Mario and Mario November 29, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
The festive season seems to have come especially early this year. Or perhaps I’m just in a good mood. But having had the odd fear that Blogland had maybe had its day, or was in a rut, it seems all sweetness and light again now. Mark’s got a nice old chat about whether (Anglo-)Blogland is pullulating with public school boys raging chez lui, Pavvers goes in for a spot of (not too harsh) self-criticism but ultimately concludes that blogging is good for you, IAF also wonders about the class-factor in Anglo-bloggery but manages to blog some straightforward shagging too, in time for Advent, Liukchik finds reason to smile in other blogs and Wyndham the Triffid manages to amuse even when plotting the demise of his fellow man. OK, there’s a touch of an unfestive spat going on in the comments to a post at PooterGeek, but emotion of the hour for Blogland seems to be lurve. So maybe some folk are fretting what this whole blogging lark is all about, but we can cope with that. Maybe we’re a bunch of geeky nerds with too much time on our hands and a preference for the virtual to the real. But so what if we are? Let’s be geeky, send each other messages, pat each other on the back and tell each other stories.
I’m in a fiercely story-telling mood these days. Again, it must be the festiveness. I’m constantly remembering amusing old anecdotes that I think deserve an airing. And why the bugger not? Here’s as good a place as any to store them before my drink-addled brain loses them for ever. And so, apparently induced by nothing, Mario and Mario have popped into my head.
Mario and Mario were a couple – no, not in that sense – of Croatians I met at the Volkshochschule, or Adult Education Centre (according to Leo), when I first arrived in Berlin in October 2001. The German-as-a-foreign-language course was marvellous. Not for the lessons, which were pretty dull (and started at 8am and lasted for 2-and-a-half hours), but because it was so precisely like Mind Your Language – incidentally, the episode described here reminds me so much of an incident when my father’s colleague, an Italian named Franco, decided that he and my father, who did the pools together, had hit the jackpot. “Me anna Timmy (my father’s name was Owen, incidentally) winna pool. We winna jackapot. We winna million a poun,” he was heard to scream around the premises. They had in fact won 200 quid – and we all fitted our national stereotypes so perfectly. There was the little gaggle of eastern European beauties, all called Natas(c)ha Schmidt, or Olga Braun, who’d been purchased on line and shipped over from Ukraine/Russia/Latvia. There were the effusive Latins – Peruvians, Cubans, Mexicans – who never shut up but kept us amused. There was the odd miserable Pole, always on the verge of tears. The occasional old DDR Gastarbeiter – Vietnamese, say – who thought it was time to get to grips with the language after all these years, a couple of us sleepy Englanders in one corner, the odd colonial here on business (NZ, USA), and Mario and Mario.
Mario and Mario were the most stereotypical of all, although I had thought they were Italian to start with. But they were perfect southern Slavs: like their northern cousins – philosophical, charming – but without the gloom. Mario 1 was more outgoing than Mario 2. And Mario 1 was the thorn in our teacher’s side. Any question he was asked would always be answered with something along the lines of, “Bier, Fussball, Frauen,” which must be Croatian for, “Wein, Weib, Gesang.” She would huff prissily at the predictability of his answer. He would look for moral support from the other men in the class and ask, “Aber was mehr gibt es?” Beer, football, women. That was Mario’s lot, and perfectly happy he seemed with it too.
Mario and Mario were, it goes without saying, best friends. I thought they’d probably met two weeks before and that I could easily be vying for that best friend spot within days if I played my cards right, but, no, Mario and Mario, it turned out, had grown up together in Zagreb, fought in the war together AND worked at TGI Friday in London together. Now that is a labour of love. Mario and Mario were never to be parted.
Months later, I saw them stick something on a lamppost down the road from where I live. I dashed to see what it was. Turned out they’d set up a flooring business together. Good old Mazzer and Mazzer, I thought. They’re the type I’d love to be. Happy to try their hand at anything to get on in life. Probably not liking Germany THAT much but seeing it for the opportunity it was.
For similar reasons, it’s why I’m chuffed to bollocks about the eastern European folk from the accession states who’ve turned up in London in such numbers. The Poles, the Lithuanians, the Latvians… They’re there to work, and work hard, if need be, to make a living. But not only are they good for the work-force. Much as I like to moan about my time in Russia and as many minus points as there are to life there, what also needs to be remembered is that most eastern Europeans – excuse the generalisation for people from about 20 countries, but I think it works – are fantastically well-educated people who, I think, would be a great boon to British society.
I only hope that some of them stay on once they’ve made their (relative) fortunes.