Tuesday 16 February 2010

The Ragtime Infantry

Mention Berlin, and many of us will picture things which no longer exist: the Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler's bunker. 34% of the city's buildings were destroyed during the Second World War, which is why Berlin proves in extremis that cities are palimpsests.

Later this week, my wife will be speaking at an international bat conference, leaving me to tour war memorials and the intriguingly-named Anti-Kriegs-Museum. Here is the soundtrack to the visit:

We are Fred Karno's army, we are the ragtime infantry.
We cannot fight, we cannot shoot, what bleeding use are we?
And when we get to Berlin, we'll hear the Kaiser say,
'Hoch, hoch! Mein Gott, what a bloody rotten lot are the ragtime infantry.'


  1. Tokyo is a city much more in extremis. 16 sq miles were destroyed in one night. Europe only ever manages to look new to Europeans.

  2. Who are you calling a European? Cheeky tyke!