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Soap January 27, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I have become my father’s son. Well, I mean, I always was him, but, with inevitable predictability, I am actually turning into my father.

Which needn’t necessarily have been the case. Our early lives could hardly have been more different. Well, we’re both youngest sons. But my father grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Whereas I am a Londoner born and bred. Whereas my father’s teenage years would have been spent, no doubt, doing things like milking cows and shooing hungry foxes, mine were spent bunking off school and, when I did occasionally make my way in, spending hours in HMV on Oxford Street with my pals on the way home and being laughed at by Scandinavian tourists because of our school uniform.

Now remember that American comedy Soap? With Billy Crystal playing the gay son and that confusing round-up they had at the beginning or end, or perhaps beginning and end, of every episode? I was addicted. Both because it seemed daring and raunchy at the time – I must have been about 10 – and there was a gay character. I think I even managed to make myself fancy Billy Crystal, which is no mean feat (although there was a much dishier brother played by Ted Wass). And there just didn’t seem to be many gay characters around on TV at the time – Colin and his filofax came to Eastenders years later – and even though the UK charts must have been awash with poofs, the actual g-word was probably never mentioned and I was too dim to make the connection. And of course I thought Freddie Mercury doing the hoovering with massive fake knockers and a moustache was just the fashion of the time.

So this is where my family life and romantic life get Soap-like. My ex – though not till years later. Well, he wasn’t even my present till years later. I didn’t have a boyfriend at 10 – was my brother’s best pal at school. My ex and my brother are 8 years older than me. This means my ex, then my pre, was already in my life when I was about 6. He was an absolute regular at our house. He and my brother used to do teenagerly things together. He would stay the night. My sisters were known to comment on his good looks. I would remain tactically silent. My pre, or rather my brother’s pal, as he would then still have been qualified, became a pal of the whole family. When he and my brother fucked up their A Levels, my brother went back to school to resit but my pre went to work for my father.

The pre/ex and I come from rather different families. Whereas the greatest achievement by my ancestors was perhaps winning the fastest cow-milking competition in the land – yes, mother a farm-girl too – everyone in the pre/ex’s family had written twenty novels, had had countries named after them and had invented the wheel. While my grandmothers and great-aunts were perhaps honing their udder-skills, the pre/ex’s grandmothers and great-aunts were going to Oxford and Cambridge or turning their progeny into concert pianists. Which made for good fun when our two families ran into each other.

By phone.

The pre/ex’s mother – then just a disembodied posh voice but later to become my sort-of (now ex) mother-in-law, good pal and source of or inspiration for every witticism in this blog – is/was a shrink and a worrier. When my pre/ex was a teenager, his mother would ring our house if he hadn’t come home for the night. Sure enough, he would be safely ensconced at our place. When my pre/ex got that first job, in a spectacular career non-move, working for my father, his mother would still phone our house to check if her son was with us. And he always was. Her calls were a moment of some excitement. We didn’t have that much contact with posh types and she even had an odd, posh name for good measure. She and my parents became firm telephone friends.

Now my father liked a drink. As did/does my pre/ex. Their work-place must have had the highest booze consumption of any organisation outside a Russian moonshine factory. When work was done for the day, the men would troop off, as one, to their pub and stay there till they would team off in an early take on the car-pool and the designated driver, barely tipsy after 13 pints, would decide it was time to call it a night. The pre/ex was very frequently my father’s designated driver as, aged 18, he could, naturally, easily take his ale and drive the two of them home where my mother would have two once-steaming dinners waiting for them, keeping warm on covered plates atop a saucepan of simmering water.

Fast-forward a gazillion years. My father had shuffled off his mortal coil, the pre/ex was now very much my present and the posh, disembodied voice had become my pal. And, having never met a single member of my family, but for my older brother, she knew more about my family from those fretful phone calls than I did. “Darling, has present ever told you about my most famous phone call with Mr. BiB senior?” The present looked on blankly, aware that my innocence was about to be shattered. “No? Then I’ll begin…”

Then-pre/now-ex’s mother put in one of her regular phone calls. My father, fresh in from a quick 19 pints after work, picked up the phone. Telephonic mores were abandoned as soon as he’d put her mind at rest that her son was safe and sound on the sofa, sloshing with beer, tepid potatoes and probably clutching my father’s car-keys. The conversation went south. “Then-pre/now-ex’s mother, Mrs. BiB (senior) – though there isn’t a junior – has locked the bedroom door.” “Oh.” “She’s been locking the bedroom door for six years.” “Oh.” Then-present/now-ex’s mother had perhaps never had a moment so tricky in all her shrinking days. “For six fucking years…” She consoled her son’s drunk employer, whom she’d never met, as best she could.

I took the intelligence like a man, grateful for this belated insight into my parents’ ancient history.

Fast-forward to the present, in which the ex is now my ex, but still my pal, his mother is still my pal and the Russian is my present. I too now like a drink, though thankfully, as a freelancer, don’t have a timetable or logistic arrangements allowing for a quick 19 pints on the way home. Nor do I have a driver. The Russian and I are at a busyish separate-lives sort of stage. No time for proper dinner. Just both wolfing down helpings from a vat of chicken soup of the Russian’s confection. As I went for helping number 12 yesterday, I thought it would be awfully nice to wash it down with 19 pints of red wine. I assumed, though, to my chagrin, that there was none in the house. I randomly opened every cupboard in the house, hoping there might be a bottle discarded in a moment of carelessness, and to my amazement found one nestling promisingly. I gently closed the kitchen door and opened it as noiselessly as I could manage. I finished wolfing and trundled back to my computer with my glass still very much half-full. “Un très bon choix,” I cackled triumphantly to the Russian through the crack in his door, like a child with an ice-cream.

This was my mistake.

When I returned to the kitchen about 13 seconds later to top up my glass, the bottle was gone. I rescoured the cupboards, but it was nowhere to be seen. It dawned on me that the Russian perhaps hadn’t appreciated my triumphant solo-drinking. And the bedroom door was locked.

But who might phone for me to pour my heart out to? “The Russian’s locked the bedroom door. I have become my father.”

Faithful bloggers. You do come in handy.



1. Welsherella - January 27, 2007

He he he he! How entertaining you are of a Saturday morning! I cannot wait to lock the bedroom door when the Tart and I are married; sounds like it will be a lot of croissant-inducing fun, surely?!

2. bowleserised - January 27, 2007

Well, you can come and drink with me and Teuteronomy in a nonsecretiv e fashion tonight.

3. daggi - January 27, 2007

I thought Freddie Mercury doing the hoovering with massive fake knockers and a moustache was just the fashion of the time.

I’m a few years younger than you are, but I also failed to make the connection. Julian Clary was the only obvious “tele-poof” at the time, but how obvious was that to a 9 year old? I used to enjoy watching Sticky Moments – with my mum – but I’m sure I wouldn’t have got most of the jokes about fisting. I hope I didn’t anyway. Anyway: perhaps Hugh Jelly would like to be the star of our panto? I’m pretty sure he’s got nothing else on. Fanny the Wonderdog is sadly long-deceased.

4. bowleserised - January 27, 2007

“I thought Freddie Mercury doing the hoovering with massive fake knockers and a moustache was just the fashion of the time.”

Ditto. My friend had a huge teenage crush on him and used to draw detailed pencil reproductions of posters of the man.

5. Junky D - January 27, 2007

Hope the croissanterie was well-stocked and that all is resolved.

Billy Crystal? I’m speechless! (I’ve done far worse, though, in real life – when I was younger, desperate and not exactly sober. The one I woke up to once who had hideous rotten black teeth and hair dipped in Castrol GTX would no doubt top the bill.)

When Freddie Mercury was jumping around on Top of the Pops (with a motorbike?) I was still too young to know. But by the time he was dressed up as a woman, doing the hoovering, I think the game was up for me. That, and that fact that other children at school were saying he’d said on children’s TV: “I am a homosexual.” Kind of gave it away!

6. BiB - January 27, 2007

Junky, did Freddie say the h-word on children’s TV? My memory is jumbled and I might have been 22 by the time he was hoovering with knockers, but we mustn’t let the truth get in the way of a bit of blogging exaggeration.

B., oh dear. A poor choice of crush by your pal. Although, actually, not really. It was only a crush, after all. I’ve currently got a crush on this man and I think I have about as much chance of a kiss from him as your pal had from Freddie. By the way, don’t think I can booze this evening. Poor, vaguely already verabredet, and have two bits of work to finish. (But do let me know where you go and I might try to glamorously show up.)

Daggi, Julian Clary is becoming quite the broadcaster and respected figure. If he’s not writing for The New Statesman, he’s presenting Radio 4 shows about country walks. I heard him taking some sort of posh, serious-sounding, oilskin-&-hunting type for a walk somewhere or other recently and they really hit it off. But I can’t praise Radio 4 any more. Fanny the Wonderdog did get a mention on one of these shows. She was definitely the attraction of his early career, he always claims.

Welshy, that’s the trick. You lock the door and slide a note under it, once you’ve let him suffer enough, with the word CROISSANTS written on it. Hopefully it’ll take him a good forty-five minutes to find them which will give you time for a nice emergency surf in peace and quiet.

7. Blonde at Heart - January 28, 2007

This is not very nice of him. Buy his favourite food and eat it all by yourself and leave the empty package for him to see. Childish, but it might work.

8. Ed Ward - January 28, 2007

BiB, being a practicing homosexualist, you’ll never *really* have the opportunity to become your own father, because you’ll never have a son who’ll provoke you to utter things you never thought in a million years you’d say:

“If you don’t turn that music down now, young man…”

“You’re still having trouble with that? Funny, when I was your age…”

I’ve yet to face this problem, personally, but I’ve had the odd “Kids today…” moment, and I’ve sure watched my friends go red in the face when they’ve suddenly had these things happen.

9. pleite - January 28, 2007

BaH, do you know what I thought of doing? My plan was, for the next day, to fish the cork from the stolen (initially by me, then by him) bottle of wine out of the recycling – plastic if plastic cork, bio if real cork. I’m probably recycling wrong and will go to prison for it soon. Can’t wait – and put it back on the table, next to the corkscrew, to pretend ANOTHER bottle of wine was currently being drunk on the premises and ner, ner, ner, ner, ner (with thumb on nose and other four fingers waggling)… But then the original bottle of wine reappeared. And I drank it dry. And all plotting was forgotten.

Ed, too true, and I don’t think I’m ever going to be the modern type of homosexualist who goes madonnaing (or is it bradding?) off to Namibia or Malawi to adopt. And I don’t plan, either, to get together with a lesbian pal and solve the childlessness that way. Because I don’t really have a lesbian pal. Well, one, but she’s already married and got an ‘eccentric family’ as her grandmother/my pal puts it. (And I’ve written before that they thought of asking me for a bit of spare sperm. Thankfully their efforts were thwarted by not being able to find the international dialling code. Or something.) Mind you, maybe the Russian is my ersatz son. “If you don’t turn that music down now, young man…” and, “You’re still having trouble with that? Funny, when I was your age…” both sound VERY familiar.

10. James - January 28, 2007

Great blog.

I did as you suggested and Googled myself – some pretty weird stuff but nothing relating to me. Thanks for dropping by. J.

11. Liukchik - January 28, 2007

OK, so this link is soap-related, but links back to a post from last week (I couldn’t be bovvered to find it. Anyway, control yourselves…

12. pleite - January 28, 2007

James, you’re more than welcome. Early bloggers always need encouragement. But you seem to have got into the swing of things straight away. Hurrah!

Lukeski, I have just flung my knickers at the computer… which couldn’t be that spontaneous, because I was wearing long-johns, so it was all quite a rigmarole. But well worth it. Poor old RSF. Mind you, they didn’t do badly on the back of simply being bald and huge. If I take some steroids and have a number 1 crop, maybe I can still become a pop-star. (I bought their cassette in Poland in 1992 for about half a zloty. It’s long lost now. I’m going again next month so might repurchase.) (Did you see Tom Hanks doing RSF at the same site? Actually vaguely amusing. I can forgive him for Philadelphia now.)

13. Liukchik - January 28, 2007

Where are you off to in Poland? Seemingly there are no people between the ages of 16 and 46 anymore;) They have all settled in Slough, or Hull, or Dudley. I thought you would like the RSF video – the advert just appeared on TV here (or at least I sw it for the first time). Tom Hanks hs committed too many sins for me to forgive him. Even if it was funny.

14. pleite - January 28, 2007

You old hardliner. Though maybe I’ll join you and retract my magnanimity towards Herr Hanks.

Really, is your leafy bit of London completely middle-aged-type-free? Tbf (the beautiful friend) said where he grew up, in suburban Berlin, there was no-one between the ages of 14 and 70! Where I live, although all ages are represented, mentally everyone is at least 300. OH GOD, SORRY! You mean in Poland. Yes. Sorry. Dim.

So… Poland… the south. Krakow and the mountains. Strictly poofs. No straight trash. I’m practising my sibilants already.

15. daggi - January 29, 2007

Krakow is full of poofs? Come on, not all Catholics are automatically gay. Not even the lapsed ones.

16. wyndham - January 29, 2007

Freddie Mercury was gay???!

17. pleite - January 29, 2007

Oh, well, I suppose the odd het or two will get in our way as we do an impromptu pride march.

Actually, on my two trips to Poland, I don’t think I’ve met a single homosexual. First time I was there, in 1992, for ages, I made a pal, Tomek, and told him eventually that I was a screaming whoopsy. He looked horrified and told me, “That is diskustink.” Then, about five seconds later, he stroked my face. Second time, in 2000 or 2001, I was working for a Catholic charity and was surrounded by Catholics, priests and lay. I didn’t mention the g-word. Or have my face stroked.

But I HAVE met oodles of gay Poles in Berlin. They are, on average, more entertaining than the local variety. I normally strike up my repertoire of Polish songs within about three sentences of chit-chat. None of them has become a friend.

18. pleite - January 29, 2007

Wynders, hello! Apparently he was. I remember, about twelve seconds before I planned to come out, my brother did a fairly brief but ill-timed tirade along the lines of, “Well, if he hadn’t been shagging little boys, he wouldn’t have got AIDS.” I think I waited a few more days before making the big declaration.

I’m bored of being gay at the moment. Do you think I can ‘come in’ for a while?

19. Marsha Klein - January 29, 2007

“I normally strike up my repertoire of Polish songs within about three sentences of chit-chat. None of them has become a friend”

This made me laugh (aloud, just for the record). Is your singing THAT bad?!

Also amused by the notion of “coming in” I wonder how one would go about that?

20. wyndham - January 29, 2007

You’re always welcome ‘in,’ but I think you’d find it terribly boring here.

21. BiB - January 29, 2007

Marsha, personally I think my singing is pretty fucking marvellous, but I think it does rather mark me out as being a bit uncool. That coupled with the fact that I am usually dressed like a Latin teacher – I was going to write master, but that would have been faux posh – and that I am – horrors – in my 30s means I am just beyond the pale.

For your information, I am kitchen-blogging, cooking with Radio 4 on in the background…

22. Marsha Klein - January 29, 2007

I am waiting-to-go-home-from-work commenting with Radio 4 on in the background. I love Eddie Mair.

23. BiB - January 29, 2007

Wynders, I’m feeling all psychic. We’ve now cross-commented NOT once BUT twice! Fancy that. But you and Marsha are, inevitably, both right. I suppose I’d struggle with some of the practicalities. Men just do have a habit of being fanciable.

24. BiB - January 29, 2007

Marsha, alas, I must now abandon Radio 4. I’m off out to meet a real human. Imagine! Hopefully, queer beer will ensue. If I’m lucky, I might get a Polish song or two in.

25. Welsherella - January 30, 2007

Having watched the fantastic soap ‘Eastenders’ last night, I have to inform you that you will only be able to become your father’s son if somehow years later the declaration can be made that “he wasn’t your farver!”
Sorry to put a spanner in that old works.
Eastenders seems actually ever so good of late. Can you get it over there, digitally, or sky-ly or some other complicated way?

26. MountPenguin - January 30, 2007

To go off at a slight tangent, are you sure your father was shooing the foxes rather than shooting them? From my semi-rural childhood I vaguely remember shooing was only effective on herbivores, and your typical scavenging carnivore had to be dispatched with more radical methods, usually after being chased around the countryside a bit.

27. BiB - January 30, 2007

Welshy, I was always very disappointed, when a romantic teenager, that I was from an absolutely bog-standard family (apart from the occasional bit of bedroom-door locking over a six year period). Mother, father. No half brothers or sisters. No secret siblings. No divorces. No remarriages. So regular. I romantically flirted with the notion that my father probably wasn’t my father, but – and even though I know our environment shapes the way we look – I had to admit that he probably was my father when realising that we look identical (except he had the whitest hair in Christendom. Brylcreem used to make it look greyish, but when it was freshly washed, it was quite hilariously, stunningly, breathtakingly white. They should have used it in toothpaste ads).

We don’t have English soaps here, and I cope heroically without them. Oddly, they do show the odd British comedy show. Imagine, Spank the Pony, or whatever it’s called, dubbed into German. Da Ali G Show too. Ab Fab’s been on (on Arte, a Franco-German channel. You can choose whether you want German or French dubbage). Can’t think what else. We do also have BBC World, but I don’t think that does recreation. Perhaps Top Gear. But obviously I can’t watch that because Mr. Clarkson is just a bit too ostentatiously ugly.

Penguin, we are language nerds of precisely the same ilk. I feel your language soul. You my lengvidzh braazer. When I wrote shooing, I thought to myself, “I wonder if anyone will think I meant shooting”. And you did, perhaps. So hurrah. But, and now realising I know very little about my father’s childhood – I must telephone my mother and ask her for more details of hers right now, except I can’t because I’ve got a translation to finish by the morning – I don’t think he ever handled a weapon. And, to be honest, I don’t even know if there were foxes in his neck of the woods, but where there are sheep – I know there were sheep – there are probably foxes.

28. MountPenguin - January 31, 2007

Well, I inhabit an environment where a missing consonant or under-pronounced vowel can transform an innocent “how are you dear” into something like “Your mother’s buffalo is having carnal relations with half-a-pound of carnations”, so I like to worry about missing letters.

For the record, “Top Gear” is probably the best comedy available on broadcast TV in Germany, at least when there are no repeats of Black Adder being shown on 3Sat or SWR3. I hear it is possible to get a Sky (?) box thingy (possibly with a red button) from the UK and a satellite dish with which British TV can be received at no charge, but I’ve never pursued it further.

If there are no foxes it probably means they have been eaten or frightened off by the local mythical Beast (as in the Beast of Tunbridge Wells), which usally turns out to be a large-ish stray cat or escaped circus puma or something.

29. pleite - January 31, 2007

Penguin – speaking of which, I’ve wanted to call you Pengers for ages but can’t decide how to spell it. I’m aiming for pronunciation of peng-shwa-z but what if folk go for a j-like g and say penge(which, I think, is a horrible bit of London)-shwa-z? That would never do. And Penguers looks a bit wank. So I might have to stick with Penguin. I don’t mind (too much) if you don’t – are you in for the long haul tonight? I’m up for an all-night (non-)working-sesh, to be interspersed with smoking, blog-surfing and perhaps even a bit of recreational writing. I’ll feel shored up if I know you’re perhaps doing likewise just down the road, all the while wondering what it means to be a free-born Englishman in Berlin.

I was once at some motoring function at which Herr Clarkson was also in attendance, wearing one of those yellow, illuminous workmen’s jackets. Which did slightly make me think he was a tosser. But does he write those pieces for whichever newspaper it is himself or are they ghosted? Because they’re well-written and amusing, often. I can’t drive so struggle to get in on the Top Gear thing. When I was a youngster, it was all cars and football, but those interests never throve.

30. MountPenguin - January 31, 2007

I can drive, but don’t (never even owned an automobile, so would feel quite smug about my carbon emissions if I didn’t fly so much), and seem to be missing the macho male automobile gene. But Top Gear, while not exactly being high-brow humour, is quite amusing for the way the presenters take the mickey out of each other, the cars and the French, and French cars in particular, and caravans of all sorts. And it is, alas, the best televisual comic entertainment going round here (maybe a good thing, it means I don’t watch much TV).

Anyway, ‘fraid I must hit some soft horizontal surface, earlier on I witnessed someone eating fried cow’s udder and I need a good night’s sleep to get that (and another disturbing image I read about today on one of the blogs linked on the right) out of my head.

31. pleite - January 31, 2007

I once did some quiz about carbon emissions, preparing to feel all superior because of not driving, and the results said that if everyone on the planet lived as I did, we’d need three of the bastards to sustainably sustain cunts like me. I felt chastened. And then went back and changed all my answers to try to limit the damage, but it still concluded I was a fiend of the deepest dye. Flying was my downfall, of course. And eating food that’s come from faraway places.

Does Top Gear berate the French? And aren’t French cars good? Surely nothing can outbeauty the Citroen – can’t do the dots – Déesse – can do the accent. Though I have, in his defence, seen Jeremy Clarkson write about the utterly shit British car industry. But my ex told me about an episode of Top Gear where he went to Bilbao and, upon being asked to pay entry to the Guggenheim, said, “But I’m British. I’m exempt. I’ve already paid. EU contributions,” or something like that. I find that type of humour dreary.

Desperately trying to work out what image it was and from which blog. I’ve been through almost all the links on your and my blogs. Beaman’s lizard-woman is a bit spooky. (And reminds me of Wyndham once sitting opposite a woman on the tube who ate a pack of butter.) Or is it the vagina dentata chez Bowleserised?

32. MountPenguin - January 31, 2007

C’est la une. No pictures, it was the mental image.

33. pleite - January 31, 2007

I hope the good night’s sleep helped and that your dreams were EVEN sweeter than normal.

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