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A bit of a moan June 12, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Now between you and me, I’m as tight as a gnat’s chuff. Not to the point where I’ll go and hide in the toilet when it’s my turn to buy a drink, or let everyone buy me a drink and then go home just when it comes to my turn, or make sure I buy an early round when only a tee-total old lady and I are present. Anyway, this is Germany, and we don’t really do rounds here, so this is a bad analogy. Mind you, I saw a good case of this a summer or two ago when two hetero English gents visited for a weekend of Bier, Fussball und Frauen, but sort of without the Fussball and Frauen. Gent one went off to chat up strangers, because he was abroad and thought he had to, during which pause the second visitor dashed to the bar and got a drink in for himself, me and the Russian. Hetero one came back, bored of having to pretend to be interested in 18-year-old strangers, raring to buy booze and mystified that we had full glasses. The truth dawned on him, at which point he called his friend a bitch, which I liked as a choice of swear-word between heteros… But no, I’m tight in the sense of hating waste. I’m not sure if this is from having lived in relative poverty in Russia or whether it’s related to late-arrival recycling fervour instilled by living in Berlin. In any case, I’ve grown averse to throwing anything away.
Sorry, this is already making for a gloom-inspired post. It’s the work, you see. Which means I can’t be out in the sun. Well, not properly, although I have now positioned myself on the balcony for our five minutes of sun in a position where I can see – not that I’m interested, really – the Czech Republic v USA about to begin. I remember watching them play in a former World Cup (1990, perhaps?). The Czechs, presumably then still in Czechoslovak guise, won about 200-0, and the commentators kept going on about the Americans’ naivety. My brother’s then American girlfriend – sorry, I mean American then girlfriend, I suppose. She’s still American – thought the spirit of participation might have got more of a mention in the commentary. Anyway, judging from this World Cup, the days of massive drubbings seem to be behind us. (I’ll cope if I’m proved wrong by England being thrashed 10-1 by T&T.) (I think the Czechs are vying with the Argentinians for team with worst average haircut.) (Christ, that was quick. The Czechs are already in the lead. I’m surprised they can see the ball with those perms.) Anyway, the computer – the big one that isn’t a laptop – is now lovelily off and I’m hoping a bit of balcony blogging will remove the gloom.
So, waste. We had homosexual guests of late, as I’ve mentioned here before, and we stocked up on delicious morsels for them to feast on. Including kilos of cheese. But English folk just will not eat cheese for breakfast – at least not those still resident in the Kingdom – as much as you try to convince them that it will instantly turn them into Europeans and all sorts. The extent of my cooking is normally removing Weetabix from the packet, but I ventured into the fridge today for a bit of a closer explore. And there’s tonnes of fucking cheese. I should organise a cheese and wine party this minute. (You bring the wine.) The cambozola was only at the early (extra) moulding stage, so I’ve chowed through as much of that as my appetite would allow. The camembert is thick with mould, but I’ve tackled that as best I could and chomped away too. Some may call this gluttony.
Anyway, the wasted/wasting cheese, combined with the dreary work, combined with the not-being-able-to-lounge-in-the-sun, combined with the Nordbalkon, combined with another attempt at not smoking, combined with everything, has sent me into an ungovernable gloom. Which I enjoy, of course, because of my fake Slavic soul, but I do very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very much wish I wasn’t a translator. Has any resident of Berlin or the Bundesrepublik who happens across this page ever worked in a supermarket/fast-food chain? If so, can you hazard a guess at whether it’s even more horrid than sitting in front of a computer all day, at home, translating utter nonsense about utter nonsense? Berlin bloggers, when are we opening that caff? (I’ll provide the cheese.) (And I’m good at Weetabix.)


1. daggi - June 12, 2006

Has any resident of Berlin or the Bundesrepublik who happens across this page ever worked in a supermarket/fast-food chain?

I haven’t. Not quite. It probably is worse. But slightly more sociable – but it may well make you hate the human race – and it might (oh how depressing) pay a bit more.

If you’re seriously looking for some kind of job in Berlin, enrol yourself at the Humboldt Uni or somewhere (or even the German Open University). It certainly helps.

2. daggi - June 12, 2006

Do you think the British Council would part-finance a British caff here, you know, when we claim it’s an art installation and that?

3. BiB - June 12, 2006

There was a British cafe on Oranienburgerstr. before called Astor or Ascot or something. I think I even had a full English there once. But it was a posh caff, if a caff at all. And has now closed. A bad omen?

4. Bowleserised - June 12, 2006

What if you deep fry the Weetabix? Can we make it some kind of Anglo-Scottish-Fusion thing? Would that help? BiB, come Stammtisch on Thursday and you can have a translator bitch with some other folk.

5. BiB - June 13, 2006

Yes, I fully plan to come and reveal myself in all my glory – I don’t mean flash, though – on Thursday. And one of you can give me a job then…

I’m perfectly happy with an Anglo-Caledonian caff. I’ll get in the mars bars. Has anyone got any tartan lying around? I think the British Council would be bound to finance it then.

Daggi, what job-giving service do Humboldt/the Open Uni provide?

6. leon - June 13, 2006

I would have thought the British would have been first in the queue for cheese at breakfast, but yes, they seem to have left that kind of thing to the Germans and Danes.

Pity really, I’d rather have some decent cheese than, I dunno, kidneys or whatever it is we’re supposed to eat.

7. BiB - June 13, 2006

But you did have a hearty kipper breakfast this morning, I trust? We couldn’t give the stuff away, Leon. Although we have had to cut back on the sausage to start the day with, for fatness reasons.

8. daggi - June 13, 2006

German unis provide the job-giving service in that the employers don’t have to pay any national insurance contributions for you, making you significantly cheaper than someone who isn’t a (paper) “student”.

A kipper, lovely. I’m half-Scottish. But I’ll stop there, otherwise my comments will begin to read like those of my brother’s.

9. BiB - June 13, 2006

There’s that brother again…

And do they offer normal jobs – what, do I turn up at Humboldt on Unter den Linden? – or only academic things? Can’t think what I could possibly teach. But I could perhaps carry a teacher’s books, if there is such a job.

10. daggi - June 14, 2006

No, no, you’ve misunderstood. By having a Studentenausweis and Studentenstatus (and not Sudeten-Status, which is something else completely) *any* employer -e.g. Kaiser’s in the Schönhauser Allee – doesn’t have to pay national insurance contributions (apart from pension) for you. So they get to save money by taking you on, and you too also have a bit more in your pocket per hour than someone who has to fund the welfare state by working like still a good percentage here do (have to). Unfair, eh.

The cheap-ish public transport ticket you’re forced to take as part of the being-a-student deal isn’t not impractical as well. I recommend the Uni Potsdam, then you can go where you like in Berlin and Brandenburg. You would have to take a (pretty easy) German test first, though.

Jobs at the university itself are usually only there for people who are somewhere near to finishing their studies.

11. BiB - June 14, 2006

The Russian has one of those studenty jobs, which even I sometimes get roped into helping out with, when it comes to transcribing English-language interviews with Armenian-Americans talking about their stamp collections, zum Beispiel.

Maybe I need to sign up for some more studies then. Mongolistik, vielleicht. Oj vej!

12. daggi - June 16, 2006

I’d be up for Mongolistik. Or Kirgiz. Welsh used to be on offer too, but I think it’s been cut. The language centre at the HU is clearly a case for sick building syndrome, which is a down side. Despite that: Leon, get over here now and use your National Curriculum Welsh to begin your career in academic stardom!

13. BiB - June 16, 2006

Leon, indeed, croeso croeso nGermany, and all that. Thought I’d see you at the Stammtisch last night. Were you busy making a clafoutis again? (My sister made one last time I was in the kingdom. I felt awfully posh not having to ask what it was.) (Although I’ve forgotten again now, actually.)

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