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Search complete II November 10, 2006

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
You know how I was prattling on about having found my ideal job? Well, not actually found, because – ça va sans dire – I haven’t actually applied, but which, were I to apply for it, and subsequently secure the post, would be ideal? Well, there’s been a geographical modification.

It’s a Berlin thang, you see. I mean, Berlin’s all well and good, but the 11-and-a-half month winter might be a bit of a pain. And, just occasionally, in the exile’s constant quest to find out is-it-or-isn’t-it? on the ideal-home front, Berlin might occasionally strike one as a touch of a shit-hole.

The Russian decided today that some smart items of clothing were in order, so we trolled off for a last-minute panic shop that was vaguely meant to cover shoes, suits and ties. We left the shops without any new garments but laden down with comestibles. In a moment of supreme abstemiousness, I decided against pressing the red Gauloises button on the machine that cleverly spits cigarettes right onto your spot on the supermarket conveyor belt as the Russian was paying and I didn’t think I could cope with moaning till spring. But we WERE feeling rich, for god knows what reason, so had at least treated ourselves to a posh supermarket. “BiiB, I don’t vont cook tonight. Ve jaast buy sinks like snyecks. Pyeppyers filled viz kreem cheez. Some trout filyay. Some khoumous.” My mind filled with images of rotund homosexuals rolling happily home, and I agreed heroically. Managed to sneak some quite posh wine into the trolley. And we trundled off into the night. (Germans and residents of the Bundesrepublik: DO NOT buy houmous in Germany. Germans just CANNOT do it. Even the English can make nice houmous. So it’s a mystery. But don’t waste your money. And stay thin.)

The weather is not good at the moment. Not utterly arctic. But unpleasant. And windy. And rainy. We stood forlornly, waiting for the tram. The Berlin equivalent of a dot matrix indicator – did folk know that’s what the ones in the London Underground are snappily called? A friend of mine once suggested that, rather than you turning up on the platform at Kentish Town tube only to see “Bank 24 mins” greeting you, the machine might just read “Fuck off” instead. I don’t know if he’s got on to TfL with his suggestion – informed us it was 9 minutes till the next tram. The Russian, having integrated into non-Soviet life far too well for my liking, decided this was an inordinately long time to stand in inclemency and insisted upon parting with some hard-borrowed cash in a convenient cafeteria.

Deciding I’d better match generosity with generosity, I splashed out in the cafeteria and ordered two massive fuck-off bits of cake and two cauldrons of coffee. All in all, it was about an extra 15000 calories, and similar number of euros. The waitress informed us that the establishment was thinking of closing at some point that evening and, as they’d done the washing-up once and couldn’t be bothered to do it again, we’d be served our coffee in paper cups. She stretched to plates for the cake, rather than us having to snuffle it off the floor, but we were also given plastic utensils. My radar for automatically-but-unwittingly always finding the worst spot to sit in any establishment worked like a dream and we settled in a draughty corner being buffeted by hurricane-strength, icy winds if the door to the street ever opened by more than a millimetre.

Which it did.

A lady who had last had a moment of lucidity in 1983, looking 99 but probably about 40, lunged towards us with an open bottle of beer in one hand and, oddly, a toothbrush in the other. I was indulging in a sneaky ciggy, all the while regretting my abstemiousness in the supermarket. (Indeed, I sit here utterly cigaretteless now.) She initiated conversation with my absolutely least favourite line and asked if she could ‘buy’ a cigarette from me. I thought I probably wasn’t going to bother relieving her of 20c so gave her a cigarette and even bothered with a ‘bitte schön’ for the sake of… don’t know. To my horror, the lady tarried. She ranted and spewed forth drunken wisdom. The man at the next table gave a knowing chuckle. The paper-cup waitress wondered whether it was part of her job to do something. I ignored the lady as best I could, occasionally reminding her mid-flow that I didn’t understand. The Russian then informed me that she was BOLLOCKING me. BOLLOCKING me! It appears I had handled the transaction of her being given a cigarette by me incorrectly. She didn’t want my charity. Wasn’t her money good enough for me? This she really couldn’t understand! I presented her with the most withering look I could muster when being buffeted by hurricane-strength, icy winds and consuming 15000 unnecessary calories, all the while worrying about the low cigarette-count.

We had actually cunningly positioned ourselves (or so we thought) to have a view on the dot matrix indicator. Sure enough, it was tram to the rescue. We gathered our comestibles and prepared to dash for our conveyance. Showing there were no hard feelings, I said goodbye to the woman with beer and toothbrush who hadn’t had a lucid moment since 1983. She announced that she was coming with me. Unfortunately for her, a minor, two-step sprint had to be made for the tram, and that was beyond her. Our friendship ended there.

The Russian and I sat middle-agedly on the tram. “Meine Güte!” I said, adopting my best petit bourgeois German housewife face. “That would never happen in Pyongyang!”

…So if any of you hear about a vacancy at a Pyongyang doctor’s surgery, give me the nod.



1. Mangonel - November 10, 2006

Pyongyang?!? Is cigarette-bumming woman going to pack up her beer and toothbrush in her old kit bag and Hunt You Down like the Hund you are? Will your receptionist-elect hauteur not be sufficient to hold her off? Have you been practising in front of the mirror? Have you been practising at all? You can run but you can’t hide – I vote for a show-down, cigs blazing, High Noon-style, in the Kurfurstendamm.

(And in answer to your kind question a few days ago, no I can’t do a fucking SZ on my keyboard. Clearly, umlauts neither.)

2. Mangonel - November 10, 2006

… and so now you need to know the mandarin for ‘Fucked if I know’. If I tag you with this meme thing (mwah mwah mwahahahah! the power!) you could put that down – ‘I have the largest collection of translations for ‘fucked if i know’ in the universe.’

Seriously, have you already been tagged? Do you want to be? I would like you to, but not unless you want to.

3. BiB - November 10, 2006

Mango, I’m a bit scared to be tagged, twixt you and me. It might give me an existential crisis, and I might have to cry all day and tear my hair out and scream, “Where did it all go wrong?” I bet Marsha’s memable. She’s new to all this (even by your own new standards) and might be up for anything.

I might go and loiter outside the paper-cup café and try to get my 20c off the old crone after all, haughtily pronouncing, “I didn’t come in here to be ABUSED,” throughout. And I’m still fagless.

4. Mangonel - November 10, 2006

… “And I’m still fagless.”

In a manner of speaking.

OK, no tagging.

5. daggi - November 10, 2006

When I’m in the DPRK, I’ll ask around if there’s a job for you. I wonder what the trolly-dollies on Air Koryo are like? Malnourished, probably.

6. BiB - November 11, 2006

Mango, do let me know if you struggle to find other taggees. I’ve never done a meme, and don’t really know what one is, to tell the truth, so have got cold feet. And blogging’s such a pain at the moment, for one reason or another, that I can hardly be bothered to indulge it.

Daggi, make sure to sneak on some kitkats as well as some subversive literature and photos of happy South Koreans, consuming like mad. Anyway, I want to come along. Will the trip be cheap/free? I can’t afford for my job-hunt to be too expensive.

7. Mangonel - November 11, 2006

I just got your comment – now I have to find your porn for you? I’m planning a post on Alan Hollinghurst v. Aaron Travis if that floats your boat. And while you’re there, find out what they actually speak in Pyongyang. I am getting surer and surer it can’t actually be mandarin. Yet.

8. BiB - November 11, 2006

I haven’t read any Aaron Travis, though he looks as if he might be a touch raunchier than Mr. Hollinghurst, though he has his moments of raunch too.

Korean is majorly not one of my languages, but I assume one form of it is spoken all over the Korean peninsula. A friend of mine went there recently, as you do, and did indeed say, though, that Chinese – Mandarin, I suppose – helps.

9. Bowleserised - November 13, 2006

New blog post! New blog post!

10. BiB - November 14, 2006

Am too furiously and boredly anti-blog, anti-blogger and anti-computer at the moment to bother!

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