For a long time I had intended to simply ignore the Begrüßungsgeld (welcome money). To be noble and not pick it up. Of course I thought it was a nice gesture but it also had a hint of bribery and I didn’t really want that. But then a situation of some urgency arose. I desperately needed a wood preservative for my grandmother’s kitchen cupboard, which was completely infested with worms. In the GDR there was only one wood preservative, Hylotox, which was sold to people over the counter even though it was known to contain dangerous toxins. You could smell the DDT and lindane in it. I had read “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson and the stories about defoliated forests. Preserving the intergrity of nature was always important to me. I knew ofcourse, that in the DDR not enough was done in this regard.
I had used Hylotox on another piece of furniture, it was the only available solution. Who knows how I have clouded my mind by using it. When I found the worm again in the kitchen cupboard, it was clear to me: no more Hylotox. So just before new years I drove to West Berlin. I saw an ad in “Zitty” for a shop on Pariser Strasse that had organic colours. It blew me away that there was an entire store just for eco-friendly paint. They also happened to have exactly what I needed. I drove home very satisfied but the best part was when I opened the can. I was overwhelmed by the smell, it was like lemonade. It smelt like I could have drunk it just like that. It was probably because of the marigold extract. I thought to myself “that’s how the West smells”. I was quite sure it wouldn’t have any effect on the woodworm. But the miraculous happened. The substance actually worked. Considering my socialization, this was an important factor. I still have the cupboard today and it never had another woodworm.