I had some time to kill the other night, so I walked up and down Bülowstrasse. It’s in the Schöneberg area of Berlin, where Albert Einstein, Hans Fallada and David Bowie all lived at some point.
It was only 7 o’clock, so I was surprised to see prostitutes lining the streets so early. There were six of them. Two emerged linking arms from a shop before separating to take up position.
They weren’t anything like the prostitutes at Hackescher Markt who are both glamorous and absurd in their identical fishnet tights, baby-pink corsets and furry boots.
These women looked eastern European. They didn’t have a uniform, but they were all wearing plastic strappy high-heels; the kind you’d find in a basement store in the Ilac Centre in Dublin, full of artificial light and pumping music.
The youngest of them had brown hair, very narrow shoulders and was wearing denim hot-pants. She had earphones plugged in while trying to hail down cars.
The oldest woman wasn’t bothering to show her legs. She was dressed casually in jeans and a leather jacket. She had reddish-brown hair and looked bored.
The woman whose face I can’t forgot was standing near a lamppost supporting a campaign poster for Germany’s neo-Nazi NPD party. It featured a fish-bowl picture of an old lady under the slogan: “Geld für Oma statt Sinti und Roma.” (“Money for Granny, not the Sinti and Roma”)
The woman had her hair scraped back into a ponytail. She was performing her job awkwardly – trying to hail down cars by forming a stop sign with her hand, like a police officer would do to check a driver’s insurance.
Tears were running down her cheeks.
No one stopeed but she kept on sticking her hand out at the passing cars.