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This article is taken from PN Review 86, Volume 18 Number 6, July - August 1992.

The Clue was Water Judy Gahagan

I MUST SAY straight away that I have little first-hand experience of real Walls. Walls in the mind are a different matter. Or Walls between people. But a real Wall, like this one? No.

And this Wall is interesting. It's circular. I'd imagined it dividing East from West in a kind of long line whose ends I hadn't thought through. But no, it had surrounded West Berlin, imprisoning its people and all their colossal glamour, and shut out the East Germans in their ill-cut denims and white trainers and faces full of meek longing. And their first Escapes were to 'in' rather than to 'out'. Nobody, it seems, tried to Escape 'out', in the other direction.

Then they all streamed over that fabulous party night when the first Wall-gaps were made. And now they know the glamour is all chimera and stay in and watch tele. I should learn this lesson too.

Anyway I'm here and Berlin really is the zaziest city. But I'm tempted all the time by the zones close to the Wall. There's something about it. Things stopped. Things blocked. A railway about to cross the bridge over the gloomy Spree, stopped in mid-air by a steel fence. And the roads which till last year just ran smack into the Wall itself. And the seedy little filters where people with permission could get through. And the 'Todesstreife' - dead strips. Whole stretches of dead strips along the Wall, littered with ...


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