Sputniki January 5, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, answer me this. The nice girl who sells coffee at Teddington Station earns, say, sick squid, sorry, six quid an hour. That’s an estimate but based on loosely empirical evidence as I just walked in on the Russian checking fantasy job listings for when we move, upon the flight of pigs and above my corpse, to London. So the nice girl – Spanish, I thought – earns six quid an hour. How long do people in England work? 40 hours a week? And there are probably 4-and-a-half working weeks a month, so that’s 180 hours a month which comes to – oh god, the calculator’s miles away and I’m on the laptop – erm, 1080 pounds a month. Before tax and national insurance, which accounts for about a third, doesn’t it? So that’s, erm, 360 gone, so she’s left with about 700 quid. Darlings, tell me, how the fuck, in London, does she not die of starvation in ten seconds? Or is that what happens, and the turnover of nice, young ladies selling coffee at Teddington Station is one a day? Or is she perhaps helped to avoid public transportation costs by being given a cardboard box in the corner and a dusty, filthy, threadbare blanket to keep the chill from her bones? Because she can’t afford to live in Teddington and it costs 700 quid to travel one stop from there in either direction, which, in any case, only gets you to another leafy suburb which she couldn’t afford to live in. I asked the Russian if I should propose marriage and take her away from all this (or that) but poverty and squalor for poverty and squalor is not a good swap and, anyway, perhaps she likes London, and, anyway, then our train came and we’d been waiting so long that taking it was too good an opportunity to miss, even if I did miss out on getting married for my troubles.
I was reminded of the benefits of being able to understand what people say and thought it has perhaps not come about by chance that people in one place speak the same language. Such a brilliant idea! Eavesdropping is my favourite thing in the world apart from internet access and I’m bored of only being able to half-eavesdrop Germans. And, anyway, all Germans ever complain about is how expensive everything is, which isn’t juicy enough for a seasoned eavesdropper.
“Yuh, yuh,” said a boy who looked like he might have been in Prince William’s class at school loudly into his telephone. “Yuh, yuh, I’m pretty bloody ready for that, yuh.” He got off at the same stop as us and I was dreading when I finally got a good look at him – so far I had only seen his floppy blond hair, tall, aristo stature and ludicrously long luggage – skiing! – and heard him yuh – that he would have the annoyingly good Merchant Ivory looks that that type often annoyingly has. “Yuh, can you open the barrier please?” (Muffled response from TfL person behind glass, perhaps suggesting the passenger insert his ticket into it.) “Yuh – and with petulance – but it’s in my bag. Can you just open the barrier please? I’m going to miss my flight.” Before I could check whether he was a dish or not, I had my own trouble with a machine saying something about oysters and by the time that was sorted in a haze of fluster, sweat and foundation-laying-for-an-argument-with-the-Russian, he had dashed off with his long luggage dragging behind him like the train on Princess Diana’s wedding dress.
“Dunnee look luvly?” I said to the Russian, who pointed out that I was wrong to even check if he was beautiful and that he had all the beauty I needed… We finally caught up with the skier and there was nothing Merchant Ivory about him at all.
“Fuck off, you fat, ugly cow,” I screamed at Lindsay Davenport. I don’t even think she is a fat, ugly cow, particularly, but relationships can make you say the rudest things, as I explained to my brother and sister, who happened to witness the moment, and they forgave me my intemperate outburst. “Don’t you love her?” asked some random person who leapt to Lindsay Davenport’s defence. “Of course I bloody love her, but it’s just all so exhausting.” And I slumped onto the sofa. “Stop being gay,” the Russian said within everyone’s earshot. A mouse fell off the lampshade onto my shoulder…
“I sink my braazer is autist,” presently said the Russian, who received a special mention in the best newcomer category at last year’s world social autism awards. I’d worried as much myself. I’d sent an unnaturally gushing New Year’s text to my quasi-brother-in-law saying that I INSISTED he come to London with us on our next trip. “Tomorrow I drive to babushka,” came his less gushing reply.
“So, zis button must be svitched on and zis vun off for remote-control to vörk and…” continued the Russian explaining the thornier difficulties of how to change channels in my mother’s spectacularly low-tech abode. “Darling, I’ll never change channel in this house ever in my life. Instead, work out how long it’s going to take you to finish explaining this to me and just repeat ‘I love you’ over and over for the corresponding time instead.”
Planning now to snuggle up for a good bout of lovely, London-induced, cosy man-illness for the rest of the winter. Happy New Year!