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I need advice, I need advice… March 31, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
…nobody ever looks at me twice. Well, actually, not that type of advice. Not this time round. I’ll save that for another time.

Right, I’m gradually forgetting the art of being a human here, tucked in my little translating box and living in a selection of foreign languages. I was horrified when my mobile telephone rang today and a name flashed up that I actually recognised. (Though this wasn’t out of the blue, but it was still a shock.) So, anyway, an old friend’s in town. With the missus. And a child, whom I’ve never met, aged between 1 and not-more-than-3. We arrange to meet. But through the entanglement of cultures, foreign languages, my lack of social skills and caving into any suggestion made by anyone else ever, I’ve ended up inviting aforementioned nuclear family here tomorrow. HERE! To this flat. Which is probably allergic to extraneous DNA by now.

But there are complications. Apart from the linguistic hoo-hah that the whole event’s going to be, a very odd time has been set for the social event and they’ll be coming from lunch chez someone else. And they’ll have to go home to put the infant to bed at, say, 7-something. So what does one provide for a nuclear family, at home, who won’t be hungry, between 4 and 7? What do we do? Just gush over the child? Do I need to go and buy 20 Kinder eggs, or is chocolate bad form these days? Do I need to go and buy him a piece of fruit instead? Or a carrot?

I did hear the word ‘coffee’ uttered from my less-flustered-than-I old friend. So, what, coffee and fondant fancies? Can you get those in Berlin?

Oh, and I forgot to mention, old friend is allergic to EVERYTHING. Bread, fruit, vegetables, eggs, booze. And I’ll have to pretend I’m not smoking for the sake of appearances as I’d given up last time we met.

But this is it. After this social occasion, I’m moving to Leamington Spa.

But until I do, please, tips. What do you do with a nuclear family? What do you do with a nuclear family? What do you do with a nuclear family, early in the evening? Grown-up heterosexuals’ answers greatly appreciated. (I don’t have any videos suitable for children.)



1. Wyndham - March 31, 2006

This family sounds a nightmare. If it was my family coming I’d expect you to have a bottle of wine available – in fact, make that two – 20 Marlboro Lights and a peeled carrot for the little one, who I’d probably leave at home anyway.

The allergic thing is bothersome. If he is so allergic to everything they have no business procreating, frankly, and the absence – I’m presuming – of a Marks And Spencer in Berlin is certainly no help.

I’d go for nibbles, sausage roll type things, a variety of them, that you can put on a number of plates. Kids love wondering around with bits and pieces. And get crisps. the parents will hate you for it, but it’ll keep the little person happy enough not to trash your place. Good luck.

2. daggi - March 31, 2006

As above I suspect. But your less-flustered old friend was right. Coffee. Be as bourgeois and German as someone who is (I presume) neither of the two can be. Let them eat cake.

Kaffee und Kuchen. Get a selection of cakes in, go to a Bioladen (Reformhaus in der Schönhauser Allee Arcaden, in the basement at the Plus end, right next to the escalator) and get some strange ‘cakes’ that are made from tofu and also suitable for coeliacs and the like, whip up some cream (no, don’t be English and just pour it on, that’s not German), and there you are.

If you fancy travelling through the entire town to get some nice cakes, then there’s a place right next to Schloss Chalottenburg which has some delicious things. Expensive though, judging by the gaggle of pensioners in fur coats who usually sit in there (most choose to eat on the premises, but the advantages in an apprenticeship system are shown bý the skill in which they will wtap and box up cakes). Otherwise go to your bog-standard Bäckerei (not Kamps or anything with “Backshop” in its name). Beware of the eclairs – they’re inevitably filled with blancmange (“Pudding”), and the black forest gateau will probably look nice but will be made entirely from confectioners’ cream á la Britain in 1976 before Kenneth Williams got the nation addicted to Fresh Dairy Cream. So stick to Blechkuchen or Donauwelle or check the stuff’s got real cream in it…

And as they won’t eat any of them, you can feast on them with the Russian until you both never want to set eyes on cake ever again.

3. BiB - March 31, 2006

Darlings, thank you. You’re both spot on. I think I might have to inundate them with sugar and hope for the best. The four adults present have four native tongues: English, Russian, German and French. Poshly, we all four purport to, to varying degrees, know all four languages. Which means we’re all falling over ourselves backwards and every other way to know which lingo to speak. Don’t be fooled into thinking this all sounds multikultitastic. It’s a pain in the arse, and is half why I plan to move to Leamington Spa and never be cosmopolitan ever again. (Well, apart from with the Russian.)

Daggi, quite right. Not bourgeois or German. Common as muck – OK, faux common as muck – and English (well, that you knew). I’ve never been quite sure of how to gauge the German’s bourgeois credentials. Maybe he’s a generation removed from nouveau riche. So I don’t know how that reflects on cake-demand. But they are vaguely foody. But, then, if he will be allergic to everything…

Hopefully the child will be wonderfully amusing. The German’s convenient staggering pleasantness on the eye might also be a time-consuming distraction.

I must become a monk. I can’t do this grown-up lark.

4. Anonymous - April 3, 2006

You reality sounds like Woody Allen type of comedy. ;)


5. BiB - April 3, 2006

Дзякуй, дзякуй, we aim to please! Actually, we had another multikulti food-fest, though this time spontaneous, here today (well, yesterday now): two Russians, a Belarusian, a Pole and an Englander round a table eating what the nuclear family hadn’t eaten the day before! German won the language fight today. French yesterday.

Daggi, I fully intended to go and get posh cakes from a posh shop, as you suggested, but of course our coordination went out the window and we only ended up having time to go to the less than wonderful local supermarket. (I only seem to blog about this supermarket, which is a worrying sign. Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “Belarus and Supermarkets”. Валодзя, do you think it would be popular?) So we had unposh cake and choc and unposh ice-cream and yoghurts for the young’un which turned out not to be yoghurt but compote and the child howled when I tried to give it to him, but he came round eventually.

Anyway, my nuclear family were lovely and I needn’t have fretted about dietary requirements. And I’ve eaten more chocolate in the last two days than I have in the last 15 years. Time to start thinking about a post-easter fitness drive. (Not.)

By the way, Wynders, you’re more than welcome to drop in, of course. Carrots, fags and wine will all be provided. Just promise me that neither you, Veronica or Dexter speaks Russian.

6. daggi - April 3, 2006

Is food allergy a recurring theme in Woody Allen films?

I once mentioned ‘lactose intolerance’ when someone asked me something about liking things that are “cheesy” and I got accused of “going all Woody Allen” on her.

7. BiB - April 3, 2006

Daggi, I was given a Woody Allen book for Christmas (or New Year), so I ought to plough through it and see. (Ooh, what a lot of ‘ough’ words.) Truth be told, I know very little about Mr. Allen, but didn’t he marry his daughter or something? Or mother? Or was that Jimmy Savile? (There is an Oedipal Allen film, is there not?)

Daggi, and do you mean you have a lactose intolerance? Allegedly, our Japanese cousins have a lactose intolerance, if I may bring race/nationality into this. Sometimes, I think cheese makes me go all queer. My mother claims it brings on nightmares in her. So maybe it’s genetic. Though neither of us is Japanese.

8. daggi - April 3, 2006

I don’t know if I have such a thing. I have been known to eat tofu, soya cream, soya yogurt-substitute, soya ‘pudding’ (that’s probably the same thing), and often drink soya milk. But never smell a carton once it’s been opened. I’ve never tried soya cheese, if there is such a thing. It sounds disgusting. But then again, I have eaten Butterkäse, and that is fairly nasty. But, as I have pointed out elsewhere, I was under the impression it would taste a bit like cheddar.

Germans I have mentioned this to eschew a cheese-nightmare link. It does, in my case, cause some nasty pflegm, as does full cream milk. German “super”markets do have a much wider range of sliced meat products than I was used to in England, so I rarely have to revert to cheese anyway, when preparing any form of sandwich, that is.

9. pleite - April 24, 2007

Oh god, autism makes me want to reply to this ignored comment. But I don’t want the comment to be found, as it will be the final evidence required that I need to have the OCD-men-in-white-coats called for me.

Daggi, I shall never ignore a comment again. I had no manners in April 2006.

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