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Run December 13, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

The Russian and I are running away to the mountains with nothing but a suitcaseful of bordering-on-the-defunct bank-cards between us. I’ve never had a good idea in my life but I’m brilliant at bad ones and dashing off to places when you’re otherwise struggling to keep the wolf from the door might just be my best bad idea yet.

I’ve got a feeling I hate mountains. I haven’t got the shoes for them and all they do is provide ravines and canyons and any number of fissures for folk to fall down and die. And the Russian will deliberately do things like go out for a walk wearing nothing but a singlet at 4 one morning just to make me worry that he’s dead. All he ever does is disappear when we’re in places. Only to reappear alively at some later point. Which is a relief.

I’m sure I hate mountains.

Our trip to the mountains will involve trains. If I try to be normal, I think this might provide a moment of beauty. Training it through the mountains. Imagine. But then the only thing trains through the mountains ever do, presumably, is fall off their tracks and down ravines and canyons and any number of crevices with enormous loss of life. Though maybe I’ll be exempt from death for wearing the wrong shoes. You never know what mood fate might be in.

I’m convinced I detest mountains.

It appears the accommodation we’ll be in will have an element of the communal about it. Not shared bedrooms, which I wouldn’t majorly give a toss about, really, though I wouldn’t sleep a wink for fear of snoring my co-nappers to distraction, but some of the leisure facilities. A pool, allegedly. For us and others. Maybe even a sauna. And a gymmy bit. I could do with making use of those, but they’re bound to be overrun with people from genetically unpink and perfect nations who’ll swim like mermaids, pump iron like Arnie and sweat neatly down their genetically superior bodies while I thrash about like a hippo, break my arm opening the gymmy-bit door and wheeze the wheeze of the dying in the sauna.

I’m convinced I loathe the communal.

“I’ll give you skiing tips depending on the snow reports I get,” came the advice of the person extremely kindly making the accommodation in the death-trap mountains available to us. “Oh, I don’t think I’ll be doing any skiing,” I answered feebly. “But might you say if there are restaurants and bars to speak of?” “Nonsense, you must have a go on at least the baby slopes,” which maybe I’d better to justify the largesse. But won’t that cost money? “There’s a restaurant you can eat in without taking your skis off.” Skis? If I cut some old plastic tubing in half, that might do the trick. Hair-clips should do to attach them to my inappropriate footwear.

I think I hate sport.

Still, important to get into the festive spirit.

I think I hate winter.



1. Arabella - December 13, 2007

I skied. Once.
Snowy mountains are lovely when viewed from the lounge of a nice bar with a roaring fire.

2. Geoff - December 13, 2007

I’m skiing for the first time in March. I am looking forward to the viwing mountains from the bar bit much more than the skiing bit.

3. Ed Ward - December 13, 2007

A fine post, leading to a correct conclusion.

And Arabella’s got it vis a vis skiing.

4. pleite - December 13, 2007

Ed, but only eight days till December 21st, and it’s all uphill from there. OK, apart from the Christmas bit. And the New Year bit. But from then on we’re dashing headlong into spring. (Sorry to have missed you yesterday. Demon work.)

Geoff, break a toe-nail before the trip so that you can just do the viewing-the-mountains-from-the-bar bit. Or are you going with your new flame? In which case, it might be lovely if he caringly accompanies you down a slope and picks you up when you fall.

Arabella, oddly, I’ve skied twice. Was rubbish and a beginner both times. Was actually tempted to have a go when I was in Poland earlier this year but know I would have broken my neck. Hoping there’ll be roaring fires galore.

5. MountPenguin - December 13, 2007

I went skiing once, in Japan of all places. Really takes it out of your knees. Took me a while to work out the not-falling-down trick. Would I try it again? Probably, if the chance presented itself, but I wouldn’t ever book a pure skiing trip of my own accord.

6. pleite - December 13, 2007

But when you did fall over in Japan, I presume the slopes were equipped with clever robots of some sort that came and picked you up and dusted you off and set you straight again. One can ski in Pakistan these days, apparently. Though I don’t know what their take on mulled wine is.

Poland was good for informal skiing. None of this ski-pass nonsense. Just turn up, get your boots and skis fitted for 20p by a big handsome local (his charms may not be your priority) and off you go for however long you feel like, in a nicely chaotic way.

7. MountPenguin - December 13, 2007

The thing about Japan is, that it’s surprisingly low-tech – apart from the consumer products and the bits they always show on foreign telly. Though no doubt should demographic changes mean a shortage of ski slope workers, no doubt they would soon develop robotic replacements rather than import cheap unskilled labour from foreign parts. They would also have no problem in developing a machine which would sell warm mulled wine in a can.

(Do feel free to peruse my recently renovated Japan blog, I’ve been clearing out my strange Japan pics from my hard drive).

8. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 13, 2007

You could meet the Taliban in the mountains (or the PKK, depending on which mountains you choose). Or start a new career as Osama Bin Laden’s cameraman. Or combine both?

9. Blonde at Heart - December 13, 2007

Never skiied, but did slide down Jerusalem’s hills on a plastic bag, when I was young enough for that thing to support my weight. Anyway, why don’t you cancel your trip to the mountains of Europe and come to mountainous Jerusalem? You do not need special shoes and no Christmas here whatsoever.

10. pleite - December 13, 2007

BaH, I should, I should. One day. And I really should come at Christmas, to get all culturally dissonant, but what if I had some sort of revelation and became a Christian Muslim Jew? I’d never cope with the confusion. Have you got a certain Australian gent visiting you? Festive cheer to both of you. (I heard a live ‘Chanukkah sameach’ (and I know the word ‘sameach’ from the Eurovision, of course) the other day when I saw one of the Menorah lights being lit in front of the Brandenburg gate.) (But if ‘chanukkah’ is feminine, why doesn’t sameach get the feminine ending?)

DZ, I hadn’t thought of that extra peril. So not only will the Russian disappear for hours on end, leaving me standing grief-stricken on the edge of a slippery, snowy cliff, I’ll probably get abducted by the peshmerga and have to become a fighter for someone or other’s freedom, when I am, truth be told, selfishly fairly content to settle for just my own. Though I don’t think the mountains I’m running off to with just some exhausted credit cards and a Russian for company resound to gunfire.

Penguin, one day, probably on my way back from Jerusalem, by an admittedly circuitous route, I will make it to Japan. I’m loving your Japan blog, and I’m happy to see that vending-machines are a well-worn interest. I was hoping omikuji meant the used panties you refer to elsewhere, but am equally relieved to discover it doesn’t. But then I don’t want fate dispensed to me from a machine, though it might be useful if it could tell me what footwear to put on.

11. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 13, 2007

I don’t think the Taliban like the Russians that much, somehow. Perhaps I should ask my caretaker. I happened to see his hallway a while back – there were more Afghanistan photos there than anyone could imagine.

12. pleite - December 13, 2007

Indeed, the Russians are perhaps not majorly popular in parts of Afghanistan. Neither, thankfully, will we be holidaying in the Caucasus. Not that the Russians are hated everywhere there, but I can’t remember if Elbrus (for want of another mountain) is in Georgia or in a Russia-freundlich or -feindlich bit of southern Russia.

I missed the Afghanistan generation in Russia, though I’m not sure if it’s a good comparison to make that it was the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. Perhaps because military or any type of disaster is less inimical to the Russian soul than it is to the American. Isn’t your caretaker Tajik, though?

13. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 14, 2007

I’m not sure. Strictly (legally) speaking, he must be German. But you’ve glanced at his poems. I’m sure you know more than I do on that front, so to speak.

14. pleite - December 14, 2007

…except my Alzheimer’s has made me forget their content, slightly. Would try to have a look for them, but it’s getting dangerously close to the countdown for the big off. Off a cliff, that is. I hate holidays.

Farewell. Farewell.

15. marshaklein - December 14, 2007

Running away to the mountains sounds like a fine plan to me. Don’t ski (unless you really want to). Sledging is fun and you get to sit down while doing it. I’d major in eating and drinking and looking at scenery if I were you. Will there be peace and quiet too? Mountains are often good for those, although ski-resorts (I imagine) are less so.

16. Karl-Marx-Straße - December 14, 2007

Go, tell it on the mountain,
Over the hills, and every-where,
Go, tell it on the mountain

hm, I don’t like where this song is going. Infant school has a lot to answer for, leaving such rubbish in my brain. In the days when the Lord of the dance was about dancing for the scribes and the Pharisees (who?) and not for the stockbroker belt with their 4x4s at Wembley Arena.

In any case the last two verses (found thanks to the interweb) seem to accurately portray Messrs Flatley’s career:

I danced on a Friday when the sky turned black;
It’s hard to dance with the world on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone.
But I am the dance and I still go on.

They cut me down, and I leaped up high,
For I am the life that will never, never die.
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me,
For I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

17. wyndham - December 14, 2007

I can understand your ambivalence to mountains, but just think of the shnapps, Bib! Find a cafe, enjoy a coffee with alcohol in it, and wave politely as everyone plummets past you.

18. narrowback - December 14, 2007

if god had intended me to hurtle down snowy slopes at a speed akin to motor vehicles he would have provided me with longer and flatter feet than the boats i was born with.

flatley? don’t make me vomit…he’s a local from the sw side of chicago phony brogue and all

19. bowleserised - December 15, 2007

Oh bloody hell now I have Lord of the Dance on the brain. Why not He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands?

Can you imagine? At school they wrote the words on big bits of cardboard and held them up for us. Kids these days probably don’t know what cardboard is.

20. MountPenguin - December 15, 2007

Cardboard? We in the provinces had high-tech overhead projectors. (Or are you a lot older than you look?)

Didn’t stop us singing “He’s Got the Whole World In His Pants” though. Christian indoctrination, bah.

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

On cardboard? In the infants, we had books. Books! And in juniors, yes, the overhead projector. Was the child a privileged one who got the role of moving the OHP lens and/or the copied-onto-plastic-in-cardboard-casing (like a massive transparency/slide) so the kids could read the appropriate verses. They even got a chair to sit on. It was never me though.

Never mind cardboard (though where did those massive rolls of the corregated stuff, used as set backdrops for school plays come from?), I bet kids these days don’t know what Radio Assemblies are. I suspect that Singing Together has had its day as well – though Time and Tune is still going, apparently. And what about Music Time, Watch, Look and Read? Hang on, this is the basis for a “I love the 80s” series on Channel 5/BBC 3. Oh what, it’s been done? You don’t say.

22. bowleserised - December 16, 2007

I was in the provinces too, don’t you know!

23. Blonde at Heart - December 19, 2007

How do you know he is here? Facebook, I guess? And Although Hannukah is feminine, it is actually (Hag) Hunnukah sameach, and Hag is of course masculine. Good to know that this idiotic song did one good thing and that is to teach people how to say “happy” in Hebrew.

24. pleite - December 21, 2007

BaH, it must have been, indeed, the wonders of facebook. So what does the Hag bit mean? But that idiotic song was a wok of genius, I’m telling you!

B., I am having a flashback to crossed legs and shorts and sitting in rows (and performing in tights at some Christmassy thing) but we did also have the words for He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands held up for us. And this was pre-National Curriculum. Hooray for lack of imagination!

DZ, I’m afraid I must be too old for the radio assemblies. What are they? And we certainly never had overhead projectors. That was for university and conferences in Brussels. (I once got to change the slides.) But what about this one as a good hymn?

‘Moses, I know you’re the man,’
The Lord said,
‘You’re going to work out my plan,’
The Lord said.
‘Lead all the Israelites out of slavery,
And I shall make them a wandering race
Called the People of God.’

So every day,
We’re on our way,
For we’re a travelling, wandering race,
We’re the People of God.

‘Don’t get too set in your ways,’
The Lord said.
‘Each step is only a phase,’
The Lord said.
‘I’ll go before you and I shall be a sign
To guide my travelling, wandering race;
You’re the People of God.’

‘No matter what you may do,’
The Lord said,
‘I shall be faithful and true,’
The Lord said.
‘My love will strengthen you as you go along,
‘For you’re my travelling, wandering race,
You’re the People of God.’

‘Look at the birds of the air,’
The Lord said,
‘They fly unhampered by care,’
The Lord said.
‘You will move easier if you’re travelling light,
For you’re a wandering vagabond race,
You’re the People of God.’

‘Foxes have places to go,’
The Lord said,
‘But I’ve no home here below,’
The Lord said.
‘So if you want to be with me all your days,
Keep up the moving and travelling on,
You’re the People of God.’

Estelle White (1925- )

…although I can’t quite work out why we would have sung it. Doesn’t it sound a bit Jewish-centric, or were we, as Christians, meant to have taken over the People-of-God mantle? And I thought it was, “…hard to dance with the devil on your back,” though perhaps that was seen as too disturbing and has been softened, or our wicked witch deputy head invented her own more scary words.

Penguin, we would never have done anything as seditious as singing the word pants in my school. Although I think, in secondary school, we used to allow ourselves to get flippant with the warbling of the word nation in the first version of this little cracker:

1. Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!
His the scepter, his the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph,
his the victory alone;
Hark! The songs of peaceful Zion
thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
hath redeemed us by his blood.

2. Alleluia! Not as orphans
are we left in sorrow now;
Alleluia! He is near us,
faith believes, nor questions how:
though the cloud from sight received him,
when the forty days were o’er,
shall our hearts forget his promise,
“I am with you ever more”?

3. Alleluia! Bread of Heaven,
thou on earth our food, our stay!
Alleluia! Here the sinful flee
to thee from day to day:
Intercessor, friend of sinners,
earth’s Redeemer, plead for me,
where the songs of all the sinless
sweep across the crystal sea.

4. Alleluia! King eternal,
thee the Lord of lords we own:
Alleluia! Born of Mary,
earth thy foot stool, heaven thy throne:
thou with in the veil hast entered,
robed in flesh, our great High Priest:
thou on earth both Priest and Victim
in the eucharistic feast.

5. Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!
His the scepter his the throne;
Alleluia! His the triumph,
his the victory alone;
Hark! The songs of holy Zion
thunder like a mighty flood;
Jesus out of every nation
hath redeemed us by his blood.

Words: William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898) Music: Alleluia, Samuel Sebastion Wesley (1810-1876)

Narrowback, you don’t mean it! Michael Flatley a plastic paddy! You’ll be telling me Shane MacGowan was born in Tunbridge Wells next! (Actually, just wikid him and he did, at least, spend some formative years in Ireland.) I majorly haven’t cottoned on to Riverdance, even though I’m sure it’s probably the only video my mother’s ever watched.

Wyndypops, the trouble was there wasn’t much of that sort of thing to be had. I didn’t have a single schnapps and only found one suitably cosy cafe but it was inaccessible and served its vin chaud in polystyrene cups. My expert one-man entirely subjective survey says that Austria and Poland do cosy wintriness better than France. Can’t remember Switzerland. Was too young.

Marsha, there was more p&q than you could shake a stick at. And I sat down galore, and walked galore, and didn’t ski for a single second, which annoyed the Russian no end. But, anyway, I’m getting all Christmassy. Well, for half a second. And I haven’t bought a single prezzie or got any money and I still have a ton of work to do. Right, I’m gonna be in your neck of the world on Christmas Eve. If I want hymns, whose house of god do I go to? Cath or Prod? Tempted to go Prod, to annoy the family.

25. narrowback - December 21, 2007

yup…a plastic paddy he is. although his parents are from the auld sod, he himself was born in Detroit and moved to the south side of chicago as a young child. thankfully, my mum didn’t cotton to riverdance (spared me the misery of having to sit with her to watch the video during my visits). i got my eclectic tastes in music from her

26. pleite - December 21, 2007

I’m not sure my mother does music, although when Tom Jones’s It’s Not Unusual was re-released for some reason, she commented on its brilliance and could quite understand its being in the charts for thirty years.

27. narrowback - December 21, 2007

my last trip home I was skipping through the stack of CD’s on top of her stereo and found one by Government Mule a southern rockband descended from the Allman Brothers popular with some boomers and younger folk aspiring to relive the days of the 60’s and 70’s…I turned to her and asked “Uh, Ma, just when did you become interested in Government Mule?” her response was that she had got it in exchange for a donation to a local college radio station and she “enjoyed the sound”… she was also the person who introduced me to Black 47 believe it or not

28. pleite - December 21, 2007

Narrowback, your mother sounds like a bit of a funky mother. My mother cannot claim to be nearly as funky. I don’t think she has a music collection, though some child or other probably gives her a CD by Dean Martin or Bing Crosby or someone every few years at Christmas, which she probably then uses to put hot cups of tea down on.

29. Blonde at Heart - December 21, 2007

“Hag” means holiday. Simple as that.

30. pleite - December 21, 2007

Hmm, I think we can safely conclude that my Hebrew is very basic. I can’t even remember any of the numbers, apart from 3, and that’s only because of the Eurovision again and ‘shalosh milim’ in Abanibi.

31. marshaklein - December 22, 2007

I consulted Brian (as resident, indeed only, RC) re. hymns and he said Prod. I’m assuming you’re going to be in Glasgow. Interestingly, I just googled Glasgow Cathedral and, apparently, it’s crown property, which I suppose makes it neither. It’s a lovely buliding though. Perhaps you should go to the Watchnight service there?
The one and only time we went to midnight mass with my MiL, she assured me that I mustn’t worry as there would be lots of “others” there! She actually said it in inverted commas! I had visions of all us undesirables penned up in a cage at the back, moaning and slavering, but, no we had to sit in the pews like everyone else. Shame really, a bit of slavering would have livened things up no end.

32. pleite - December 22, 2007

Marsha, but Happy Birthday again! I hope it’s being festive enough.

We will be in Glasgow, it turns out. God knows if we’ll get to escape the family – I’m suspecting not, to be honest – but if we can make it to Edinburgh, I’ll let you know. It will be December 27th if at all. But please don’t keep the day aside or anything. It would be heaven to have a non-Catholic cup of tea with you though.

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