Moving & Decorating Frenzy.


So, I moved to Berlin. As a consequence, I found myself living with misplaced pieces of furniture and boxes, boxes, and boxes. Big boxes, small boxes, boxes containing other boxes, heavy boxes, really heavy boxes, and light boxes, boxes filled with books, lots of books, all of them to be alphabetised, I warn you, there are more authors with M than you might think, which you only realise when you’ve just successfully decorated the space between N and O, Neruda and O’Casey, and then you’re handed a box with more Mann, you had forgotten all about Thomas Mann’s letters, all of them, three big volumes, and hey, there is Golo Mann and Heinrich Mann and Klaus Mann, too, what did this family ever do besides writing, and if this wasn’t enough, all kinds of wrapped stuff was hindering my way to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the front door, to the bedroom, to the washing machine, to the balcony and off the balcony, I was going mad. Really. It took a lot of soothing Niederegger Marzipan and Lenôtre cakes from KaDeWe, Berlin’s fanciest department store, to survive it. You see, little did I know that unpacking these boxes would cause even more chaos. What to do with all this stuff you strangely acquired over the years? Where to put it? And why do you have to dust things you’ve just unpacked? And why is there always more of it? More things, more dust. But somehow I managed. My kitchen cabinets were very welcoming. But mostly because my 75-year old mother helped me. She’s a great organiser. She would have made it big in the military, she would have been made general in a week or so. Now, she’s gone home, advising her gardeners on how to garden her garden. And I am living in an apartment that almost looks like one. Thanks, Mummy!


It runs in the family.


In the early 1980s, a close friend of my mother’s owned a boutique, selling mostly Jil Sander, long before the Pradas had cast an eye at the brand, when the Hamburg flagship store was still on Milchstrasse, a paradise lost with the most stylish windows, and years before Jil Sander did menswear. But I digress. My mother’s friend Angelika is a woman of exquisite taste, she drove a vintage Rolls-Royce at that time, a 1972 Silver Shadow, dark green, I’ll never forget its backseat, that supple leather, one just dove into softness, it actually breathed luxury, although unlike the 1954 Bentley Type R of Luca Turin’s stepfather, it didn’t smell like Chanel’s Cuir de Russie. Well, you can’t have it all. But I digress again. In Angelika’s boutique, there was no cash desk, she had a Biedermeier secretary instead, very old Biedermeier, from the 1810s, an adjustment to her interior design notion, where she sat down to sip her tea, write her bills, stuff the cash into one of the drawers, and take a new pack of cigarettes from another one. When she closed the store and stopped selling Jil Sander’s various shades of beige, some twenty years ago, I got this beautiful piece of furniture, it had a hard time moving with me from one apartment to another, it lost most of its ivory knobs, got bruised and kicked, but I wouldn’t want to live without it, to me it’s a piece of family history, a most treasured heirloom indeed.