Paul Was Guilty Only Of Being Male.

With no hussies left in the group, Paul contemplates a wholesome couple of final days on Bachelor Island.

Germans draw no distinction between Good, Evil, Person, Place or Entity when deciding on whether to bestow a nickname. If it’s famous enough it gets a nickname. And it’s always the same nickname.

In Germany you know you’ve truly arrived when they slice off the last few letters of your name and cauterize the wound with an “i”. The obvious ones of course are the right wing political persuasion “Nazi”, and the former GDR’s ubiquitous secret police unit the “Stasi”.  “Kotti” and “Klinsi” are two more. The former signifies Kottbusser Tor, where smack deals happen in East Kreuzberg. “Kotti” is a byword among Germans who have never visited Berlin, and used by them, along with “Marzahn” (not Marzi. Yet.) in rambling explanations for the imminent collapse of Life As We Know It.

Klinsi celebrates while Kotti heroin addicts ride off with their drugs.

“Klinsi” is for Jürgen Klinsmann, one of the country’s all-time best loved goalscorers, and all-round Good Egg. His natural successor in terms of well-lovedness is Lukas Podolski, who probably not unrelatedly has an “i” at the end of his name already. His fans have chopped him lovingly back to “Poldi”

But even very heavily used nouns and phrases can sometimes get upgraded to the “i” class. “Prominente Person” (celebrity), for example, becomes “Promi”.

Prominent, incidentally, has a shared etymology with Menace. and the cutesified “Promi” is a word you hear a lot if you have a radio or television switched on with any sort of regularity. German telly, while short on promise, is long on “Promis”

And much as everywhere else these days, all cheaply makeable reality formats like house hunting, dancing contests, quiz shows or opening a shop sooner or later get a “Promi” upgrade.

Sadly there aren’t enough letters in the English alphabet to convey how far down the Food Chain of Fame the protagonists of any show with the word “Promi” in its title tend to find themselves. But I gather Sanskrit has 53, and using its last one could get us close with-

” ह – Lister”

(Sounds like the throaty “h” of coughing up lodged mucus)

Anyway, one such show is Das Perfekte Promi Dinner, which unlike most “Promi” shows very occasionally has a proper, bona fide famous person take part.

The nobodies version is just called Das Perfekte Dinner, and plays out Monday to Friday, one one-hour show per day, each contestant hosting dinner for the other four on their given nights. The obvious downside is if Monday isn’t thrilling, you’re hardly going to watch the rest of the week. And if you miss Monday… well, what’s the point, you know? The Promi version gets blasted out in a two hour marathon Sunday nights, and while it can sometimes drag, at least you have your closure inside two hours.

Which is all by way of saying that assembled to cook dinner for each other over the course of a week in Hamburg and Berlin recently were Paul, Claudia, Wanda and Florian.

Paul starred earlier this year in The Bachelor, sorry, Der Bachelor, over the course of which twenty young ladies prostrated themselves before him in a series of gossipy, mind-gamey and even flat-out slutty attempts to win his heart.

Paul is dyed blonde, and has a strangely shaped mouth. He managed the neat trick throughout the Bachelor series of portraying himself as a man of almost old fashioned moral values, but as a man more importantly trying to source his Soulmate, while simultaneously managing to avail himself, with an apparently clear conscience, of any hand jobs that were going from the more forthright females in the group.

Unfortunately, l’Amour remained elusive, but he now qualifies by general consent as a Promi.

They probably didn’t, but then again, neither of them is terribly picky.

Claudia is a lady in her fifties who makes lots of money selling expensive things to other ladies in their fifties. She spends this money on shoes, sparkling wine and new dresses. She also admits that a portion of her wealth gets used to entice young men to eat dinner and, for all we know, maybe even have sex with her. Having sex is a subject close to Claudia’s heart. Other than the spiritual enrichment to be derived from Shopping, there doesn’t seem to be much else she likes discussing.

Wanda finished fourth in Heidi Klum’s modeling reality show some years back and still gets a bit of work doing all sorts. Underwear, voice overs, appearances. Her boyfriend is perhaps a photographer.

Florian is an actor, from a family of actors, which by rights should give him some kind of Promi Royalty status in Germany. I had never heard of him before, but he was the only one of the group you felt might have wrestled with the proposal from his agent that he do Promi Dinner. Although as noted, Promi Dinner does land the occasional Big Fish, so he doubtless reconciled himself to the gig by casting himself in this role.

Claudia’s till now moderately filthy joke is about to become unacceptably filthy.

The tone was set from the off as Claudia scattergunned racy mouthfuls across the table on the first evening at Paul’s. Unsure at how to proceed, Wanda and Paul looked to Florian for guidance, from whom none was forthcoming. Half heartedly they attempted to breezily deflect or politely ignore base statement after base statement, but Claudia wanted replies in kind.

Depending on the day of the week, she liked either Paul or Florian. Paul’s youthful energy was held up as her Ideal on the Tuesday, but by Wednesday evening he was so much stripling to Florian’s cultured, Bond-like cigar aficionado. Then she liked Paul better again. Wanda was under her radar.

Florian tried to keep out of things, prepared only to hazard a guess that maybe sometimes Claudia cried in private. Wanda thought a person who talked so much about sex couldn’t be getting any. Paul was intrigued and repulsed in equal measure by the whole business. His chief complaint was that Claudia insisted on continually crossing the line of good taste that separates Acceptably Smutty Banter from I’m Just Going To Get My Coat.

Of course Claudia couldn’t have known Paul’s precise threshold for such stuff, but she had surely seen an episode or two of his show. One of Paul’s suitresses, Katja, had made it to the final three with a similar Modus Operandi-

Intrigue, Repulse, Jack Off In A Beach Hut.

Across the table in Claudia, Paul could once again see his Past Errors made Flesh, Katja with a few more miles on the clock, this time passing him the veg and trying to play Footsie under the table. And when we saw him turn away in seeming disgust at yet another crassly formulated come-on from her, surely all we were seeing was his mind replay some regretted, tawdry slap and tickle episode, and the realization on his part of his inability to know that if push became shove, he’d be spiritually strong enough to say-

“Claudia, kindly take my penis out of your mouth”.

Bad News For Mauerpark Basketball Players.

Hoop Nightmares. Spontaneous first-to-eleven throwdowns are history. Photo from

Berlin, Germany.

Sports enthusiasts who, since the reunification of Germany in the early 90’s, have met informally at Mauerpark in the former East Berlin district of Prenzlauer Berg to play basketball on its basketball court are learning today that as of next week, it will no longer simply be a matter of showing up with a ball and a “Game Face”.

The increased popularity of the park as a meeting point for locals and tourists in recent years has resulted in huge crowds gathering there, especially on Sundays, when the nearby weekly flea market takes place. It has also had the knock-on effect of more people than ever before playing basketball on the basketball court, as well as large crowds assembling nearby to watch play.

Until now, it has not been necessary to pre-book time on the court, with basketball playable by anyone who spontaneously showed up. Nor was any cover charge demanded of spectators. But city authorities have announced that as and from next Sunday, basketball may henceforth only be played by players who have applied for, and received, a special permit (Sondergenehmigung) from the local district’s environmental offices.

The Halftime Show is always popular with Mauerpark basketball fans. Photo by Simon Pokorny

This will take the form of a combined permit and rental contract between the city of Berlin and those who wish to play basketball on the park’s court. Precisely how much the permit should cost is unclear, but will be based on the size of the area in use, i.e. the basketball court’s surface area and the surrounding parkland from where spectators watch games.

Applicants will be required to enclose a list of desired dates and approximate playing times in advance, and will agree to engage a private security service for the duration of their games, as well as ensuring that a medical response unit is on hand in the event of crowd violence, or sports injuries incurred by players.

The details of the special permit also mean that, among other things, players will now be obliged to provide reasonable sanitation services in the public park, which itself has no permanent toilets, for basketball spectators. Added to the costs of the permit itself, these new conditions could mean an outlay on the players’ part of approximately €2500-€4000 per game.

Interior of Dixi Klo‘s high-end portable toilet, “The Festival-Goer Imperial Mk.2″

“It simply was no longer feasible to allow the basketball games in Mauerpark to continue happening in their current form”, said one city official.

“When the court was built, it was never intended that people would play basketball on it all day long. Thousands of people watch games there now over the course of a Sunday afternoon. This constitutes an unacceptable risk to public safety for which the city of Berlin cannot be held responsible.

He continued, “If basketball players insist on playing so impressively on a public court that they cause bystanders to stop and watch them, they need to realize the financial opportunities available both to themselves and to the city. Selling drinks would be one way of covering their costs, for example. Assuming the city issued permits to sell drinks in a park on a Sunday. Which, of course, it doesn’t. Or they could try an admission fee to the general area? Or get money off anybody who stands in the same place for more than two minutes. Something should be possible.”

Mavericks Kingpin Dirk Nowitsky is rumoured to have already block booked July Sundays for himself and his friends.

One regular user of the Mauerpark basketball court who declined to give her name stated that the new system would be unlikely to find much favour with casual players.

“I suppose if I had to pre-schedule my games weeks in advance, then hire a bunch of portable toilets for the afternoon and pay First Aid staff and bouncers to hang around and wait for something to happen, it would probably make me think twice about playing basketball in Mauerpark.

“Imagine it rained unexpectedly and I didn’t want to play basketball! The portable toilet company would still want its money, right? And I bet the bouncers would be grumpy too if I cancelled them half an hour before they were meant to start work.

“Anyway”, she continued, “I don’t see how I can be expected to chase people for thousands of Euros for watching basketball, and play basketball at the same time. Shooting hoops at the weekend isn’t meant to be a hassle”

Nobody else was available for comment.