On perfectionism

Today, walking back through town from a meeting, I was asked about my course, what it involves, why I’m doing it etc etc etc.. Meandering further, we moved onto work in general, and where I work in particular. Work is a difficult topic for me at the best of times, and inevitably I started complaining about some people I work with (but pretending not to*) when the guy I was talking to stopped me and said this:

“You know what? It sounds like you’re a perfectionist. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it probably means you’re really hard to work with.”

He’s someone whose opinion I value, so I think I have something to chew on for a while….

* apparently less effectively than I’d hoped…

On yelling

Early evening. Dark, except for a few streetlights. A couple with a dog. Walking.

Behind them, at the far end of a side street 2 figures can just about be made out in the shadows.

Yelling. Shouting. Mean words, angry voices. Screams. “Help!” Shrieks. “Help! Let go of me! Help! He’s going to kill me! Please help me!”

One of the figures starts running, followed by the second, arms raised and flailing. The shouting continues.

The couple stops, listens, looks at each other, turns around, begins walking towards the screaming. Purposefully, intentionally, with racing hearts but level heads, unintentionally confusing the dog.

When they reach the figures, they’ve stopped screaming. Stopped flailing. They’re walking together, laughing at a private joke.

The man, cool up to the moment, loses his cool, yells at the laughing teenagers on their way back from football training, tells the dog “heel”, tells the boys that the next time the wolf might be real, that there might really be a situation requiring help from a passerby. That they should never risk lessening the power of calling for help.

The boys laugh, scowl, walk home together.

Hopefully, they didn’t stop learning when they left the field.


I don’t particularly like dogs, and I get really annoyed with DB’s dad’s dog who we’re looking after again, because he’s incapable of walking on one side of the pavement at the same speed as I’m going, and also because we have to reduce our walks, to cater for his decrepitness.

This morning, on a short walk through the woods, involving stopping to sniff every tree, I told DB off for yelling at the dog.

This evening, on a short walk through the housing estate, I told him I was proud of him for yelling at two kids.

Do I place kids below dogs? No. I’m not nearly German enough for that. I just really think civilisation needs people to respect cries for help, and not mess about when there’s no problem.


On walking not driving

DB isn’t a natural walker. He says his legs are too short. He’d rather drive. I used to walk or cycle all over the place when I lived by myself, but since moving here I have allowed myself to become lazy.

Naja, as a by-product of my many problems and consequent doctors’ visits, we have taken up walking round the ‘village’* every other evening. Recently we’ve been increasing the distance. I’m finally learning my way round, and it’s nice to be more mobile, especially when the weather’s so good.

This afternoon we did something very strange.

We walked to the supermarket.

It’s a good half hour’s walk from our house, and we’ve never walked there before. I have by myself, but never together. Still, there’s a first time for [almost] everything….

After buying more than was on our list, and more than fit in our bag, we set off towards his parents’ house; DB with a bulging rucksack and me hugging a box of goodies and swinging a litre tub of rice pudding. It’s not exactly en route, but we needed to talk to them anyway and there was a good chance of getting a coffee.

The old men on the corner “fell off their religion” as they say here. They couldn’t believe DB was walking of his own free will. They asked if the car had broken down, or if we couldn’t find anywhere to park.

“Times change” said DB and shrugged.

200 metres later, the next incredulous onlooker asked what was going on.

It seems DB is well known, but not as a walker.

We drank our respective teas and coffees, and ate our biscuits, and looked at the fish.

When we got up to leave, DB’s mother asked if we wanted a lift back.

Anyone would think we lived more than 10 minutes away…..

*our part of Berlin…

On walking the last miles home

It’s very strange to be walking back to somewhere that in a few hours will no longer be ‘home’.

I left the party just before midnight, walking the stretch of road from the station to my flat.

At just gone midday I was on the road with the last of my possessions on the way to Berlin.

12 hours can make a huge difference.

Even if I go back to visit, even if I get off at the same station, I can’t see any reason why I would walk that stretch of road. Even if I do, I wouldn’t be going ‘home’.