th March 2020

‘t’ words // KG 1 // 5th May 2019

Tutankhamun // Young Learners 2 // 1st June 2019

UK (beach, breakfast, pub) // Adult C, L 2 // 27th May 2019

Vietnam // Young Learners 5 // 25th August 2019

Vietnam – famous Vietnamese // IELTS // 14th January 2019

Vietnamese folk painting // Young Learners 1 // 26th May 2019

Vietnamese karaoke // Young Learners 3 // 17th August 2019

Vietnamese police stopping cyclists // Adult C, L 1 // 5th March 2019

Vietnam traditional industries // IELTS // 30th July 2019

Vietnam war and related // Adult Speaking Class, level 3: April 30th // 5th April 2020

Wedding dresses // Adult Speaking Class. Theme: Love & marriage Part 2

Mark Wiens // Young Learners 2 // 25th August 2019

Harri Won // IELTS // 7th January 2019

Thay Paul photos

Bangkok (Al & Alison) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 3, Part 4 // 27th January 2020

Berlin 1990s // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Drinking coffee (Singapore) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

Driving (fairground) // Young Learners 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners 3 // 7th September 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

Elephant // Young Learners, Level 5 // 25th August 2019

Playing guitar // Young Learners, Level 4 // 9th November 2019

With friends // Young Learners, Level 4 // 7th December 2019

With Martin (London) // Adult Speaking Class, Level 1

With students (Ha Noi) // Young Learners, Level 5 // 27th October 2019

With students (Ha Noi) // Adult Class, Level 3: Generally speaking // 28th April 2020

Hooray for Harold Lloyd

28th June 2020

Harold Lloyd: Jazz Age Daredevil

In the early 1990s, I inherited an 8mm Bell & Howell cine camera and, with my flatmate Martin O’Shea as actor, began making short films in the East End of London.

Pacific Rim Camera Catalog
8mm cine camera late 1950s / early 1960s

We had a two-bedroom flat near Mile End Tube Station (which we could somehow afford on a student grant), walking distance to Bethnal Green, Brick Lane and Limehouse, areas synonymous with names such as Hawksmoore (the architect), The Kray Twins (local crime lords) and Jack the Ripper (local ripper).

St George in the East - Wikipedia
St George in the East, a Hawksmoore church

The area is incredibly historic, and well worth a walk for local historians, psychogeographists, or anyone with a passing interest in this less salubrious quarter of London.

The Ragged School Museum - East London - Britain's Decays Urbex
Ragged School Museum, Mile End

Walk is what we did, one Saturday night, up to Victoria Park, down to the street markets of Brick Lane and back home via the city farm at Stepney and a visit to St Dunstan and All Saints Church, where we had a lovely chat with the vicar. He was in his working outfit, white, pressed and clean … us, none of the above.

This was where we decided to film what was, I believe, our first film together, ‘A Day Well Spent’, and I think this would be Spring 1992.

St Dunstan and All Saints Church, Stepney, East London

Now the technical side. 8mm film lasted four minutes in total. The film had to be thread, in a figure 8 shape, in the camera, then reversed after 2 minutes. This meant keeping careful time, and not shooting anything vital in the dying seconds before the film ran out.

The film was silent and the camera, I believe, had no zoom and no auto-aperture; the light had to be set manually. Basically, it was a ‘point and shoot’ affair. Close-ups had to be physically close, long-shots, far away.

So, we had four minutes to tell a story, beginning, middle and end. Martin plays a tramp, a happy-go-lucky, Chaplinesque character. He awakes, on a rubbish heap, scratches himself, looks around and gets up. He wanders through the City farm at Stepney

Farmer's Paradise: an inside look at Stepney City Farm | City farm ...
Stepney City Farm
Stepney City Farm (London, England) - Đánh giá - Tripadvisor

Naturally, he’s hungry and seeing the chickens gives him an idea; he has to ‘procure’ an egg for breakfast, without being detected or suffering an avian assault. With his cunning and agility, he is successful, and celebrates his victory by holding his prize aloft as he runs past St Dunstan’s.

However, when he searches his pockets, he only has a fork with twisted prongs … not a suitable implement to eat his breakfast. Disappointed, he throws the egg away, and decides to go back to sleep.

We also had a recurring event, namely a visit from the rozzers (London slang for police). One burly boy in blue was curious what we ne’re-do-wells were up to in his manor. To see a young guy, in trenchcoat, asleep on a rubbish tip alerted his instincts. And we had a recurring escape, namely I showed my camera and all became clear … “Oh, they’re making art,” heavy irony on the pronunciation of ‘art’, and that sarcasm has repeated through the years.

Or maybe, like most people of my generation, he would have seen some short compilation films on BBC1 after 5.30 pm and before the 6.00 pm News. This was how so many of my friends were introduced to the world of Harold Lloyd.

Harold Lloyd - Wikipedia

Everyone knew Chaplin, most people had heard of Buster Keaton, but Mr Harold Lloyd was totally unknown. That all changed with a series of 20-minute programs featuring scenes from his silent films … and all my school-friends were knocked out by them. You would even hear people shout out as they left school, “Don’t forget to watch Harold Lloyd.”

Harold Lloyd | Biography, Movies, & Facts | Britannica
HAROLD LLOYD and JOHN AASEN in WHY WORRY? -1923-. Photograph by Album

Harold Lloyd, referred to as ‘The Third Genius’ was, and remains, a major influence, especially in how to tell a story by images alone and how comedy works. This photo from ‘Safety Last’ (1924) is iconic … and even more amazing when you know that Lloyd lost a thumb and finger in an accident on a film set.

His films and many clips are available on YouTube. I used to show them during break time to my Kindergarten class, and they loved him … I was able to silence 15 hyper-active kids with a silent movie star.

Happy Thanksgiving! Harold Lloyd in Hot Water (1924) | Nitrate Diva
Hot Water (1924): Harold Lloyd versus the Turkey on Make a GIF

Meanwhile, Mr O’Shea is busy in Berlin with a massive project: to put all our 8mm and Super 8 films onto computer, add commentaries and upload them on social media. Wish him luck, and take some time to watch Harold Lloyd … you won’t be disappointed

Seahorse Productions: ‘Shadow Sonata’ 2014

8th June 2020

‘Shadow Sonata’ was my first film shot in London since the early 1990s, and how things have changed. I started with a Bell & Howell 8mm cine camera, splicing film by hand and playing back on a projector; now I was working on a pocket digital camera and cutting on computer.

The title is a reference to the short story collection ‘Shadows of a Sound’ by the Korean writer Hwang Sun-woo, an author mentioned in the Korean film ‘My Sassy Girl,’ and the book plays a key part in the film. The influence of Asia and Asian culture should be discernible throughout.

Hwang Sun-won Whois
Hwang Sun-woo
Shadows of a Sound by Hwang Sun-won (1990, Hardcover) for sale ...
The short story collection

‘Shadow Sonata’ is a non-linear story of a man living in London, obsessed by an old love affair, while dreaming his way out of his depression. The topography of London helps the viewer place the action in the past, the present, and what could be the future, or pure imagination.

The Man starts by meeting his blonde girlfriend by an old museum in Walthamstow, north-east London. From the sunny exterior we move to the inside of his small London bedsit, decorated with Asian posters, and full of books by Asian writers.

Walthamstow Village - Wikipedia
Old Walthamstow

He walks around London, alone, the city appearing grey, cold, emotionless. He keeps seeing a beautiful Asian lady and feels very attracted to her … if only he could meet her.

I shot this film over two days on my Samsung W200, a camera that cost me around 80 UKP. It lasted until 2017 when it just died on me but anyway, mobile phones now have better cameras (I currently use an iPhone 6s).

Samsung W200 Full HD Waterproof Pocket Camcorder: Amazon.co.uk ...

Furthermore, I was very lucky with the weather; I had bright sun for the flashback sequence and dull wet grey rain for the present.

The was for the old love affair was played on an instrument I encountered in Sweden, a nyckleharpa:

Nyckelangelo

The dream or future sequence uses ‘Oriental’ from Granados’ ‘Spanish Dances’, while the melancholic ending is a late String Quartet by Beethoven. These small scale pieces fascinate me, especially considering they followed the epic 9th Symphony … but that is possibly a theme for another blog or film.

As always, thanks so much to the actors who gave their time for free:

Mr Martin O’Shea, Ms Michelene P. Heine, Mr Stephen Grey, Mr Alex Loveridge, Ms Angie and introducing Ms Emily Yue.

And now

LIGHTS

CAMERAS

ACTION !

The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_e3DOCT36o

Seahorse Productions: ‘Inferno’ 2007

25th May 2020

From medieval Florence to modern-day Berlin, a film shot on both Super 8 and digital video, with a professional actor and professional sound engineer / cameraman. And all on no budget, as usual.

This is a retelling of ‘Inferno’ or Hell, an epic poem by Dante.

Dante Alighieri – Wikipedia tiếng Việt

Dante Alighieri born around 1265 in Florence during a turbulent time of political infighting. He studied to be a pharmacist, and books actually were sold in pharmacies at this time.

Florence Walking Tours: Half Day Tour Florence
Modern – day Florence with the incredible architecture

Dante is most famous for his Divine Comedy, a three-part poem, starting in Hell, Part 2 in Purgatory and finally Part 3 in Paradise. Of these, ‘Inferno’ is by far the most widely-read.

The Divine Comedy: Volume 1: Inferno (Pt. 1) (English and Italian ...
A recent edition of ‘Inferno’.

The poem starts with Dante in a dark wood, having ‘lost his way’. The poem is full of allegory and symbolism, the dark wood representing uncertainty and danger, as he has stepped off the path to God and salvation. He meets the Roman poet, Virgil (70 BC – 19 BC), who acts as a guide. Virgil will help to get Dante back ‘on the right path’ but this will mean going through the Inferno.

What follows is a journey where Dante sees the souls or ‘shades’ of the dead who are being eternally punished, in appropriate ways, for their sins on Earth. The Inferno is arranged in nine circles, the ninth being reserved for Lucifer.

Dante's Inferno - Live Score by Maurizio Guarini (GOBLIN ...
Virgil guides Dante through the Inferno

As the two poets descend, the crimes, and the punishments get worse, until, finally, in the lowest circle, Dante sees the Devil.

This poem is a major work of European and World art, inspiring countless artists, including the German Gustav Dore, who etched these pictures.

Dante's Satan - Wikipedia
The Devil in Inferno, by Gustav Dore

Dante had an idealised love, a young lady called Beatrice, and her purity gives Dante the courage to continue his horrific quest.

In the film, I have a young lady (Katerina) who reads by a small river holding a lily (the symbol of Florence). A man sees her and goes to speak to her, but she goes, leaving a book behind – the book is the Aenid by Virgil.

The Man then walks through modern day Berlin, to reach his salvation.

I used the new dome of the German Parliament building, the Reichstag, to represent the circular arrangement of Dante’s Inferno, and the Man walks over, or by, several rivers, symbolising the rivers of Hell.

Visiting the Reichstag Dome – Amazing Berlin views and history
The Reichstag dome

For the crimes against nature, I updated the book to mean environmental issues; the Man walks against a skyline criss-crossed with electric wires and factory smokestacks, like Blake’s ‘dark Satanic mills’.

We also filmed at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, which is in north Berlin, to represent the unspeakable horrors of genocide, all genocide perpetrated by any nation against any person due to race, religion, sexuality or politics.

Sachsenhausen | The Holocaust Encyclopedia
Sachsenhausen Memorial (ex concentration camp) Free Tour - Berlin ...

Many thanks to my team who all worked and contributed their time and talents for free:

Mr Martin O’Shea, Mr Philipp Pressmann, Ms Manuela Fresard & Ms Katarina Worner.

All the technical, digital camera-work and editing was done by Herr F.T. Pen, and the incredible foley artist Herr Max Bauer.

LIGHTS

CAMERAS

ACTION

The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ari5zGIpwA

Live Theatre from Berlin

17th May 2020

I’m lucky to have some very talented, very creative friends, and last night, far away in Berlin, Germany, there was a live-stream of a theatre piece, free to watch on YouTube.

The title translates to ‘The Berlin Room’, and the theme, inspired by the world-wide lockdown, is isolation.

Herr Harald Ansorge (German) wrote and directed, M Johan Robin (French) was Director of Photography, while the sound technician was Herr Michael ‘Gabel’ Gabelmann.

The actors were Frau Masha Mati-Prodan and Mr Martin O’Shea, so this was a pan-European project.

The link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UT5D38yzZPU

As the video is a live stream, there is a long run-in, so fast forward to around 14.15.

I’m sure the cast and crew would appreciate any comments, especially nice ones !

Promotional writing on a Berlin overpass.

Promotion shot of Mr Martin O’Shea

From left to right, Johan Robin, Michael Gabelmann, Harald Ansorge

Seahorse Productions: Steppenwolf, Berlin 2014

15th May 2020

Historic photos of City Life of Berlin during the interwar period ...

This film, finished in 2014, was shot in 2008 while I was living in Berlin and I attempted to give it a 1920s feel. It’s based on the famous novel by Hermann Hesse:

Quote HERMANN HESSE – MAGGIE EXPLAINS THE WORLD

The novel, which was published in 1927, is a book within a book … a young man finds a diary written by an older man and it is this diary which forms the bulk of the story. As readers, we are free to choose how much to believe of the ‘diary’; is it all true, all fiction, a combination of truth, half-truths and wishes ?

The book certainly has a surreal quality to it, moving from realistic descriptions to a final sequence which seems to resemble a dream or fantasy.

The main character, Harry Haller, refers to himself as a steppenwolf, that is someone who craves human companionship yet is painfully introverted and uncomfortable around people. This dichotomy is central to the book.

Steppenwolf' Hermann Hesse | Cover: Detail of a painting by… | Flickr
A paperback edition of the novel

For the film, I choose areas of Berlin that were more historic and evocative of the 1920s, as well as selecting some ‘modern’ classical composers who were contemporaneous (Martinu from Czech Republic, Hindemith from Germany), along with W.F. Bach (who is mentioned in the book). The film plays out with a melancholy solo guitar piece by the incredible gypsy-guitarist Django Rheinhardt.

I also used colour filters towards the end of the film, as in some silent classics, indicating that the sequences may or may not be ‘real’ … it is up to the viewer to decide.

The film style was heavily influenced by German expressionist cinema of the inter-war years, directors such as Fritz Lang, G.W. Pabst and mostly F.W. Murnau.

Mr Molnar Levente, a Hungarian actor, was in the highly successful ‘Son of Saul’ film, while Mr Martin O’Shea has appeared with Kenneth Branagh and Bill Nighy in the Tom Cruise film ‘Valkarie’.

Ms Willow de la Roche gave, I feel, an amazing performance. I’m so sorry it took so long for the film to finally be cut.

Technical details: I shot the film entirely on Super 8, then had to transfer onto a compatible disk for cutting on a Windows-based laptop. At the time I was moving between Berlin, London and Sweden and furthermore, I had to learn computer editing from scratch.

And now:

LIGHTS

CAMERAS

ACTION

The link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BaPT0X-J2EY