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The night shift January 17, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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And not a sweet sound coming down to be had for love nor money.

I’ve had my biannual clock-change, which I really need to align with when the clocks go back and forward for the sake of neatness. Except my clock-change is by twelve hours. And at some point in the winter – this year, now – I decide that, if I am to see daylight at all before midsummer, I have to change shift and get up at 5am rather than go to bed then.

Which makes for a quiet start to the day. Of course half the neighbours are primly up, wandering primly around preparing to go off to lead prim days. Odd that the neighbours can pull of primness while semi-nude, but they can. One stiff-backed neighbour eats her breakfast primly. The neighbour who drinks wine alone breakfasts geometrically at his table. Others primly draw their curtains so that us nosy neighbours can’t sneak a prim look at how they live their early starts.

Pitch outside and silent for the first couple of hours of the day. The traffic doesn’t set the cobbles rumbling in earnest till the sun’s risen languidly over the rooftops. The children trudging with grim determination off to school don’t make much noise. Nor do the Berliners with regular jobs as they turn up their collars and purse their lips in readiness for pursuit of another euro. And it’s too cold and too dark for us wastrels to bustle about on our balconies. No need for me, now that smoking’s a thing of the past, to be on ours till the summer. And no way for the residents of the 100%-long-term-unemployment house across the street to enjoy theirs as builders have knocked the bastards clean away in some early stage of a total architectural makeover.

Too early for the Russian to elephant noisily and meatily around the place. Too early to seek company in the TV. It would feel pornographic to switch to my favourite channels at this time of the morning/night. Though Al Jazeera might easily be showing something gripping at any time. (Do folk watch? They do these great little slice-of-life documentaries. I’ve watched an Iranian online imam, a Swedish woman on a quest to find her Sami father whom she’d only seen on a stamp and a formerly homeless Argentinian who now worked for Loony Radio. Really. Quite marvellous. Their news coverage ain’t bad either.) And Belsat – yes, we have a Belarusian channel – only starts broadcasting its pap later on. Plus the neighbours would have complained by the time my finger had completed its first transaction with the remote-control.

The shipping forecast is yet to begin, but that’s better to be lulled to sleep by than lulled awake to with its sea-shanty names and cyclones losing their identity. (God Save the Queen might shudder you awake again though.) The farmers will be on soon, complaining of the cost of raising pigs. The French lesson’s almost over.

Any luck and there might soon be enough blue in the sky for a pair of sailor’s trousers.

Comments»

1. marshaklein - January 17, 2008

Truly, the radio is your friend on these occasions, more civilised than TV somehow. That, and a big mug of coffee.

I like the fact that you begin with the Commodores and end with sailors’ trousers – nice, nautical bookending!

2. pleite - January 17, 2008

Oh my god, that was unintentional. Or only subliminally intended. No, unintentional. Thank you for noticing. I should have bluffed and claimed it was on purpose.

And thank you for commenting so promptly. I’m an awfully naughty blogger, not writing a thing for ages. It’s all got AWFULLY difficult. I’ve had that lying around unfinished for days. The weather’s even perked up. But, darling, your blog is even more ignored, you naughty thing. Or have you officially sublet it to Daisy?

By the way, I youtubed that song, preparing myself to remind myself what pus it was… and I LIKED it. Verily I have aged. But on the same bout of tubing, I found this too and that made me think the past is also a good place.

3. marshaklein - January 17, 2008

Lovely song, lovely video (I’m a bit adjectivally challenged at the moment!)
I haven’t given Daisy a free rein with my blog yet – I hope you didn’t mind her comments? I just can’t think of anything to write about. I might write about the stress of sitting exams second-hand once they are over (It only seems like five minutes since the last lot).
Commenting is still fun though. I have great hopes of the socio-linguistic convo. that seems to be shaping up over at Mr D.’s place.

4. pleite - January 17, 2008

Darling, not at all. Every comment is an undeserved honour.

Yes, to go back to your first comment, lashings of coffee and radio are now the start of the day. And the middle and end of it, actually.

Blogging’s horrible, isn’t it? But, yes, the commenting is lovely. I saw that over at Mr D’s but haven’t looked through the gazillions of comments her article generated. Is the gist of it people saying, “Cheeky foreign mare. Don’t tell us how to speak English”?

I’d be a frantic parent. As it is I spend my whole time worrying the Russian is dead – I’m assuming he’s dead now – and, when I know he’s not dead, then I worry about his exams too, actually, and just everything. I really could do with having a small win on the pools and drinking myself rancid somewhere hot for a year or three. Mind you, then I’d only worry our washing-machine had leaked while we were away and flooded the nice man – though I wish he’d resculpt his pre-mullet – downstairs.

5. marshaklein - January 17, 2008

Blogging seems like a lot of effort at the moment. Yes, the comments are, in the main, of the “Don’t come tell us how to speak English” type. It’s been good to have a bit of a chat about language use, though, without anyone rolling their eyes (or, if they ARE rolling their eyes, at least I can’t see them). I’m so used to the eye-rolling, “Nurse, the screens” sort of reaction when I start on about language that I get unnaturally excited about opportunities like this one.

I AM a frantic parent. What makes you think the Russian is dead? Is he away again?

P.S Afternoon Play is all about language – Hurrah!

P.P.S Am all by myself in the office today. No-one else here at all. In fact, I have to wait for someone to come back from a meeting before I can go home (or there’s no-one to answer the phone). Hence the MSN-like commenting.

6. pleite - January 17, 2008

No, he’s just out. Probably at university. I don’t really know anything about his life. I normally assume he’s dead when he’s in the next room, so it’s usually, I mean, always a relief when he turns out to be alive after all, which he does with unstinting regularity.

I hate John Sessions.

7. marshaklein - January 17, 2008

“I hate John Sessions.” Any particular reason? Play was a bit disappointing.

Hurrah! (again) People have come back to the office, so I can go home (I finish at 3, I’m not skiving). Wonder how Daisy’s (history) exam went? I need a drink.

8. pleite - January 17, 2008

I can only remember that my hatred of John Sessions must once have been grounded in reason but I’ve completely forgotten what the reason was. I’m sure he’s a perfectly lovely person while still a bit of a wanker. A nice wanker.

The Russian and I have been relatively non-boozy since the UK but we have already discussed, electronically, that we plan to drink ourselves drunk tonight. Hurrah!

I’m convinced Daisy will have breezed through her exam.

9. d.z. bodenberg - January 18, 2008

Never mind John Sessions, having Tim MacInnery playing Eisenstein is just ridiculous. Especially because of the thought of Eisenstein and Stalin wearing those frilly neck things and codpieces. Did you hear that one too? I also noticed that it’s not even the real World Service on Radio 4 anymore (when my Long Wave reception here got so bad (post-shipping forecast, delightfully read by that caribbean man that most of Middle England would like to have shot for the ‘wrong’ pronunciation) that I retuned over to modern VHF). And no ‘Radio 4 UK theme’, and what have they done to Farming Today? You notice I don’t usually listen online, not in the night anyway.

And on the themes of pornography and elephants, half of the 40 minutes of British telly I caught was a “documentary” on Channel 5 about Idi Amin causing Babar’s offspring to have hormone problems, and elephant youth as a result killing and then trying to shag rhinos, and some villagers as well.

10. Valerie in San Diego - January 18, 2008

The problem with mentioning the shipping forecast is that it always makes me think of that episode of “Black Books.” Only Tamsin Greig could masturbate to the shipping forecast on television, I suspect, and still retain her dignity…

The Commodores song I like to remember is “Brick House.” My favorite to dance to at any wedding. Everyone else leaves the floor and I make trouble (and some embarrassing photographs). She’s mighty mighty.

Ah, those were the days, when lyrics were deep and meaningful.

Humph. Maybe I’ll go masturbate to the shipping forecast.

11. Sylvia - January 18, 2008

Ooh – not sure about how these comments are going…….

anyway, thank you for sharing.

Don’t diss the Sessions – I think he (and his twin) and I share a birthday, although I hope that they’re just a bit older than me……I’m old enough!

Early morning? How virtuous is that? I’ve gone into hibernation – feral child has to drag me out of bed every morning for me to take her to school. I blame being forced to drag my carcass around the neighbourhood during the day in a foolish attempt to reduce my great bulk.

I listen to the radio at night, that’s my weakness. LBC (97.3fm) has a programme discussing adult matters every Friday at 10pm. I listen whilst reading the evening standard.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard the farming programme. Does that make me a bad person?

ps – happy new year to you all – please keep on keeping me sane…

12. MountPenguin - January 18, 2008

Tip for anyone listening to Radio 4 via the internet late at night: select the longwave version, because on FM they broadcast schools programming at some heathenly hour (didn’t know kids were at school at that time, but anyway) instead of the World Service, and if you unintentionally fall asleep, gormless voices singing highly annoying childrens songs and similar at 3am are strangely disturbing.

13. d.z. bodenberg - January 18, 2008

“LBC (97.3fm) has a programme discussing adult matters every Friday at 10pm.”

That programme was, in my youth, the basis of most of London’s sex education. At least for the under-10s.

To anyone in Berlin in winter wanting to listen to Radio 4 late at night, just use a Long Wave radio, should you want to go to sleep with the sounds of Charlotte Green / The World Today, and wake up with either Belarussian or Icelandic, depending on the atmospheric conditions.

14. Blonde at Heart - January 19, 2008

You watch Al-Jazeera? In Arabic? I love Al-Jazeera, and not because watching it pays my rent. They have this amazing anchor-woman named Lina Zahr-El-din, she is so pretty and asks very tough questions. Also she is the only woman I know that can wear a sequined top and look fabulous. They say it might snow on Tuesday!

15. pleite - January 21, 2008

BaH, no, alas, not the Arabic-language version, though I do have it, but the English-language one. I think it’s the best newsy channel of all the ones I have. I still sometimes glance at the BBC, because I’ve been institutionalised to do so, and like it well enough, but Al-Jazeera appeals more. Those little documentaries it does are great. And I recognise the faces of half the journalists from my youth.

DZ, alas (again), I almost never listen to the radio on the radio. I used to in Russia and, when I got homesick, it would be a knife through the heart when the BBC switched from regular world service to the Russian service. Not that the Russian service wasn’t marvellous, but it was just lovely, sometimes, to hear English then. Don’t think I pine for the language any more… And I DIDN’T hear Percy as Eisenstein. Was he any good, once you hypnotised yourself into not thinking he was Percy? And do you mean Christmas TV? I watched a docu on Channel 5 on Christmas Day about a mad South African gent who wrestles huge snakes. Barking, but very watchable.

Penguin, advice taken on board. I’m not sure which version I’ve usually gone for, but I’ve only very rarely noticed the French lessons so must have, by chance, struck lucky. But now that I’m 50, night-time listening has been put on hold till my age oddly goes backwards at some point later in the year.

Sylvia, not hearing the farming programme is a virtue. Keep yourself pure and dash to switch it off if you ever have the misfortune to stumble across it. Though it’s quite lully and gentle, actually, and you might even get a nice rural accent on it now and again. It’s far better than the fucking awful Gardeners’ Question Time. The emergency services have to come and pump my stomach if I catch a single second.

Valerie, who am I to discourage masturbation? And if it’s a little bit of self-amusement to the accompaniment of the shipping forecast that floats your boat, then I say good for you. Need to go and explore Black Books properly. Have only ever caught a snippet. And I need to uncover that Commodores song from one of the dustier corners of my tiny brainlet. And I need to google Tamsin Greig, actually. Christ, I might apply for a research grant.

16. d.z. bodenberg - January 22, 2008

Not at Christmas, but the day before I posted that comment. I was on the “fair Isle”/shithole last week for a day or two.

The Making of Ivan the Terrible
By Hattie Naylor

Sergei Eisenstein suffers a heart attack during a banquet to celebrate winning the prestigious Stalin Prize for his film Ivan the Terrible Part 1. Stalin was delighted with the depiction of Ivan as a cruel and ruthless ruler. Earlier that day, however, Eisenstein had delivered Part 2 of his intended trilogy, in which Ivan was portrayed as neurotic, mad and vindictive.

Eisenstein …… Percy
Nikolai …… Tim McMullan
Vsevolod ….. Andy Taylor
Stalin …… Bill Wallis

Wasn’t Bill Wallis in Last of the Summer Wine? Or was that Bill Sallis?
You can even still listen to it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/afternoon_play.shtml (click on Wednesday) if you wish.

17. pleite - January 22, 2008

OK, have switched it on and will see how long I can bear it. I hope Eisenstein will at least say ‘hey nonny nonny’ and ‘beshrew me’ a few times.

18. d.z. bodenberg - January 22, 2008

I had hoped that Stalin would be played by Stephen Fry, who could answer every “nonny nonny” with “baaaaaaargh!”. But sadly not.

19. emma in barcelona - January 22, 2008

Tamsin Greig as well as her many brilliant tv appearances is also Debbie on the Archers. Have just read this blog entry very late on in the proceedings and loved it and all the radio 4-y comments, it made me feel all warm and tingly inside (although I´ll fight you on Gardener´s Question Time, I listen avidly even though I have no garden. With you on John Sessions though)

20. pleite - January 23, 2008

Emma, I’ve googled her now and do recognise her though am not sure I’ve ever seen her in anything. And I have to race to turn off the volume whenever The Archers comes on. Have traitorously switched to the World Service for now. Naughty, I know.

DZ, couldn’t bear it. I just can’t hear Russians speaking RP. I tried to bear it better by not pressing pause and making a very slow cup of coffee but still just had to silence it when I got the earphones back in.

21. marshaklein - January 23, 2008

“Need to go and explore Black Books properly.”

Oh yes, you really do. I think you’ll love it.

22. d.z. bodenberg - January 24, 2008

It was terrible, I’m glad we agree.

23. pleite - January 24, 2008

DZ, it all started, this not being able to hear Russians speaking RP (or anything other than Russian) when I read Crime and Punishment in an American translation and Raskol’nikov started a wistful sentence with a contemplative, “Why!” That’ll learn me to be lazy.

Marsha, by 2096, I’ll be an authority on the bastard. Mark my words.


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