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A grand night out August 12, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Once you’ve been together with your beloved for a hundred years and know everything about each other, you need to be creative to stop time running into itself and becoming a stream of sameness in order to distinguish one moment of long-term togetherness from another.

Nights out are fraught. They invariably start with a vaguely spontaneous decision to leave the house just as we’re about to lose the ability to walk from being stuck at the computer for so long (and there’s only so long you can pretend that a one-thousand word translation takes three weeks). I rummage around looking for something to wear (and put a wash on when I realise all my three items of clothing are dirty) and then negotiate with the Russian which of his items of clothing he now hates enough to allow me to put on. Then I check that the windows are only left open in a satisfactorily burglar-proof way. Make sure things are off. Check that the gas hasn’t been left on, and then remember that we don’t have gas. Double-lock the front door. Then double-open it to check all the same things again. And then we head aimlessly into the night.

Which normally isn’t too bad. If we leave the house at, say, seven, we might have settled on a place to eat by about ten, which means your appetite is healthy and you’ve had plenty of time to let potential resentment over who’s going to pay the bill fester to the point of heart-warming grievance. We settled on Etienne, where the Russian had a massive, fuck-off lump of duck and I had a much more manageable chunk of salmon. There were excellent au gratin potatoes to be had. Two glasses of wine (Côtes du Ventoux). (Luckily, the waitress misheard that we in fact wanted quite a lot more. A blessing in disguise.) Coffee. Forty-something euros. Not too bad. And, anyway, we didn’t need to bother with grievance because they take credit cards – no small cause for celebration in Berlin – so it was free anyway. So pop to Etienne, Berliners/visitors, with your plastic for a free night out.

We were so thrilled with the free food and how little we’d drunk that we thought we’d better go and drink rather a lot more to make sure there was a chance to spoil the evening after all. Beer’s especially good for spoiling any occasion, but luckily we managed to avoid that disaster and drank ourselves dead on cocktails at Zum schmutzigen Hobby – look! Even Rupert Everett’s been! – instead. A perfectly satisfactory gay bar as Berlin gay bars go. Not bitchy. Not so pitch black that you have to have sex with everyone on the premises. Not so exclusively gay that a woman’s presence will turn heads. You can sit outside or in, and the Kylie isn’t on so loud that you can’t talk to your neighbour.

Not that the Russian and I wanted to talk, of course. Thankfully there were distractions such as the odd good-looking man or two couples with dogs or radically enhanced people-watching opportunities in the shape of a huge gaggle of young Americans on a pub-crawl of exactly the type Herr Diary describes here. I think their tour-guide was being naughty dragging them into a gay bar but they liked it well enough. One of the girls was impressed with the two dogs and exclaimed, with a bar-penetrating voice, “Like, what is it with dogs in bars here?” And then, turning to a couple that anyone would have been hard pushed to imagine as straight, asked, “Is that how you pick up chicks?” They muttered to each other and wondered what ‘chicks’ meant. The young lady had already skipped off enthusiastically for the exchange to go any further.

The bar-goers thinned out and the Russian and I wondered how next we might amuse each other. Salvation came in the shape of a found pen and free postcards. What could be more natural than to write calling cards for each other and then to strew them around the bar? “Hot Russian boy,” I began. “Russian (for that is his name). Call me. (“Darling, what’s your phone number again?”) 0171…” The Russian ripped up my efforts. “Cheap British slut,” began the Russian, which I thought was lowering the tone a tad. “BiB. Call me. 0171…” Hmm. “Horrible Russian boy. Russian. Microscopically tiny willy. Call me. 0171…” Rip, rip, rip, went the Russian. “Even-cheaper-than-on-the-last-postcard British slut. Ingrowing willy. Riddled with the pox. Call me. 0171…”

“Have you got a photocopier?” I asked the bar staff as we saw fit to stumble out the door. You’ve got to hedge your bets at my age.

Comments»

1. annie - August 12, 2007

“Horrible Russian boy. Russian. Microscopically tiny willy…’ Ah, so sweet and romantic. I long for the day when I have an other half of my very own to insult and abuse with impunity.

Oooh, I wonder if that was the ‘Alternative/Underground Berlin’ tour we didn’t get a chance to go on. (We went on a Brewers Tour and *warning, product placement* it was absolutely fantastic. Though the guide did tell us a story about some decadent sex club of the 1930s, and something to involving swans which shocked us to the core. Men are beasts, BEASTS!)

2. pleite - August 12, 2007

Annie, love is being able to insult and abuse each other with impunity. It was excellent fun. I haven’t had any calls yet.

There is a bar at the end of our dead street which has been closed since we moved here whenever it was. A taxi-driver once told us it was famously sordid and raucous. Couldn’t look more innocuous from the outside.

3. marshaklein - August 13, 2007

Sounds like a great night out. Love does, indeed, mean that you always have someone on hand to insult and abuse. Basically, it cuts out the legwork!

By an amazing (not really) coincidence, I’ve just found out about Brewer’s Tours, from a friend who knows the city, and I was thinking that the -“all day, see everything in Berlin in 8 hours” day tour looked worth a go, provided my my dodgy knee and ropey achilles tendon hold up. Ooh, “auld age disnae come itsel'” as probably no-one says in Scotland.

4. marshaklein - August 13, 2007

Oops! That should, of course, read:

“Auld age disnae come BY itsel'”!

5. pleite - August 13, 2007

Mind you, Marshypops, 8 hours in one go sounds a bit much. Are you sure you won’t have the outdoor equivalent of museum legs half way through? Then again, Annie and her pal Emma swore by their tour… I’m having a tough time deciding whether Barnaby (who guided our ladies) or Robin is better-looking. I’m really not busy enough.

6. annie - August 13, 2007

We were lightweights and went on the free 4 hour tour, Marsha, & that was plenty, it showed all the key sights – we saw the 8 hour people half way through and they looked on their last legs (we went with Barnaby BiB, & I thought he was a bottle of sauce. Very funny, very tall & very deep voice. And, ahem, clearly very well educated and knowledgeable of course.)

7. Annie Rhiannon - August 14, 2007

Hee, sounds like my nights out too. Blonk of the week.

8. pleite - August 14, 2007

Annie R., thank you so much. I hope Bjarni is kinder when it comes to letting you wear his clothes. And in getting out his credit card.

Annie no initial, Barnaby’s got a fantastic hooter, but then so has Robin, so I’m still torn. I think Barnaby might be the more frantic, but Robin the more composite. Your thoughts?

9. annie - August 14, 2007

Ha, I forgot about your fetish for big hooters. I did not get to see Robin, will just have to come back again and, um, sample his wares.

10. pleite - August 15, 2007

Matron! Yup, you can’t beat a big hooter in my book (though it does have to be shapely too). You haven’t been to Berlin for AGES. Come and visit!

11. marshaklein - August 15, 2007

Ooh, I LOVE a big hooter, me! Shapeliness (sp?) is a consideration though. Big feet are also A GOOD THING in a bloke, I think. Barnaby is VERY tall, isn’t he? God, I LOVE very tall men* (esp. with floppy, dark hair, which he has from the look of the photo).

Good to hear that the 4 hour tour might be enough. Thanks, Annie if you’re reading!

* Mr K. being the honourable exception to this rule.

12. pleite - August 15, 2007

Marsha, I’m a bit scared if they’re too tall. Or if they’re very tall and very thin, like the very tall and very thin farmer in Fantastic Mr. Fox. I went to stay with a Lithuanian penpal once and he was so tall and thin that I thought, naturally, he was going to murder me in the night. So I truncated the stay and ran away to Vilnius. (Can’t remember if Lithuanians were generally hugely tall or had stonking great hooters but they were absolutely sans doute the handsomest bunch of people I’ve ever seen. A ludicrously beautiful bunch. A touch morose, though.)

13. Arabella - August 15, 2007

..”he was so tall and thin that I thought, naturally, he was going to murder me in the night.”
Oh BiB you do make me larf.

14. marshaklein - August 16, 2007

Hmm, my previous comment sounds as if I was drunk (I wasn’t, alas!) It also makes me sound like a bit like a perma-tanned old harpy, who’s dripping with expensive but tasteless jewellery and on the look out for a “toy-boy, darling”.

On reflection, 6’8″ is a bit too tall. I’m not scared of very thin people – I just envy them (especially after seeing the photos of my recent holiday!)

15. pleite - August 23, 2007

Marsha, I will be very disappointed indeed if you’re not perma-tanned. Oh god, we’re soon going to have to get to the swapping-photos stage so I know whom to look out for when we meet in September. I’ll be the x-ray-with-a-beer-belly one covered in nerve-induced fresh puke.

Arabella, thank you galore. I think I should delete the blog at least 90 times a day but if I made you larf then it is all worthwhile.

16. TIKO - October 8, 2007

LITHUANIANS ARE INDEED VERY TALL NATION,MOSTLY IN KAUNAS AND SEA REGION,LESS SO IN VILNIUS

17. pleite - October 8, 2007

Tiko, thank you, but did you really mean to link to a site called Hooked on Phonics? No doubt the Slavic blood over in Vilnius ensmallening those eastern Lithos. (Vilnius was Belarusian till not long ago, so I imagine there are still plenty of Belarusians or Belarusian-Lithuanian mixes sloshing around.)

18. TIKO to PLAITE - October 19, 2007

lithuanians posses quite a big amount of slavic blood,but anthropologically they have taller and more athletic build up,different face build, i would suggest that they are some mix of slavic,baltic,finish and germanic people. its true there are a lot of russians and poles in vilnius and for some centeries vilnius belonged to poles.before it was lithuanian.bellorusians as a nation emerged just more than hundred years ago.it is acceptable that some of them took part with lithuanians in build up of great dutchy of lithuaniaand even the official language was slavic and religion was criastian.it was due to 90 percent of population was slavic.lithuanian king jogaila,algird an ko were all pagans together with lithuanian population.

19. pleite - October 19, 2007

Tiko, I think it’s only fair to talk of the Belarusians appearing as a nation not long ago if we think of them as a nation by that name. Earlier, I think they had the same sense of identity, but would have referred to themselves as Lithuanians. So I presume Lithuanian had a double meaning, covering both the pagan, non-Slavic Lithuanians as well as the present-day Belarusians. I think Belarusians are even unsure themselves how the term Belarusian came about. (Why ‘white’?) And Belarusian (which I believe they themselves would have referred to as ruski) was an official language of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

Are you Lithuanian yourself?

20. TIKO to PLAITE - October 20, 2007

im spanish,spend 1 year in vilnius as spanih,itlian and latin language teacher,have been to all neighbouring countries arownd.sory for my english. i would suggest that there are some similarities in appearance between of lithuanian,poles and belorussians.latvians are closest relatives to lithuanians together in less degree with estonians.the founders of great dutchy were baltic tribes.there are some evidence that old belorussians were partly balts .they were an opressed nation,russians took away their identity making them as second world war heroes and worship that war.there past and much of their baltic identity were forgoten.russians have assimilated them totally.slavic language was spoken in great dutchy because 90 persent of citisents were slavic cristians.lithuanians have been mainly either roolers,soldiers or peasants.they even didnt have their writing,they were pagan and therefore mostly barbarians.lithuanian zemaitian tribe in the west near the sea att the begginning were not even the part of the douchy,they fought against germanic teutons by themselves for centuries.later they had to join the dutchy otherwise they could have the same destiy as prussians ,another related to lithuanians baltic tribe in northen poland and kaliningrad who were completely assimilated by germans.now there are emerging from nowhere belorussians who claim they were the leading people in the dutchy and the leader were also belorussians.it is completely not true although their ansestors took part,as took russians and ukrainians.in fact thete were no such nation not long ago,only tribes.as sadly it seems they were artifisially composed by russians.the names of kings of dutchy never cuold be slavic.algridas,jogailo,kestutis,mindaugas are never slavic names but lithuanians and all of them have some meaning in lithuanian language.it must not be forgotten that not long ago before the grunvald battle lithaunian kings,and among them lithuanian polish new king jogaila,accepted cristianity.at that time all the slavs in dutchy,including ansestors of russians belorussians and ukrainians were long ago cristians,whose language was more developed and their writin also so the kings used slavic language as official. poles admired and agreed to unify with pagan and barbarian lithuanians because they were great fearless woriors.without the unit lithuania would have been another prussia and poland could have been non existent,or could have been a little country as slovakia.

21. pleite - October 24, 2007

…but an identifiably Belarusian language existed, so I don’t think it’s fair to say that the Belarusians are an artificial people, even if they didn’t see themselves yet specifically as Belarusians (because that notion didn’t yet exist) but rather as Poles or Lithuanians or, later, Russians. Of course Polish, Lithuanian and Belarusian history is all mixed up. I think Belarusians see Mickiewicz as a Belarusian, even though the Poles see him as their literary hero, he wrote in Polish and calls his homeland Lithuania in the opening line of Pan Tadeusz.

No need to apologise for your English. I can’t discuss the weather in Spanish.

22. TIKO to PLAITE - October 25, 2007

are you bellorusian?

23. pleite - October 25, 2007

No, inglés.

24. BigBarn - March 31, 2008

Hello.

I was directed to your blog because word had got out that I was being mentioned on it. Just wanted to say thanks for discussing my nose on the internet. As far as I’m aware, that’s never happened before. Oh, and thanks also for calling me a bottle of sauce, whatever that means. Liked the word “frantic” much less, though.

Glad you enjoyed the tour.

Best,

Barn.

25. BiB - April 2, 2008

Oh Big Barn, I feel a little bit silly, but I hope you don’t mind too much your hooter having been discussed online. (It was very favourably reviewed, after all.) But better to be talked about than not. I didn’t know you were a singer, though. If Annie had added that detail, I’d have come on one of your tours and thrown my boxer shorts at you.

All the best to you. (Are you still Berlin-based?)


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