21 july 2000
they've been walking around talking to each other in fake euro accents learned entirely from her chicks on speed 'unreleases' tape. this isn't just because they're in berlin, though. they've been doing it for weeks.
'hi!!! we're chicksonspeed!!!!' she'll say brightly as she's doing the washing up.
'i like mac powerbooks and electronic music!' he'll reply, lowering his head to get the deep voice right.
'oh, i have all these....internet friends!!!' she'll carry on as she stacks the plates, in a high, nasal, quasi- german-via -new-york sing-song.
'i'm jason, and i'm a pisces!' he'll growl, brandishing a teatowel. 'i really like computers, and hot tamales!'
it was the berlin love parade 2 days before they arrived, and the city's having an e comedown. the streets are empty as a raver's pupils, and there's a limpness to the air, like the wind can't even be bothered to blow.
they augment their new accents with things they are learning from mtv. they've never seen mtv before, but they're staying in an apartment which has 2 big televisions and no stereo, so it becomes their constant companion.
after a while they run out of chicks on speed characters to sing about, so they make up their own: mickel the mtv vj, worrying about his wrinkles; annelise, who works in pr for a thong manufacturer, bitter because her thong designs were rejected by her CEO; iannis, who works sixty hours a week on his e-commerce venture, so blinded by internet porn that he can now only get aroused by homeless men over 40; nathan, lonely in his clerkenwell loft, surrounded by wap phones and laptops with noone to email.
they sense that there's something slightly off in the enjoyment they take in talking in these accents, inventing these characters. they already know it's morally questionable to find humour in speaking in an accent not your own: it's more than that.
they already finish each other's sentences, communicating through touch and a lexicon of gesture, caress, poking, and sighs. now they encourage this by creating their own london-berlin-paris-munich pan-european universe, and feed it by imbibing vast amounts of mtv-europe.
in an email to a friend she describes herself as feeling like annelise, staying up late stitching basque lace to venetian chiffon, designing thongs that will never be worn. she forgets that the friend won't know what she's talking about. the next night he stands in front of the bathroom mirror, and notices how if he tilts his head and smiles, the light catches the edges of his eyes like ripples on the sea. he goes into the front room and asks her if he looks like mikel the mtv vj.
their voices begin to lose the traces of their englishness, the edges sheared off, consonants smoothed down, vowels rounded out. they make plans for next year's love parade. they imagine what they'd cook for mikel and iannis if they came round, and plan the ways they could get annelise off with nathan. they squabble over the remote, but no matter who wins, who gets to press its rubber nipples, they always end up watching mtv.
at home there's no remote, the brightness/contrast knob is stuck on with sellotape, and the top third of the black and white screen is taken up by electronic snowflakes. back home, there's no mtv.
they're never going back.