Isaura the slave-girl December 28, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
“Maybe I’ll go and write something on my blog then.”
“Write what a bastard you are,” came the helpful suggestion. With those words, I left the Russian in the kitchen, slaving, like Isaura the white slave-girl, as he likes to put it. He is the chief cook in the house, it has to be said. I do the laying-table and cleary-uppy and washy-uppy bits afterwards. A division of labour he moans about rather a lot more than I do. Anyway, it’s got me free to blog while he is chained to the stove.
I’m afraid the weather’s going to have to get another mention. The slave-girl and I are fairly fresh back from a joint walk. (They always end in disaster.) Once I’d got the early stages of hypothermia waiting for Isaura on the street outside the flat, I realised that going for a walk in -5 isn’t actually that much fun. Yes, refreshing and all that, but not as nice as sitting indoors with the heating roaring expensively in the background. But we soldiered on. Now I am a moaner, and a poof, but I still purport to be a believer in the stiff upper lip. Which is why it is so fucking infuriating when you’re outstiffed by a Russian. But I suppose he’s always going to outdo me on the weather front. But it is just a tiny bit infuriating, as you realise on the first properly arctic day of winter that actually you really do need to dress rather a lot more carefully for weather like this, to have the word “warm” mouthed in a hail of icicles from somewhere in the immediate proximity. Now maybe I’m being a stickler, and the word that any Russian student will learn as meaning warm – тепло – doesn’t actually just simply mean warm. It also means not cold. But it does also mean warm. Bikini, swimming trunks, swaying palm trees, cheap booze warm. I don’t want that understanding to be prejudiced by an image of people grimacing as their limbs go numb and noses redder than the nearest AA convention.
“No, it’s arse cold.” But the clouds of ice that formed as I uttered my words perhaps meant they never made it to his frostbitten auricle.
When I studied in Russia in 1998, in a fairly northern town – just whipped out my atlas. As far north as the northern tip of the Faroes – I first understood this тепло-doesn’t-mean-warm-it-only-means-not-fucking-freezing malarkey when my hostess (not in a strip club) declared that it was ‘warm’ when the thermometer hit the dizzy heights of 0 degrees. Yep, that’s freezing point to you and me, but she had uttered the word ‘warm’ and I sensed an internal longing for Yalta or Sochi cloud her internal world momentarily. But there was no time for wishful thinking then. It was back to defrosting the washing she’d left out on the balcony to (freeze-)dry.
Anyway, where can one ski in Berlin? I possess neither skis nor coordination, so of course couldn’t possibly hope to perform any skiful act. But the Russian’s constantly gagging to go off for a bit of cross-country skiing as soon as it’s ‘warm’ and snowy enough. Any tracks in the environs, Berliners?