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Emergency purchases August 12, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Come with me, if you will, to the world’s most southerly capital. Imagine yourself in Wellington on a scorching hot day in January. Imagine you’ve spent the previous night above the bit where the driver sits in a mobile home. And imagine that the family you’re travelling with – a husband and wife and two sons – have got a ferry to catch at crack of dawn. The husband is a former military man. His conversation is peppered with militarisms. If husband and wife disagree about how to discipline son number one, and said disagreement takes place in front of said son, there is talk of ‘dissent in the ranks’. Which is a bit of a hoot, especially if you’ve had a bit of a shant beforehand.

Anyway, either the shant had made the militaristic one lose his discipline for a sec, or it was all just so exhausting, but we, of course, woke up about ten seconds before we had to set off from our camping thing to head for downtown Welly for them to get their ferry across whatever that stretch of water is called. They would head for the beautiful South Island. I would have a day – a wonderful one, it turns out – in Wellington before heading back up north. But the lack of time meant it was all fuss and palaver. There was no time for breakfast. Or washing. There was frantic preparation of the two children. One attached to one boob. The other – son, not boob – suggested mummy cut off her boobs altogether and throw little brother in the bin. The parents worried their son was mad and prepared to discipline him before getting into a disagreement about how to do so and arguing amongst themselves. All the while, packing, tooth-brushing and good-byes carried on in a panic.

I made my way off the ship about three seconds before it was due to depart. And stood alone in Wellington in what I’d slept in. An OK pair of shorts and a filthy, creased white t-shirt. “They’ll drop out in the course of the day,” I thought, and I set off to wander like mad round the city.

It couldn’t have been more boiling. And Wellington couldn’t have been more lovely. But NZers are an awfully funky bunch – at least they were in downtown Welly – and I felt just a tiny bit awkward unwashed and unkempt as I was. I wandered trampily into shops, hoping to find some emergency replacement garment. It was all horribly cool and horribly expensive, and I only wanted something to get me through to the evening. Painfully friendly shop assistants would come and befriend one. I would run away, self-consciously, mouthing, “No speak Kiwi.” Eventually I stumbled across a shop for old, working-class men and bought myself a plain old white polo-shirt for a couple of dollars from the becobwebbed shop-assistant. Dashed to a public loo, changed into it, stuffed the rag in a bag, tried to ruffle my hair slightly and got on with the rest of the day.

Gosh, sorry, that was all only the intro. I must learn to truncate.

Anyway, the plain old whitey has now become a staple of the BiB+Russian wardrobe. The Russian likes it, even though it’s technically ‘mine’ – this would normally give him cockshrink – because it hugs the figure in a way that best shows off his rippling muscles. But it is an undiscriminating garment. I have no figure to hug, and it hangs in a nicely neutral way on my skeletal frame too. We are both happy.

I was in said garment this very day, when the summer has made a brief but welcome return to the German capital. This heightened spirits like nobody’s business. The Russian and I wrestled our way down the street, leapfrogging small cars and clicking our heels in the air. “I love you, Russian,” I said, once per footstep. “Shut up, fool,” he replied.

On the hopelessly beautiful Kollwitzplatz, we saw an Italian restaurant – another sure sign of an inordinately good mood. Normally can’t be bothered to enthuse about Italian food. Poor Italians, having so little choice – that looked oodles too expensive for us, full of the type that we’d like to be. We dashed in and made ourselves comfortable. Ordered way beyond our means. I even ordered a real fish. The fiddliness would normally put me into an ungovernable rage. And while I can’t claim to pretend that I don’t know a fish is, well, a dead fish, I don’t usually order the headed version. But today I did. And ate it with relish. And didn’t manage to choke myself to death either.

But by the end of the meal, I looked like Sir Les Patterson. The Russian was almost as besmirched, but at least not in dazzling white. All around us, perfect folk strutted around, flashing their cleanliness and mastery of table-manners. It was quite a humiliation.

“Darling, we’re going to have to go and buy something to change into. (Translation: “you’re going to have to go and buy us something to change into.”) We can’t walk around like this. We’ll be arrested by the Ordnungsamt.”

We dashed into some shop. There were reductions galore. The Russian tried on a garment or two, but the ripple-factor wasn’t high enough. He put them back on the rack with a huff of disdain. Then, he spotted a jacket. For me. This is a rare occurrence. So I went with it big-time. I tried it on. It fitted (fat?) like a dream. And it would be light enough to wear home in this weather. And it covered the pattersonesque stains perfectly well.

It was a light, carefully scruffy affair. Greyish. Made of cobweb or something. And had some carefully positioned stains – can’t tell whether it’s sperm, tipp-ex or a smattering of old paint – dotted here and there. We allowed the prissy assistant to put it into one of those posh plastic bags before hurling that away within a nanosecond of leaving the shop. And, darlings, it was perfect. It went lovelily well with the emergency NZ purchase, the (Russian’s) jeans I was wearing and the (Russian’s) new trainers I’d just changed into because they were ripping his feet to shreds. I sashayed down the street. I dared to look some of the groovy Berlin types in the face. I wolf-whistled at topless builders. I could even see a reluctant hint of admiration in the Russian’s ravishing features.

I floated homewards. And as I floated past a window, dazzling in the sunshine, I caught my reflection. I looked exactly like Francis Rossi.



1. Wyndham - August 12, 2006

I am much attracted to tomato-based foodstuffs but have managed to ruin about 80% of my shirts. I’ve tried tucking a napkin into my shirt collar but Veronica has whipped it off me in an embarassed fury. Actually, I’m reaching an age where a napkin stuffed under my chin is actually the slimmest chance I have of ever again making a fashion statement.

Ah, Windy Welly – is the Wizard still there?

2. BiB - August 12, 2006

Wyndham, I still have to suppress a bit of a snuffle at the thought of you not blogging. I’m trying to think what it feels like, especially as we – your fan-base – all know you are alive and well. So it doesn’t feel like you’ve gone. Does it feel like you’ve left a soap, and we can all hope you’ll be back? Perhaps. Or perhaps a bit more like a relationship, where one partner can’t see why you have to split up but the other – the Wyndham, in this case – insists it’s for the best. It’s all very sad. Makes me think you are the blogging touchstone and that, ergo, blogging has had its day.

But we shan’t despair.

Wizard? In Wellington? Is this to do with Wellywood and Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or some other blockbuster that was filmed there?

Not fashionable at 40? Whaddaya mean? All the types that the Russian and I were trying to be in the Italian resto were well into their 40s. I’ve never understood the cult of the young. 40-something=Brad Pitt. Young=Wayne Rooney. I rest my case.

3. lukeski - August 13, 2006

I guess you could pretend you we being ironic in a postmodern way, as many of the Soho media types do. The Quo are aways a worry. My first year in halls of residence was punctuated by a very young and talented music student, who, despite his immense talent and taste in all theing classical, was obsessed by said band – it was a family tradition, he claimed, as he showed me his denim jacket with Quo badges and patches, along with his collection of other Rossi/Parfitt-relarted memorabilia. As the North say, there’s as queer as folk…

4. lukeski - August 13, 2006

Sorry, lost the ‘nowt’…

5. BiB - August 13, 2006

I’m having terrible visions of him playing a cello as Mr. Parfitt would play guitar. Did he have a mullet? And did he wear a denim jacket over his dinner suit at concerts? And rock back and forth, perhaps alongside the conductor?

6. Bowleserised - August 13, 2006

BiB – you and GSE are doing my bleedin’ ‘ead in wiv all this self deprecation. The fatal thing is, you’re both funny with it. Naughty!

7. BiB - August 13, 2006

I could try to claim I WANTED to look like Francis Rossi, I suppose. I need to go and practise on my air-guitar.

8. Blonde at Heart - August 14, 2006

Sonderangebot is the most beautiful word in German (and the only one I can pronounce without tripping over unpronounceable-vowels).

9. BiB - August 14, 2006

Blonde at heart, hello! We should compare language notes. I attempted a Hebrew evening class once. Gave up once I realised I was the dimmest in the group. Couldn’t tell my lamed from my dalet. Hopeless. Lovelily guttural though.

10. GreatSheElephant - August 14, 2006

You don’t have Quo hair though Bib which is a very good thing.

I saw Rick Parfitt on a train once.

11. BiB - August 14, 2006

Did you say, “Love the songs, Rick, but the mullet’s got to go”? Or just admire the mullet from afar?

I think the new item is ruined for me already. It might have to go back to the shop, or to Humana. The association is just TOO strong.

12. Blonde at Heart - August 15, 2006

Well, at least you tried, and I am sure Bren will tell you it is a really hard language to learn. I feel partly blameful he never tried to learn it again. I kept laughing at his silly mistakes.

Really nice post on Bren’s blog.

13. BiB - August 15, 2006

BAH, thank you. I enjoyed the class, actually. And I’ve enjoyed mystifying the occasional Israeli tourist here with a bavakasha here and there.

14. BiB - August 16, 2006

I think it’s a post-Wyndham backlash. I’m feeling very anti-blog at the moment because everyone else seems to be too. But I’m sure it’s just a lull. Plus it’s been non-stop guests here, and more arrive this weekend. Plus I’m even doing a bit of work. But my tiny brain is all the while ferreting away, thinking what could possibly provide blog-meat. I’ve half-thought of blogging about the religious Muslim homosexual visiting this weekend. We’ll dash off to buy halal meat tomorrow or Friday, will make sure not to get alcohol anywhere near his section of the table… and yet, and yet, he lives with a man, and, presumably, does all those naughty things that homosexuals do. I do love religious people’s loopholes.

15. chendaberry - August 16, 2006

bib, we have to have a serious talk. since wyndham’s sad demise, i find myself visiting your blog twice as frequently as before and to my horror keep finding that THERE’S NO NEW POST when i want one. you’re going to have to pull up your socks here, otherwise i’ll find myself doing twice as much work as i actually want to. and that would never do. do you have anything to say for yourself, boy?

16. chendaberry - August 16, 2006

that sounds like a good start. madame b and i can contribute a roman catholic, lesbian friend. i’m guessing the same applies.. although now that i inadvertantly watched ‘the l word’ last night on pro 7, suddenly all my myths about lesbians have imploded. now i know they all are f***ing gorgeous, wear spikey heels, drive convertibles and go to the same hairdresser. the only myth remaining firmly in place is that they were all wearing tank tops. all the time.

17. Bowleserised - August 16, 2006

I know many gorgeous lezzers, I have to say. Pity that my tastes run to hairy knuckled fellas…

18. BiB - August 16, 2006

Chen, but convertible tractors, or lorries, surely? No?

B. (and anyone else), there’s a horrible lack of solidarity between lezzers and poofs. Actually, outright animosity is the norm. I’m in an anti-lezzer mood because of being invited and then uninvited to a lesbian wedding, although, truth be told, it was a blessing in disguise. All these quick trips to the UK end up costing a fortune. I’ve got 2 in September, plus the stag thing in Berlin in between. The Russian has cunningly decided to decamp to Russia for all of September to miss out on it all.

19. Bowleserised - August 16, 2006

You and I will probably bump into each other in Schonefeld. I’m spending most of September in the air, thanks to weddings.

I do know a lesbian who is, as far as I can tell, actually a drag queen trapped in the body of a bean flicker, and is very dear to me. Perhaps she represents the magical point at which lezzers and poofs can meet and find common ground.

20. BiB - August 16, 2006

B., obviously I had to google bean flicker and some modern dictionary cleared up the mystery. I’m awfully behind the times.

Are any of your weddings in Northern Ireland?

21. Bowleserised - August 18, 2006

No, none in Northern Ireland. Why?

22. BiB - August 18, 2006

Mine – I mean the one I’m going to – is. Just wondered if we’d be sitting next to each other on flights to Belfast. (Although I think I’ll fly via London as if I fly direct, I have to spend practically a week in Belfast and, while I’m sure it’s awfully nice there, I just don’t fancy being there THAT long.)

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