It is a perfect Northern European midsummer’s evening, the sky a delicate swirl of gentle pastels and the soft air just cool enough for a cardigan: we have our window open. Then, quite suddenly, outside a tremendous roar erupts. Men, women and children let out shouts and whoops of joy which ring in the street below. To us, inside, the noises are not so surprising, for we too are watching football (soccer). A German striker has just pounded the ball into the back of the opposition’s net. A goal! Across the city, fireworks pop and crack in the dusky sky.
In our street at least three cafes have erected large screens on the pavement for the occasion of the European Cup – and this is not unusual. Throughout Berlin, and indeed Germany, these screens (called ‘public viewings’) have become the focus for large crowds – from dozens to the hundreds of thousands, depending on the venue – to gather round and share the tribulations and elations of their fellow countrymen in each Germany match. READ MORE »