Camus and Wife Swap June 23, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Tags: Frauentausch, TV
I think I might have to move country. Or throw out the TV. Or have whatever German it is that has wormed its way into my unwitting brain removed before it’s too late.
I’ve had what could only rightfully be described as an unproductive day. Plenty of time-wasting. An obscenely long walk in the morning/afternoon to avoid work the only way I know how, by not being within striking distance of a computer. (May I also recommend having your mobile switched to its lowest possible volume? Thus you can miss calls with a light conscience without having deliberately turned the volume or the whole stinking contraption off and pretend that you would really have liked to take that call about proofreading a text on the fitments for fridge doors.) But how to avoid work once actually here, in my very own home-office? The internet provides chances galore, of course. Perhaps I wrote the odd e-mail. Did a bit of blog-surfing. Checked my bank balance 72 times. That sort of thing. I feigned – to myself – interest in the football. (Well, I was secretly gutted that the Czechs lost. And the Croatians are out too, I see. So it really is just the utterly mediocre – only in footballing terms, of course. Is Shevchenko up there for one of the dishiest players in the tournament, though? Answers in a comment, please – Ukrainians left to represent Slavdom.) When all my options were exhausted, I thought it was time to move away from the computer altogether – actually even turn it off. Always a traumatic moment, though a sweet sorrow – and feign even greater interest in the football by going as far as surrendering myself unto catatonia by having a game on the screen in front of me with neither fellow humans, alcohol or cigarettes for company. This lasted for about a billionth of a second before I decided to zap.
TV is fatal. I always pretend to be one of those groovy types that never watches because I’m too busy reading Camus or out at a north Bulgarian film festival. But I do secretly watch. I actually get up in the middle of the night, like the secret lemonade-drinker, when no-one is awake – admittedly, on our street, I wouldn’t have to wait too long for this. The police tend to do a drive-by if a light is switched on at 9.05pm – and watch all the brilliant programmes like the round-ups of German chat-show clips made with absolutely no attention to the calendar whatsoever. They’ll happily throw a clip from last week’s Oli Geissen show in next to one from Bärbel from 1992. I get sartorial culture shock about twice a minute. Then there are the ladies in various states of undress and doing odder and odder things with their bosoms, which I can’t believe gives anyone at all any pleasure, least of all them, and especially the older ladies with very generous bosoms indeed who are, as a rule, obliged to jiggle them about like the jelly in Roobarb and Custard. (Was there jelly in Roobarb and Custard? Or did everything wobble in Roobarb and Custard?) I occasionally let my finger rest for a second as I get to the all-night programme advertising the fitness equipment as I try to work out whether the men there are beautiful or not. And I worry every time for the sanity of the programme-planners over at N24, a sort of cheapo, German, 24-hour, rolling-news channel but often the news is only ticker-taped in along the bottom of the screen and the rest is filled with images of natural and man-made disasters. Never a nice programme about someone making a lovely cake. Always a volcano erupting. Too babyish. They should employ some women or homosexuals, perhaps, to loosen the grip of this obsession with violence.
So this evening I watched TV. And I accidentally got consumed with Frauentausch, German for Wife Swap. Not just lightly absorbed. Consumed. Glued-to-the-screen, swearing-when-the-adverts-came, forgetting-I’d-run-out-of-cigarettes consumed. It was a wonderfully extreme case – now I’m not just trying to show off, but this really was the first time I’ve seen it, so maybe they always manage to get such polar opposites – with a fun-loving, not-majorly-posh mother from the wicked West swapping with a majorly Christian, frumpy, old sourpuss from the East. Darlings, it was much the best thing I’ve ever seen. Better than Citizen Kane, or the Battleship Potemkin. And even better than what’s-his-face Maguire in Pleasantville, but it was along similar lines. The wicked Wessi mother wrought havoc, in a good way, in the Ossi household and the 700 children, and even the husband, adored her and she adored them and there were tears and hugs and sobbing and sadness as she left. And the über-religious Ossi mum was loathed in equal measure by each of the members of her ersatz family and neither could wait to see the back of the other. (Having said all this, the very-odd-indeed religious mum’s children were marginally the nicest.) And then there is the crescendo when the two wives finally meet and, inevitably, hate each other. For full effect, both ladies were decidedly queer-looking. It was too good to be true.
Which is why I must move to Slovenia, so that I won’t be able to watch TV again for the first three-or-so years of my stay there. Or make a concerted effort to speak even less German. Or, of course, throw out the TV, whip out my Camus and get me to the nearest north Bulgarian film festival.