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Booze February 17, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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No time to think or make anything up for this blogging lark so memory lane it is. Mind you, a heavily prompted and signposted memory lane. Good old commenters have got me there.

So booze. I do occasionally plan to make this blogging business a vaguely organised affair and I write down things I plan to blog about. Three blog-idea squiggles currently adorn the bit of paper in front of me along with a whole load of mildly-disturbing doodles and then a rash of numbers which I’m guessing – I’ve long since forgotten – are calculations about the magnificent sums of money I’m earning… and the even more magnificent sums I owe. I remember a similar previous occasion – though don’t you go thinking my life follows a cyclically treacherous path – when I had a rush of work and great fun doing some equation or other with all my (most pressing and life-threatening) debts on one side and the sums of money I was owed on the other. I threw in a few xs and ys to remind me of school and remembered to change a + to a – when switching sides and, having mentally pencilled in, in addition to all the paid-off debts, ecologically unsound holidays to undemocratic countries, realised I was going to end up left with -9 euros. Alas. Anyway, I hate holidays.

So, yes, booze. Well, one of my three blog-scribbles was booze-related. “Plotting alcoholism,” is what I wrote. Although, to be honest, I’m worried I don’t drink nearly enough. I’m almost permanently sober. And haven’t had a sniff of booze for, ooh, at least 2 days now. Maybe even 3. But I do wonder whether it’s a slippery slope, this natural progression in booze-consumption, or whether it’s even natural at all and I should be worried that I can now drink 80 times more than my 19-year-old self could. I’ve occasionally commented on increased consumption to friends. “Does this equate to alcoholism?” Everyone has answered reassuringly, while adding that, if I am right, then they are alcoholics too.

Anyway, fuck all that. The point of this is to tell a little story which I’ve already told in my comments so I don’t know why the bugger I’m telling it again here. Oh yes, no time to make anything up. Well, AA came up. The 12 steps came up. And my mind was sent careering back to my days as an employee-without-portfolio at a charitable organisation in Raasha. All I knew when I finished university was that I wanted to go and learn Russian, which I hadn’t managed at university, really, so I was prepared to do any old job that came along to get back there. I was originally meant to teach English in some university in some town of no interest but THANK GOD I got out of that and ended up, at a friend-with-huge-shoulders’ suggestion, being the employee-without-portfolio at the charity. And it was the only job I’ve ever really got mildly enthusiastic about. I was a right little hive of activity, trying to organise this and that and network like mad and be an all-round girly swot. I made contact with other folk doing charity work in the city. Wall-to-wall born-again Christians.

“So what took you here?” I asked an extraordinary-looking gentleman who looked as if he hadn’t yet taken his clothes off in a porn-film as we walked towards the project he ran for tearaway teenagers in an insalubrious part of St. Petersburg. “Y’know BeeyaB (he was from one of those bits of America that doesn’t really exist. Kansas or Wyoming or somewhere), I was a-sittin’ (OK, he didn’t say a-sittin’) in ma church and I asked God, ‘God, whatchoo wan’ me to do?’ And God told me to do his work in Russia. Just the same as what happened to you, I gueyess?” I can’t remember how I fudged my answer but it must have passed muster as I was invited along to a conference a few weeks later.

My colleague and I loped along. It was soon obvious that it was a wholly (or holy, take your pick) born-again affair. There were oodles of ‘Praise the Lords!’ shouted, quite a lot of tears and group hugs, lots of stories of people who’d mended their ways and found the Lo(-wa)rd, a few suspicious looks in my colleague’s and my direction that we didn’t seem as enthused as the other participants. But we made it through.

When it wasn’t about group hugs, a mad English woman who did nothing but talk about her periods (much to the Russian translator’s consternation) and shouting, things did actually get discussed. And we all scribbled furiously as the AA 12-steps thing was explained to us. It was a lively session. The Russians had plenty of questions about alcoholism and how to treat it. A nice, beardy, long-haired, long-collared gent who also seemed to have ended up there by accident piped up, “How you deal with white fever?” Cue whispers about how best to translate the term from Russian into English. Murmurs and knowing nods amongst the Russians. Yes, white fever. That was the knottiest and thorniest alcohol-related problem of all. A pause for people to gossip amongst themselves and exchange white-fever tales as the translator tried to get across to the American lady conducting the whole thing what ‘white fever’ was. She was, of course, unshakeable and imperturbable – she’d been around (Wyoming), after all – but I did notice her eyes getting ever wider as the translator made himself more clear…

For white fever, ladies and gentlemen, (and please don’t anyone read the comments to the last post) is when you go on such a massive bender that you go stark-raving mad. Isn’t that marvellous? I’ve still got so much to learn.

Comments»

1. William Thirteen - February 17, 2007

reminds me of the old saying that you never really come down from your first acid trip….

2. pleite - February 17, 2007

Yes, bad luck on however many Russians it is who are unlucky first time and remain, from one tiny tipple too many, permanently barking. Mind you, I must admit that vodka does have a less than pleasant effect on me. Although perhaps none of these wicked beverages makes me feel as rough as coffee which I currently have constantly on the go. I wonder if there’s a Brazilian equivalent of white fever.

3. bowleserised - February 17, 2007

“I wonder if there’s a Brazilian equivalent of white fever.”

I shall ask Mr He-Knows-Who-He-Is – he’s the Rio expert, currently whooping it up at carnival. Mind you, this time he might actually come back with white fever, so let’s see.

4. Annie - February 17, 2007

Let me get this straight – Mr Kansas invited you to an AA meeting? Why did he think you were an alkie?

5. redneckarts - February 17, 2007

I been getting high and trying to figger out how to spell “Lo(-wa)rd” for two days. Much obliged.

6. MountPenguin - February 18, 2007

A great uncle of mine has one of these direct lines to the Lord. Shortly after retirement he got a call telling him to go to one of the sunnier areas of Spain and convert the heathens or whatever. I think this was not so long after the call he got telling him to learn Chinese (big potential market), although I gather the order was soon rescinded and the China franchise given to the Catholic church.

7. pleite - February 18, 2007

B., have I told you/blogged about my trip to the Rio carnival? I didn’t go, of course, but I’d found cheap flights and everything (to Sao Paulo, but still) but then conversations with grown-ups intervened who told us we couldn’t afford it and, anyway, why would we want to go on holiday together? Holidays are horrible etc. etc…. So we bought a blender instead.

Annie, no, he (and some other born-agains, actually) invited us to a sort of general social work conference thing and the 12 steps was just one of the (many gripping) parts. Another was about touching the damaged to repair their aura. I instantly had images of Ready-Brek adverts.

Redneck, I had a few versions before finally settling for Lo(-wa)rd. I’d thought of knocking off the d altogether but then decided it aided understanding. Although I’m now unsatisfied with the dash before the w. What did I put that in for? Oh well. Too late now.

Penguin, your great uncle was given the slackers’ option, I reckon. A sunny part of Spain indeed! At least Mr. Kansas had a tough climate to put up with. (There were American born-agains in Petrozavodsk, where I studied, north of St. Petersburg, too. Gosh they’re well organised.) Plus surely your uncle didn’t have much converting to do in Spain? There are wall-to-wall Christians there as it is. Or are they not the right sort?

8. MountPenguin - February 20, 2007

He (and his wife) belong to the happy-clappy branch of Christendom, which possibly involves full-immersion baptisms and certainly involves a lot of singing.

I saw a documentary not too long ago about some born-agains from Oregon or somewhere who were busy learning various God-related phrases in Russian before their trip over there to rescue some souls. Seems to be a popular destination.

9. narrowback - February 20, 2007

“white fever”? damn. i’ve known some stone drunks in my life but i don’t think i’ve ever witnessed someone going from relative sanity to “stark raving mad” from going on “a” bender…then again I’ve seen benders that were multi year in duration…

BiB, i’ve enjoyed your efforts to transcribe the regional dialect…we usually use anything from just “lawd” to the extended “laawrd”. its such a shame thany network television aqnd other aspects of mass culture have dampened regional (as opposed to other forms of accent) accents here in the US…sure, they’re still present to some degree with the sharpest examples prevelant in such places as Kansas, Texas, Wyoming, etc. but most of us don’t encounter them on any form of regular basis. even when we visit its typically an urban or tourist destination.

it’s been some time since I considered excursions into the backwaters of Alabama, Kansas, Texas a recreational activity…a nasty experience or two in my youth kinda made me wary of visiting such exotic places

i’ll be in berlin in about three weeks…how’s your schedule looking? I’ll be up in your neck in the woods at least one day and i’ll be at the east end on UdL a couple of times

10. pleite - February 20, 2007

Penguin, that could be a useful, money-spinning twist to those English-is-fun evenings. Although are there lots of proselytising Germans who want to go and convert the English-speaking world to something or other? Moaning about the noise the neighbours make, perhaps? Is there a religion for that?

Narrowback, yes, in fairness, the white-fever-inducing bender might have to be a very long bender indeed. And, yes, do let’s have a mini-bender, or micro-bender when you’re here. I’ll be as free as a bird, or at least a lot freer than now, unless I don’t meet my deadline, which is highly feasible, but I won’t let it overrun so much that we can’t meet. I’ll e-mail you closer to the time.

Speaking of US accents, another story that will lose in the writing, but anyway. An English friend was in the States, doing the extended round-America thing. He was somewhere in the south. Went into a bar wearing a floral shirt and with ludicrous hair and perhaps even an earring. Let’s say the bar had saloon doors and country-music and couples (him huge, her blonde-&-wavy) dancing twistily (though it was probably a Starbuck’s in Atlanta). My friend is wee. He went to the loo and happened to stand peeing between two huge locals (whose blonde-&-wavy wives were presumably dancing with each other at the time), one of whom said to him, in a Deputy Dawg accent, “You some kinda dickfuck?”

11. Taiga the Fox - February 20, 2007

“I must admit that vodka does have a less than pleasant effect on me”

I have to admit that too. Last time I had one shot of… well somebody just decided it could be a time to get this mother some booze, so they offered me few. I tried to resist, but you know us Finns, never say no to free vodka. So I ended up sitting on my former employers flower box for the rest of the night.

12. BiB - February 20, 2007

Taiga, you have my heartfelt sympathies. I loathe all vodka but free vodka is the very worst. I had some on my 30th birthday, with predictable consequences. And last time was when I got some from a drag queen when out with tbf (the beautiful friend). No consequences on that occasion, thankfully, though the drag queen fell over. I’m going to Poland soon. It might be difficult to avoid vodka there. But if it’ll help me stock up on my Polish-songs-for-drunken-occasions repertoire, then that’ll be a good thing.

13. Arabella - February 20, 2007

Groups – shiver. Groups of missionaries – shudder. I think this makes me a heretic (CofE) but gangs of religious moving in to communities and trying to convert people makes me extremely uncomfortable. They always draw attention to themselves like the married couples who ‘donate’ paintings or money to museums only to insist that a cavernous gallery is named after them, with a huge sign: THE ETHEL AND MALCOLM LOOKATUS-EVERYBODY collection. Oh for the still, small voice….
But Polish vodka – ah. Whilst a student in Leeds I’d go to Bradford market sometimes and buy poppy seed cakes and a small bottle of blackberry vodka. These cakes were the best I ever tasted, until I experienced the bakeries of the rue des Rosiers in Paris.

14. pleite - February 20, 2007

Oh, I’ll look out for poppy-seed cakes while I’m there (Poland, not Bradford) (or was just the vodka Polish?) then. And maybe some opium too, actually, if it’ll take my mind off work. The Russians do a mean poppy-seed roll, although it’d be even nicer if it was more sponge than pastry, but still good. English cakes/desserts are maybe the only English food-item I miss, not that I ever ate them in England, really, as they only seemed to be served at school. God I’d love some jam roly-poly and custard or spotted dick and custard, though not right now as I’ve just had a massive lunch of fatty, creamy pasta. I’ve got a new eating pattern. Eat constantly from wake-up time to lunchtime – about twelve breakfasts and a massive lunch – and then nothing afterwards. And it works, because I’m getting fatter every day.

But Arabella, have you ever gone into more detail on your blog about your plan to become a Minister? (Is that the word? And I don’t mean of government.) Sounds like a bloody good story. (I was just about to set off on a trawl through your archives but instantly came across the car-crash posts. Oh dear. My very belated (and now hopefully totally uncalled for) sympathies.)

15. Arabella - February 20, 2007

The vodka was Polish too.
Ages after I mentioned the minister-thing in a meme, I spotted your comment asking about it. By that time it felt too tardy to respond. But I’ll probably write about it at some point.
Puddings! Don’t get me started on custard. On the verge of ordering a catering-size tin of Birds on the internetty. Bakewell tart…
Husband fully recovered from car crash thank you. Insurance saga continues.

16. narrowback - February 20, 2007

the story didn’t lose much in the writing… having had several somewhat similar experiences, the scenario is all too familiar.

remind me to tell you sometime of my experience of being arrested for “internal possession” of alcohol in rural Georgia… busted for being drunk in the back seat of a car driving through a “dry” county. in that story the intimidating man with the deputy dawg drawl was wearing a badge

17. BiB - February 21, 2007

Arabella, Bakewell Tart! Treacle Pudding! It makes me be anti-globalisation. Even my mother, aged 100 (roughly) and as reluctant to leave her borough as anyone, is more likely to eat Tiramisu now than Bakewell Tart. It’s a scandal. When I had some Frenchies visiting Berlin, they would look out for desserts to buy but nothing met their approval. They would give the German pastries one Gallic look and leave the baker’s empty-handed. I remember buying gooey cakes for me and a colleague on Rue St. Honoré (which was quite bakery, and lovely to walk through at 4 in the morning as, even at the end near Les Halles, which has all the charm of Milton Keynes Bus Station, it’s still bakery and full of hustle and bustle and the smells of bread and bakers shouting instructions Frenchly). (Where’s Rue des Rosiers?) I think a ‘divorcé’ was very good. All chocolatey and gooey and edible only inelegantly and at least a 3-day food-ration. I don’t really do desserts any more, having decided that life should now know no pleasures. I’m at an ascetic (st)age.

Narrowback, my greatest fear, apart from missing a deadline and increasing debt, is being transparent. I would so loathe my innards to be on display. I dread to think what I’m in internal possession of. Probably all sorts of nefarious substances. (Although I’m on another accidental non-smokathon, but that will very deliberately bite the dust as soon as I next have a social occasion.) But what a good story. Internally possessing alcohol in a dry county. Looking forward to hearing the upshot. Were you forbidden from discharging these internal contents until the case came to court?

18. Ed Ward - February 21, 2007

My favorite free vodka story:

I was at MIDEM, the big music-biz convention in Cannes. One of its traditions is 4 o’clock beers: some national pavilion will offer its local beer at 4, and everyone in the trade-show (where I was working) leaves their post to go imbibe.

So one day it was the Finns. I was there knocking back some Finnish beer or another, and a friend said “Hey, check the alcohol content on that! Wooo, those wild Finns! None for me: I’m sticking with these delicious chocolates,” and he pointed to a bowl of squares wrapped in foil. With a Finlandia vodka logo on them. Guess what they were filled with?

I had to help him get back to his hotel.

19. Blonde at Heart - February 21, 2007

Speking of numbers, I had my exam in Statistics today. Who could believe my dull prof had a sense of humour? The questions were something like “two bored prisoners caught a flea and checked how far it can jump…”

I miss English desserts.

20. Arabella - February 21, 2007

Rue des Rosiers is the jewish quarter in the Marais (Danton land).
Pudding and vodka chocs…..feeling peckish.

21. Taiga the Fox - February 21, 2007

I take all that vodka-hating-thing back. Those chocolates are rather nice. Although I haven’t seen them on sale in Finland anymore, but I found a link.

22. pleite - February 21, 2007

Ed, pissed on chocolate! That is good. I might go and pour myself an occasionless gin. Actually, my old-lady pal whom I’ve mentioned on here a hundred times has also worked as a translator in her time (though never translating the dreary stuff I do). She told me how she once went to translate for some people at their house just when she was widowed. God knows what the people wanted translated. I think it was more a kindness project, just to get her away from home for a while. And she told me the working day pretty much came to an end about 11am when the woman of the house would shout up, “Come on, that’s enough work. Gin time.” God I’m waiting for my ‘career’ to reach that stage. Finnish chocolates. Gin. Anything will do.

BaH, my sympathies. Exams! This is just one more delicious advantage of getting older. Although working is more horrible than exams, maybe, on second thoughts. And why Statistics? Don’t you study International Relations? And have you had an extended period in the UK, to miss the desserts? When I still lived in the Kingdom, I once gave Norwegian guests bread-&-butter pudding. They were impressed (I think).

Arabella, shall we coordinate gin? Guessing it’s about 10.30am with you now. That’s a perfectly respectable hour for a swift gin, isn’t it?

23. pleite - February 21, 2007

I don’t know why wordpress sometimes sends belinked comments to spam. It doesn’t always. And you think it would know you by now. It’s a shame I can’t make it recognise non-spam, somehow. But I shouldn’t overly criticise. WordPress mostly behaves. Anyway, I went off, like a trusty retriever, and saved your almost-doomed comment.

I must say I do think vodka is one of the nastiest things on earth, along with translation. I just can’t see any pleasure in it at all. I mean, if the point is to be drunk, there are nice things to do that on. So far, I am resisting the urge to drink gin as I’ve done almost bugger-all work today, am 100 years behind schedule, and I’m feeling virtuous at not having drunk for ages, and fancy keeping it up a bit longer. Still wake up feeling hungover every bloody morning though.

24. Taiga the Fox - February 21, 2007

Argh. I just tried to add a vodka-chocolate link, but I forgot that the link adding thing was quite imbossible. Hmph. Anyway, I just wanted to say they are, erm, nice.

25. narrowback - February 21, 2007

there was no prohibition against discharging the evidence as the breathalyzer result was sufficent proof of my “crime”…the upshot was spending several hours in the local “drunk tank” and a court appearance several weeks later where i was fined several hundred dollars. it was a local take on the speed trap concept…a narrow strip of the county intervened between the military base and the nearby “city” wherein we GI’s did our weekend drinking. the county enhanced its revenue stream by ambushing the drunks on their way back to the base after a night on the town. as I only arrived at the post a few days before i had not been clued in regarding this quaint local custom.

vodka one of the nastiest things on earth? hmmm for me tequila, poitin, fortified wines and several others would outrank vodka… it can produce a nasty drunk however.

26. Appy Linguist - February 22, 2007

Yo BiB! In the second paragraph of comment 24, you write:

“and I’m feeling virtuous at not hvaing drunk for ages”

What a delicious location for a typo! Can we take your sentiment seriously? ;-)

I’m on beer right now – but only the second of two bottles.

Cheers!

27. A Blogger - February 22, 2007

Hi Broke,

Back in my hoary days of long-term kibbutz volunteer I used to drink a touch over ten times the amount I drink now. Israel back then and now, to a certain extent, is not a drinking society. An Israeli who grew up in Israel reading this might protest, but – really – you and I are familiar, between us as opposed to individually, though this is some sharing, with Russian, German, English and Australian cultures, and we know what drinking cultures are like.

Anyway, an article in the paper worrying described the growing trend of alcoholism in the country, and provided a quick quiz – ‘could you be an alcoholic?’ it asked. There were five questions – I was the only one to fill all of them.

Worrying.

But it was a lovely little naive article in a paper and country not used to it. I realised, later than morning over my vodka, that I couldn’t be an alcoholic… :)

28. Blonde at Heart - February 22, 2007

As an Israeli I can say Israeli society is not a drinking society, for good or bad. I do not know what a drinking society is, but apparently we are not.

BiB, I had to take Statistics as a part of International Relations. Yikes. Results are published today (wish me luck!).
I spent nearly a month in England last year and shorter periods before that.

29. Welsherella - February 22, 2007

I keep meaning to say how impressed I am that you managed to impersonate a born-again jobby so much that people actually thought you were one! I am one but it seems to take a lot of convincing with some people to make them believe it. I have always put this down to the fact that I drink too much but from reading this it would seem that perhaps I should actually evangelise-through-beer a bit more…

30. BiB - February 22, 2007

Welshy, I’d make a hopeless born-again, having no convictions about anything whatsoever. Actually, what was interesting about meeting people, for me, with a TOTALLY different worldview from mine was that, when push came to shove, they were ordinary enough. Well, OK, the ones who condoned losing touch with their family members who didn’t have the same views as them were just a touch on the bonkers side, I thought, but I vaguely hit it off with one – fuck, there’s a massive magpie on the balcony. Does that mean sorrow? – woman who guessed god wasn’t majorly my bag. I think as long as you live and let live, we can all be one big happy family. (I didn’t get to know their programmes well enough. I do know the children they looked after had bible study, but know no more than that.)

BaH, I refuse to believe that you could even contemplate not passing an exam. I expect to read about your A+ later today. And have some Israeli wine to celebrate. Aren’t Israelis even major wine-consumers? It’s probably a good thing not to be a drinking culture, all in all. But there are drinking cultures and drinking cultures. I’ve got a feeling the French manage to polish off more booze than the British, yet they do it in quite a different way.

AB, d’you know, the funny thing about Russians is they don’t drink that much! I mean, all that vodka stuff isn’t a myth, and of course Russians do vodka-benders. But I would say the average Russian drinks quite rarely, and not that much. I never came across the culture of a quick beer after work, or drinking with dinner. Booze was pretty much only a special-occasion thing… I once did one of those 20-question survey things and could, of course, answer yes to all of them so instantly fired off an e-mail to a pal who’s respectable and married to a lovely man and got a child and a good job and everything and she said she’d answered yes to all the questions too and that put my mind at rest.

Appy, bugger. A very Freudian typo. Well, drinking is a wonderful pastime, but a worrying one, as A Blogger points out, so it’s good to have had a week off it and realise that I feel just as shit as I always do. An old pal is in town and I plan to see her tomorrow, tearing myself away from this FUCKING work and I’m going to smoke and drink my arse off.

Narrowback, a military past! How exciting! But hundreds of dollars for being drunk in the wrong place. Extraordinary. Was that county the richest place in the country? I’m with you on tequila. Loathsome stuff. I had one rather obscenely drunken occasion on that in Mexico, and it was a noticeably different drunkenness, starting from the legs up. I happily sip port, though so rarely get the chance to do so. When I’m a proper grown-up, perhaps…

31. Lukeski - February 22, 2007

And of course, dear, there is a cultural/genetic disposition towards certain drinks – Russians can drink masses of vodka, but cannot handle beer (as we both know). Czechs can (I think) deal with more immense amounts of strong lager (in English parlance) than any other country. The English can drink small volumes of warm ale and alcopops. There is a wonderful story about Michael Glenny, father fo Misha and translator extraodinaire, who worked in East Berlin for the security services aftr the war, playing the role of a bumbling English officer whilst mapping the Soviet emplacements – he would wander away from the allocated US/UK avenue and make detailed notes, fearing capture at any point. He was, of course captured, but the Soviets treated it as a game, and said he could go free if he and the Soviet captain could drink a pint of the other’s national drink. “[…] the Sov had to drink a pint of gin whereas I only had to deal with vodka and he was down on the floor before he’d finished the half.”

32. Annie - February 22, 2007

hello! Flights are booked – hurrah! Coming on the 2nd April, going on the 4th, so I hope you are there. (It’s a different friend, Rae, not Rachael) We are staying at The East Seven Hostel in Prenzlauer Berg. (the Circus was all booked up.)

33. BiB - February 22, 2007

Annie, excellent. I’ll make a note in my mental filofax – remind me approximately every day until the day before you arrive – and will see you there, or here. Don’t know the place you’re staying exactly but I can see it’s just down the road from the other one and the location is still really convenient. So hurrah! I’ll take drinking and smoking back up ASAP to get some practice in. I like drinking and smoking.

34. BiB - February 22, 2007

Lukeski, too queer. The comments are arriving in an odd order. Hello! “…only had to deal with vodka”? There’s no ‘only’ where vodka’s concerned, is there? But you will remember from our Moscow days that I am a marvellous vodka-drinker. Actually, this Christmas, a Moldovan and I polished off a goodly amount of a bottle of gin and were none the worse for wear. And I resisted the temptation to drink gin yesterday… though I still didn’t get much work done. I’m so going to be fired, though in a free-lancing/loading sense.

35. Lukeski - February 22, 2007

Gin is one drink I’ve never indulged in – memories of Winston Smith’s description of it in 1984 means that it always seems to have an oily film that turns my stomach. And Scotch (following an awful night aged 14 or so) – even the faintest whiff of it from an open bottle makes me feel nauseous. Vodka has kind of dropped off my radar in the last couple of years. I am a beer drinker. I know where I am with it (when I’m actually drinking). Very little red wine either. Water on the whole. Brita-filtered, of course.

36. Lukeski - February 22, 2007

I am having an eerie sense of deja-vu…

37. BiB - February 22, 2007

Lukeski, water? I mean, I have nothing against water. Water’s caught on in a big way. But I rarely drink it for pleasure. I’ll be up mountains within a couple of days, though, so maybe I’ll have some genuine mountain woda or something, instead of wodka.

Gin does fur the tongue rather. My mother warned me, as I knocked back gin at my father’s funeral, that gin is a depressant, but as I didn’t think a funeral was a place where jollity was called for in any major way, I happily continued knocking it back. I too had a schoolboy Scotch experience. Nicked a bottle of Famous Grouse from my parents’ cabinet – somehow it was never missed – and my classmates and I proceeded to get absolutely slaughtered on it at Robert B_’s house. Sean C_ (not a James Bond actor) vomited on the street. And I’ve loathed whisky with a passion ever since.

Ideally I would like to ingest nothing but Weetabix, bananas, cigarettes, coffee and booze.

38. Lukeski - February 22, 2007

For me it would have to be Shredded Wheat Fruitful, onion and poppy seed bagels. coffee, chocolate ice cream, water and ice cold European beer.

39. pleite - February 22, 2007

I’d be worried the chocolate ice-cream would give me a fatter, pinker face than I already have. Or chocolatier (more chocolatey, I mean. Not some posh French word) if I were to eat it messily. I could cope with bagels too. I might go and make a cauldron of gratuitous coffee now to avoid work for another five minutes. I’ve got no fags to chain-smoke though, and I’ve even just been out and resisted temptation to buy some. (Plus I haven’t been paid by anyone for about 30 years. That aids resistance.) I’ve got a feeling Polish fags are going to be irresistibly cheap. Polskie papierosy prosze fucking bardzo!

40. A Blogger - February 23, 2007

Vodka used to be my sober drink. Meaning, when I was drinking and had realised I’d had too much and didn’t want to get any drunker (or drunkier, which might be pedanticly wrong, but has a nice ring to it), I’d turn to vodka to keep me at the same level of sobriety.

I was in an Oyrish village up in Donegal at some stage. And the farmer showing me the ropes decided he’d take me to every pub in town. The village had about 20 people living there, so there was only 18 pubs to get through. Guinness was, stereotypically, the drink de jour and I was very quickly trollied (I’d manage to down six pints at this stage, and thought, just quietly, that I was doing well, but then realised the farmer was only just warming up). So I switched to vodka and orange, and after half of Ulster finished laughing at me, I was managing to keep up drink for drink.

The night became messy.

Gin, on the other hand, makes me cry.

41. narrowback - February 23, 2007

a blogger (and BiB as well as i’m sure at this point that he enjoys drinking stories) – i had a somewhat similar experience in belfast… went out with some friends of friends who i had never met before to a “social club” for a citywide competition of – forget waht exactly it was called, some form of pub games…and somewhere around the nteenth pint I concluded I was doing fair well in keeping up with the locals. shortly thereafter my host/guide announced that the competitve events were now concluded and we should now be serious about getting a drunk on. my memories of the rest of the evening are a blur of wandering deserted streets, an encounter with an armoured car, a wild car ride thru the city, a screaming argument in gaelic at a cab stand and upon arriving back at the home where I was staying becoming somewhat religious…thanking the “lawd” that I had survived the evening…

however, one difference between my experience and yours…when I ordered a guiness as my first drink i was informed that “ah, you doan want one of those – it doesn’t travel well (referring to the 90 mile difference between dublin and belfast) my first thought was “what the hell then have i been drinking in all those irish pubs in ny, boston and chicago?”…however, that night was my introduction to Tennants

42. pleite - February 23, 2007

Narrowback and AB, dang, I don’t have a single tale of being drunk in Ireland. Mind you, I’ve only been once as an adult, and that was last year, to a wedding, and that was only a standardly drunken occasion. Before that, I hadn’t been since I was 11 and that was with my parents, and I’m fairly sure I wasn’t drunk but I did have a haircut I didn’t like and I kept my hood up for most of the trip. I think we drove through Snowdonia (north Wales) to get the ferry and I still have memories of the beauty. I want to go back. But I’m convinced I’ll never see anywhere in the UK again other than the inside of relatives’ houses.

AB, so my mother is right that gin is a depressant. Vodka makes me try to kiss heterosexual male friends inappropriately and then, as you are being put to bed by other friends, rant about why he couldn’t have just obliged with one little kissette. The friendship withstood the test.

Narrowback, for ‘nteenth pint’ I at first read nineteenth pint and that made me want to have a lie down, and I’ve only just got up. I am a proper girl’s blouse and couldn’t really drink anything that came in pints until I got to Germany, where, I think, misery forced me to fall in love with the local beer. And it’s delicious. But even so, I can only manage a few of them before sitting drunkenly drinkless for the rest of the night. (Unless on a boiling hot day in a beer-garden with the same unkissed friend, actually.)

I now don’t think I’ve had a sniff of alcohol or tobacco for about ten days. I feel as rough as fuck every morning.

43. narrowback - February 23, 2007

“nteenth” is a colloquialism for a vague count between thirteen and nineteen “i know i had at least 13 pints but i hope i didn’t have 19″…somewhat akin to “a gazillion”

44. A Blogger - February 26, 2007

I was only in Ireland for 30 days and have at least 38 drunken stories.

I need to go back to find the other 8 days.

45. annie - February 28, 2007

BiB – I miss you – have you given up posting along with alcohol and ciggies?

46. pleite - March 1, 2007

Annie, thank you! I have just been on holiday and am now back and am still in a mad work-rush and won’t be able to write some piffle for another few days at least. But thank you for making me feel blog-loved.

AB, as my Polish trip proves, I think one can squeeze more than one drinking occasion into any day on a holiday. Was your Irish trip in winter? Poland in winter was awfully good for two goes of drinking per day. One at lunch – mulled wine – and another starting in the evening – mulled wine and beer, perhaps with the odd mead or vodka thrown in – and it was all lovely.

…although, Narrowback, I don’t think my mulled-wine-count got to a gazillion on a single occasion. The calorie-count certainly did though.

47. narrowback - March 2, 2007

ah, glad to see that you survived the safari to the wild wild east…but mulled wine?

at this time two weeks from now I should be enjoying a nice german beer.

48. pleite - March 3, 2007

…and I shall enjoy one (or more) with you.

Polish mulled wine was excellent. Don’t know if the wine content was Polish. But it was perfect for cold, snowy evenings (and afternoons). There was hot mead too. I haven’t had mead since getting lovelily tiddly on it with Englishman in New York inside the Kremlin in Novgorod in early 2000, though I can’t remember if that was heated or not. Novgorod wasn’t. The coldest place I’ve ever been. Also one of the most beautiful.

49. narrowback - March 3, 2007

the only places I’ve encountered mulled wine is at touristy faux-german christmas markets in Chicago and Milwaukee and at the odd upper crust holiday (christmas/new years) party that i get dragged to on occasion. guess that’s the basis for my reservation plus the fact that – in typical yank fashion – i prefer my alcohol cold.

drop me an e-mail when your workload permits so we can work out the details for some beer drinking. things will get crazy at this end during the final days of my run-up to departure on the 14th.

50. pleite - March 4, 2007

Almost through the worst of it now. Will be in severe boozing mood by the time you arrive, no doubt! E-mail en route…

51. Taiga the Fox - March 5, 2007

Oh BiB, great, you’re back! Whereabout in Poland were you drinking mulled wine and hot mead?

52. pleite - March 5, 2007

In Krakow and Zakopane. Both lovely. I think it’s the first time I’ve properly fallen for (and thankfully not off) mountains. Mutta the far more important thing is whether your blog has really moved or is this just an addition to your blogging portfolio? It would be such a traumatic wrench to have to remove the Taiga blog from my blogroll. Do tell.

53. Taiga the Fox - March 5, 2007

I’ve been in Krakow too and it was really lovely, much nicer than Warsaw…

Moved? You mean Superloner? No, please don’t remove the Fox blog, I just gave my robots and turtles their own flat where to do things that robots and turtles do.

54. pleite - March 6, 2007

Splendid. Happy to hear that the Taiga is still safe and that the robots and turtles have a place of their own.

Yes, Krakow is properly lovely. I hadn’t discovered the Jewish bits on my first trip a gazillion (okay, 15) years ago, and they were a very welcome addition to the picture. I heard some very passionate, fervent praying at an Orthodox synagogue. At first I thought it was someone rapping. It was spinechilling.


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