Kindness October 11, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, aren’t people kind? And aren’t bloggers nice? One fine day, ages ago now, as I trawled through my inbox happily deleting the 9 million translation proposals from Pashto to Romanian and other deliciously undoable (by me) combinations, there was a nicely surprising e-mail from a familiar name. A name familiar from the world of blogging. Yes, there was an e-mail from Mr. Blognor Regis who’d remembered, from an earlier bloggy exchange, that I liked St. Paul’s, perhaps all the more so since my banishment from the UK for crimes against insanity, and decided to send me this pic. Darlings, I could have cried. I might even have. And it’s true that the London skyline does indeed now hold a very special place in my heart.I’m thrilled by the gherkin. Or was, at least. On a London trip when I’d forgotten it was being built, and on the train from my mother’s leafy suburb into Waterloo, it suddenly loomed in to view – I think it made an extra effort for me, knowing I was on holiday – and transformed instantaneously my view of London for ever. I know there’s plenty of wank down around there too – the Nat West tower is actually pretty cack, let’s face it – but the gherkin made me think London was an admirable kind of place.
I wrote recently of a night-time walk through London town and was impressed with how beautiful the city looked. This photo reminds me of a couple of very lovely spots… And a conversation with a random German who, if I was quite another type altogether, might well have experienced my fist in his face. But I am not that type. At all. And he was a perfectly nice random German, but kept sending me into an ungovernable rage about the UK. I’ll explain.
It was a random queer beer. He was a random queer German. He spoke English, so we spoke English. Which was his cue to hold forth with a UK-for-beginners lesson, the beginner being, inexplicably, me. “No, no, no, ze country is called Great Britain,” he insisted, my fist clenching all the while, “and United Kingdom refers to ze union of ze English and Scottish crowns.” “Very good,” I said, applauding his knowledge of English and Scottish crowns, “aber absolutely, totally fucking 100% wrong. Great Britain is the biggish island – you know, England, Scotland and Wales – and the country’s full name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” “Ja, aber Norzern Ireland doesn’t have a king. Ze kingdom is only England and Scotland.” I reminded him 800 more times, fingers curling in and out behind my back, that it was awfully nice of him to try to convince me of his bollocks but it was, nonetheless, out-and-out, unmitigated and actually rather dreary bollocks.
We moved on. “Ja, aber ze problem is zat London is so ugly, especially in comparison to Manchester, which is a really beautiful city.” Now I don’t know Manchester, so can’t comment on its beauty, but have, perhaps, once or twice, allowed myself to succumb to the odd stereotype about it. “Ja, zere has been a lot of urban renewal zere.” “Well hoo-fucking-rah for Manchester,” I went on, “but this does not account for your blindness in thinking that London is ugly. Are you quite stark raving mad? London… Ugly? Manchester… beautiful?” He then went on to correct my pronunciation of the noise Salford, correct my misconceptions about Greater Manchester’s population, and correct my RP to Manchester-variant English. We haven’t met again.
Anyway, what was the point of all this?
Ah, yes, Mr. Blognor Regis’s kindness. Perhaps he doesn’t know it, but St. Paul’s and Blognor Regis also occupy a very special place in my blogging heart. When I once pilfered a different snap of St. Paul’s from the Blognor site, its kind owner then provided me with my FIRST EVER comment from a blogger stranger. Until then, my blogging life had been a strictly personal affair, between me and my two blogging pals. In fact, so naive was I, and such a wallflower-blogger was I, that I hardly dared even VISIT unknown blogs and assumed from the chatty tone that I saw elsewhere that all these folk must know each other personally. I actually asked EINY what the etiquette for linking was. Didn’t know my arse from my elbow. So, Herr Blognor, you introduced me to the world of unknown blogs. Through you, I discovered Wynders and so on exponentially ever onwards.
And then more kindness, as if my kindness cup wasn’t already full to the brim. Popped down to check the ‘real’ post – thankfully, no Romanian-Farsi proposals there – and there was a great, big, fuck-off jiffy bag from DJ Lukeski. That man is a one-man shelf-filler. As the months pass, his random acts of kindness make my book and CD collections ever more respectable. And so Imre Kertész’s Fatelessness – eek, I see it has won an award for translation – now sits expectantly atop my desk, yawning under the weight of various bits of filth. (What the fuck is a GB-Europe plug-adapter doing here? And sunglasses?)
Aren’t folk kind? I’m feeling all gooey.