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Five weeks condensed into three, with BILL NEWMAN


Dem Deutschen Volke (Berlin Reichtstag). Photo (c) Bill Newman (detail)

I nearly didn't make it. Imagine waking at 7am having booked an early call for 5am which failed! Then lugging two suitcases and a shoulder bag to the London Underground on a deserted Sunday morning, catching a train to a deserted Euston Station and yelling 'Taxi'. One emerged from beneath the Euston Road. Against the odds, and at a very stiff price, it made Heathrow Airport five minutes before my plane was departing at 9.20am. No go. My nearest bet was the flight at 12.45, and hang onto your luggage!

Sipping scalding coffee in the cafeteria I glanced around at the TV screens and read, 'Send a Special Message. Forgotten a Special Day? Have a groovy time!' Fortunately I saw the funny side. I made the next flight for Tegel Airport, and another taxi for the Amaryl Hotel, situated a stone's throw from Uhlandstraße U-Bahn. Hotel reception glared at me as though a counterfeit spy. 'Anything wrong? This is the right place?' 'But Mr Newman, your letter of confirmation was for arrival yesterday. We wondered if something had happened to you!' In my muddle over the last night of the London Proms, I had quoted the wrong date!

I got to Potsdamer Platz (ten minutes away from the Philharmonie) rather later than intended. The Underground train map showed clearly where I had to change, and Berlin's public transport is always dead on time. Local inhabitants pointed to the orange-coloured, multi-shaped building resembling two enormous land crabs from outer space. Both concert halls -- the larger orchestral enclosure and its smaller sister, the Kammermusiksaal, connect with one another. I was soon confused with having to turn left when it clearly indicated rechts after ascending steps two at a time Yes, platform and seating were the opposite way round to the entrance once they had you inside!

Berlin Philharmonie


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Copyright © 5 December 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK






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