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Cooking is fun January 7, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Yes it fucking well is, and don’t you even pretend it isn’t. I’d never really thought so before myself, either, but I was out yesterday – actually out! – and I walked past an Event-Kochstudio, which is a place where hobby chefs go and get taught to cook. But this was a Saturday night. I don’t think it was a straightforward cooking course. No, I think it was a night out – OK, at least with a positive upshot. Hopefully you’ve learnt a new skill by the end of it, which is unlike any night out I ever have, where the only thing I learn is that there is no limit to how much poison I am willing to insert undiluted into my body or to my lack of social skills – which didn’t look nearly as much fun as not doing it would have been. “Poor them,” I thought as I ambled past with my bottle of wine and after eights. It was Epiphany, after all. (Just looked up Epiphany in my dic to make sure and, although we were, ostensibly, celebrating Orthodox Christmas, the dic claims that January 6th is not really Christmas in the Eastern Church but the celebration of Christ’s baptism AND first miracle at Cana. Two celebrations for the price of one. (But what was the miracle at Cana?) I don’t know why I’m not a Christian really. I love the church, and would much rather hear hymns than go to a pop or – heaven forfend – a rock concert. All that noise! Although I did see The Smiths at “London’s Top Nite Spot” and that was awfully good and I lost an espadrille and my cousin lost her bra. Anyway, I don’t believe in god, which I think is a prerequisite for being religious, unless in Denmark.)

The party for the Kochstudio evening was your regular gaggle of middle-class, 30-something Berliners, probably all from Cologne and various other bits of Nordrhein-Westfalen. The girls had big jaws. The boys were boringly beautiful. And they looked as if they were trying very hard to enjoy themselves. I wondered – I ambled past very slowly – if this was the upshot of a bad idea that someone had had after their second glass of Babycham – or Glühwein at the Weihnachtsmarkt – and that everyone was too polite – definitely no Berliners in the group, on second thoughts – to pooh-pooh. “Ja, Sabine, tolle Idee! I’ve heard it only costs 400 euros for us to go and learn how to chop an onion properly. Hopefully we’ll learn so much that we’ll then be able to go on Das perfekte Dinner.” (And, yes, in case you’re wondering, there is a Celebrity Perfect Dinner too.)

Still, who am I to diss cooking-for-fun? If it’s an alternative to binge-drinking, then maybe chopsy Sabine is on to something. And the something-useful-as-recreation model has endless possibilities. I might suggest to all my foreign pals a German-grammar-for-fun evening any Saturday now. We’d have a groovy venue, of course, and the blackboard would be really chic, and our teacher would be cool – probably a pop-star (or priest) in his spare time – and we’d each pay 80 euros, and we’d chant, “Ich bin, du bist…” but it would be FUN. And we could probably, when the fun-zenith had been reached, go from there to dressmaking-is-fun (run by some porn-star) and from there to hairdressing-is-fun (run by some hairdresser).

I could do with making 400 euros or so myself on a Saturday night, actually, so I might hang a plaque outside the door – oh god. I can already see the neighbours’ bitchy little notes. “If the plaque-hanger doesn’t own up by the end of the month, we’ll have to have it removed by some Amt or other – there’s probably a plaque department – at EVERYONE’S expense” – advertising English-is-fun evenings, where every expat Nordrhein-Westfalen Sabine in Berlin comes and sprays me in spittle, for cash, and I correct their English. English lessons, only funkier.

You know, guys and galz, I think I’m onto something.



1. MountPenguin - January 7, 2007

How about “Event Cooking in English with BiB: mehr als nur Fish and Chips”, where you demonstrate the art of fine English cooking while teaching English. (“First, take the M&S kidney pie out of the package. Second, open the microwave door… Yes Sabine, the microwave does use Ökostrom…”).

2. pleite - January 7, 2007

Oh, we’ve just changed our ESP (electricity service-provider) to something green. Which I can’t help thinking must be a lie. Does someone actually really change the electricity that just our flat gets? Sounds awfully complicated. Or makes me think humans are wonderful. Not sure which. Perhaps both.

Damn, we don’t have a microwave, though I suppose I would have to hire a venue for these evenings, which would undoubtedly have the latest in microwave chic. Actually, I once went to a party here that was in a sort of TV kitchen. Apparently, the host, who wasn’t there, is a German TV chef. Didn’t know him. Wasn’t one of the proper stars at all.

3. David (TEFL Smiler) - January 7, 2007

I have in all seriousness considered offering English bar nights. But there’s a lack of adventure in DK for anything new, unless a local’s done it first.

Berlin’s just so much hipper!

4. pleite - January 7, 2007

Yes, in that sense, maybe Berlin is willing to give anything a go. Plus finding venues here should be a piece of cake. The Russian and I were chatting to some queen a few weeks ago who worked sort of in the gay-bar business and we mentioned one not far from here that had closed down which had a great location and seemed to do a (quietly) roaring trade. He said we could rent it for 2p if we wanted. (It’s still empty, well over a year later.) Once I get my cool microwave, it’ll be cool fish-n-chips in there before you know it.

What would your English bar nights involve?

5. narrowback - January 7, 2007

if I recall my catholic elementary school bible stories correctly the miracle at Cana was the wedding feast where water was turned into wine…surely a miracle worth memorializing through a holiday.

the “german grammar for fun evening” sounds awfully similar to the less than formal german for beginners course I’m currently enrolled in…I and several of my classmates have already discussed bringing in some bevies to make it even less formal…it’s a concept that you might want to follow up on

6. pleite - January 7, 2007

Sounds like a good idea. And turning water into wine is indeed worthy of celebration. But I already see my salubrious English-and-fish-n-chips-are-fun evenings descending into piss-ups. For shame!

I have just googled narrowback and see it means, “A person whose parents were born in the United States and who is considered unfit for the hard physical labor typically performed by those in the country of ancestral origin”. Right. Chicago. Catholic. I’m guessing Polish/Lithuanian/Irish ancestry, probably with a bit of Italian, Mexican and Filipino thrown in for good measure.

7. David (TEFL Smiler) - January 7, 2007

English and drink. Didn’t get much further than that!

Well, OK – no good for a regular group, unless you own the place. Considered executive late-night one-to-ones that could be held in different bars, but in the end I decided it would be bad for my liver. And it was too close to being an escort service!

8. bowleserised - January 7, 2007

I *need* this German learning thing.

9. pleite - January 7, 2007

David, excellent. Be an English-language escort service. You could withhold on the big deed at your discretion. I do English-and-drink quite a lot, but I haven’t worked out how to be paid for it rather than paying for it yet. Alas.

B., me too. I can’t understand why it doesn’t already exist. On second thoughts, perhaps we could dispense with the salubriousness and have booze involved. And, anyway, it’s a well-known FACT that booze helps your language abilities. I don’t see why the Wohnzimmer, zum Beispiel, couldn’t have a German-grammar-Ecke once a week. We could chant German verbs with the best of them.

10. narrowback - January 7, 2007

on target with the definition but off slightly on the ethnicity… 100% irish ancestry here. I can see where my current Chicago residency might have been somewhat misleading (the city does produce some interesting amalgams) but I am originaly a BIC…Bronx Irish Catholic.

When I first arrived in Chicago in the 80’s there was actually a pub called “Nora’s Narrowback Tavern” but the neighborhood had changed since its founding and the patrons were primarily mexican

11. pleite - January 7, 2007

I’ve got oodles of Irish ancestry too but can’t call myself a LIC (London Irish Catholic). I’d go for LENCCA (London English non-Catholic Catholic atheist). Gosh, those acronyms could get long though, couldn’t they? If you decide to start adding in all your attributes. I could add the standard GWM but also NVNP (not very nice person) and NVAASTEMMS (not very ambitious and should take earning money more seriously). It could go on and on.

12. bowleserised - January 7, 2007

NSIT is my favourite.

13. narrowback - January 7, 2007

a reluctance to assimilate was definately a trait of my forebearers My mother claims she was 14 before she realized that “The Soldiers Song” was NOT the U.S. national anthem.

Adherence to stereotypes was/is another trait… I am one of the few male members of the extended family who doesn’t wear blue when I go in to work… too sane to run into a burning building and not sane enough to carry a gun

14. pleite - January 7, 2007

OK, I’ve thought and thought. And that produced nothing. So I’ve consulted the google-bible and it comes up with Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, which I just CAN’T believe is what you mean at all. Does the S stand for Scottish? And the N for not? CHASACADBLIB (confused, hungover and smoking at computer all day bloody long in Berlin)

15. pleite - January 7, 2007

Narrowback, my brother did the year-in-the-States thing when he was a slip of a thing. He tracked down some 19th cousins in New York and I think they were all cops. Guns on the breakfast table, that sort of thing.

I think beyond an inordinate love of potatoes, I have inherited very few Irishnesses. I can’t EVEN drink Guinness. Hopeless. But I do love Danny Boy (and singing).

16. David (TEFL Smiler) - January 7, 2007

Is bowleserised really a non-standard international transvestite?

You get all sorts in Berlin!

17. pleite - January 7, 2007

B., speak! Is this true? You should have said. And is Radio Free au courant?

18. bowleserised - January 7, 2007

No, it doesn’t apply to me sadly. It’s what debutantes used to say of certain young men who were a bit gropey:

“Not Safe In Taxis”

19. pleite - January 7, 2007

God, isn’t it heaven not being THAT young any more? Poor 18-year-olds. I know one in her first year at university and she is full of enthusiasm for it. Which is wonderful, and good for her and all that. But it sounds SO bloody boring to me. Oh god, she’s probably smoking a joint in some grotty halls of residence this second. Poor cow.

20. Christina - January 7, 2007

I like the learn-english-escort-service idea. And I sometimes find myself thinking about what I’d cook if I were on Perfekt Dinner, but I’d never do it. Sure nuff I’d get a bunch of hobos who abhor ethnic food and think currywursts are too spicy.

21. pleite - January 7, 2007

You MIGHT be lucky and get the celeb version. Hopefully one or two of those could cope with something a bit spicy. We’ve had to do away with spices when my mother’s visited in the past, as she finds tea spicy, and, mysteriously, for some youngsters (by which I mean anyone under 36). All waving their hands in front of their mouths at the hint of curry. Honestly! Mind you, I’m sure I was a curry-wuss until well into my 20s. Now I’m perfectly happy with chilis galore. Wreaks havoc wih my stomach ulcer though.

22. Christina - January 7, 2007

But I’d have to be a celeb in order to get on the celeb version and I don’t think my blog is quite that popular ;-)

My mom thinks anything under 5-alarm is bland and tasteless. She used to carry a jar of homemade chili sauce in her purse when we went out to restaurants.

23. pleite - January 7, 2007

Ha! That reminds me of the film Bhaji on the Beach, about a group of women, Indian or of Indian origin, who go for a day out to the English seaside, and one of the old ladies has curry powder with her to sprinkle on the fish-n-chips. Two of them exchange a nice, knowing grin once the improvement has been made.

My mother invariably grimaces in restaurants.

24. daggi - January 8, 2007

The first film I saw in the cinema, incidentally. Meera Syal probably didn’t realise that scene would have led Germans (and probably more Germans saw the film in the cinema than people in Britain) to just say “what’s funny about that? It’s just like a fish-n-chips version of Currywurst?”.

Pleased to see you don’t have a microwave either.

25. narrowback - January 8, 2007

One of my earliest memories is waking up and coming into the kitchen to see my dad alseep and handcuffed to the kitchen table…his friends thinking it the height of hilarity to do so and then leave for their homes with the keys to the cuffs. Cop humor…it can be weird

I think its more the music bits that have kept me in touch with my ancestry for it sure isn’t the cuisine or the beer…for example I followed one of your links to lukeiski’s (sp?) blog and was pleasnatly suprised to see that he had selected “Fairytale of New York” for his xmas post…and depending on the year one of my relatives could’ve been one of the NYPD choir singing in front of the Washington Square arch…

and actually if we’re going for starch I prefer pasta over potatoes

26. pleite - January 8, 2007

Daggi, I’ve never cottoned on to microwaves, although I have briefly cohabited with one. I didn’t know Bhaji on the Beach had made it here. God, I haven’t been to the cinema for ever. Is this Hitler film worth seeing, have you heard?

Narrowback, yup, that was over at Liukchik/Lukeski, who’s getting to the blog-fatigue stage, incidentally. I’ve just been for a little post-festivity listen. Lovely, isn’t it? So Sergeant O’Hara was no coincidence then, you mean?

27. Marsha Klein - January 8, 2007

Your “dressmaking is fun” suggestion made me twitch – I’m only familiar with “dressmaking as a form of strange and unusual torture” taught by embittered women to whom life has (presumably) not been kind. Perhaps conversation classses for hairdressers might be an idea? Apologies to any hairdressers reading this. I’m sure you’re lovely (in fact if you’re reading this you must be). No, I’m talking about the “Are you going anywhere special tonight?” “Have you been on/booked your holiday yet?”-type of conversation. i think “How to go out drinking” might be your best (and most popular) bet – you know, things like when to stand a round and when to move on (and not stand around, ha, ha!). Suitable topics for conversation while sober and drunk (more interesting), that sort of thing.

Accronyms: TAGSBIAPAADAI (Talks a good story but is absolute pants at doing anything about it). Looks a bit Finnish, don’t you think?

28. leon - January 8, 2007

I seem to have inherited my parents’ fear of microwaves. I was, therefore, very surprised to find that they’d recently acquired one from somewhere, although not so surprised to find they’d stuck it in one of the outbuildings* rather than the kitchen. You’ll never catch me buying one though.

I could make English fun, I think, and I have several near-useless degrees in it. Think the Berliners would pay me big money to do so?

*(There was an electric socket – they’re not that bonkers, yet).

29. pleite - January 8, 2007

Marsha, I am thinking of wasting the whole day putting off going to the hairdresser’s for the exact conversational reasons you mention. I just dread it more than almost anything. You know, I think I’d (almost) rather WORK than have my hair cut. But I look like a tramp, so need to conquer the dread. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

Maybe I should go and cut an onion in a very convoluted way.

30. pleite - January 8, 2007

Leon, outbuildings. How lovely. Are they in the middle of nowhere in Wales? By the sea? And, if so, can I move in with them? And is your mother a qualified nurse? I could teach them Russian in return.

And I’m sure you could earn a fortune – at least a whole 1000 euros a month – making English fun here. Come and put that doctorate to good use.

31. Marsha Klein - January 8, 2007

Perhaps you could pretend to have lost your voice? Although, thinking about it, this would only work if the hairdresser knows how you want your hair cut. I should also add that I have never tried this myself, as I am a coward, but having my hair cut only reinforces my feelings of inadequacy, as I am rarely “going anywhere special” and only holiday once a year. A hairdresser once laughed at me for not realising that you could make an appointment just to get your blow-dried (and washed, obviously). She clearly couldn’t believe this wasn’t innate knowledge.
Good luck with the haircut. Oh, and how are you now? Feeling better?

32. leon - January 8, 2007

In the middle of nowhere, yes, but more up a mountain than by the sea, more’s the pity. Sadly my mother lacks any form of medical training, other than that naturally picked up by attending to whingeing children. Come to think of it, that particular bit of Wales has a most unhealthy climate, damp and vaporous and probably very bad for the lungs and everything else.

Perhaps one could combine the cooking with the language stuff and teach the finer points of English conversation (in a FUN way) over a pan of Himmel und Erde. It’s tempting.

33. BiB - January 8, 2007

I’ve got a feeling my mother has her hair done – not sure if it’s fun or not – in a way that involves only washing and blow-drying. No cutting involved. But then she has that magic Mrs.-Thatcher-/old-woman wiry hair which never seems to grow.

My mumps/consumption/scarlet fever/St. Vitus’ Dance/Sydenham Chorea miraculously appears to have passed. Now I just feel standardly unhealthy. But you are kind to remember.

34. BiB - January 8, 2007

Gosh, they’re not by that lake halfway up Cader Idris, are they? I’ve never made it all the way up that mountain. Or any mountain, now I think about it.

Anyway, it’s a deal. English+cooking fun evenings, or even days. Book your flight. I’m sure Daggi and B. will be up for it (and we can work out the finer details of our professional embezzlement NGO while we’re at it) and Penguin can have an advisory/consultative role.

35. bowleserised - January 8, 2007

I used to spend the occasional wet weekend halfway up Cader Idris. Happy times. Spiders in the bath and piles of cold, clammy feather duvets on every bed. “Farmhouse” belonged to my friend’s family. They’d abandoned their old “holiday home” – a shack by the lake – and bought this one instead, and the women of the family would go there to fish. The men were all too tall to fit through the doors, and didn’t like fishing, so they stayed home.

36. pleite - January 8, 2007

Oh, I just fancy curling up by the fire, remembering not to remove any layers of clothing, and then eating something stodgy and steamy and potatoey reading that. Was it beautiful? Or were you too freezing to notice? My next old-woman trip isn’t till late March. Hope it’ll still be freezing (or that winter will have begun by then).

37. MountPenguin - January 8, 2007

Yes, consulting sounds good as I can neither cook (though do have microwave, v. useful for rewarming Döner) nor teach (“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, consult”, though in fact I have the greatest respect for anyone who can teach).

And yes, do it right and I think it might just work.

Not quite sure where Wales came into this discussion, but my parents (who also have a microwave) moved to Wales after retiring, though actually an ethnically English bit a couple km over the border, and haven’t yet been bombed out. They are doing their best to integrate though, mainly by learning Welsh from road signs (my mother can recite “Give way to oncoming traffic”, and even I am now familiar with concepts such as “araf” and “ysgol”).

38. Marsha Klein - January 8, 2007

Ah yes – the “shampoo and set”. Actually, until recently when, forced by my daughters, I started to visit a young persons’ hairdresser, I regularly left the hairdresser with hairdo of a 55 year-old woman (something I’d been doing since my childhood).

Who would have thought that hairdressing was such an angst-ridden topic? New money making idea – therapist for traumatised souls with issues around trichology (sp? correct usage?) Hair stuff, anyway. I clearly need one and you seem as good a candidate for therapist as anyone else.

I can cook and have a degree in English Language (and post-grad in teaching adults) and so could join your cooking and English language collective. Please?

39. William Thirteen - January 8, 2007

as they said in Hamburg in the winter of 45/46. ‘love me, but don’t undress me’… (according to von Rezzori anyway…)

40. Ed Ward - January 8, 2007

Boy, this post reminded me of a friend who’s always at me to do a Cajun cooking/English lessons thing here. “You’d meet women,” he says, hoping that’ll entice me. But I always have to remind him that Cajun food has, like, *flavor*, and too much of that scares Germans silly. Some friends of mine once owned a couple of Mexican restaurants here and their “salsa,” which was made from canned tomatoes, onions, and a tiny couple of flakes of green bell pepper, was always being sent back as “too spicy.”

Plus, of course, you’re completely right that the women who’d be attracted would be the grim-jawed Sabines ready to slash their wrists if the cubes of onion didn’t come out exactly identical. And, being from Cologne, they’d already be pretty good at English, although not as good as they think they are.

41. pleite - January 8, 2007

Penguin, araf. Is that slow? And I’m guessing at ysgol meaning school. And is retiring to Wales the British equivalent of Americans retiring to Florida? My mother retired to Twickenham, which is perfectly nice, actually, but still London, technically. Can’t remember whether she has a microwave or not. I think she does, actually, for when progeny visit with their progeny, as don’t children always need something microwaved? Their nappies or formula or something?

Right, Marsha, I’m working on the rota. What days are you available? And are you coming to us or do we need to post Germans to you? I haven’t quite ironed out ALL the details with our Human Resources and Finance departments just yet, but as long as eASyjEt do the Edinburgh-Berlin route, we’ll be willing to cover that. And can you sleep on our sofabed? And are your husband and children planning to come too? (Don’t know if we can finance that. Will have to see how roaring a success we are.) And just HOW Scottish is your accent? You never know what these Germans might be willing to pay for.

William 13! Hello! Frantically busy planning so I have to be quick. I’ve got to see a porn-star about a venue and my face is covered in flour. Can you cook and talk?

Ed, I know from first hand that you can cook, talk and write. So you’d better have the advanced group, which will consist EXCLUSIVELY of Sabines. Bad luck. But this business needs an American angle, and it will be something for some of the Sabines to argue with you about. “Ja, aber we had British English in my school. There are no faucets and zucchinis in English. Bloody Amis.” Or is anti-American passé now that the Democrats are on the up? And you can teach them about spice too.

I’ll take the Ossi Mirko group, which will be beginners and beans on toast.

B., you can do your orgasmic cabbage soup and intermediate level. Leon, you could whip up – if, indeed, one whips up – your famed clafoutis as the second course. I think the intermediate group might have some of the type of girl you fancy. B., you could heroically help set Leon up with some Saskia between soup and clafoutis.

Daggi, and are you and I just going to sit and work out how to embezzle? Or can you cook? Can you do canned peaches and ice-cream as a dessert for my Mirko-level group?

And Penguin, we’d need to meet, say, once a week to do some serious consulting. In a pub, say?

42. Marsha Klein - January 8, 2007

If by “how Scottish” you mean “how like Billy Connelly’s” is my accent, then my answer would have to be “not very” – I’m from the wrong side of the country and have a fairly standard south-east of Scotland accent. However, I have recently had some relevant experience as I’ve been teaching a young German of my acquaintance some choice English expressions (e.g he can now say “whateva” in a fairly convincing estuary English accent!) I have also received compliments on my baking in the past, so can I propose a lesson titled: “Afternoon Tea: A Great British Tradition”?!
I’ll come to you and without husband and children – there’s only so much room in this fantasy existence of mine!

43. bowleserised - January 8, 2007

My immediate thought for a course title was “Cabbage revisited”, and then we could just go back over the grammar everyone had already covered at basic level, and I could steal other people’s cabbage recipes and change them slightly by adding star anise. Like Nigella Lawson.

Then I realised that cabbage *does* tend to “revisit” one.

And I liked the title even more. Roll on the Saskias!

44. BiB - January 8, 2007

Marsha, no, this fantasy must be given full free rein. And I think Afternoon Tea might have the Germans wetting themselves with excitement. If you manage to talk as much as possible about the Royals, you might even get a tip.

You guessed rightly on the accent front. But I must say I wasn’t thinking your accent was likely to be majorly nesbittesque. Well, if you make a special effort to roll a few rs when chatting with your German protégés (and throw in a few references to the Loch Ness monster too), you’ll be laughing!

45. BiB - January 8, 2007

B., aber what venue? Perhaps your new flat could be 300m² and have one of those kitchens with that central work-surface thing? Saskia and Leon could flirt with cabbage-talk.

46. bowleserised - January 8, 2007

Ech, don’t talk to me about flats. I just missed out on a dream one. I think in house hunting it’s obligatory to have your heart broken at least once before you desperately agree to live in a ground floor 1 zimmer wohnung in the depths of some god forsaken hinterhaus.

47. William Thirteen - January 8, 2007

frankly these germans need a class on how to cook up some good crack! it’s what makes america great and also gives a great lesson on the elastic economics of supply and demand. plus you don’t even need a kitchen. i guess you’d have to get clearance from the russians though…

48. daggi' - January 8, 2007

can I propose a lesson titled: “Afternoon Tea: A Great British Tradition”?!

There’s been an ad in the Zitty and Tip (listings mags, Leon and all other non-Berliners) like this for years. “English with a cup of tea. In Pankow”. It’s not you, is it, BiB?

49. Daggi Private Investigations und Gastrosprachunterricht e.V. i.G. - January 8, 2007

before you desperately agree to live in a ground floor 1 zimmer wohnung in the depths of some god forsaken hinterhaus.

So you’re moving in here, then?

50. narrowback - January 8, 2007

at least the germans I have met have displayed the greatest interest in colloquial american english… I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Moment, bitte. Was war diese Phrase?” when I let comments like “He was like a deer in the headlights” slip into the conversation

I have not however, encountered many Sabines from Koln or similar personality types

51. bowleserised - January 8, 2007

Daggi! My new flatmate! Shall we go to Ikea?

52. pleite - January 9, 2007

B., quite right. You need to settle for your fourth choice. Mind you, I think I always just say yes to the first one I see. I LOATHE my current flat more than life itself – not that I loathe life especially – but can’t imagine getting round to moving.

Daggi, what does e.V.i.G stand for? And it isn’t me offering tea in Pankow, though it should be. I refuse to believe there is a second Engländer here. I’m the only Engländer in the Viertel (yes, to be said in Dorf-Welsh accent).

William, it’s a deal. English, cooking and crack it is. What’s the recipe? Mind you, Daggi’s mentioned something about healthy drugs before. You know, you can buy As instead of Es. So what’s healthy crack? It’s probably got sherbet in it.

Narrowback, I’ve put you down for a shift when you’re here. If you don’t mind awfully, double up with Ed as he’s getting the posh Sabines class. You won’t be able to hear yourself speak for the sound of pearls clunking round the place.

53. Daggi taking the cod liver oil in the vain hope it could better the mood - January 9, 2007

I’m at the top of the house, B. But the flat on the ground floor has just become free. It’s even got an inside toilet and plumbed-in shower. Luxury, eh!

e.V.i.G. eingetragener Verein in Gründung: registered (generally non-profit, but don’t worry, not always) association/organisation currently being founded.

54. BiB - January 9, 2007

I occasionally fantasise about a ground floor flat as at least then there wouldn’t be people underneath to complain about loud walking. But I was once briefly in a first floor flat (which we’d just flooded, vaguely) and it was gloomily dark. Anyway, my next move is to the loony bin/house by the sea.

55. Daggi - January 9, 2007

people underneath to complain about loud walking

I had to go through this for years. “You don’t have fitted carpets, do you?”, I was once asked. From then on, it went downhill, the relationship between me and the angry man and hassled wife and screaming – and permanently 3-year old (as in “My 3 year old daughter has to get up at 5am! It’s now 7pm. Stop walking around in your flat in your slippers!” – 3 years long) daughter, who lived below me.

Ground floor flats are only nice when you have to move a lot. Loony bin by the sea, see you there!

56. pleite - January 9, 2007

Daggi, we’ve got a non-ageing child-neighbour too. We’ve been here for some years – maybe 3 – and their child has remained a toddler throughout. Thankfully, we don’t have noise-issues with them as we’re opposite. But even the youngsters next door came to complain, before we’d even said a first hello, when we breathed or laughed or did something unreasonably lifelike at, ooh, 8.05pm.

57. leon - January 9, 2007

[BiB] Not Cader Idris, another equally lofty but much more obscure and unflashy mountain (a look around the web reveals pictures taken from the top here and here…ah, all that heather is very evocative, if a little depressing).

[bowleserised] Yes, if there’s one thing Wales has in abundance, it’s spiders. At any altitude.

[Everyone] Still, it’s got to be better than trying to find a flat in London, which unless you are actually as rich as Croesus (or better still Croesus’ landlord) is pretty miserable. Plus Berlin has all the cabbage and Saskias one can eat, of course.

58. pleite - January 9, 2007

Leon, I was drowning in romantic thoughts after picture 1, which said the mountain is near Gwynfryn. I was imagining lace, bonnets, eisteddfods and everything. But photo 2 said near New Brighton, and I instantly thought of amusement arcades, arctic, stony beaches and Chris Eubank.

59. leon - January 9, 2007

New Brighton is very small and Welsh-looking, from what I can remember.

60. BiB - January 9, 2007

But I can’t remember if your parents actually WANT me to move in with them or not. And how far is this mountain from the sea? If I climb right to the top of the mountain, is there a sea-view?

61. narrowback - January 9, 2007

usually I’m not inclined to do any resembling “work” while on holiday but I’ll take a shift with Ed. Or I could offer a one-of seminar on Chicago dialect & cuisine

Ovah dere by dat
Hey I got dibbsies on dat spot


A “Polish” is a type of sausage (in all liklihood unknown within the confines of that particular nation) that is always served fried smothered in a pile of greasy onions that have been similarly prepared

mark me down for an evening between March 15 and 19

62. pleite - January 9, 2007

Excellent. It’s a deal. Can you be paid in beer? (Off to check what dibbsies means. (First refusal?) I’m wondering if it’s related to bagsy.)

63. Ed Ward - January 9, 2007

Polish sausage is called Krakauer here, and it’s widely available.

But you’ll have to teach the class alone: I’ll be in Texas between March 15-19.

64. pleite - January 9, 2007

Teething problems. We’ll have it running smoothly by Christmas.

65. narrowback - January 9, 2007

Ed are you sure that it’s the same type of sausage? Remember this is Chicago – the setting of Sinclair’s “The Jungle”. I fear that the ingredients of a Chicago Polish would not be the same as a Berlin Krakauer…I’ll have to give one a taste on my next visit for comparison purposes

Sorry to hear that I’d have to do it solo tho

66. pleite - January 9, 2007

Narrowback, looks like you’re in for a good tourist experience. The beer and sausage are already sorted. (Or is this trip business as well as pleasure?)

67. narrowback - January 9, 2007

Yes, I will gladly accept my pay in beer (sorry for missing the earlier post – remember the time differential. I’m still in waking mode here)

“dibs” or “dibbsies” is somewhat similar to right of first refusal… tho’ in some aspects of Chicago culture it carries a far greater tone of entitlement/ownership… such as the quaint local custom of clearing a curbside parking space of snow and reserving it for your sole use for the remainder of the winter by placing a broken piece of furniture in said spot… and woe to the alien and/or ignorant interloper who removes the furniture and parks his vehicle in the spot.

The trip is entirely pleasure/holiday/vacation in nature. Despite my efforts I have not been able to identify a job that would require trips to berlin and/or an employer who would be willing to underwrite them

68. pleite - January 10, 2007

Yes, at last the day is creeping towards civilisation. It’s now 6.33am so BBC Radio 4, which keeps me sane, has AT LAST begun broadcasting, starting with the soothing Shipping Forecast. It’s an institution.

It sounds as if that Chicago scene would make some nice photographs. Cars interspersed with bric-a-brac.

69. pleite - January 10, 2007

Ha, I like it. A broken chair reserving your spot.

I think I’m living in the wrong time-zone at the moment. I keep waking up at crack of dawn, or long before it, which means I’m ready for bed by 7 or 8pm, which makes me feel like a child or very old woman (or man, I suppose, but I’ve never known any very old men).

70. narrowback - January 10, 2007

Is this then you first post of the day? I’m barely able to cobble together a simplistic sentence and it’s only 11 pm.

Its exactly a broken chair that is typically used to mark your spot (more often than not one of those very cheap card table folding chairs from the 1970’s) often accompanied by some other seemingly extraneous item such as a child’s yard toy, a broom or a orange hazard cone lifted from a local public works project

when I first arrived here from new york I couldn’t believe that such individual territoriality within “public” space would be respected in a city setting… a basis for a doctoral thesis if you ask me.

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