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На танцующих утят… September 2, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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Starting’s the hardest thing. After that it gets easier.

I am consumed by a gloom of cosmic proportions. Not anything that could be called depression, because I don’t think I do depression. But just gloom at everything. Gloom that it’s September and I might never see the sun again. Gloom at being a translator, though that is ongoing and, unlike the markets or whatever it is that fluctuates, doesn’t ever ebb (though I am currently working on something which I so don’t understand and from a language I so won’t ever understand that I have been forced to test how brazenly unenthusiastic I am allowed to be about it, resulting in a bollocking from the employer. A friend of mine – a rather delicate, prim queen – did go down the MacDonald’s route here when he’d reached professional rock-bottom and said for his efforts he received 700 euros and abuse from the other staff, so I’m not going into the catering industry just yet). Gloom at being. Gloom both that the Russian hasn’t yet gone to Russia and that he’s going (to stock up on sighs for the winter) at all. Gloom that I haven’t done a solitary social thing since being in the UK however many years ago that was. And gloom that I’ve accidentally given up smoking.

Luckily, my built-in anti-gloom mechanisms have sought and found solace in music, dance, Finns, the Russian and a clever book on, “A journey in the shadow of Byzantium,” that the ever-generous DJ sent me. (Mr. Dalrymple is still obscenely young, unnaturally knowledgeable and, to rub a grain more salt into the wound, a bit of a dish. In the time I might take to wrangle over a tricky decision like whether to have another cup of coffee, he would probably have started another book on something arcane and learned. Depths of gloom.)

So, working-class weddings. The wedding I went to a few weeks ago wasn’t at all WC – I was probably the closest thing there to downright riff-raff – and I was too busy smoking on the street to pay any attention to any of the hits played. I don’t know if Agadoo was line-danced to while I was downstairs smoking with the Germans (because no English people smoke) and trying to pretend I can speak the language after 100 years (t)here (have folk spoken a foreign language ‘at home’? It’s a bit enqueering. Still, the Germans were chuffed to bollocks with my efforts) (and surely Gang Bang is too raunchy for any wedding) (must watch Rita, Sue and Bob Too again one day) (Karl, you still in possession?) (Fucking hell. I’ve got link RSI).

Which all means I was too busy schmoozing and boozing to notice if even the obligatory YMCA got an airing. Which is always good for the homos at any wedding to see which of the hets missed a potential vocation. Anyway, thanks to Ben for lifting the gloom, as I sat wondering about weddings, by inadvertently alerting me to this old, improved version of YMCA. Improved, naturally, by mere dint of coming from Finland, which improves just about anything. Now I’ve been to a Finnish wedding, and can’t remember if the tune got an airing there either, but just how do you make an N or a K with your arms? Any ideas Taiga? Anyone? My own research hasn’t come up with a hard and fast answer yet but I’ve learnt a few new moves for my next Finnish wedding (which might even see me brave auditions if this little gem (which everyone in the world has already linked to. I might just start linking porn and be done with it) ever needs to be remade).

I shared my gloom-alleviation news with the Russian over a sultry, booze-laden kitchen-table last night. The sun, if it had ever been up, was on the way down. My beloved’s features were lit just by the light of three huge fuck-off scented candles. Each had a different scent and, unfortunately, these came together to form the unmistakable stench of cat-piss (though, luckily, my fetishistic quack (sorry to self-link) hasn’t managed to repair my ears and nose (but is now holding out for me to send a combination of poo, wee, blood and goo in the post) (not for free if it’s not pure poo either) so my senses are somewhat dulled). I’d been so enhappied by my clever book, and my Finns and the Russian (and red wine) that I thought it was time to show my darling some of my new moves. But blow me if I didn’t get stage fright. All those seconds of rote-learning and memorising gone out the window. And all I could remember was The Birdie Song.

“You khed zet song in Vest too? Ve khed it in Soviet Union,” the Russian intoned gravely, proving that we can still have cross-cultural conversations after so many years. But the Russian must have mistaken me for some Russian-world dilettante. Of course I know the Russian birdie song. It’s even got words (about dancing ducklings, enumerated above should anyone wish to start a doctoral thesis on the matter). Mind you, it proves once again how far ahead Russians are intellectually of their Western counterparts. For them it was a kindergarten affair, whereas in London (I think I’m not mistaken) it’s performed at The Royal Festival Hall.

Anyway, I got dancing. But, darlings, horror of horrors. I couldn’t remember all the moves. I made my hands into snapping beaks (x4) for the first set of der-der-der-der-der-der-ders, bent my arms at the elbow and flapped my wings (x4) for the second set. Wiggled my bum side to side and swivelled my way down onto my haunches for the third. But could I remember what the action was for the fourth and final set of der-der-der-ders? Could I fuck.

So please let me know. Gloom-aversion depends on it.



1. Anonymous - September 2, 2007

the fourth is clearly a set of claps (x4). Go on, put those hands together.

2. pleite - September 2, 2007

Who is this anonymous person trying to hide their identity in shame at knowing the fourth and final move? Is it really just claps? (Tries to think of venereal disease joke. Can’t.) What a disappointing finale.

3. liukchik - September 2, 2007

I have no idea – the last time I can remember dancing to this song is at a party held by my brother’s Cubs group at the now defunct and demolished Hilsea Crescent community centre in 1987 – gold earrings and hairspray were much in evidence (amongst the mothers, at least) – apart from that, it appears in the Top of the Pops specials every Xmas and New Year – although, as this clip shows, it is still incredibly popular in all the former Soviet states:

4. Blonde at Heart - September 2, 2007

It is indeed claps. And dear Anonymous, are you the same Anonymous who writes the insightful comments on my blog?

5. annie - September 3, 2007

Apparently, it is claps:


Awww. I will join in you in your gloom, dear BiB, as summer holidays have finished and it’s back to school *deep gloom*. Get you, with the Russian letters. (I want to say Acrylic letters, but that surely can’t be right.) What does it mean?

6. Valerie in San Diego - September 3, 2007

I am going to tell you an anecdote about translation to cheer you up.

I run a web site for a friend who’s a professional author. He found a review of one of his books written in Swedish, and asked me if I knew anyone who spoke Swedish who could translate it. I wrote off to a friend about it — they never answered — and meanwhile, never one to turn down a linguistic challenge, I found an online Swedish dictionary and set to.

I did pretty well — it was a lovely review. To the best of my judgement, it started out “Think of a mixture of Albert Camus and Chester Himes and you end up very close to James Sallis. In these two we ultimately get to know Lew Griffin, a black, independent, philosophical and bitter man.” and went on from there.

There was just one problem.

That “” was because I could not translate ONE phrase in the review: “böcker får”. I knew it had to mean books, novels, or something like that (from context). But the best I could get out of all three of the online dictionaries I looked at was…

“bloated sheep.”

I don’t know about you, but I like to read a good bloated sheep every weekend. It so relaxes the mind.

Also, regarding weddings: I have a weakness. If a DJ puts on “Play that Funky Music, White Boy” at a wedding, I am compelled to dance. This is no small matter. Inevitably I am either encircled by horrified gawkers, or someone takes a photograph and blows it up to 11×14 for the wedding album, or worse, it ends up somehow overwriting everything else on the wedding video. There is something disturbing about repeated images of my gyrating and ample bum, I tell you.

I’m not sure what all this has to do with your posting.

7. Valerie in San Diego - September 3, 2007

Crap, something went wrong with that posting.

The original translation should look like:

“Think of a mixture of Albert Camus and Chester Himes and you end up very close to James Sallis. In these two [novels?] we ultimately get to know Lew Griffin, a black, independent, philosophical and bitter man.” and went on from there.”

And then …

That “[novels?]” was because I could not translate ONE phrase in the review: “böcker får”.

My fault for using less-thans and greater-thans. Sigh.

8. KMS - September 3, 2007

There are words to the Birdie Song, surely. “Do a little bit of this / and a little bit of that / and shake your / bum-bum-bum-bum-bum”. And how to dance it? I’m sure there are some nightmare You Tube videos of it somewhere (on You Tube, I presume), but I ain’t looking.

Otherwise, Rita, Sue & Bob dazu is still lying around here if you want it… Perhaps I should watch it as well….

9. KMS - September 3, 2007

Oh, I note someone else has already done that You Tube searching in the time I wrote that missive. But in my infants’ school, the refrain was a bit different, but how we did it wouldn’t work if you were just two of you in some living room somewhere. Ah, the old days. End of term school discos in the hall with a record player and three records: The Birdie Song; Thriller; YMCA. Then praying for some new Lady Di offspring/celebrating their birthdays and hometime and 6 weeks of..not doing very much, really.

10. engelsk - September 3, 2007

@ Valerie in San Diego: ‘books get/manage/receive/etc’. (The subject will be the follow ‘vi’.)

‘Får’ is the present tense of ‘få’. And it also means sheep. :-)

11. Billy - September 3, 2007

My language skills are non-existent but I can read Greek (don’t know what it means though) Cyrillic script is beyond me though. How do you pronounce the title?

12. wyndham - September 4, 2007

Given up smoking? I have. Again. Fucking horrible isn’t it?

13. liukchik - September 5, 2007

Na tantsuiushchikh utiat (transcribed) or na tantsooyooshchikh ootiyat (in an effort at pronunciation) – you may recognise some of the letters as being very similar to Greek.

14. pleite - September 5, 2007

Billy, Liukchik has done my work for me. And thank you very much, Liukchik, for that. And, yes, Cyrillic is sort of based on the Greek alphabet, so there are plenty of similarities. Р, Г, П and Ф are the same in Greek, I think (he says, trying to remember school Greek from 20 years ago).

Wynders, isn’t it just fucking horrible? I mean, I can manage it, sort of. But I haven’t had a single night out since stopping and then it will all seem very pointless and nasty, I’m sure. I need to go and test myself soon.

Engelsk, as I have thanked Liukchik for his linguistic assistance, I now thank you for yours. The Scandinavian languages are a riddle to me. So near and yet so far. If I listen to Søs Fenger, for example, I almost think I can understand what she’s singing. But I can’t, of course.

Karl, praying that there’d be another child or that the one that had already arrived would thrive and prosper? I think I hated primary school (and certainly loathed secondary school) so was probably glad of the summer holidays, in which I’m sure I also did very little indeed. I can only remember one primary school disco. There was a dancing competition in which some expert (probably an Irish Catholic priest) let us dance until we were eliminated with a heartbreaking point of the finger. I was one of the last white boys to be eliminated, I’ll have you know. I can’t quite remember who won the dance-off between Edward W_ and Ian C_. I think Eddie was giving it frantic moves whereas Ian was being more cool and slinky. Do watch Rita, Sue and Bob Too, by the way, if you haven’t already. It’s a bit of a hoot.

Valerie, damn computers having ruled out those signs. But hurrah for online dictionaries and translations from languages you don’t know. Good for you, and good for books and bloated sheep. Translation can be nice sometimes, but I am currently just despairing at what I have to do. I hate it so so indescribably untranslatably much. My sister once wanted me to find someone to translate something from Dutch to English for her. I couldn’t be bothered so, like you, had a stab myself. Actually not unmanageable with a knowledge of English and German.

Annie, my sincerest commiserations at the hols being over. I hope children aren’t too seasonally aware. How grim. End of summer and back to school. Acrylic is nicer-sounding than Cyrillic, isn’t it? But, alas, it is named after a monk, Cyril, credited (along with his pal (or perhaps brother) and fellow monk, Methodius) with inventing the alphabet, or an earlier version of it. The deep and meaningful words above mean, “…to dancing ducklings,” because the next line is, “Folk want to be similar.” (Can you see what a gifted translator I am?) (Am listening to your compilation to cheer myself up.)

BaH, the world is full of mysterious anonymouses. Or anonymice. (Mind you, if you want me to get my Stasi-cap on, I can tell you my anonymous was in Germany.) In any case, I can now do the complete birdie dance, but now that the Russian has abandoned me again, I have no-one to perform it to/for.

Liukchik (again, now that you’ve had time, no doubt, to calm down from the excitement of my thanks for the linguistic help), you’d think Estonians would know better, wouldn’t you? Mind you, I couldn’t work out what language that was on the youtube video. I’m going to hazard a naughty guess and claim they were ethnic Russians birdying it on down in Tallinn.

15. Taiga the Fox - September 5, 2007

Oh, what an excellent 70s Finnish music video potpourri you’ve got here!
You know, the Armi and Danny gem is bit sad after all. The English video (1978) is a version of their hit called “Tahdon olla sulle hellä”. Armi and Danny were actually lovers, or so they said in the late 70s. Danny had a wife and a mansion in Sweden. Armi was Miss Finland 1976. Finally, her lips tasted too much of wine and she died alone five years ago. Listen again the lyrics now.

Anyway, the man on the Learn to disco- video was once a very famous dancing teacher, who also teached my mother how to dance. [Sigh] Then again, the man with the very moving hips, in front of the line of “I Wanna Love You Tender”- dancers is Jari Samulin. His name can be also seen on the NMKY credits (Dancers: Jari Samulin Group). I think it was 1984 when I actually paid some money for a Jari Samulin breakdance weekend course. [Sigh]
Still I don’t know how to make an N or a K with my arms, but if you drink a bottle of kossu before attempting that, I’m sure it’ll be just fine.

16. pleite - September 5, 2007

Oh dear. Poor Armi. Drinking herself lonelily to death. What a terrible, terrible fate. At least I expect to drink myself to death in company.

That is very sweet that you went on a breakdance weekend course. Can you now swivel your hips Samulin-style, even if you can’t make an N or a K with your arms (and, boy, can he swivel those hips)? My sister went on a Saturday Night Fever disco-dancing course and I clearly remember her demonstrating her moves when she got home. Without a hint of embarrassment. My god, weren’t the 70s and 80s fun?

17. KMS - September 5, 2007

I was on the S-Bahn yesterday (how very quaint, how he get’s out and about in this very bloody cold city of ours…. tonight it’s meant to get down to 3°…!) and one of those Romanian orphans got on and started playing the Birdie Song on his accordion. He didn’t get very much money, and nothing from me.

18. pleite - September 5, 2007

But did you do the dance? Or at least the clapping part, to encourage him along? I’m not leaving the house again till next June.

19. KMS - September 5, 2007

What’s that apostrophe doing in “gets”? Bloody hell, I’ve turned into a greengrocer. Luckily one’s just opened round the corner. It must be some mistake, as every other shop is a 24-hour-Döner/Früh-bis-Spätverkauf/Internetcafé/alles für 2,49-Pizzeria. They can’t be in it for the money, these greengrocers.

20. KMS - September 5, 2007

But did you do the dance? Or at least the clapping part, to encourage him along?

No, but I thought that maybe I should have bought a copy of Die Stütze that a man tried, and he really did try, to palm off on me on the platform. Kauf es doch, mach’s doch, es ist meine letzte Zeitung und dann kann ich Feierabend machen. Nein. Mach’s doch. Ich lebe von weniger als Hartz IV. Oh, wenn es so ist. Schönen Tag noch. Actually, I don’t think he did the polite Verabschiedung, but when it came to him realising I probably have less money than he does, he did bugger off – and send me, laughing like the witch that he probably is, into the Romanian Accordeon Hell.

21. KMS - September 5, 2007

June? Is that when the Russian Of Ample Girth gets back?

22. marshaklein - September 5, 2007

“I’m not leaving the house again till next June”

Er…I was rather counting on your leaving the house at some point next week…

23. Taiga the Fox - September 5, 2007

Unfortunately my hips are more like frozen logs. Have you seen Mr Swiveling Hips’ mother Aira? She’s 80, but apparently just released some kind of a How to Dance Disco /Hip Hop / Pump / Hand Jive / Saturday Night Fever- video. I presume she didn’t teach your sister, though?

24. pleite - September 6, 2007

Taiga, only if Aira (nice name. I like Finnish names, which isn’t surprising, as I like everything Finnish (apart from that salty liquorice) (and the cold)) decided she needed to spread the word – or her hips – to London at some point in the late 70s or 80s.

Marsha, I will make a glorious exception. And I won’t be in Scotland then, so hurrah. Where will you and Brian be staying, roughly? Is it time to get furiously e-mailing and making super-complicated arrangements and giving ourselves nervous breakdowns before we decide nicely to meet at the corner-bar next door to your hotel and sit and down shots with the 70-year-old locals?

Karl, no, he’s back at the end of this month, or a bit before the end. What’s that called? Mid-to-late/mid-late September… You can see why numbers have caught on in a way, can’t you? So nicely succinct… So was it the god of the homeless exacting very swift revenge on you for not buying the man’s magazine? I think I’d have tried to get the whole carriage to do the dance, and then maybe started a conga for good measure. My cousin and I were taken by my parents to the Isle of Wight when we were old enough to hate it. Stayed at some hellish holiday camp and my cousin did at one point, to his 11-year-old horror, get roped into a conga. He was at the very end of the love-train and then, to his double horror, the compère shouted, “Change direction,” and he found himself driving the engine, as it were.

25. Marsha Klein - September 7, 2007

Yes, I think it is. Time to make some arrangements, that is. I’ll be in touch over the weekend. I bought a guide book yesterday and No. 1 daughter has already planned an itinerary (based around shops, restaurants and bars) which, if we followed it would leave me and Mr K. *weak joke alert* broke (in Berlin)!

26. KMS - September 7, 2007

An U-Bahn conga would be very possible on those new BVG trains on the U2, U5 and U8 which are just one long carriage, to make it impossible to fare dodge. Perhaps those “Circle Line party” people (the “space hijackers”) could make it happen. Though I think if enough people suggested it to the BVG, they’d start doing it commercially, as a underground version of the “Drink and drive” tram with a bar (with, ahm, optional guided tour of the tram depot for an extra 2 euro) (or the Zürich Fondue Tram).

Oh, yes, holiday camps on the Isle of Wight. I think I was 6. In a caravan without wheels.

27. pleite - September 7, 2007

Ooh, Dee Zee, we might have been there at the same time, then, if my arithmetic’s right. Were you in a ‘resort’ with Black in its name? I remember seeing a thatched cottage and thinking that the holiday had been worthwhile after all. My god but England can be depressing. The car-park which seems to be the main attraction of downtown Horsham makes me want to learn to drive so I can commit suicide by driving into it at full tilt. Someone I know was, I think, unless I’ve dreamt this, involved in that S-Bahn living-room thing. The things people are willing to reveal when they want you to check the English in their CVs!

Marshypops, far be it from me to outtip your daughter, but kick the shopping tip to the kerb. Just because I’m sure it’ll be no different or more interesting here than in Edinburgh. Though it probably will be cheaper, actually, so reinstate your daughter’s tip, on second thoughts. But do restaurant and bar it galore. That’s an excellent tip. And not expensive either, unless your daughter has selected very posh establishments. Where are you staying? East or West? (Please say East. Bet you’re gonna say West.)

28. KMS - September 7, 2007

We visited, but didn’t stay at Blackgang Chine, the world’s worst theme park. Actually, that can’t be true, as surely Thorpe Park, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Dreamland (Southend) and Eurodisney are much, much worse, e.g. they don’t have any (miniature)thatched cottages. Which reminds me a bit of the now-closed Tucktonia model village somewhere near Poole. God only knows what the name of the place on the IoW we stayed at was. For a second I thought it was Cockleshell Bay, but that was some mid-80s ITV animated children’s programme, and then I thought it was Southern Vectis, but I think that was the name of the bus company in those parts. For some masochistic reason, I’d like to go back.

29. KMS - September 7, 2007

Why did wordpress just rename me “J”, give an error message, and let me post the same message twice? I hope it’s not going all blogger on us…

30. pleite - September 12, 2007

Dunno why it did that. As you can see, I’ve removed the comment which tried to make you be J, DZ. And, yes, perhaps the IoW is actually perfectly lovely. Going to a place when you’re at a hating-everything age (0-36 for me) and with your parents is bound to spoil it. Mind you, I think I found Jersey, also at a hating-everything age, and parents, was nicer, though that had sun and perhaps nice beaches and pretending to be in France to recommend it.

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