This is my first attempt at blogging so cut me some slack. I’m not a writer. I stumbled through a degree in “Peace and Conflict Studies” at the university of Ulster at Magee in Derry 20years ago regurgitating the lectures in very poor essays none of which I would care to read today( I didn’t care to read them then). Stumbled and indeed staggered through is a very apt description of what happened at Magee as I was drunk for most of the three years I spent there plus the year I spent in Chicago on placement. I don’t drink today. Thats a whole other blog. I haven’t been required to write very much for the various jobs I done in the 20 years since Magee. As I say my not a writer. 2011 will mark my 50th year and as a new departure to mark that momentous event I’ve decided to dive head first into the blogosphere and see what happens. Thanks in no small way to the encouragement of Malachi O’D and all at Blog Standard. Blog Standard is an initiative by the Writer in Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast Malachi O’Doherty
who’s aim is to foster discussion among bloggers, podcasters and all sorts of creative internet and new media activists. Not sure I see myself as a “new media activist” but what the hell. I’ve called this first blog Berlin because thats where I’m writing this. My wife Kierna and I have for the past number of years taken ourselves away for a few days over the Christmas holidays. The week between Christmas Day and New Years Day I have always found unbearably tedious at home so we try a get away for that week. Rome a couple of times, Warsaw, last year Venice and now Berlin. A bit of forward planning and It can be done cheaply enough. Furthermore, I currently work for a project that is funded by the EU under a Peace III initiative. Before going to Rome I had never been to mainland Europe so I rationalised that if Europe was paying my wages the least I could do was try and find out a bit about the place at first hand. Encouraged by the recommendations of friends who had either been to Berlin or as in Gordon’s case actually live here for a part of the year we decided to take the budget flight from Dublin and see what all the talk was about. We got into the JF (after Kennedy) Arcotel Hotel in the Mitte district of Berlin at 11.20 last night. The taxi ride from the airport was an adventure in several feet of snow and ice. The driver didn’t seem to notice the conditions and drove like a man possessed or convinced that Allah would look after him in this life and the next no matter what the roads were like. The Hotel is grand with the unusual feature of having what appears to be a replica of JFK’s rocking chair in every room. There is good internet connection which is as important as running water these days (or is that just me?) I won’t bore you with too much weather talk, but first impressions are that our German friends can cope with a good fall of snow much better that we can. I don’t expect they’ll be faced with water shortages any time soon as the result of the thaw and I doubt if there is the Berlin version of the Stephen Nolan Radio show where the citizens ring in to complain about the weather. It’s probably a cliché but this city has history oozing out of every brick and I am looking forward to the discovery. More Tomorrow.