Breakfast for dinner September 15, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Now I’m a nasty, selfish, spiteful, bitter old queen, so there’s a good deal of egotism – that t is all wrong – in the missing. Cooking is a loathsome chore. And I do it badly anyway. I’m half-tempted to live on my professed diet of choice of weetabix and bananas, but have been advised that bananas make one fat, and as anyone worth his salt knows, I’m on a new musclathon, involving minimal physical effort but an unnaturally high intake of strawberry power-milkshakes. Still, as I ogled in disbelief at the contents of the fridge this very day, I knew it was time to go out and get some real sustenance.
“This is a queer state of affairs,” I thought to myself as I trotted back from the supermarket with bananas, weetabix and a herd-load of milk. “Here I am in East Berlin. I’ve always been a bit one for abroad, but how the buggery fuck did I end up here?” Not that I’m complaining, really, and my World-Cup-initiated love affair with Berlin is still on the go. “If I’d made a few different choices,” I went on, “like what’s-‘er-face Paltrow in that film, I might be at home nicely in, say, Leamington Spa, in a three-bedroomed semi with a Vauxhall Viva and planning my trip to Homebase on Saturday with, say, Jeremy. And yet, here I am, trundling back from the supermarket, laden down with bananas and weetabix and planning a dinner of breakfast. Life can be too queer.”
I plopped my bags down on the rickety kitchen table, whipped off my shoes Russian-style, went to pick up the parcel – some beauty product the Russian had ordered for himself – that had been left with the neighbours (thankfully not ones I’ve had noise or flooding issues with) and psyched myself up for a brinner/brupper (delete according to class status) (brea, should anyone north of the Watford Gap be reading) of exquisitely delicious and freshly baked pumpkin-seed bread – God, the Germans do good bread – either some Camembert or Brie (not brea) (can never remember the difference), some roughly hewn lumps of tomato and sexily milky coffee, which I hadn’t had for two days because of quoffing all the milk to get those flipping muscles. It was all lovely. I settled in for the post-prandial and wondered how it should have come to pass that of all the places I seem to have ‘ended up’, I’m in Germany, a country I couldn’t have had less of a psychic connection to until the moment I stepped off the plane at some Berlin airport or other a bazillion years ago.
It came to me in a flash as I contemplated some Fleischsalat. “Boyfriends.” Flipping boyfriends. Not that I don’t love them, of course (though one at a time. There’s nothing poly- about my relationships), but I now realise I am geographical putty in their hands, a powerless feather blown wherever they so care to wish.
I have one major ex. He happens to be the kindest, gentlest, most helpful person on the planet and is one of the least likely homosexuals I know. (His mother still claims he’s a ‘closet heterosexual’.) He must be 100kg of pure brawn and works in one of the manliest environments on earth, happily taking his rather more obviously homosexual 4kg-boyfriend along to any worky occasions and no-one, thankfully, giving the slightest of tosses. We were the on-off type of relationship. We can never answer when folk ask us how long we were together because the mental arithmetic is too tricky. 6 months here. 3 years there. Another 2 years in the middle. (OK, five-and-a-half years.) Anyway, it struck me, over the contemplated Fleischsalat, that he was the one that started getting me deported around the globe against my will when I’d just as happily have been in Leamington Spa with Jeremy and the Vauxhall Viva.
The ex believed in the full service deal. Not only was it selecting the right model, (high) maintenance throughout the five-and-a-half, disjointed years, there was even post-sales service. When we decided to split up after the first proper go of being together, his life gliding smoothly along well-oiled rails to a specific destination, mine derailing at Tring all the while, he decided I needed to go abroad. Naively, I thought this was all utter altruism on his part, rather than him wanting to see the back of me. Still, I couldn’t complain. He got on the phone to his friends in Paris, asked them if that boyfriend they’d met about one-and-a-half times could turn up and live with them for an undisclosed period and for total free in about ten minutes’ time and I was on the coach before I’d penned the letter to uni asking if I could have a few months off to find myself learning to drink in France.
Two years later, having learnt the lingo and done a job that I will have a one-way, first-class, TGV ticket to hell for, if hell exists, I was back, sniffing around his heels and asking if my deportation order had expired. Sure enough, it had. Wangled my way back into university, got the Tring-train hoisted back onto the tracks, removed the leaves and the powdery snow from the line and seemed to be rolling gently back towards stability.
Before I knew it, I was being bundled – handcuffed, blindfolded and gagged – onto a plane to Russia. “It’s for the best,” he assured me. “Working for a religious charity and earning $50 a month in a city with the world’s worst climate is EXACTLY the right career move for an atheist homo who’s just finished university with quite glitteringly good results.” (Have I mentioned those before? I promise that is the quote verbatim.) “You’re sure I shouldn’t stay here and find, say, a Jeremy in Leamington Spa with a nice Vauxhall Viva and a loyalty card for Homeb…” “Trust me.”
So once more I found myself trudging the wide and windy streets of a foreign city, appreciating the clemency of the weather when the thermometer hit the dizzy heights of -10 and spending an inordinate amount of time surrounded by Catholic priests. And then up popped the Russian, doing all the flattering things that young-people-in-love do, loitering outside my flat when I got home from a hard day of drinking tea (and learning the Lord’s Prayer in Russian) at the office, rustling up delicious dinners, taking his shirt off, telling me I had no soul. It was all marvellous. But for the German connection…
The Russian had studied German in his time. After a year or so of our togetherness, there was the chance for him to spend some time in Berlin. The charity closed down for the summer, as that’s when poor people stop pretending to be poor and take their savings out from under their mattresses and spend their time in Gstaad, so I was free to waft aimlessly around the Bundeshauptstadt without a care (or Pfennig) in the world. The Russian had arrived a couple of weeks before me. “Isn’t it vaaaaaaaaaanderful?” he assured me forcefully as he took me to a deserted Alexanderplatz late on a Thursday evening. “No, it’s the ugliest architectural ensemble I’ve seen since being ushered to my flat in Petrozavodsk when I was still a student,” I replied, love struggling to disguise the rancour. We stayed on for a few more weeks, me loathing every second, and had the most Hollywoodish goodbye imaginable at the airport as his visa expired and I thought I’d try and stay on and see if we could emigrate here immediately.
Thankfully, that was impossible and I was back on a plane to St. Petersburg within weeks. I hoped Germany might slip off the radar screen. But sure enough, the old deportation gene kept busy on the quiet and all of a sudden it was announced that there was a place waiting for him at Humboldt University. I whooped for joy as it looked like he wouldn’t be able to get the visa on time. But the gods of deportation had the last laugh and now here I bloody well am, having breakfast for dinner while he lives it up on his babushka’s potato patch.
And I could have just seen myself in a Vauxhall Viva.