The Fall of the Berlin Wall, November 9th 1989
In the summer of 1983 I went with a flat-mate on a trip to Berlin, mainly because it was the cheapest city in Europe to fly to, and at that time, flying was very expensive. We found a wealthy, cosmopolitan German city. Of course, we wanted to see the wall, so we walked though a wood in a park until we stumbled on it: smooth concrete, with a rounded top, and covered in graffiti. The west Berlin authorities had built observation towers so that tourists like us could take a peep over, so up we climbed. I still remember my shock when I reached the top: beyond the smooth concrete we saw the trenches, barbed wire, guard dogs and sentry towers. West Berlin suddenly felt very different - like a prison, though, of course, it was the other side that was the prison. During our visit we obtained a 1-day visa to visit the East, and again, I still have very strong impressions of that day: the weirdness of being in a place with no adverts. Not to mention no bars, cafes or shops. The only shop I remember finding was a Marxist-Leninist bookshop. So much for my reminiscences. Six years later, it was all swept away. For a more detailed, and better-informed take on those events, read Alistair Noon's excellent essay on Litter. You'll also find Alistair's translations of contemporary German poet Gunter Kunert.