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Berlinsk December 15, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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There’s a touch of the Murmansk about Berlin these days. I know it’s a tad on the dreary side to talk weather after a fairly hefty blogging hiatus, but bloggers will seek their inspiration from anywhere, and Murmansk’s what’s done it for me today.

I’ve been up at the crack of dawn these last few days as I’ve had a bit of a major workathon on. Well, actually, much earlier than the crack of dawn. Long before even the second cock. And hence the murmanskity. It’s pitch. And doesn’t even get vaguely daylightish till about eight, by which time I’ve been at my faithful and trusty old PC for a couple of hours already, bebreakfasted, beshowered and beworked.

Now I’ve never actually been to Murmansk so should be ill-qualified to compare a Berlin winter’s day to the polar nights of that heralded town. But I might as well have been. As anyone who’s ever been to Russia knows, EVERYONE in the country comes from Murmansk. Everyone. Without exception. I’ve even met a so-called Ukrainian in St. Petersburg who, upon a little probing, in fact turned out to be from Murmansk. I’m surprised the city isn’t quite a lot bigger than it is, but then if it’s only a baby factory that then propels its population around the country, I suppose it doesn’t need to be THAT big. (The equivalent town in Germany, incidentally, is Dresden. Everyone – man, woman, beast, Wessi, Ossi – in Germany is originally from Dresden. Strange but UTTERLY true.)

When I studied in Russia, in the only significant town between St. Petersburg and Murmansk, my host family, inevitably, came from the big M. (Disappointingly, the stress is on the first syllable in Russian so the town doesn’t have the same, nice, Gdansk-like rhythm in the original as it does in English.) Now winter days in St. Petersburg, as I would later discover, were short enough. It got light there at about 10.30am and was dark again at 3, so what must it be like in the big M where the sun hardly creeps above the horizon for months at a time? I was assured you get used to it. (Obviously you do. You can hardly resist it.) And there’s the consolation of the northern lights, of course. (Is it bollocks that they can be seen in the north of Scotland? My significant other, himself from the far north, though not the big M, uniquely, says the old Aurora Borealis isn’t even to be seen in his godforsaken town so can Scotland really claim the honour? Or is Local Hero bollocks?)

A German pal of mine in St. Petersburg said M was his favourite place in all of Russia, and he’d been to Lake Baikal and Kamchatka (or was it Sakhalin? Somewhere in the Far East), both famed for their gobsmacking beauty.

And M doesn’t only dominate Russia. Oh no. When my significant other first met my sister-in-law’s mother, who is Scottish, the introductions were hardly out of the way before she got onto a tirade about how there was a monument to the fallen Scottish soldiers of WWII in – you guessed it – Murmansk, but there wasn’t one in Scotland. (Mustn’t this also be bollocks?) We might have been in a living room in delightful West Sussex but, as on almost every occasion, regardless of location, Murmansk ruled the day.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Berlin. And the weather. Well, as I say, I’ve been in the middle of a bit of a workathon, but as soon as I’d finished it, earlier today, I knew it was time to go and stretch my legs and blow away the cobwebs that had gathered on my freshly hunched frame. I’ve got two uninspiring routes for a standard walk. Long route and short route. Today long route was absolutely the order of the day. Cobwebs, both inner and outer, were duly blown away. “What should I blog about when I get back?” I wondered. “Ages since I had a bit of a bloguette.” Well, the walk provided the grist, even if it was only in the form of the weather. “Bit dark,” I thought. “Must be 4 already.” But it wasn’t. It was 1 something. “Like bloody Murmansk here.” And hence the stream of drivel you see before you.

It’s good to blog.

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