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I thought I’d died July 19, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

…and gone straight to the set of an Emir Kusturica film. Not that I’ve ever watched a Kusturica film, per se, but I imagine it’s all slivovitz, tragedy and accordions. And nothing wrong with a bit of Serbian drama whatever the weather.

Aber in Berlin’s Ruislip?

So there I was, minding my own business, toiling through some paid labour, windows flung open in a concession to the boilingness, when what should start up but an accordion? And not just a youngster languidly playing Bésame Mucho without especial verve or gusto, but beautifully-played, mournful, wistful, baleful and any number of other adjectives ending in -ful, Balkan-sounding (to my utterly inexpert ear) music wafting towards me.

I dashed to the window and then remembered I was only in my pants – STILL boiling – so loitered at a decent distance. It was quite the most excitement B_ Straße has seen since someone flushed their loo at 10.05pm and the police had snipers surrounding the guilty flat within minutes. I think the accordionist might have had a drink. He was in his fifties. Of ruddy complexion. And lingering under balconies in the hope, no doubt, that he’d be thrown a golden taler or two or perhaps be invited in for a hearty fish supper. Unluckily for him, he chose to strike up his one-man show just as he came to rest under the 100%-long-term-unemployment house across the road. Not only couldn’t I go out onto the balcony to tell him of his oversight because I was in my pants, but it would have actually been rude to accompany his music with my hollering about them all being more skint than I am. So I let him perform mournfully on.

Normally, like everyone sane, I loathe the accordion. It reminds me of national costumes, bad teeth, headscarves and dirty fingernails. But it was so beautiful when it started here, in Ruislip, on a boiling hot day, shattering the suburban silence and transporting me to somewhere I’ve never been, like the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. The wandering musician must have smelt my enthusiasm because he caught my eye at the only split second when eye-contact could feasibly have been made. He gave me a big, hearty, rubicund grin. I recoiled a tad so that I wouldn’t have to cross his palm with silver. (Anyway, surely you can’t hurl money out windows at folk? In Ruislip?)

I went back to my paid labour, without paying him for his. I could hear the neighbours huffing and puffing and screeching their plastic balcony chairs and shutting their balcony umbrellas – tossers – in protest and shuffling back indoors to watch whatever is the German equivalent of Bob’s Full House. You think they’d have been happy with a bit of live entertainment. I certainly was.

The strains of the accordionist’s music wafted away into silence. I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing him round these ‘ere parts again. It may well have been before the 10pm watershed, but it was just a little bit too much excitement for B_ Straße to cope with. Damn you, suburban silence.



1. Welshy - July 20, 2006

Hmmm, the accordian was enjoyable? I’m not sure but you do make it all sound lovely. I lived next door to an accordianist in Weimar. Horrific. I mean, he was lovely (quite attractive as I recall) but that accordian. At 8pm (or, indeed 7am!)… But the rough old man does make it sound atmospheric so I shall give you the benefit of the doubt and NOT tell you that the heat is turning you funny.

PS word verification ‘bvgguggf’. Love it.

2. Bowleserised - July 20, 2006

I like the accordian. Within reason. How lovely and atmospheric, though.

Glad to see I am not the only one working in their underwear. There really is no other solution to this weather.

3. GreatSheElephant - July 20, 2006

toilet flushing at 10.05? I thought that was a cliche. Tell me it’s a cliche.

To be truly Kusturica, it should have been a trumpet. Reminds of a morning in Paris when out of nowhere, a brass band sounding very Kusturica suddenly appeared, walked down the street playing and disappeared. I wanted to run and follow them.

Now I like accordion but that’s because I think of it as bandoneon (the Argentine version) which is somehow much less cheesy

4. Ed Ward - July 20, 2006

When I lived in Moabit, a guy with a hurdy-gurdy/barrel organ kind of thing used to come around and grind out a song. The little old ladies would put coins in Kleenex and drop them from their windows. I suspect I was seeing a dying art, but it was a nice bit of the Berliner Hofmusiker past to see first-hand.

5. lukeski - July 20, 2006

The heat in London is simply unbearable – the Tube is almost a no-go zone. The only reliefs are at home (churches don’t get very hot) and at work (air-conditioning is the greatest invention of the 20th Century).

6. BiB - July 20, 2006

Lukeski, you must join the clergy immediately. I’m sure I’ve probably said this before, but I’m sure I’d make a great monk… if only I believed in God. But once the gay atheist monks set up their own order, I’ll be there in a jiffy, especially if they set it up on a craggy outpost on some depressing Welsh or Scottish island. Heaven.

Ed, a better class of old lady in Moabit, clearly. Here it was all tutting and pursed lips. I’ve got Madonna on to break the silence at the moment, and, let me tell you, the atmos isn’t nearly the same. What a nice idea, though, wrapping coins in Kleenex and hoying them out the window. I’ll keep a loo-roll by the balcony window for just such occasions from now on.

GSE, looks like I’m not going to the lesbian wedding, unless I really do decide to (i.e. get told I AM invited after all) either today, tomorrow or at crack of dawn on Saturday, though surely that would be pushing it. So what about a Berlin drinky? (I don’t suppose you can be tempted along to Christopher Street Day on Saturday? Can you march? Do you have a whistle? Do you know any gay slogans?)

B., I want to be transported to a central European fairytale village immediately, with a constant flow of wandering musicians, toothless but buxom ladies, painfully strong booze and filth. This suburb is getting to me.

…Welshy, though it could, admittedly, be the heat. (High 30s today. I love it, secretly.)

7. Welshy - July 21, 2006

How are Uladzimir and his wife doing btw?

8. BiB - July 21, 2006

Welshy, well remembered, and thank you. Well, it’s quite tough to get updates, but the last thing I heard, a good few days ago, is that Uladzimir is still in a coma, in a very poor state, and they think he may have had a stroke too, although there were, one day, encouraging reports of hand movements. As far as I know, his wife is pretty much fine. She lost part of a leg, I think, but is, oddly, OK. Hard to get news, though, and his website’s gone to pot.

9. Welshy - July 21, 2006

Ok, well, keep me posted. It must be a really horrible situation for everybody.

10. BiB - July 26, 2006

Well, his site’s been down for a long time now, which of course is a worry, but I still hope to get news if there’s any change.

11. The Sanjak of Novi Pazar revisited « BiB - June 20, 2007

[…] Pazar revisited June 20, 2007 Posted by pleite in Uncategorized. trackback Darlings, remember this? Not that I expect you to, of course. In fact, I’d be a tad worried if you did. But what I […]

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