Ein Gastbeitrag von Oscar Palmer-Joffe.
I am coming to think that there could not be a better place than Sieseby in which to be locked down.
Its isolation, which might be considered a mark against it in normal times (although I am personally agnostic on the issue), is rendered moot by the regulations. And while in a Covid-era city, one is constantly presented with the awful strangeness of the situation by closed and too-empty spaces, Sieseby’s major fixtures (beyond, of course, the Gasthof) have, on the whole, persisted into lockdown. The Schlei, for example, is still there. Walkers still come past and peer hopefully into the restaurant.
I sometimes imagine that the walkers have mistaken me for a customer and been led to believe they have stumbled, impossibly, on an open restaurant. But if I catch their eyes, I give them an apologetic smile and try to communicate somehow with my face that they’re looking at a mirage; if they squinted further, they might notice that my coffee cup has no Unterteller, and that the restaurant has become over the past months a sort of extravagantly proportioned living room-cum-office space. Gone even are the days when we could at least have sold them Glühwein from the front steps.
Kind people sometimes express concern about my situation here—aren’t I bored? Have I seriously got no Führerschein? ‘Von London nach Sieseby, ha!’ I feel slightly guilty admitting to them that, in the midst of such a world-historically terrible situation, I’m basically happy. The weather at the moment is beautifully cold, and when one walks along the Schlei to the woods past Bienebek on a sunny afternoon it can sometimes feel pleasantly like being on the surface of another planet. And we are well-placed, too, for sudden changes of the rules of entering Denmark to lead to happy strandings.
Since the festive intensity has subsided, Maria has been making a laudable, concerted effort not to work constantly and hard. This is surely a good thing but does not, I think, come naturally to her. And while my German is somewhat improved, I worry slightly about the effect of the enforced break on my burgeoning waiting skills, and about whether it’ll be difficult to dislodge this view of the restaurant as our private living room from my mind once freshly vaccinated diners start to return. But I hope in any case that happens soon.