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Coat November 29, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

The only reason I’m not a mass murderer is that I don’t have a driving licence. Because if you’re a mass murderer, or even a singular one, you always have to do that thing of killing the people in one place and then rolling them up in a rug and driving from Stoke-on-Trent to somewhere really far, like Penang, to dispose of the body and thus cleverly make it difficult to revisit the scene of at least that part of the crime. Mind you, I love it when that type gets caught because the clever people in Penang find the body a squillion years later and there’s a spore from some Stoke-only tree in the tyre mark and they work out that the tyre was from a type of British car that was never exported and the DVLA knows who had that type of car in the year of the murder – only three people (and one was The Queen, and she doesn’t do crimes, and the other one was someone uninteresting and incapable of murder) – and then the murderer, who’s since mended his ways and has become the Lord Mayor, is arrested in the middle of a Stoke’s-Favourite-Cow competition and then someone in Minnesota decides to make a TV programme about it and that gets shown in Germany at 3 o’clock one February morning and you happen to be watching because you’re lying sleeplessly on the sofa having decided your beloved is the wickedest person on earth. But I can’t drive, which is why I don’t go about killing all and sundry. Which scores me morality points both for greenery and for sparing life. Plus what if I got played by Christopher Biggins in the reenactment part of the programme from Minnesota? So I don’t kill, for a number of reasons.

But, darlings, and call it incitement to violence if you will, I think we should start exterminating shop assistants. Do away with the damned bally lot of them and roll them up in a carpet the size of Slovenia and then attach a block of concrete to their collected feet and hurl them into the sea (but not the Sea of Azov, because that’s receding and we’d be found out really quickly).

We’d only popped out for a bit of fish and some truffles. As we live in a backwater where everyone hates life, there’s nothing of any interest whatsoever for sale in our local supermarkets. A Chinese whisper starts at the supermarket’s automatic doors and swells to a deafening roar by the time it’s got to our house if they’ve stocked something exciting like a nice bit of tongue. But fresh fish is beyond them all so if we want that, we have to travel to do so.

As I live in a constant state of abject penury, I have tailored my consuming habits accordingly. I’ve cut right back on the champers, we’ve swapped from beluga to salmon caviar (don’t tell anyone) and, darlings, the truffles were a snip at only 150 euros a kilo. And I have been gifted with a loathing of shopping. So I’m happy to duck in, get my truffles and duck straight back out again. But the Russian’s a more proper gay with an eye too large for his wallet and likes looking at and owning things whereas I am happy to walk around with my eyes shut and own nothing but the handed-me-down shirt on my back.

“I must khev autumn jeckyet end shyuz,” my darling intoned seriously. Russians are great slaves to the seasons. Give ’em an equinox and they’re out changing their wardrobes as quick as a flash. It’s as much of a crime to wear your ushanka in Russia before December 21st as it is to wear white after Labor Day in the USA.

We escalatored ourselves further and further away from the fresh fish and truffles in a big shop. I would hesitate momentarily as we attained each new floor, wondering if we’d arrived in shopping heaven. But the Russian appeared to know the layout disconcertingly well and would say, “No. Khousekhold ityems… No. Vimmin’s ityems…” We got to the men’s bit. I have no knowledge of or interest in fashion but I have always found men’s shoes a disappointment. The shoes on sale looked identical to the ones in the shops my mother would have dragged me around to buy black shoes for school 30 years ago. “I don’t want to do my fucking homework. I wanna go pictures,” I screamed at the Russian such that everyone was distracted and one man even dropped his shoehorn. Then I apologised to everyone over the public address system, explaining that I’d got carried away in a shopping-induced daydream.

“Zese vuns?” asked the Russian. “No, darling. They’re disgusting.” … “Zese vuns?” “No, darling. They make you look like a 90-year-old paedophile.” … “Zese vuns?” “No, darling. Only the Mr. Men can wear those shoes with swirls.”

We gave up on shoes.

We wandered over to the jackets. Rows and rows of jackets crying out for an old man to take pity on them. Enough suits to clothe a hotel lobby in Brussels. Oilskin jackets. Tweed. Fucking tweed. Anoraks.

And then a lovely jacket. It stood out like a lovely jacket. A nice light-blue. I fancied the headless model that was wearing it. That lovely. I wouldn’t have dreamt of wearing it because I don’t own a gallery. And I wouldn’t have dreamt of buying it because it cost more than 2p. But now that I am my mother, I snatched a sneaky look at the price-tag so that I’d have something to complain about and had agreed with myself in the build-up to the sneaky look that I’d purse my lips and say, “Well! Would you credit it!” if it cost anything more than 50c. 400 euros. 400 effing euros. For a jacket! And not three weeks to the next equinox!

I dashed off to look for a complaints book but could only find a book of condolences so I wrote quickly that Perdita-who-used-to-work-in-accounts would remain the queen of my heart for ever and dashed back to the Russian. He was looking at the lovely jacket’s poorer twin. Before I’d even decided whether it was nice or not I had my hands out to look for the tag. Quite a bit less but still three figures which I think nothing but a house should cost by rights.

“Darlink, you look like tryemp. Try it on.” I did, just for fun. And out of nowhere appeared a shop assistant wearing a t-shirt that was much too tight for an alcoholic in his late forties and white jeans with a distractingly large and sported-with-pride bulge and no belt. A Stringfellow haircut. Had probably run a bar on Mallorca. Loved ’em and left ’em. Gone bankrupt and been chased out of island and turned up in Berlin with the sole purpose of making me want to kill him.

“Ooh, suits you, sir. Looks very good. Won’t let the wind through. You can wear the collar up or down. People normally put their hands in the pockets like this. My grandfather had one of these. I’ve sold four today. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime buy. Do you want a new scarf with it?” And before we knew it, the Russian and I were trudging, defeated and silent, to the till and being wished a nice day.

Need stringing up. The lot of ’em.



1. Mr D - November 29, 2007

We want to see a picture!

What’s wrong with tweed? :O

2. Mr D - November 29, 2007

I was trying to do this: :0

3. Mr D - November 29, 2007

Oh, I give up on complicated smilies!

4. pleite - November 29, 2007

Oh gosh. A picture. You just can’t imagine how long it’s going to take me to find the camera, take one, get it into the computer and then put it on here. But it’s my new challenge. Maybe even a New Year’s resolution. Mysteriously, it is now covered in cat hair and we don’t have a cat.

Tweed in November in a big, overlit shop sapped my serotonin with record speed. My ex used to have a tweed jacket which he claimed got him lucky with the boys. I’m not sure I believed him.

5. narrowback - November 30, 2007

the initial premise is incorrect… iirc the notorious jeffery dahmer didn’t own a car.

however, i agree correctly with your conclusion – the stringing up of shop assistants. i recently had to purchase a new suit & spent what seemed like hours arguing with the s.a. of uncertain european origin that no, i wasn’t interested in the latest hot off the designer’s drawing table $1,000 trendy fashion statement & all I wanted was a simple conservative one of reasonable price…finally in exasperation i said to him… “it’s for a bloody funeral not the academy awards”…luckily i didn’t jinx myself and have to wear it to just an event.

but 400 euro for a fall jacket? and tweed as a “man magnet”?

6. Mr D - November 30, 2007

I think I’d have to agree about tweed being a man magnet.

God, it’s a kinky old world out there, isn’t it?!!

7. KMS - November 30, 2007

Which sea are you going to send us all to, then? I’ll need to order the foreign money a few days beforehand if it’s going to be exotic. I will be wanting to send postcrads before death.

And “tweed” and “man magnets”: is this a German reaction to tweed? As in Germany, Barbour jackets are also quite fashionable amongst a certain sub-section of youth, and have been for decades (at least in Düsseldorf and environs). And I don’t mean “fashionable” as in “fashionable when going to riding lessons or when shovelling some horseshit and straw onto a trailer”, but as in “fashionable for a night out ahn the tahwn”. It’s a funny world, sometimes, isn’t it.

8. Mr D - November 30, 2007

I’ve pulled – or been pulled, rather – wearing tweed even in Leeds!

9. Arabella - November 30, 2007

Can I include bank assistants? I don’t appreciate being told by a twenty year old jock called Todd, working part-time, that I should consider buying a house when I call in to get a cashier’s check in order to rent one. “That’s interesting Todd, and exactly how many properties do you own?”
Cheeky young man!

10. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 1, 2007

Surely this should all be amended to “murdering shop assistants’ and bank assistants’ bosses, who force their employees into annoying customers with stupid ‘questions’ and check up on them using ‘mystery shoppers’ (the Stasi of the consumer age)”?

I was once asked (I lie, this has happened about 4 times, i.e. generally 4 out of 5 times I’ve had to deal with actual staff) at my bank if I wanted to take out a private pension. No. “Why not? You’ll end up in poverty in your old age!” I live in poverty now, I retorted. (A brief look at my bank account details: income:nil should have told her that anyway) “But it’ll be much worse for you when you’re older. What will you live off then? The state pension is worth nothing.” And any stock market crash in the next 50 years will wipe out any private pension you’re trying to sell me in the meantime. “You’ll die poor.” I might not, there might be a revolution by then. Did you predict the fall of the Berlin wall? Did you imagine this would be your job 20 years ago? Were you even aware of the concept of private pensions then, and imagine that you might ‘need’ one yourself? And as you didn’t take one out 35 years ago, as you couldn’t, you’ll probably die in poverty yourself, won’t you? “So that’s a ‘no’ then?” Indeed. Please remove this ‘annoy him re. private pension’ stuff from your computer system. And can you cash the cheque please now?

She didn’t remove the details, incidentally. Only when I was in a branch, far, far away, did I manage to have the ‘private pension prompt’ removed. It was easy. The bank worker said to herself, “hang on, you earn nothing, it’s pointless me asking you this”, and deleted it. Since then, I’ve been left in peace.

11. Arabella - December 1, 2007

Karl-Marx-Stra-fiddlything-e, that’s a hoot! You’d be just the person to accompany me to the shops as well as the bank.

12. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 2, 2007

If you aspire to get banned from various shops, I’d be pleased to help.

13. bowleserised - December 3, 2007

Do you offer a service dealing with annoying mobile phone floggers? They call me all the time to ask if I want a new phone and are then STUNNED SHOCKED AMAZED when I say I’m happy with the one I have. I actually have to hang up on them because they can’t believe I’m not gagging for a new gizmo.

14. marshaklein - December 3, 2007

Ooh, when do we start? Killing, I mean? I was once persuaded to put aside a full-length coatdress in cream silk so’s I could go away and think about it. I was looking for an outfit for a wedding and this garment was completely unsuitable for a number of reasons, not least of which were:

(A) I still had young children at the time and a cream-coloured garment was not going to be enhanced by embellishments of snot and raspberry jam;

(B) I was going to a WEDDING and, call me old-fashioned, I firmly believe that if a woman is going to wear a full-length cream dress at a wedding, she’d really better be the bride!

Anyhoo, I spent a night sweating about this situation and wondering how on earth I was going to persuade this shop assistant that this wasn’t the outfit for me. I was saved by my (very much more) shopping-savvy sister who told me not to go back to the shop in question. Simple, but, do you know, it had never occurred to me NOT to go back? Such is the power of shop assistants!

15. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 3, 2007

Where do they get your phone number from, B.? Surely not from the place you got your current phone from, I hope?

16. Blonde at Heart - December 4, 2007

And I support the call for a picture. And what’s wrong with tweed? I found a great way to “buy” new clothes: I raid my mum’s closet – she was a fashion victim in the 70s, and since fashion repeats itself, it is not your mum’s clothes, it’s “vintage”. Fashion statement in zero effort!

17. pleite - December 6, 2007

BaH, Hebrew! I’ve tried to work it out and reckon the penultimate letter is either a d or an r and the last one is a s or a sh, which doesn’t leave me much the wiser, really, though I did look the word up in an online dic and it said something about renewal. Have I got the wrong end of the stick?

DZ, I wish I had your gumption with annoying shop and bank assistants. The bravest thing I do, which isn’t brave at all, but does have the desired effect, I suppose, although I don’t think it gets me removed from any lists, is either simply hang up whenever one of those people ring me or just put the phone down somewhere and let them wait until they die of old age and boredom… Um, Sargasso? Dunno where it is but it ends in o so is bound to be nice.

Marsha, I’m with your sis. If he’d given me a go-away-and-think-about-it window, I’d never have crossed the shit-hole’s threshold again and I’d be a coat lighter. Still, I do quite love a new item of clothing and so I’m having a bit of a whirlwind romance with it at the mo.

B. if you’re brave enough, but I’m thinking you’d disapprove the rudeness angle, would you risk an exasperated, “Oh just please fuck off”? But I think you’re doing the right thing with the hanging-up. On the one occasion I did bother to engage with a mobile-flogger, I said I was leaving the country so no, I didn’t want to renew my contract and that genuinely had him stumped. Say you’re moving to Panama tomorrow, like that canoeist woman.

Arabella, you are absolutely more than welcome to include them on The List of Death. I don’t think it’s even that good advice. “I’ve been meaning to tell you for ages. You should buy a house.” It’s probably occurred to those who can afford it and have the inclination to, hasn’t it? I was Englishly guilty of once asking a German friend with his first good job if he was going to dash out and buy a flat that afternoon, as I explained his English counterpart would have done. He looked at me with pity.

Mr D, you kinky old bugger. Tweed makes the man. With leather elbow patches or without? I’m wondering whether there’s an abbreviation for it in gay personal ads. Or whether it constitutes a category. You know, summat like: A/P. O/A. Leather. Rubber. PVC. Tweed. Over 95.

Narrowback, I have just read the wiki entry on Jeffrey Dahmer. Trying now to think happy, flowery thoughts before going to bed. My god. What a life. I might outsource my murdering after all.

18. pleite - December 6, 2007

PS. BaH, Mr D, look. Took one or two of me in it – headless and legless, natch – but I still looked ridiculous, so here it badly-photographedly is.

19. Mr D - December 6, 2007

Very snazzy indeed! Didn’t realise it would be quite so smart. I bet it turns heads on the street, your MAN coat. (Go on, admit you also got it for the label!)

20. pleite - December 6, 2007

Honest, guv, I hadn’t noticed the MAN-thing. We had no choice in the matter whether to buy it or not. It was a hard sell, and we were a very soft buy indeed. I’m not sure it has turned any heads. It’s so dark all the time that no-one can see anything. That must be why. Come the longer days, I expect all Berlin will marvel at my wonderful dream-coat.

21. marshaklein - December 6, 2007

Very chic and, I think you’ll find, very “now”! Seriously it looks lovely – smart AND cosy. A good jacket is always a worthwhile investment.

22. pleite - December 6, 2007

Marshypops, I am pleased with it, I have to say. And I’ve got a sneaky feeling that I failed to mention in the telling that it was actually the Russian’s card that was made use of at the till. I think it’s my Christmas present. Mind you, when the shop assistant was saying all that once-in-a-lifetime bit, I did think to myself, “Death is also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

23. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 7, 2007

That is a very nice coat, there’s no doubt about it. Though, if it were mine, I would have chopped off the labels.

24. pleite - December 7, 2007

But DZ, what about the whole thing then potentially falling apart? What if the whole structure is held together by that label, like the vital back-panel of IKEA cabinets that you have to hammer a million nails into? Which reminds me of my first grown-up joke, which probably all happened before you were born. “I say, I say, I say. What have Cecil Parkinson and MFI got in common? One screw in the wrong place and the whole cabinet falls apart.” I thank you.

25. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 7, 2007

Sarah Keys, no?
I must have been about six at the time, but I watched Spitting Image…

And on the theme of ‘I thank you’, now I have the theme tune to ‘Sticky Moments’ going around my head. And I won’t even mention the later version ‘Carnal Knowledge’. Ach, mid-evening Channel 4/early morning ITV in the 90s….

26. pleite - December 10, 2007

I googled Cecil to check he didn’t have an eccentric spelling to either name and instantly came up with an old BBC article about how his daughter from that liaison now wanted to meet daddy. I wonder if he was the type who moaned about single mothers.

I saw Julian Clary in concert once. The audience was made up of the odd queen and 99% enormous groups of girls with straightened hair. When we clapped him onto the stage he said, in what I don’t think was a rush of spontaneity, “Thank you for your warm hand upon my entrance.”

27. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 10, 2007

He’s gone all posh these days though, hasn’t he? Wearing tailored suits and ties and not leather/rubber thingies. I suppose the audience have got older and there’s only so many jokes anyone can do about fisting (with or without Norman Lamont). Mr. Norton has taken J.C.’s old role, and most would probably say he’s grateful to it (having just noticed that ‘Carnal Knowledge’ was even presented by the camp Irishman, when no-one had heard of him). I wonder if he’s doing a gay version of ‘God’s Gift’ (in German: ‘Mann-o-Mann’)?

Hang on – “in concert”? With (now deceased) Fanny? “Leader of the pack” etc.? I’ve got that on a single somewhere.

28. Lessing was right or what is blogging | karlmarxstrasse - December 11, 2007

[…] – the briefly named ‘Coat’, at Broke in Berlin. […]

29. pleite - December 11, 2007

I thought for a having-forgotten-context moment there that you meant Cecil had gone posh and I thought he’d probably never been very unposh. But then recontextised my wilting brain. JC’s a leafy-suburb, Catholic-school boy, I think. And I think Fanny was still alive when I saw him, though maybe concert isn’t the right word when there wasn’t much song, though Leader of the Pack might have got an airing. There certainly was a version of Mr. and Mrs., which I KNOW I’ve blogged about before, and it was a gay couple versus a straight couple (the female of whom was called Dawn, and with a very Estuary accent, which JC took to immediately) and the gays won by a mile and JC exclaimed, “Funny how things work out, isn’t it?”

30. Mr D - December 11, 2007

Unsure about calling it a concert? Then just say you watched him perform! Come on – you know you want to. And it would be so fitting. So to speak.

31. Mr D - December 11, 2007

(Seemed funny when I wrote it on the train. I have such smut for a brain. I blame Carry On!)

32. pleite - December 12, 2007

Mr D, it’s a great British tradition. Keep it up. (Fnarr fnarr. Oh-er missus. Matron!) Actually, the (now-)ex I went with DID see JC perform at much closer quarters at a later date, if ya hear what I’m sayin’.

33. Mr D - December 12, 2007

Scandal! Quick, call a tabloid!

Eek, I’m sitting on the bus struggling to ignore the strongest Swabian I’ve heard so far. (A propos nothing.)

34. Mr D - December 12, 2007

So wish I’d written ‘come across’ instead of ‘heard’. I really blew that one!

35. pleite - December 12, 2007

But commenting from the bus. Your new toy really is very clever. I’m so psychically attached to my rooted-to-the-spot blogarium that I can hardly bear even to blog/comment from the laptop.

I saw Tintin or Asterix in Swabian once, given as a gift by a Swabian to a foreigner. Couldn’t understand a damned word, of course.

36. Mr D - December 12, 2007

This one’s from the train. Just passed Schorndorf. Should I try the S-Bahn later? Nah, I’m not on it for long enough.

Short comments and posts are fine, but not the long stuff. I currently have five long comments to reply to, and I’ll need my computer to do them justice; with my toy I can’t be bothered to scroll up and down all the time.

I’m just so tired when I get home, though.

Listening to Del Amitri while tapping away at my screen keyboard.

Swabian’s strange.

37. pleite - December 12, 2007

Del Amitri! Blast from the past! Except I instantly dashed to youtube and didn’t seem to recognise a single one of their songs, but that could just be the Alzheimer’s typing. I DID remember the name though.

38. Mr D - December 12, 2007

sbahn trilogy!

39. pleite - December 12, 2007

That’s a commute-and-a-half you have there, sir. Still, it’s helping me avoid work, so I’m grateful for it even if you aren’t!

40. Mr D - December 12, 2007

Just remembered last minute, so thought I’d write something to make it three means of public transport. Was listening to Macy Gray at the time.

Yep, it’s a commute. One and a half hours each way. But it beats living in the sticks!

41. pleite - December 12, 2007

I think I used to quite enjoy my commutes on the rare occasion that I’ve had a real job and when, during those times, I wasn’t worrying about being late. Excellent thinking and people-watching time.

42. Mr D - December 13, 2007

This commute’s OK, as I only work four days a week. Five days, and I couldn’t do it. I don’t have much stamina.

As it is, I’m now finding that I can do nothing on Fridays – I need the mornings for sleeping and the afternoons for thinking about having a shower.

The last few weeks some English and Irish ‘special people’ have phoned me at half nine to invite me and my iPhone to a ‘special bar’, and then I’ve had to have a rushed shower and make a move.

Saturdays are then spent recovering from Friday nights, and Sundays are spent worrying about not having prepared the week ahead.

Bit of a waste of a three-day weekend, really!

43. pleite - December 13, 2007

As I tear my hair out, on an almost daily basis, worrying about being a freelancer, poverty-stricken and where it all went wrong, I do quite often try to remember, I have to say, that the one joy is always (or mostly) getting my eight hours’ sleep of a night. I appreciate that enormously. I remember the shattered-after-work feeling only too well. My sympathies.

44. Mr D - December 13, 2007

Regular wage for your time and your soul? Or irregular wage for more freedom? If anyone can find the Holy Grail – the best of all worlds – then please let me know. I’ve been looking for it since 1993, and so far it’s keeping itself well hidden.

Eight hours sleep sounds good! I could have that, too, if I went to bed early and didn’t do anything else between arriving home and setting off the next day!

45. pleite - December 13, 2007

But that would be depressing. Stay up naughtily and try to make up for the missing sleep on your three-day weekends. Well, my Arbeitstag has just come to an end at after 3am so I don’t think I can justifiably allow myself an 8-hour night tonight. Anyway, have to get up at crack to check whether the person has any complaints… and to continue my war against the non-payers. I greatly enjoyed wishing one of them a “thoroughly unhappy Christmas” yesterday.

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