I have a fascination for the old German Democratic Republic, a weird retro itch, a hankering for the edginess of times gone. I first set foot in this bizarrely timeless statelette as it was in its death throws, its regime clinging to power with supreme efforts of denial. But it was truly fascinating, and as a young man with my life ahead of me, it was oddly touching. I went with a group of students from my university, but later that evening I returned alone, crossing at the foreboding Fredrichsstrasse Station. I inhaled mouthfuls of the unique smells of the Communist East, a mixture of creosote, wood smoke, exhaust and tar. My passport was stamped in the privacy of what amounted to a metal cage and then the tin door flew open and I walked into the summer’s night. I hooked up with an East German colleague, whom I had met at Ealing earlier that year, and who was eager to show me her GDR, a state she was evidently very proud of. I looked, with some awe, at massive streets, and at the tiny cars, reminiscent of the old Dutch Dafs of the late 60s. She took me for ice cream at an ice-cream parlour, an ersatz American diner of sorts, and then made me dinner at her flat. She told me how she dreaded the end of her state, of what it might mean to her career. It was an odd place. I returned this summer and found an aging and charmless collection of lost dreams. The GDR was gone.