Popula: It was here, on the U7 line, that I saw her: the Celine Dion busker
I spent an hour or so working on the same short story I’d been tinkering with for months. Despite this being the seventh or eighth draft, I was concerned that it was, after all this time, not very good. I’d initially decided to write more fiction to create a counterpoint to the faster, more media-driven part of my life, but this particular story had slowed time to a standstill.
I brewed some coffee, a little stronger than usual, in the hope of accelerating the morning. The coffee pot was one of those old Italian ones that you rest on the stovetop, where the flames lick the sides and turn it black. It also makes very bitter coffee, although I’ve been told this means I’m doing it wrong. I had to go to a meeting about some work I didn’t especially want to do so. I put on a black cashmere jumper and black wide-leg trousers, the tiniest slick of mascara. I was vaguely aware that I was going to be late.
I took the U7 line, the one marked in bright blue on the map. Along with its sibling the U8, this is one of the city’s more chaotic train lines. Its trains are crowded, and its stations urine-scented. People play music and socialise. It provides refuge for street sleepers and addicts, at least until the police arrive. A 2015 viral song, ‘Is Mir Egal’, paints a picture of the Berlin ubahn as a carnivalesque place full of mariachi bands, horses and people chopping raw onions, which is only a slight exaggeration. It was therefore here, on the U7 line, that I saw her: the Celine Dion busker.