June 12th, 2006


Caveat renter!

I'm busy these days, running around Berlin viewing apartments. I'm off to see one in Neukolln at one o'clock. The other day I was so sure I'd take the one you see below, on Jung Strasse in Friedrichshain, that I even gave my ISP provider the address as my future mailing address. The area was perfect, there was a charming Indian grocer on the ground floor, the building had patina to spare. But...

...When I saw the place inside, it just didn't speak to me. It just didn't jump up and welcome me with "Hello, I'm your new apartment, where you'll spend many happy hours, days, weeks, months and years!" Instead it said "Look, here I am, warts and all, don't be too harsh on me, remember how good I looked on paper!"

In the flesh, the flat's proportions were narrow, awkward and chopped about, its textures in the yuk-zone beyond "patina", and there seemed to be a significant risk of heavy metal music from neighbouring apartments (Motorhead banners hanging in facing windows, always a bad sign). Above all, the light wasn't right.

This viewing had been entirely set up by kind friends through e mail, and it struck me as a bit of a cautionary tale about the interface between the textworld of the internet and the textureworld of real life. There's a parallel here with internet flirtation. Don't let your need, no matter how deep, rush you into something you'll regret. The proof of the pudding is still in the eating. Caveat emptor: always check out the texture before you sign your name under the text.