Friday, 16 May 2014
WTF of the week #2: Bollards
The subject of this week's arms-in-the-air WTF moment may seem rather pedestrian (BAD PUN ALERT). Most rationally-minded people wouldn't even feature bollards on their top ten lists of annoying city features, let alone find themselves riled enough to write an agonised blog rant. But then, these people have probably never visited Berlin.
Yes, we have bollards in the UK and yes, I am aware that they are a very effective method of preventing boy racers from going all GTA on our asses and mowing down innocent folk at pavement cafes. But the thing is, our bollards make sense. They're about four foot high, chunky as hell and often have a handy contrasting colour scheme to make them that bit more eye-catching. You would have to be blind, drunk or deeply engrossed in a text rally to miss them.
Not so in Berlin. They're little here - only about three feet in most cases. More annoyingly, they're also exactly the shade of urban grey as the pavements, which renders them close to invisible when you're paying less than 100% attention to your surroundings (as I often do). From what I can see, the bollards here certainly aren't for halting rogue motorists. They're far too flimsy to be of any use there. Their only function seems to be to severely wind unsuspecting pedestrians.
About three weeks ago I was staggering through Kreuzberg in the throes of a springtime cold. The streets were full of dawdling restaurant-browsers and I was wiping the constant dribble of lurgy-juice away from my nostrils - the day wasn't going particularly well. It took a turn for the hideous when I switched my attention for a millisecond from pavement to Oli and found myself wrapped around one of the well-disguised poles. It took a few moments before I realised what had just happened, and by then the pain had well and truly kicked in. I shuffled away, my pride and kneecaps barely intact, to the soundtrack of 20 or so guffawing passers-by. Schaaaam.
A mere three hours later, we spotted a man bent double over another one of the groin-level bastard sticks, his face creased in agony as his girlfriend tried to stifle her giggles. I wasn't laughing. I felt his pain.
I don't know if the Berlin city council have decided to take a hard-line Christian stance on making each and every member of the population pay for their mortal sins with an indirect and completely random blanket punishment strategy. Maybe they've been placed there to jazz up otherwise dull CCTV footage, or to encourage the more tech-obsessed among us to pay more attention to their surroundings. It matters not. All I do know is that they are a major, and sometimes literal, pain in the ballsack.
How many more people must fall victim to these tricksy death-posts before the madness ends?
Betti Baudelaire xxx