Thursday, April 24, 2008

Celebrating spring with flowers and wine in Werder

Article published by The Local: 24 Apr 08

Thankfully Germany’s miserable spring weather finally seems to be improving, Tom Norton decides to explores two favourite Teutonic pastimes – nature and booze – ahead of the Werder Tree Blossom Festival.

Let’s be honest. This spring has been fairly miserable as far as weather goes. Snow at Easter? Hail the size of ice cubes every other week? It’s enough to make you want a drink.
( click here to read more....)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Run Berlin Run

A short travel film
Starring Sandy Cokayne

Link to Tripfilms

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

How much can Germany Bear?

(An article I recently had published on a new German News site which is in English (

Published: 5 Mar 08 16:41 CET

Polar bear cub Knut was a fetishized child star long before Snowflake and Wilbär caused furry hysteria across Germany. But troublesome Bruno was simply shot dead. Tom Norton considers Germans and their unbearable attitude toward bears.
more... click here

Friday, February 29, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Working, Bloody Working

It’s another cold week in Berlin and we’re in another apartment for a short 10 days. Our dream loft apartment is just around the corner, we move in at the beginning of next month, but still it seems like an eon away.

So for these 10 days we’re sharing with a bloke called Peer. He rents out his spare room for short term stays. Apparently he likes to meet new people and I guess he likes them to come to him. Admittedly, Peer's flat kicks it over the last place we were in, the one which had a shower in the kitchen and toilet in the closet (see pics below on previous post), so comparatively, we’re in heaven. It’s clean, light, and warm.

No complaints.

Work on the other hand, 'ist nicht so gut.' Germany is a country that is still yet to define its own minimum wage laws.

But then,this isn’t such a bad story because it does have a good ending. I know this is going to sound really cheesy, but I got to be that bloke that every man wants to be, I got to be the hero for my lady .

The other week, Sandy was attempting to leave her job. To put it bluntly, she had a shit job. It was a two-hours-a-week teaching Mc-Gig. The Mc-Company she was employed by had her locked into a dodgy contract which stated she had to give them 3 months advance notice if she planned to leave.

Now, I know people make five year plans for their careers, and whether I think those things are bollocks or not is irrelevant, no one is going to make a career (or even a living) on two hours a week.

The other side is, being a freelance teacher, you can easily be replaced (some might suggest this can be done too easily). So naturally with all these facts, she made a decision to give up those two hours a week and take a more permanent position with better pay. From the point of view of her boss, this was obviously an irresponsible and stupid decision.

Ronald McDumsfeld we’ll call him - the boss. He lost it. If you can imagine a man with a pig's face holding his breath until he turns red before screaming, ‘What the hell do you think you’re doing?’ you might have a picture.

He threatened to call immigration. The Cops. Anyone who could scare her.

He harassed her with numerous phone calls and emails about, how he was going to do this and that, about how she had stolen his property. What property? The folder he had given her to use to teach his classes. She said she would return them asap.

He said, ‘It must be returned by 9:30am or I'm going to call the police.’

Sandy was distraught. I was getting angrier. Some bloke who I’d never met was causing my lady a lot of stress. Naturally I said, with my heightened male awareness, ‘He should go F**k himself.’

Sandy was more polite, but still no dice. These people were from another planet.

‘Let me talk to them, baby,’ I said, sweetly. She looked at me a little unsure. ‘Trust me.’

His wife answered the phone, she has a thick German accent.

‘My I speak to Mr McDumsfeld?’ I inquired.

‘Not here.’ She barked.

‘Well, could you tell him, that I, Sandy's husband, will return your beloved folders next week.’

Sandy? You know Sandy?

'Yes. Now tell Charlie to stop this nonsense about threatening to call the police. I’ll bring your folders in next week.'

'They must be here tomorrow! 9:30am!'

'I don't think you understand. I have a job and a life.'

'You must speak to my husband. He's here now. I'll put him on.'

'No, it's a simple message, you can let him know. I’ll be in next week.’


The following week, I did return them, but leading up to it I was feeling a little anxious. I was expecting at least an argument because they had already called one of Sandy's friends, who she worked with, and abused the poor girl over the phone.

I didn't trust them, no one did, so because of this and the fact that I enjoy taking the piss, I decided to take some photos of them when I returned the folders (see right - Mrs Ronald McDumsfeld).

This way I’d have the evidence if I needed it (after all they had already threatened us with the police – not that I could imagine any cop taking it seriously) but also in a small way, by taking a picture of them, I would be getting a little piece of satisfaction by forcing them to do something which they didn’t want to do.

Disappointingly though, Ronald wasn’t there, only his wife. Perhaps he was hiding behind her again, like he did with the phone, waiting in another room listening to her conversation, but I don’t know.

She wasn’t too keen to have her photo taken either. Who is by strangers?

'You can't be trusted.' I explained holding up the camera, 'and it's also proof that I have returned the folders.'

She glared at me. 'Smile.' I clicked one off (see above). ‘Now, let's get one of us together.’

She was goods enough to smile for the second. 'Now can you tell your husband something for me?

'What would that be?'

'Please tell him, he’s a horrible man. '

I walked out, thinking, that was a pretty lame thing to call him, I could’ve called him anything and all I could think of was 'Horrible!' God. I hate those moments when you have the chance to say anything, but it's only in retrospect you can think of the perfect thing. But then, she wasn't really the one who I wanted to say it to either. So if i had let my cannons loose and my brain go awol, kind of like Ronald had done to Sandy, it wouldn't have been the justice I wanted either.

So go on Angela Merkel bring on some worker reforms to Germany. The people here sure need them because this country is one of the few western countries who hasn't set minimum wage standards yet. It seems the employers are holding all the cards.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In the Closet...

My Head after the PartyMy Head!

So I've been lazy and haven't written for a while. Well there was Xmas and New Year's. Who can keep up with everything during those times? Not You. Not Me. Not even the demented personifications we've created can keep up their efforts after the parties are over. You don't see Santa or Jesus for months after their big week.

As for Berlin, it seems Sandy and I are between houses, jobs, lives, worlds, languages, and everything in this city. It´s like we´ve fallen into the cracks of some parallel society, where everyone speaks German to each other, except to us.

Yes, we're learning but most people appear to feel a bit silly when they let us to talk to them in broken German when they can speak fluent English (unlike the French).

So we're between houses too, next month we move into the most awesome amazing loft apartment.

This week though we're taking whatever we can get. The place we're in at the moment has a shower in the kitchen, you have stand next to the stove which is at the same height, a serious occupational heath and safety nightmare, and but then the craziest thing is the toilet. It's in a closet.

Below I've attached a pic of our crazy kitchen shower and the closet dunny. The toilet ain't so bad, 'cept that you have to announce you're gonna drop a number two before you do it. It's an odd sort of etiquette with having to tell someone what you're intending to do, you could say it's pre-meditated 'merde,' Otherwise if you don't announce it, you might get sprung when someone walks down the hall. 'Hello,' you'd say,'Don't mind me. I'm just doing one of those perfectly human functions.'

No, i don't think bodily functions can bring Sandy and me closer together. it's not our relationship's final frontier. No way. A shit between lovers is like like mixing your work life with your private life. I'm sure it works for some people, but then so do foot fetishes, which I assume most people consider the idea of sniffing an old shoe while wanking just plain odd.

What about dropping a turd in front of your boss? Personally, I'd feel a little more than odd.

Our shower on the other hand is a bit of a novelty. Bathing next the kettle while cooking some soup has led me to believe its not such a bad idea.

Anyway, I'm sorry, some of the old Aussie crudeness slipped out on that one. I was on a bit of a roll I guess. This was originally meant to be written for a friend, i've decided to post it, they'll mind a bit, but.....

Oh God, I'm lazy. More soon. Honest. I swear.

Art Pic from inside the Berlin's Sony Centre


Friday, November 2, 2007

RAW Sampler

Here's a RAW video sample of the music documentary stuff I do.

It contains the Fiery Furnaces, the Hard Ons , Buck 65, Rogers Sisters and loads of others