Random Play by Graham Reid

The Return of Alt.Nation: Diary of a Boring Expat

TUESDAY, November 29: Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head. Made my way downstairs to station at Dullerstrasse, tall man in overcoat asks for directions and only then realise I have forgotten to become fluent in German in this past year. But he is speaking French. Am late for meeting with NZ arts councilperson in town. Rehearse my pitch for book about ex-pat’s reflections on New Zealand: working title Home Thoughts From A Broad. Not really. Should be very Mansfield I think. Strange man looks at me in train. Wait in lobby of Boozenstrasse Hotel with distressed Turks, weary Arabs and an Asian boy. Must remember to include this in next column for weekly magazine back home. Shown to room by large German man with handlebar moustache. Note to self: why do all men I meet in Berlin have moustaches? Idea for essay perhaps. Meet Jane in her room, it is room 278. Go for coffee on Ratkellerstrasse. She wearing black jacket and polo necked sweater. Discreet Maori motif on lapel. Suddenly remember appointment with art gallery owner who wants to take me to Vienna. Leave Jane with manuscript book of ideas. Agree to meet tomorrow for lunch. Exit coffee shop in rush and look for nearest station. It is 150 metres away. Walk past section of old Wall, man in uniform outside a shop, two boys skateboarding. Buy apple at small shop where I am served by a large man with no moustache. Wonder if this is deliberate? Arrive at Leon’s gallery just as he is leaving. “Take me with you,” I say, and he says “Of course”. Fly to Vienna. Good flight, nice coffee. I also eat a bun with jam. Meet freelance writer from Austria at dinner. Hotel room has red curtains.

Very strange. Next morning am late for breakfast and forget to pack hairbrush. Only discover this at airport. Buy another one -- black with a faux-leather handle -- and get on plane. Rehearse ideas for arts council. Back in Berlin to meet Jane. Busy and very interesting few days. Must remember to write this up for weekly column. After lunch of rice and egg, headed home. Went up stairs. Passed loud neighbours on balcony. Woman had a handlebar moustache. Got inside small flat. Sat down. Drank a cup. Then somebody spoke and I went into a dream.

* The usual disclaimers apply