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Missed blopportunities – or tits and ass March 29, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Earning a living is an awful pain in the arse. Not so much for the actual doing of the work – although that is, admittedly, utterly loathsome – but it means, when times are busy, deadlines short, and workloads high, that I miss a million wonderful blopportunities. Anyway, I’ve snuck myself a spare, nocturnal second, agreed a non-nag clause with the Russian if he comes in and sees me doing this, shut myself away in my blogarium… aber, what to write about?

I had had half a mind to blog about the joys of spring, but spring’s already old hat. I’m long since used to the people from the 100% long-term unemployment house across the road – with Südbalkons, the sods – sitting lazily and soaking up the sun as I type away at my computer, all the while looking forward to the twelve seconds of sunlight this side of the flat gets between 6 and five past. Wankers. And it’s too late to write about how spring put my cleaning gene in overdrive or how I’m so, like, over the novelty of the long evenings. No, missed that boat.

And I know I should keep up my commitment to Belarus and the disgrace of its elections, but then all sorts of real Belarusians are doing it so much better. I’ll have to leave saving the planet to them for now. Time just won’t allow my undoubtedly almost vital contribution.

And I should so be guest-blogging.

Flipping bills.

So what else is there? Well, work. Actually, although work is, I repeat, a loathsome occupation, the current text I’ve got to manipulate isn’t overly despicable. I found myself needing to translate a sentence into Russian involving the words ‘bottom’ and ‘wipe’. (I’d better not give the game away too much for confidentiality – puke – reasons.) I realised, after a hundred years of studying Russian, living in the country for another hundred and living with a Russian for a further hundred, arse-wiping hadn’t that much come up in conversation. I mentally flicked through my anal vocabulary. I knew the rude word for arse. And I knew a more bum-like word. And I knew buttocks. Then there was this other rear-like word lurking. I wondered would that do. I dashed to the Russian. “I’ve come up with this expression for bottom-wiping. Is it right?” A look of horror. “What do you want to write that for?” “Because it’s in the text. Is that the right bum-word?” “You can’t write that. Leave it out.” “Um, no, so should I use zad, or zadnitsa, or popa, or zhopa?” I quizzed, racing through my lexis of the derrière. At which point the Russian had a laughing fit at the mention of so much arse-vocab – I think my four-year-old nephew might have coped better – that we had to leave it there and I am, strictly speaking, still none the wiser on how best to wipe Russian bums, at least in writing.

They’re a bit prudish on the old word front, the Russkies. I can’t think how the hell this happened, but for some reason, when I worked in Russia, and my colleagues were three ladies, I found myself having to translate something about the Vagina Monologues to them. I started, not surprisingly, with the title. “OJ! BiiiiiiiB! How you know such vörd? Oj!” Which was not to say that these same colleagues had anything prudish as far as thoughts on the same area of the anatomy were concerned. Indeed, they were at pains to understand that I didn’t seem to be having far more – anything, in fact – to do with my female flat-mate’s genitalia. How was this possible? Unfortunately, I didn’t have the guts to say, in Mr. Fry’s words, that, “I’m not really in the vagina business.” I shoulda. I shoulda. I think at least one of those three ladies was hanging out for a marriage proposal, and then I went and eloped with one of her countrymen. Imagine the shame! Jilted for a man.

Anyway. Work beckons. I wish I was a proper smoker…

(Speaking of prudish, need the blogger spell-check function be quite so babyish?)

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Comments»

1. daggi - March 29, 2006

Work. Not much fun. I know it. I know it particularly well at the moment as I’m currently – at this moment – going through a catalogue of things that people are meant to be able to do if they do an exam in what I do after being an apprentice for 3 years. And typing up all what I can do, so even without being an apprenticeship I can do the exam, if those who decide might want to let me, that is. They don’t have to. All for the privilege of being qualified in what in Blighty is a craply paid dead-end job with no prospects that conveys no respect whatsoever. Where as here it’s a bit similar, except that people assume you’re particuarly clever and got on the wrong train on the way to the rocket-scientist doctorate course so ended up in retail instead. Yeah, right, as if you wouldn’t turn back and arrive at the doctorate course a bit late instead of submitting yourself to a life of what I do, and for a piss-poor salary at that.

Anyway, BiiiiiB, is there any chance you could translate a sign saying “Biotonnen are for Biomüll i.e. stuff that can be composted and not for plastic bags and fag ends, and wrapping up your vegetable wrappers in tin foil before you put them in the said Tonne isn’t much use either and it costs us all a lot of money because the BSR will then charge to take away the stuff instead of doing it for free, understood, you idiots” into Russian. Unfortunately the BSR only do that kind of stuff in German, English and Turkish, which is a bit short sighted of them, but I suspect the Turkish guides to composting are a new invention, so I shouldn’t be too critical I suppose.

P.S. What are you translating anyway? A medicinal book, nappy packaging or some kind of “niche” porn? I note you’re a night owl too, which is one thing I miss about not earning money, being to do things when you want to.

2. Kyahgirl - March 29, 2006

Hi Bib, I’ve never come to visit before. Just thought I’d stop in. Nice place!

You have quite a dilemna with your translation. Bummer :-)

3. Wyndham the Triffid - March 29, 2006

Vaginas, bumwipes. It must be like Carry On Translating at your place, Bib. Ooh, matron!

4. BiB - March 29, 2006

Kyahgirl, welcome, and thank you galore for dropping in. Please come again. It’s not always just tits ‘n ass. (Although perhaps it should be.)

Well, it’s all very hush hush, so don’t tell anyone, but the tits ‘n ass translation is actually a health thing. Not niche porn, unfortunately. Mind you, this sort of thing does attract the oddest of stragglers – “Russian girls with odd objects inserted in their c***s,” say – from google and assorted search engines.

Yes, translation makes for night-owlery, especially if the deadline is generous to start with, as that means you ignore the said vaginas, bottoms and various implements to be inserted or donned on, in and around said genitalia for ages, and then have a mad rush as the deadline looms nearer. I’d rather be an up-with-the-lark type, but that sort of discilpine is long since gone. Living with a student doesn’t help.

Daggi, do you mean you’ve got an exam to do in what you’ve already been doing? A friend of mine in England once left her job to go and do a degree in it, which seemed a slightly retrograde career move. If your exam (and job) is to do with books, that sounds quite nice, at least, even if it won’t make you rich. (Wealth is overrated. But an indoor loo is desirable, mind you.)

5. daggi - March 30, 2006

On the indoor loo front, it seems I’m about to be done over by my landlord. “Indoor loo? It’ll cost yer, guv”, as the Hausverwaltung said to me on the phone.

6. BiB - March 30, 2006

Maybe you need to get that Hausverwaltung out of your life. I have at last understood the attraction of owning one’s own home. I just can’t bear the spiessig house we now live in with the Hausverwaltung’s shitty little notes pinned up everywhere and everyone in bed by 9. At least when I lived in a slum before, the landlord was never in our hair, and even ignored the woman-downstairs’ complaints about the noise we made. Reasonably so, I thought, as the noise she was complaining about was that made by us WALKING around the flat. Yes, walking!

Nice flats do mysteriously end up costing a fortune, be it said…

7. daggi - March 31, 2006

Maybe you need to get that Hausverwaltung out of your life.

Quite possibly. But I never really want to move again unless I have to. And moving 5 centimetres across a landing doesn’t count, as none of that horrible stressful moving-business is necessary, is it (getting friends to hire a Robben & Wientjes, being scared while they drive it that you’re about to be crashed into under the Hochbahn on the Schönhauser Allee, all those boxes, moving inevitably from the fourth floor to another flat on the fourth floor, yet again, packing, throwing stuff out…aaaarrrgh).

And is there not a slight contradiction between not wanting the the Hausverwaltung’s shitty little notes pinned up everywhere while reminicing about landlords doing nothing, and not wanting to live in a slum? That’s what all that money goes on, the typing of shitty letters and paying a one-time member of the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy to come in her Bentley to stick them up with some sellotape. That must be what the difference in rent goes on, as otherwise the flats themselves are in a similar state, surely? And it’s exactly those Aushangzettel that help keep Germans in check.

As you know, in our place, the tenants like to produce their own shitty notices, in a Wandzeitung kind of way. They can often be quite amusing – sometines a bit like Wikipedia articles, someone will hang up a sign, someone else will correct the spelling and grammar, the first person will tell the corrector to fuck himself, a third person will change some of the content, then someone else (of the sign-writer’s household) will threaten the second and third persons – in writing, obviously not in person – with an “Anzeige” and then finally someone will tear it down and put it in the Biomüll.

One of my favourites involved a letterbox belonging to some neighbours (they who inspired this blog) – which was in the Vorderhaus, even they live in the Hinterhaus. That seemed to annoy someone living in the front, for some reason. Weeks of him/her tearing their names off their letterbox and them then being stuck back on again with even stronger tape, the expected written threats of “Anzeigen”, and then the question “Sind wir denn hier Hinterhaus?”. To which, the answer was obviously “no”. After a while the stickler for correct placing of letterboxes gave up. But I think it also annoys the Deutsche Post.

As you see, I live in a bit of an asylum.

8. BiB - March 31, 2006

Do you want to swap flats? Have you got a Südbalkon and is there gas in the house rather than everything running on electricity? Our electric oven fills me with gloom. I’d stick my head in it, but then I remember it’s electric and all I’d do is (eventually, maybe) frazzle my hair while getting very hot.

Actually, how small and uninhabited is this village of yours in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern?

9. BiB - April 2, 2006

Yes, I agree. Moving is too hellish for words. I’m almost tempted – no, tempted – to stay in this flat to the bitter end just for the sake of not having to move again and do all that paying deposits and paying Deutsche Telekom a billion euros for them to do precisely nothing.

Is Thüringen revisiting the past?

10. daggi - April 2, 2006

Swapping flats? If I carry on paying my level of rent and you carry on paying yours. Hang on, the stress of “moving” would be involved. That’s a major down-side. It looks like, incidentally, I’ll be in Thüringen first.


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