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Violence and non-violence January 4, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Flipping biological clocks. Radio 4 hasn’t even started yet and here I am, up with the lark, waiting for daylight to hit, and wondering what to do. I’ve already had breakfast, painted the nursery, washed the Astra and checked the stone-cladding for signs of wear and tear. Have just finished a piece of work, so can’t seek solace in brain-numbing translation. No, it’s got to be blogging.

And why not? For it’s 2007, after all, and those 2006 posts are so, well, 2006. Trouble is, I couldn’t have had a much less eventful transition. And couldn’t have less news. Which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the year. If it’s meaning to go on as we started, then it’s going to be boring… but with a quiver of fear.

The Russian and I went to visit pals for New Year. Our hosts were a couple – a man and a woman. Imagine! – but because they both do vaguely languagey things, everyone they know is gay. So their New Year’s party was them and five poofs. I think they were a bit exhausted with all the cackling, cor-inne-gorgeous!-es, and looking for Kylie on youtube by the time the evening drew to a close. We eventually made ourselves scarce in one homosexual group.

As it was only about 7am, we naturally decided it was much too early to go home. One of the queer quintet broke ranks and abandoned us but the Russian and I and the two others soldiered on heroically. And just as we were nearing a homosexual establishment, there was violence. Imagine(again)! I’m not even 12! An extremely drunk and huge gentleman barged into one of our pals and then embarked on the loudest and longest tirade I have ever heard. We were bemused and mystified. He had somehow garnered – no idea how – that we were homosexuals and squeezed a gay angle into his insults. And as we walked away – me, funnily enough, at the front of the group and setting a cracking pace – he carried on, rantily suggesting we have fisticuffs. Which was brave of him, if a tad mad. And boring. And ruined the rest of my evening (morning).

There are things one hates and one likes about oneself with greater clarity as life plods on. Personally, I only have bad points but I have, when challenged, occasionally been known to claim that two aspects I can tolerate about myself are a) that I’m a poof and b) that I’m an atheist. Which aren’t achievements, but anyway. Time to add c). I’m so glad I’ve never bothered to get involved in violence.

Mind you, living in peaceful and quietful Berlin, I have to say this is the first nasty moment I’ve had in five years here, apart from having the odd Arschloch-insult shouted at me, normally by people on bikes when I have transgressed some tenet of geographical etiquette. And fear, for I was scared, even though we were four and he was one, had become a completely forgotten emotion.

Still, no moral to the non-story. Just a drunk Arschloch. But I DID wonder out loud to the Russian that I wouldn’t be THAT sad if he’d bulgakovianly fallen under a tram twenty seconds after the incident. So perhaps I’m nastier than he was.

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Comments»

1. Blonde at Heart - January 4, 2007

I cannot believe it! I thought that violence against gays was a thing you see only in places like Jersualem when a gay parade is supposed to take place.

2. pleite - January 4, 2007

Well, the gayness angle might have been a coincidence. I think he just felt like fighting with whomsoever he happened to walk past, and we crossed his path. Actually, a few steps further on, we came across a group of Russian-speakers and they were talking about “settling things” so he’d probably abused them too. For a second, I thought they meant with us and I thought we were doomed to a violent morning. It was a relief to finally get my hands round the (absolutely unnecessary) beer.

3. Daggi - January 4, 2007

I thought that violence against gays was a thing you see only in places like Jersualem when a gay parade is supposed to take place.

Surely this is not a serious comment? Or are you just being, at this time of the morning (though I have no idea what the actual time is in Jerusalem at the moment, but being kind, I’ll also imagine Radio 4 hasn’t yet started where you are, maybe in a special time-shifted version, as the USSR used to do with Ostankino), as the Germans say now and again “etwas zu blond”?

My favourite moment of pre-Xmas madness was being asked “Where is your department for weapons-based-violence? (Waffengewalt)”. No. The “favourite” moment was standing next to a colleague being asked for the autobiography of “Goppelt”. “Don’t you know him? Everyone knows him. G-O-P-P-E-L-T. Or is it just G-O-P-E-L-T. You know, he was one of the Hitlers.” The Strokes, The Roncalli Circus Brothers, The Smiths, The Kelly Family, caberet act The Hitlers.

Often (i.e. in moments like this) I don’t think anyone needs to get worried about the ‘master race’, as its adherents who I am forced, on a regular basis, to come into contact with, are, as a rule, dumm wie Brot. On the other hand, extreme stupidity has rarely stopped politicians from achieving positions of political power (on a very minor level, I believe some readers in South London can acknowledge that thanks to their own experience at work) – but this lot unfortunately include more than a tad of violent thugs.

On a plus side, this Xmas did not feature quite as many rude Russian (ethnic German) women as usual demanding coffee table books about the Second World War, on “important battles”. I find that suggesting ordering something about Stalingrad tends to get rid of them, as they usually wanted something featuring the Waffen-SS and the rest of the Gopelt All Stars.

4. pleite - January 4, 2007

Daggi, you are as diplomatic as ever! On the violence front, I suppose it can be avoided easily enough, if you choose to live in, say, London or Berlin. I was going to say Paris, but I did have some quite amusing encounters whilst there. One old man – oh god, I’m sure I’ve probably blogged this before – asked me if I was ‘one of those men who thought he was a woman’ and two much younger men once asked me in a bar, once they’d established I was a whoopsy, if I was, ergo, a woman. But they didn’t punch my lights out, at least. I don’t think I ever had any hassle in Russia. But I imagine it wouldn’t be much fun living in some small towns. I was once in a village/small town in Karelia and my host decided to take me to the one bar, called the Pink Panther, if I remember rightly, but slightly ruined the fun by telling me not to speak while there. I decided against standing on the table and singing, “I am what I am”.

5. MountPenguin - January 4, 2007

but because they both do vaguely languagey things, everyone they know is gay

¿que?

6. BiB - January 4, 2007

Oh, you know, a preponderance of males in the languagey world being gay. Or might that be bollocks? Or maybe it’s just that almost all the gay men I know here do languagey things. Though perhaps that’s because they’re foreign… But I’d say gays were definitely numerically overrepresented when I’ve studied languages, and the Russian says it was the same where he studied too. 90% women, 9% gay men and a token heterosexual male or two. Though, actually, Russian didn’t seem to attract gays as much as French did… Hmm, perhaps I need to look into my theory in a bit more depth.

7. Daggers - January 4, 2007

. I decided against standing on the table and singing, “I am what I am”.

Despite not knowing anything about your singing talents (or lack of them), probably a wise decision in most cases.

8. Daggers - January 4, 2007

Surely it’s just that women (and I don’t mean “men who think they are women” here) make up the majority of those who learn languages over the age of 14 (in the UK at least).

9. BiB - January 4, 2007

I think my Russian degree was probably about the only language-learning I’ve come across which wasn’t totally female-dominated. I wonder if that’s because of what the USSR and Cold War and everything represented. It could be a boyish degree too. Dunno. But A Levels was all girls. I vaguely flirted with having French (and even Polish) in my degree. Women all over the shop. And when I went to Finland on some summer course, it was 90% women and a gaggle of whoopsies.

10. bowleserised - January 4, 2007

In my day as a Modern ‘n’ Medieval languages undergrad, gender balance was determined by language. So, Italian = largely girls, Russian = more boys but still plenty of girls.

I never understand the “”logic”” behind aggressive heterosexual men picking fistfights with gay men. They must think everyone fancies them or something, or that you might gang-ravage them at any minute and THEY MIGHT LIKE IT.

11. bowleserised - January 4, 2007

“gang-ravish”

Sorry about that, I got no sleep last night and feel like shite. Must go buy coffee and a stack of pastries and start work.

12. Marsha Klein - January 4, 2007

Actually, I think you’re probably right about language courses. My degree (English Lang.’n’ Lit.) was female-dominated, although I think this is probably only true for English language courses taught in English speaking countries – I’m sure that elsewhere they tend to be male-dominated or evenly split. Most of the language-studying guys I knew tended to combine it with artificial intelligence (I was going to say AI, but decided that might be misconstrued!) because that was all about computers and stuff.

Oh yes, Happy New Year!

13. Geoff - January 4, 2007

Yes, the gay languagey thing held at my uni. On my course (European Studies), it was 50 women, 6 gays and 2 straight blokes. Who were both gorgeous and spent the entire 4 years being stared at during lectures by the rest of us. One of them loved it. I think we made the other one end up leaving more homophobic than when he arrived.

And no, you’re not safe from violence in London – it’s happened to a few friends of mine in Clapham, and Clapham must be one of the gayest places on the planet these days.

14. BiB - January 4, 2007

B., I also got two seconds of sleep, and now feel ready for bed, especially as there’s almost no daylight today. Will you be doing some boozing later on, though? I’d better have a 7-hour siesta… This gent was so drunk he’d gone mad, or perhaps was already mad, and being drunk made him a lot worse. I think fear was my main emotion, because I am such a girl’s blouse, but the non-Russian and non-bargee of the group, whom I hardly know, was just mystified.

Marsha, Happy New Year too. I hear Edinburgh was cancelled because of bad weather, or something. Hope it didn’t spoil your spirits. And I hope 2007 might see you rejoin the blogging fold.

15. MountPenguin - January 4, 2007

Hmm, all the language courses I’ve experienced in Berlin, including undergraduate university ones, had a pretty even gender mix, and while I’d bet there was a larger gay percentage than the national average, that’s probably more to do with Berlin. (Although come to think of it “Germanistik” has / had a reputation as a girlie Studienfach). I’ve dabbled semi-professionally in languagey things over the years too, and never been struck by particularly exteme gender / sexual orientation biases. Hence the ¿?. (Though now I shall have to look at my languagey acquaintances in a new light).

16. BiB - January 4, 2007

Geoff, hello! Actually, sifting through my depleted memory for more incidents, I remember being on a train in London with one friend, also gay, annoyingly right in the corner of a carriage, and a big gang of nasty cunts hassling us. We got off at the next stop, without blows being exchanged, thankfully. But infuriating to be hassled for existing, of course.

I might type myself into an ungovernable rage, so will stop, telepathically sending the world nice peaceful images of rugby-players skipping through poppy fields hand-in-hand.

17. BiB - January 4, 2007

Penguin, they’re all closet cases, believe me! (Perhaps.)

I must say the Russian is occasionally heard to moan that he is the only male on his course, although the problem is more that his Mitstudentinnen are 12, rather than them being female.

18. wyndham - January 4, 2007

I am against violence against myself, as a rule, and have managed to avoid it quite well so far, which, when you’ve got a gob as big as mine and a blood stream prone to invasion by tongue-loosening alcohol, is quite an amazing feat. One day my luck is going to run out. It pays to go on the treadmill occasionally.

19. Daggi, very tired, and very pissed off with the post office, who can't leave her flat until they've arrived; at least I have some coal here. - January 4, 2007

Glad to see nobody else has had next to no sleep. I’m expecting a parcel from the post office, ahem, DHL, which was due to have arrived here between 8 and 12. I did pop down a while back to check they weren’t here while I was doing annoying but necessary things such as using the lavatory, but there was no evidence in my postbox. And the neighbours can’t take it as it’s something I have to sign for with my passport and all. They were possibly there while I was checking my letterbox. It’s now 12.04. I was actually expecting a visit at either 8am sharp or at 11.59, but it looks like I may have to trundle to bloody Wilmersdorf to pick it up. “No we can’t deliver it to a post office, ahem, Postbank, where you can prove who you are. “Why not.” “It’s not possible. DHL isn’t just DHL.” “So not to the Packstation either?” “No.” One global brand, many different divisions, much confusion, usual high levels of incompetence. But, confusingly, the original “You were out when we called” note (with the lie stamped on it that they would try again on the 24th – a Sunday, for fuck’s sake, and a public holiday at that – between 8 and 2), was clearly signed by the usual postman.

20. Daggi, very tired,... - January 4, 2007

That should read “next to any sleep”, obviously. But I am tired.

21. bowleserised - January 4, 2007

My delivery chap has a great trick of ringing the bell and then fucking off. I don’t think he can be arsed to climb the stairs.

22. Blonde at Heart - January 4, 2007

Daggi, I was tremendously serious. On the Gay parade in 2005 three people were stabbed by some Haredi homophob and this year there were riots in Haredi quarters in the lead-up to the parade.

My Arabic class in high-school (and now in uni) is dominated by girls, so yeah, it is a world trend.

23. BiB - January 4, 2007

Wynders, even if I was a rippling bundle of muscle, I’m sure I’d still be too scared to cope with targeted violence. Somehow, violence doesn’t seem so scary when it’s more random, or wanton, but this man wanted to do something nasty to me (and my pals) and I was mortified. Breaking up fights in Russia – admittedly between oldish men who’d been homeless for ten years – wasn’t scary at all… But can you run when you’ve got Dexter’s buggy with you?

Daggi, on the other hand, I am all for acts of wanton violence with no real victim, so please feel free to sabotage any annoying company’s premises. You could be José Bové but with a postal twist.

B., our postal person has been known to drop things off with us – embarrassing that the post folk know we’re always at home – rather than climbing even more flights of stairs, which means I then have to nod sympathetically at the neighbours when they express pouty indignation.

24. Daggi - January 4, 2007

I read about that bit of homophobic violence. My question, Blonde, referred in particular to the word “only”, as in:

I thought that violence against gays was a thing you see only in places like Jersualem when a gay parade is supposed to take place.

I’ll expand the reason for my comment
Obviously homophobic violence doesn’t take place

a) only
in places like Jerusalem

or (only?) b) when a gay parade is supposed to take place.

I’ll excuse your tiredness.

25. BiB - January 4, 2007

BaH, I think Daggi was expressing surprise that you were surprised this sort of thing happens elsewhere too.

I remember reading with some disbelief the level of opposition to the Jerusalem parade. It seems such a waste of energy, although I (sort of) understand the logic of why ultra-religious people might protest, but it does seem a pointless thing to get worked up about and then hope the “problem” will go away by screaming loud enough. Mind you, it worked, didn’t it, and the parade was held in a stadium… I suppose there’ll always be room for certain types of homophobia while people think gayness is a lifestyle choice.

26. BiB - January 4, 2007

Comments overlapping. I hope I wasn’t misrepresenting you, Daggi.

As a certain type of optimist, I want to think violence targeting gay folk is on the decrease. And obviously I have an easier time of it than men twice my age would have had in their day. The only much older queen I got to know very well in London used to, for example, have the police called on him…by his own mother! (Though his stories of the hidden gay world were fascinating, of course.)

27. Blonde at Heart - January 4, 2007

Daggi, of course I know homphbic violence takes place in other places and not only in the holy city of Jerusalem, I just expressed my disbelief that such thing takes place in a place considered “tolerant”.

And I am tired. You are practically a psychic.

28. BiB - January 4, 2007

BaH, are you still working yourself to the bone? Sleep, woman, sleep. And chicken soup…

29. Very tired and annoyed Daggi - January 4, 2007

That’s the problem with tolerance. It’s putting up with what you don’t like. If I were a dictionary, I’d now say “cf. “Tolerantes Brandenburg”=>anti-racist image campaign for e. German Land Brandenburg as answer to high levels of support for fascist movements and related violence, crime, occasional murder.

Just found out – thanks to a phone call costing 14.1ct/minute – that DHL sent my packet back to the sender on January 2nd (a.m.), despite arranging the appointment with me today on January 2nd (p.m.), despite January 2nd being significantly less than 7 working days (those pesky public holidays) than since when they apparently tried to first deliver it. They were apparently also here on the 24th at 7.50 am, which is also a lie, as they would have rang the doorbell and caught me very tired, but awake, and not in bed, and may have considered putting a card in my letterbox. I want compensation! And to sleep! And food.

30. Very tired and annoyed Daggi - January 4, 2007

I’d actually say =>anti-racist image campaign for e. German Land Brandenburg as answer to high levels of support for fascist movements and related violence, crime, occasional murder, designed to stop tourists and foreign, non-aryan investors being scared off

31. pleite - January 4, 2007

Mind you, I quite like the word “tolerant”, because it somehow manages to make itself sound much nicer than it is. And it’s not a bad solution if it means putting up with a necessary evil. People who do bother to hate queens but don’t actually want to go around beating them up, or protesting outside their weddings, can be tolerant, and, in that case, tolerance will do. Just as I can tolerate (while not-so-secretly nicely hating) folk who’ll moan that I am at least as wicked as Stalin.

Daggi, also have sleep and chicken soup. Are we all still sleep- and health-deprived from the rigours of New Year? I want to sleep for about three weeks solid.

32. Daggi - January 4, 2007

I dread to think what your drunken bar singing is like if it causes reactions that involve comparisons to gulags.

33. Blonde at Heart - January 4, 2007

BiB, thanks for your concern. I do not work myself to the bone. I am tired due to very happy circumstances. I went to sleep late almost all this week because I hung out with the Canadian and assorted friends.

Is it worthwhile to come to Berlin only for one weekend?

34. pleite - January 4, 2007

Daggi, actually, when I think about it, it’s only the Russian who tells me I am wickeder than Stalin, although he wouldn’t use Stalin as a yardstick for evil. I am wickeder than… can’t remember. Maybe Saddam has been his latest paragon (rather than whole axis) of evil, bandwagon-jumper-onner that he is.

BaH, ah! Happy tiredness is another thing altogether. But still sleep and have chicken soup. And, yes, a weekend trip to Berlin is still worth it. But how soon are you planning to come? The climate is pretty grim until at least March. (Mind you, daylight has appeared at last, well after 2pm.)

35. bowleserised - January 4, 2007

Grim? Grim? But it’s WARM!

36. Clarsonimus - January 4, 2007

Peaceful Berlin only make incidents like that all the worse – Berlin really is peaceful and it happens here, too, anyway. It’s like living in California and getting depressed despite the sunshine. And bravo: Violence really is a complete waste of time. When there is no other alternative, I mean. And here’s where the arguments about what the alternatives are begins – but please argue non-violently!

37. leon - January 4, 2007

I could really do with some chicken soup. They sell boiling chickens in a butchers down the road, I might try and obtain one (should get me some funny looks on the rush-hour Tube).

38. bowleserised - January 4, 2007

Ooh, boiling chickens. When I get my flat, WHEN! WHEN! I will make proper chicken soup with boiling chickens.

God I’m bored. Yes, I’m stammtisching, BiB, if you’re about.

39. Arabella - January 4, 2007

If one can’t sing ‘I Am What I Am’ in a bar called The Pink Panther then it’s a sad old world.

40. leon - January 4, 2007

Boiling chickens and bread dumplings or some kind of Germanic noodle. I assume you’re thinking something a la Luard here.

The boiling chickens down the road look very much like the kind of pretend chickens you get in joke shops, and retail at a keenly priced 99p.

41. BiB - January 5, 2007

B., bugger, I had to miss the Stammtisch because of feeling horribly ropey. I’ve got a sore face. Which I don’t know if the weather has anything to do with AT ALL.

Leon, which chickens cost 99p? I need chicken soup too, to tend to my ailments. In addition to sore face, I also have sore joints.

Clarsonimus, my non-violent alternative, ideally, would have been to run for my life, but I realised that would have made me very uncool-looking with the others. Thankfully, I am much older than any of them and don’t need to worry about coolness too much. I think we would have had a hard time finding a solution through dialogue with this gent though. He was not for being talked to.

Arabella, quite true. Worse, if you’re a foreigner, you can’t even talk in it. Although at least it wasn’t called the Pink Flamingo, in which case I really might have had to stand up for my rights. I was informed I was the first Englishman ever to set foot in Pindushi, a grim ‘village’ near Medvezhegorsk (a slightly less grim town, which had a train station, which improved it enormously) but a wonderful location, on Lake Onega. I was taken to a real village by my host where his grandparents lived, and that was heaven, and I was photographed for posterity and almost married off to some relative and we drank gin, which I said was English for vodka, and by the end of it we were all pissed and best friends.

42. Marsha Klein - January 5, 2007

Poor BiB! Is it your sinuses?? Sore face plus sore joints sounds awfully like ‘flu (real, not man). If sinuses are involved then what you need, my dear, is steam and plenty of it (inhalations). Probably chicken soup too and some sort of alcohol-based hot drink. Oh, and some painkillers wouldn’t go wrong. Blankets and hot-water bottles and something soothing on the radio. Take it easy and feel better soon. x

43. pleite - January 5, 2007

Marsha, thank you. And an alcohol-based hot drink sounds majorly my cup of tea. Actually, maybe this is a healthiness-related illness, as I must be so mega-healthy, in a way, as I haven’t smoked since New Year. Boring, but I may as well give it a go now that I’ve started. Easy enough when I’m at home, but the first test will be when I’m out in boozey company. Am meant to celebrate Russian Christmas at the weekend…

I’ve been snuggled up all day and night and we do actually own a hot-water bottle. Must go and fish it out!

44. narrowback - January 5, 2007

geez, I go away for a day and there’s a veritable blogosphere party if not intellectual discussion in my absence…I feel like a debutant who missed her own ball.

BiB, if you’ve not had a fag since 31.12. you’ve survived the worst (well in terms of physical withdrawal)… I wish I was at that point. Unfortunately there’s no Betty Ford clinic for tabak addicts. I’m planning a Berlin trip just for the 14 hour return trip w/o the ability (easily) to smoke…that’d be close to a full day under my belt by the time I get back to chicago…

I wonder how similar visits to rural Lithuania are to trips to rural Arkansas or other godforesaken corners of my Heimatland. I guess once the issues of language and peculiar local customs are dispensed with it’s pretty much the same… for sanity’s sake I always regard thm – the visit that is – as a form of anthropoligical expedition. “Oh. That’s interesting” but then again I’ve never encountered a bar called the Pink Panther in rural america.

The issue of whether or not to respond to the threat of violence with violence or retreat is always a tough call…particularly when its unexpected. Unfortunately one can be in even the gayest areas of the most tolerant cities and still have to deal with it…

45. BiB - January 5, 2007

Narrowback, but does that mean you’ll be able to smoke on the way over? And, if so, are you taking a very circuitous route? By ship? (When is your trip, by the way?)

I am a coward in all things, and perhaps most of all when it comes to physical violence. Well, OK, admittedly, if this gent hadn’t been quite so huge, it might have been less daunting. But even so. It perhaps wasn’t the fear of a punch that gave me minor paroxysms. Just his wild, random willingness to maim…

My ex, built like a brick shithouse and not scared of anything much (apart from spiders) (and scorpions), decided once to react to a bit of throwaway homophobia. We were at a party in France. We thought it was all very groovy. The party-goers were young Parisians. And we were freshly in love so didn’t hesitate to have the odd public display of affection. As I was sort of a French-speaker, I was encouraged to be an ambassador for queen(s) and country. One Frenchy introduced me to another friend, who dismissed the opportunity for chat with some comment along the lines of ‘pédé’. I wasn’t overly bothered but did mention it to the ex. Minutes later, I heard him making a big fuss in the centre of the sort-of-dancefloor, insulting the pédé-sayer in school French. “Il est un con,” he screamed, gesticulating wildly and exaggeratedly. The pédé-sayer ran away. (Our host, a straight English gent, thought he then needed to smooth things over by snogging my ex. It was quite a party. Drink was taken.)

46. Daggi - January 5, 2007

Oh yes, plenty of school French insults all round please. Bof! Zut alors! But we’ve done Tricolore before. In an ideal world, the word “Cedex”, which is roughly something like “Admail”, “Business Reply Service”, “Freepost” and “P.O. Box” in one, would also be a French swearword, as it has the right tone and rhythm. But, obviously, it isn’t, so screaming it madly at a Citröen driver who has recently cut you up on the A1/M1 doesn’t have quite the desired effect, not even if you add the “Bof!” to it now and again. Incidentally, I wasn’t doing the driving, I haven’t managed that yet. I haven’t had any lessons since failing last summer, and frankly, I have no desire to, apart from the small matter of all the excess money I’ve ever had in the world being spent on those lessons.

It’s 8.04 am. I’m up again at the break of dawn. Apparently my packet will come again, returned by the senders back to me, “sometime between 8 and 12”. But this time there’s no coal in the flat. Does the entryphone work? Does the man from DHL have legs? Will he manage stairs? Has he two hands, one to knock on the flat door? Or will he just skulk quietly into the Innenhof, hope he won’t get noticed, put a piece of paper – at the speed of light – into the letterbox and sod off immediately again?

Privatisation, eh. Another example of why the free market – or very slightly regulated market – is shite when it comes to providing things that are meant to be useful services. At least DHL/Deutsche Post haven’t got schoolkids to start delivering their post. Yet. And at least they pay their workers a proper wage, so the advantages of nicking a few parcels / throwing most of the post into a canal are minimal. Still. But here it’s not the DHL is it – it’s sub-contracted onto someone with a few old post office vans.

Possibly a rant on the same theme at my own place, later. 8.17. See how long this will take. It’s time for a sign on my door with the words “Verdammt laut klopfen”, as I’m still very tired, despite enough sleep when measured in hours.

47. Daggi - January 5, 2007

Obviously, 8.04 am isn’t the crack of dawn for post office workers, who have been up since 4, and for most German office workers, who get up at 5 to start work for no obvious reason at 7, and the same goes for the blue-collar proletariat,. and the Lumpenproletariat over at the Jobcenter have their appointments set at 8 to make sure they get up and don’t have too much fun; but when your shift starts at 2 and you’re going to get home shortly before midnight, knackered as fuck, it’s still too bloody early to get up.

48. pleite - January 5, 2007

I wish it bloody would dawn though. These dark days, even if they are boiling, remind me of London. Carrying on with the French theme, I used to translate a lot of stuff by one French gent based in London. I asked him how he was coping with the London winter – even Danes and Finns have told me they couldn’t bear it – and he e-mailed back that it was already dark at 10am. Mind you, it’s colder in Paris, I think.

Merde. La poste est nulle. Connards! Salauds!

OK, that’s my French swearing done.

49. narrowback - January 5, 2007

No BiB, I’m not taking the airline equivilent of a tramp steamer… 14 hours is the approximate period of time that elapses between going through security at Tegel and clearing customs & immigration at O’Hare here in Chicago.

On the way to berlin there’s usually a chance to catch a quick cig or two while waiting for a connecting flight (The fact that you can still smoke indoors at some airports in Europe is regarded with astonishment by us yanks…here in the States some communities have even taken to banning smoking outdoors on the sidewalk or on a public beach). However on the trip back the connections are often dicey leaving little or no opportunity for a smoke. hence the 14 hour “abstinence”

will be finalizing the trip this weekend after touching base with my berlin friends but it looks like March 15 to 20 or thereabouts will be the timeframe

50. BiB - January 6, 2007

Well, I wish you all the best for it. I am going to have my first social challenge this evening, so will probably be back to 20-a-day tomorrow. Though perhaps not. I must say, I don’t find the non-smoking difficult when it’s just sitting at home at the computer, but god they seem to help in social interaction, which is counterintuitive, seeing as 90% of the people you come into contact with when you’re smoking are wishing you dead… Anyway, by April we’ll have the cleanest lungs in the northerm hemisphere.

Sorry to pry but are you personally connected to any of the Berlin bloggers? (I’m thinking Ed, but perhaps you’re just a reader.) If there’s a window, it could be fun to see you for a beer and a non-cigarette when you’re here.

51. narrowback - January 6, 2007

thanks for the wish. It’s a serious addicition for me & this will be just the latest of dozens of attempts (some more successful than others). I’ve often joked that I need the equivilent of a Betty Ford Center (drug rehab) for cigarettes.

It’s sitting in front of the computer that leads to chain smoking, with hanging out in a bar with friends the second biggest trigger.

no, I’m not connected with any of the Berlin bloggers. I am just a reader. I only stumbled onto the community after a friend introduced me to Observing Herman last Spring

I concur that meeting for a beer could be fun…typically that’s how I unwind after a day spent doing the touristy stuff (well, not typically touristy…I don’t know how many tours include stops at the horseshoe estate near Britz or the Plattenbau of Marzahn)…I’ll keep you apprised of my plans

52. BiB - January 6, 2007

I feel like admitting defeat before tonight’s social event even starts. I am aching for a fag.

No problem if you’re too busy on your trip, but if you’re free one evening… I’m away the weekend of March 25th, but otherwise I think I’m around, unless I decide to emigrate to Botswana before March… which is unlikely, seeing as I normally find making a cup of coffee a trying decision.

53. narrowback - January 7, 2007

I doubt my dance card would be so filled as to preclude a meet up.

Th’o I’ve yet to make the actual bookings it looks like I will be in town from March 15th to the 20th (barring, of course, travel glitches like the last time when the airline was incapable of delivering me from Chi to Newark in sufficient time to make my connecting flight thereby resulting in the loss of a day)…

As the date approaches we can work out the details such as day & venue

so…how did the willpower hold out? I have to admit that last night mine vanished after only 5 minutes in the pub and my first pint…. was back to chain smoking like the previous five days of restraint had never taken place

54. pleite - January 7, 2007

*opens drawer, reaches for packet of fags, light one up* I am rubbish.

But tell me, do you mean there are still places in the States where you can smoke, or do you mean you go to a pub and have to dash outside every time you want a smoke? That can’t be good during the Chicago winter. Last time I was in New York, 10 years ago, I think you could smoke at the bar in some places. Does that still exist?

55. narrowback - January 7, 2007

hah – so I am not alone in my despair over a lack of willpower

bars in Chicago are mandated to go “smoke free” in 2008. Some have tried to implement the policy early but found that it had a extremely deleterious effect on revenues. As I said to one owner I know “The guys in the bar slamming pints on a Wednesday night are not going to be the most health conscious folks”

New York has been totally smoke free for several years now tho it is not that unusual to encounter late night mass civil disobedience at some of the smaller venues…encountering one such situation almost gave a Berliner guest of mine a minor stroke… “How is this possible? Are they not afraid of the authorities? Etc.”

The concept of having to dash outside during a Chicago winter to have a cig is one of the motivating factors behind my current effort to quit the habit… it’s been a mild winter here so far this year but another of our digit threatening winters can’t be too far off

56. pleite - January 7, 2007

The same thing has happened in Scotland. Revenue is down since smoking was banned. Mind you, an Irish friend of mine – a non-smoker – says it’s lovely going to pubs in Ireland since the ban has been introduced… except you can smell all the other smells that smelly men produce.

I was with three foreign friends in New York that time and we found a couple of places that bent the rules too…

Oh god, I MUST give up! (Maybe. One day.)


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