Beanstalks November 9, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, I’ve had yet another brilliant idea which I’m sure is going to earn me millions so I can pay off my debts and never translate another word and probably win the Nobel Prize for Cleverness into the bargain. None of you be unscrupulous, please, and go stealing my idea before I’ve had a chance to jam the switchboard of whichever organisation can bring my idea to fruition. To discourage unscrupulousness, I even promise to throw a big party for all of us once the cheque has cleared.
In my Nobel speech, I’ll thank my mum, and cry, because mothers are a necessity of invention, both for having you in the first place, for which I suppose we really must all be grateful, and then, in my case, for making me have to fly to go and see her. All my best ideas happen above clouds.
Mothers are troubling though, aren’t they? Mine has been and gone. When she arrived, we’d run out of conversation before we’d got to the train-station in the airport, and that was after I’d even resorted to her favourite subjects of public transport and how to get to and from places. And, being a lady of few interests, naturally my mother would rather have not been here, were it not for me insisting on ridiculously living abroad, but she comes from deferential and non-complaining times and remembers rationing so thinks, I suppose rightly, that flying to and being in Berlin is a luxury – she was horrified that someone we know decided simply to miss a flight the other day – and sensibly decided to make the most of a bad lot.
My mother, as I’ve said, doesn’t really do interests. Or believe in Europe. Germany is probably a hazy concept. War probably features in there somewhere. Football too. Maybe sausage. And Berlin is the capital, so that means it’s sort of London. But my mother knows it’s the done thing to be interested in places. And things. And foreign cultures. She isn’t, of course, at all interested, but we like to keep up appearances, even within the family… We’d set off on an of-unspecified-destination walk. Inevitably, this would take us through our utterly uninteresting and devoid-of-attractions part of town. Conversation would have dried up before the end of our street once I’d asked her if she was cold and how her legs were bearing up. I could cope with the silence, which is probably due to having grown up after punk or something, but my mother must think it’s a grim state of affairs when a mother and son walk along the streets of a foreign city in silence so she’d look for prompts. We’d walk past a video shop called something uncryptic like Videoshop. “Oh, what’s that shop called Videoshop?” “It’s a video shop.” “A video shop?” “Yes, a video shop. Called Videoshop.” We’d resume a silence unbroken even as we passed our local sex shop (uncryptically called Sex Shop).
We flew back to London with my mother. The Russian had that hard-won visa to exploit. And we beed perfect tourists. Didn’t see a soul, of course, as I have finally resigned myself to admitting is now the case for ever. Trips to the UK are so consumed with family and duty that I will never see a friend again unless we agree to meet in a neutral venue. But London was heaven. Utter, total heaven. I fell head over heels in love. I spent four years’ earnings on public transport but it was still perfect. Friendly. Polite. I was called love and darling by total strangers. Beautiful. Exciting. Hectic. (My walking speed doubled.)
And the flight. Which was before I was reminded how heavenly London was, so I was still in disdain-for-England mode. We flew of a morning. Even though I need clouds for my ideas to bloom, they obliged by being suitably wispy and not impeding my view of the island as we flew in. And it looked so wonderful. The Essex coast – I assume it was Essex – seemed to be one long, perfect beach. There was the delicious patchwork of irregular fields, which I associate with England, until I checked and saw that it was just the same in Holland on the way back, but I’m going to pretend it’s English, like Russians pretend silver birch exist exclusively in Russia, even though we have them in the back yard here and they abound where my mother lives, and the nicely rolling landscape. From above, settlements looked wonderful. Nature looked perfect. Indeed, Essex seemed like paradise on earth. And yet we sort of know this isn’t true.
“Hmm,” I pondered. “I am slightly bored of being a linguistic cripple in Berlin. Maybe it’s time to come back to the homeland. But then the people here are so horrid.” (The wonderful love-and-darling-callers of London were yet to intervene, remember.) “And England is so depressing in so many ways. And, anyway, I couldn’t afford a glass of tap-water here. And it’s lovely being a foreigner. And I’d understand the TV here and would have my brain filled with McCannness. Hmm…”
And then I had my brilliant idea. Which none of you must steal. Darlings, as I can resolutely confirm that the world looks nicer from above, and as nice and love-and-darling-callers are, we must still agree that people are basically ghastly and human contact is to be kept to a strict minimum, I have come up with a solution that will ease overcrowding and anti-social behaviour all at once (as long as we’re choosy about who can live in these communities of the future). Living atop beanstalks.
Once we slay the giants and can neutralise the smell of an Englishman’s blood, I’m sure we’ll be laughing.