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Pooey McPoo August 25, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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…as we once collectively decided was a fitting rendition into English of Akaky Akakievich, the pathetic hero of Gogol’s Overcoat.

But I want to be Pooey McPoo, although I might change my name by deed poll if I do wake up as him tomorrow, or any other day. Of course he is risible, even by Gogol’s standards. He’s a horrible pen-pusher – nice expression for this in Russian: канцелярская крыса, or office rat – taking pride in copying out official documents. No job could be worse. He’s a nobody. He only briefly finds fame and fortune and popularity when he orders himself a new coat. It gets nicked and he dies of a broken heart. Such is the fate of Pooey Mc Poo.

But I think his job sounds like the best job in the world. I’d adore to be a copy-clerk. I am livid every time I read about any idiot in Russian literature. They always have the best jobs. The actual Idiot, in Dosters’s Idiot, beboasts his good handwriting early in the novel, and almost gets a job on the back of it. Instead, he just bees mad, nicely, and sits around drinking tea and trying to save the world. When he’s not raving and getting into trouble between Petersburg and… is it Pavlovsk? Can’t remember… he’s off being nutty in Switzerland somewhere. I haven’t been to Switzerland for years, but I’d be more than willing to go mad for the sake of a trip there. (Although it would be boring to have to become a revolutionary. Is it, in fact, because Switzerland is so boring that folk feel they have to turn revolutionary the second they get a bit of choc inside them?)

For – surprise, surprise, this is about to get anti-translation – I just CAN’T do my job. I just can’t. I have been staring at the computer screen for the last fifty years and just CANNOT translate the pus I’m currently meant to be translating. I mean, I can, obviously, and am lying when I say I can’t, but give me a bit of licence as I despair at what I am doing to earn a laughable living. And I will do this, no doubt, as I’m much the most slavish person on the planet and just will get this done by the time I’m meant to. But how I hate it. Oi, you, translation! Rot in hell.

And it would be so lovely to write instead. I mean, translating is writing of a sort. But what could possibly shrivel your cock more than slavishly translating someone else’s (often, FANTASTICALLY uninteresting) words? I feel like some gangster’s lackey. Not brave enough to do any of the dirty work myself, but hanging around on his coat-tails to feel as if I’m vaguely in on the action. (Which is not to say, of course, remembering to be diplomatic, that SOME translators don’t do an awfully good deed. Making Russian literature, per esempio, available to the rest of the world is a fantastically important thing to have done. And, no doubt, the plundering of nations would have been a lot more difficult if translators hadn’t busily, lapdoggishly been bobbing about amongst the main players. I’ve never understood how Pizarro and the Incas did their early ‘negotiating’.)

Yes, it’s got to be writing (or a job on the till at Lidl. I’d quite like to do that swipey thing). But don’t you think for a moment I mean writing writing. Well, that would be nice too, of course, but I couldn’t write any work longer than a postcard. No, I mean real writing. Pooey McPoo writing. Do you think there’s still much call for copy-clerks in the 21st century? Do I need to get me to some obscure bit of some obscure country? If I learn an Indian language, perhaps I could, in a variation on the theme, become one of those folks, like in Salaam Bombay, who sit on street corners and write up letters for illiterate types (before then throwing them away when their backs are turned. I’ve always hated that man).

If anyone wants me to handwrite their blog for them, just give me a sign. Payment: full-board (cabbage soup) and lodgings (breezy mansard).

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Comments»

1. Wyndham - August 26, 2006

I’ve read good books which have been fantastically translated and shit books which have been really badly translated and bad books which have been brilliantly translated and, well, you know the rest.. If there’s one thing I knonw about you Bib, my boy, you can write fantastically well and i would kill to have a brillaint skill like you do. I don’t take blogmates lightly and I comand you to pull yourself together.

Apologies, i’m pissed and not in a great frame of mind at the moment, grumpy, and I love your walks and your life with the Russian, so apologies again and everything.

2. BiB - August 26, 2006

Oh, Wyndypops, it’s SUCH a pleasure to see you pop up in my inbox as I toil through my pus about pensions and insurance and all from a language I barely understand, even though I’ve lived in the country for a gazillion years, which makes me think I must be a mentalist.

Please say more about the not great frame of mind. Any luck on the work front, or are you still living it up on your pay-off money?

Wynders, blogdom just isn’t the same without you. Really, it isn’t. I wish you’d come back.

3. Wyndham - August 26, 2006

Things not good, to be honest. One of the reasons I gave up blogging. I’m playing a long game at the moment, but as someone who wants everything NOW i’m finding it difficult. Can’t thnk of anything else to say.

4. BiB - August 26, 2006

Fuck, sorry to hear it. I hope it’s only a temporary thing. I’m sure resuming blogging would make things a helluva lot better. (OK, that was facetious, but it’d be sex to have you back.)

I hope the lovely Veronica and Dexter provide joy when times are rough.

I can’t believe your talents won’t have you winning the long game in the end. Have a fag and a nice huge glass of red while you wait. (Haven’t smoked since Monday. God, it’s boring.)

5. Wyndham - August 26, 2006

Started smoking again tonight. Thinking too much, always a bore. Sorry. Quite pissed. Shit, this is cyberspace.

6. BiB - August 26, 2006

Cyber shmyber.

I’m not nearly pissed enough (one glass with dinner), and not smoking at all enough, and am working on something loathsome. So it could be a better Friday (OK, Saturday morning).

Sorry about the thoughts. But that’s an ill that has to be befriended, rather than dreaded, isn’t it?

7. Wyndham - August 26, 2006

Damn right.

8. BiB - August 26, 2006

Fuck, I’m feeling all gossipy and nosey. Can’t you do a majorly coded blogpost – hm, you’ve given up blogging. A one-off return, perhaps? – codedly explaining every ill and woe? (Alternatively, there’s always e-mail, of course.)

Wynders, I am a great believer in boosting people’s egos. Annoyingly, I haven’t met you. But let’s see what good things we can say about you from your blog…

You had (or have, it ain’t too late) an extremely loyal blog-following. You also had (or have…) an extremely good blog. Fucking good. A total hoot. Always entertaining. Written like a dream. In the remote climes of Berlin, you have at least three fans. (OK, one is me, but two are female, if that boosts your ego even more. (Both are attached. But then so are you.) We talk about you when we meet, for fuck’s sake.)

You have left the organisation, and this is proving a cause for concern, perhaps. But I’m guessing you’re not skint. You have a wife/female companion and child and a house and a cleaner (who admittedly hides your diary, but worse things have happened). You will not starve before the next job comes up, and, anyway, your first novel should have appeared by then.

Plus, you’ve got Leo Sayer locks and you’re famed for your handsomeness.

Um, excuse the eulogy. Just trying to cheer you up, vaguely. I’m sure you’re an awfully nice chap. You must be to write so heavenlily. So I hope all will be well.

9. daggi - September 11, 2006

Work (as little as possible)? Money (as much as possible)? Haven’t you finished that plan for us yet?

10. BiB - September 11, 2006

It’s another long game, if I’ve understood that term correctly. So long, in fact, that I haven’t even yet come up with the official idea. Well, get back to writing your blog, of course. It can only be a question of time before someone comes and offers us a million euros for the privilege of reprinting every word.


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