Winter 1961 • Vol. XXIII No. 1 FictionJanuary 1, 1961 |

Distances from Berlin

I met Julian first, and Erich afterwards. Both however, were long since familiar: Johannesburg conversation pieces, and, as it were, objects of pilgrimage. For a certain contingent in the city, I was myself an object of pilgrimage. I had a collection of recordings from the high period of German cabaret, and to my flat on Clarendon Circle came the nostalgic, the acquisitive, the salacious. Berlin refugees of nearly thirty years, they all had the gentle eyes, the uncompetitive concern for comfort, of those who know how the world ends. But I should not like to represent them merely as helpless with Heimweh nach dem Kurfürstendamm. Each in his way had come to terms with the land of his adoption. Here, a principle of polarity motivated them. Aggressive businessmen—in their reminiscences the old drive returned—had become phlegmatic headwaiters. Former headwaiters operated as tax consultants. Professors and journalists, refusing to learn either English or Afrikaans, grubbed ou

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