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Camus and Wife Swap June 23, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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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.



1. Bren - June 23, 2006

Of course bloody Croatia is out! Would you have it any other way?!


2. BiB - June 23, 2006

Who was it that knocked them out again?

Are you sure this is a time for an Australian to give up blogging? You’ve got material galore in this, surely. So, who’s next? Is it the Italians? PLEASE beat them. Is an Australia Ghana final feasible?

3. Bowleserised - June 23, 2006

Alas, Ghana are playing Brazil next. Not fair! Not FAIR!

Wife Swap UK is superb TV too – sometimes they do an international version. I once saw them swap an English slobwife with a German überwife. That was a fun episode.

4. BiB - June 23, 2006

B., thank you for putting my mind at rest and letting me know that Wife Swap is acceptable viewing. I thought it was only one step from Frauentausch to having a very large earring and a year-round tan, but now I can breathe easily.

I’m so bored of Brazil. Hopefully Ghana will be inspired. Still gutted about the Czechs. I blame Nedved’s hair. Mind you, Ronaldinho gets away with it.

5. patroclus - June 23, 2006

Which Camus?

I don’t know anything about football (although Albert knew a thing or two – didn’t he play in goal for Algeria?)

6. Wyndham - June 23, 2006

The good thing about Camus is that his books are so short that you can watch the first half of Wife Swap with everyone shouting and bursting into tears and everything – and then read half the book in the first commerical break. By the time the episode is over you’re in full existential breakdown – because of the Camus or the Fraulein Swap, you decide.

7. BiB - June 23, 2006

Pats, his famous work, “Le Footballeur,” is my favourite. It describes his time as goalie for Algiers United as succinctly as ever. The whole novel is, “Je n’ai jamais compris pour quoi je suis devenu footballeur. Puis j’ai tué un Arabe. Je déteste ma mère. Je suis content qu’elle est morte.”

Wynders, as you rightly understand, brevity is the priority for us TV-readers.

8. Bowleserised - June 24, 2006

You just brought yet another A Level set text flooding back, just as I’d started to get over the nightmares. Mind you, in my horrible dreams it’s always physics A level, which I didn’t take, thank God.
L’Etranger didn’t use the past historic tense, did it? That’s why it was dished out to us.

9. BiB - June 24, 2006

The words ‘past historic’ have brought a memory or two flooding back too. We’ll be onto the optative before you know it. So, past historic. Is that the passé simple as ever is? Just whipped out my Camus. And it begins (I thank you), “Aujourd’hui, maman est morte. Ou peut-etre (sorry, can’t do circumflexes) (that was me, not Cammers) hier, je ne sais pas.” So no sign of the past historic. Just as well. I thought I might have to go back and reformat Le Footballeur.

10. lukeski - June 24, 2006

Do you get Queer Eye for the Straight Guy auf Deutsch? It was a surprisingly large hit in the English-speaking world a couple of years ago. The basic premise is that het males are entirely hopeless in every way, and that a bit of homosexuality (without the bum sex, of course) will make them more rounded individuals. Positive discrimination, I believe it is called…

11. daggi - June 25, 2006

I thought it was about giving straight men gymnasium membership cards and some new clothes, and maybe some theatrical training in how to get off with women easier, I mean, “show that hidden sensitive side”. It surely must have had a version auf Deutsch (presumably on Pro7 or RTL) by now.

12. BiB - June 25, 2006

I need Queer Eye for the Queer Guy for me. Well, or just a gym membership card. Not that I could possibly go and lift weights unless everyone else was removed from the premises first. Anyway, I can do one sit-up and two press-ups a year at home, which is surely more than enough. (I think we’re going to be onto however many Tibetans it is again in a sec.)

13. daggi - June 25, 2006

Lift Tibetans instead of weights? Are they lighter?

14. BiB - June 25, 2006

I struggle with 10kg dumb-bells. Does a child weigh less than 10kg? I’d need one in each hand for balance. Anyway, I LOATHE lifting weights with a passion. I’d much rather smoke. (Fuck, out of fags.)

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