If Bonn was Washington, then Petersburg was Camp David, incidentally a fashion label worn unselfish-consciously around town by sturdy, short cropped men who would be horrified by the camp thing; Sontag readers they do not look like. In its marble men’s bathroom the Peterburg is piping Sinatra singing, It Was a Very Good Year, one of those yearning oh Christ I’m getting old songs that shouldn’t be heard by men of my state in the hall of the mountain king. It’s like the BBC in Manchester.
I wonder if Chamberlain danced the cha-cha-cha
In the ballroom, Clinton inhaled by the terrace?
Did Byron look down on Drachenfels from here,
The hills echo to Prince Phillip’s German jokes?
I call it:
A Large Hotel Near a Small Town in Germany.
Then I walk back down to the Konigswinter riverside and on towards Bonn.
It is a sign of the moving on that the Bonn Kunstmuseum is so full at midday there is not a seat inside or out that is free. Housed down among the renovated ruins of modernity that is the new town, it is grand and white and offering Pop Art; I don’t have the will. A lot of runners and cyclists and roller skaters use the Post Office tower nearby as a turn-around, and I bone up some history for another day, then copy the roller bladers. My hotel is in the Boho-ish student area and nice restaurants and fancy-ish bars are flecked among the streets. A media town, I think. I chat wine with an estate agent and watch a bunch of young bankers Blackberry cheat their way with Google on some bet; a red-braced Mohican of impeccable Bauhaus (the band) taste makes an entry or two and I leave for bed; then wander to the river where some thrash punks have set up for an impromptu burst of anarchy. When the police arrive it’s all polite conversation. What did they say, I ask the lead singer. “they were just worried it might get like London…”
There are plenty of plasma screens and Adidas sneakers in the shop windows of the new town, but no sense of trouble. In fact my only brush with intolerance comes at the river, in a terrace close to the opera, where a young businessman has such trouble keeping still he makes my table wobble, ADD or something. I cant write, I say. (true for much of this trip). Businessman, because his casual was too slick. He takes his party away to another table with a hissed “have a nice day.” The late night punk rockers surprise the bar staff. But everyone smiles away…why not, nothing wrong with a little lite anarchy. Probably wouldn’t get this in Speyer, but then Speyer seems a long way away now, a happy memory of conversations about the Royal Family, and the Kings of Leon…
Bonn seems to have got the post politics blues over; though I suspect for fun people zoom off to nearby Cologne. I’m sure there’s a little more anarchy there.