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Mould January 21, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

At last it’s come to me. It’s going to make me so rich I’ll probably be able to help you all out. Someone get China on the phone.

Still suffering post-Christmas so need this financial revolution to really hit the spot. I’m statistically average in this regard, of course, as every radio programme on at the moment appears to be about how to declare yourself bankrupt for almost nothing (though in Scotland) and then isn’t it divorce day round about now for all the couples whom Christmas helped realise just that little bit more glassily clearly quite how much they loathe each other? I’ve had to switch over to BBC Radio Cymru so that I can’t understand a word anyone’s saying. (I lie. Someone said, “…fit for purpose…” a minute ago.)

Though maybe trickle-down will trickle down to me eventually and I’ll soon be reaping the rewards of all the wealth our neighbourhood seems to have generated of late. I’ve told you before that Ruislip’s up-and-coming and I can see this on my trips to the supermarket. Shoponomics. Instead of the supermarket being either utterly empty, which it always had been till recently, bar the staff, the Russian and me, or frequented by the odd teenager buying beer and Coke, it’s now not uncommon to see handsome young couples with perfect babies and perfect prams who obviously couldn’t find a place to live in the funkier area further south.

All a far cry from the days when supermarkets were all new and shiny and spangly to us (well, to me again) after moving here from St. Petersburg, where we lived like in the good old former times, going to the market all the time – I was once told I looked like Thomas Anders by a vendrix as I pored over her herbs. “Have you got any thyme?” I asked, having thanked her for her heart-warming compliment. “Oi, thyme. No. Zere is no thyme in all St. Petersburg. Not in all Raasha vill you find thyme. You never vill find thyme. Must be suicide everybody. Life so tsyerrible.” We cried together for a while and warmed our hands over a dying candle-flame, then bade each other a fond farewell. We knew we’d never see each other again. I dried my eyes. And went to the next vendrix. “Um, hello. Have you got thyme for me?” “For you, Thomas, I’ve got all the time in the world.” “I’m not Thomas. I’m BiB.” “Oh, OK, in that case, I retract my joke. Wouldn’t work in Russian anyway.” “Indeed… So, got any thyme?” “Yep. That’ll be 7 roubles please.” Shopping was an emotional roller-coaster then – and buying different products from the specialist purveyors thereof. The butcher. The baker. The cigarette-maker. All long before our fish-finger days…

“I khev diskaavered gryeat new tasty and nutritious produkt,” said the Russian breathlessly within hours of us clearing immigration and being granted refuge in this fine land. “Oh my god, what? What?” I asked. I was still young. “Double-length cigarettes? Vats of wine on wheels? Big, fat, luscious prawns that even we can afford?” “No, beets of feesh kaavered in bryed-kryamb.” “Darling, you don’t pronounce the b in kryamb. I mean crumb.” “Vot you talkink about? Vi not even speak Eenglyeesh.” “Darling, I do apologise. I must be inventing it all for some point in the future when there’ll be a website where I can spout bollocks, where I can note things down. A web-jotter. A bjot. Or a web-register. Yes, where I can write it all down. In my bredge… Darling, fish-fingers aren’t interesting. You need to try some of the other things the west’s got to offer. Like, um, wine that isn’t from Moldova. And drugs.”

So, yes, now the supermarket’s full of nice couples. So nice I worry for them, almost. So healthy-looking. Fresh-skinned. Happy. Not at all normal. “Look at how perfect he is,” I said to the Russian about the worryingly perfect father of a newly-formed nuclear family loitering at the cheese-counter. We waited for them to choose their cheese and then ordered one twice as expensive to show them we were no slouches when it came to professional success either… then waited for them to wheel themselves out of ear-shot and asked for our money back from the cheese-vendrix, saying I’d just had confirmation of my cheese allergy from the doctor by SMS. Sorry. His wife was perfect too. The child was wrapped up perfectly for the meteorological conditions that prevailed. The Russian and I looked at ourselves in the mirror to see if we were as perfect as they were. We took deep breaths and rolled on in silence. Caught up with the perfect family and found the father’s Achilles’ heel. Hair cut much too high at the back and not even blended in. A straight line. Tosser. It’s the children I feel sorry for.

Anyway, where were we? Oh yes. Shoponomics. So I’m surrounded by rich people. And am poorer than a church-mouse. And we know it’s important to keep up with the Müllers. So I racked my brains for at least a minute and a half to come up with a world-improving and finance-revolutionising plan and, as luck would have it, the brainstorming didn’t go to waste.

So, it’s moulds. I’m envisioning mini elasticated bath-caps, sort of gerbil-head sized. These would be filled with some conveniently unctuous, mobile but sturdy mucus. Then, whenever you sat on a chair or at a table with uneven legs, which probably even The Queen has experienced, you’d whip out your handy mini elasticated bath-cap filled with the secret unctuous but sturdy mucus and it would stabilise the formerly uneven table or chair. And, if we make them pretty enough, they’d be so much more pleasing than a folded bit of fish-finger packaging.

I only need about a 30-grand cut. Someone do all the work and get on to China and then send me the cheque.


1. Sylvia - January 21, 2008

what on earth are you doing in Ruislip? Have I missed something here? What about Berlin?

2. MountPenguin - January 21, 2008

BiB likes to equate the northerly bit of Berlin he inhabits (within hailing distance of Sweden it is, I believe) called “Pankow” (pronounced “Pank-oh”) with Ruislip (pronounced “Rye-slip” in case someone didn’t know).

3. IsarSteve - January 22, 2008

But BiB.. Pank-oh is more equivalent relatively to totnahm… spelt Tottenham… (Finsbury Park is like Gesundbrunnen) Rye-slip is more like Hakenfelde or Eiskeller.. “sounds like” ice kellah….

Please excuse the above rubbish .. I’ve just got in… the worse for wear after a typical Berliner Kneipe Abend… I’m off to bed now.. Gute Nacht, Schlaf gut und Auf Wiedersehen…… burrrp. Man sollte nie versuchen, etwas zu schreiben wenn man zu viel getrunken hat. Oh well.. Tomorrow’s another day..

But Tottenham is really is vis à vis Pankow……

4. pleite - January 22, 2008

Isar, good point. I’ve almost regretted settling on Ruislip since the first time I did, when even Pankow is a much more urban kind of place, really. I’ve never even heard of Hakenfelde and Eiskeller. Mind you, I rarely make it beyond Alex so might as well be living in a town the size of Bernau. Und doch, doch, man schreibt immer besser wenn man zu viel getrunken hat. More drunken commenting please. What are your regular haunts, if that’s not too rude?

Sylvia, Penguin is spot on, and does my explaining for me. A friend in need…

5. Anonymous - January 22, 2008

I’ve lived in Ruislip (twice – which makes me what on earth I did in a former life to deserve that) and I can confirm it is nothing like Pankow.

6. pleite - January 22, 2008

Anonymous formerly of Ruislip, I shall take your word for it – I’ve been to Ruislip, actually, but can’t really remember it, but it seemed fairly typical NW-London, 3-bedroom-semi land – and think of another London district ASAP… Pinner?

7. emma in barcelona - January 22, 2008

It´s an absolutely genius idea, table and chair legs seem to defy all known science and I´m forever a-wobblin’ and a-waiverin’ whilst trying to sip me cafe con leche, I´ll be in charge of the Spanish end of things (where incidently the prawns are huge and luscious and free for all, well almost…)

8. Geoff - January 22, 2008

Sorry, the anonymous was me, I hadn’t had any coffee at the time I posted that so was barely functional.

Ruislip was actually quite exciting for me when I first moved there at 14 from rural Northumberland – being on the end of the Central Line meant it was like a gateway to potential sin for me, I used to get on the tube at weekends and head into town to hover near the gay section of foyles (obviously I was far too scared to actually go into the gay section at that age).

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

Very careless, Geoff. You could have stolen the entire gay section, as opposed to Esperanto Made Simple and some Uzbek-English dictionaries, or whatever was kept near to the gay section. Did people ever buy stuff in Foyle’s in those days – apart from me, I mean, I’m a very honest bookbuyer? That combination of the Soviet/Argos-method of payment and bookkeeping and all those back stairwells, which existed until about 5 years ago, when the old Nazi hag running the place died, seemed to ensure that most of the stuff would get nicked.

10. Geoff - January 22, 2008

I was always scared to steal stuff (well, except for pick ‘n’ mix in woolies, which was just asking to be taken), especially from a bookshop. My mate Chris used to use it as a library though. He always said putting stuff back was always much tougher than taking it in the first place. I was amazed it carried on like that for as long as it did, and it’s a shame it’s now much more like a normal shop.

11. IsarSteve - January 22, 2008

So now it’s time for a sober comment from me:
What I actually meant in my drunken haze was.. Pankow in Berlin is geographically in the same location as Tottenham is in London. Awight mäyte!
I had to search through my Archives to find an example of what I mean and eventually found this one from 1895.

to see the whole map:

According to the map, I live in the Berlin equivalent of “Pimlico”. I quite like that idea..

Oh BTW, Ruislip can help if you can’t sleep.. instead of counting sheep keep repeating: This train terminates at West Ruislip–This train terminates at Ealing Broadway– This train terminates at Woodford via Hainault… this train terminates at EPP-ing.. guaranteed to work and a lot cheaper than all that beer.. :o(

12. Sylvia - January 22, 2008

thanks for the explanations re the Ruislip/Berlin connection.

Please God that there’s nowhere else like Streatham……

13. IsarSteve - January 22, 2008

I left a comment with a link but it has disappeared again.. :o(

14. emma in barcelona - January 22, 2008

When I lived in Leytonstone, I often heard tube drivers with strong east end/essex accents pronounce Hainault without the first H or the final T resulting in a rather different method of arriving at Woodford

15. marshaklein - January 22, 2008

“mini elasticated bath-caps, sort of gerbil-head sized.”

Oh bum. I didn’t read that properly first time round. These would be miles too big then:


More Anglo-Russian blogging please.

16. narrowback - January 23, 2008

although I for one would be one of the first to make a purchase (for some reason I am driven to a state of near nuerotic distress by an uneven table in a bar) I suspect a unique and catchy marketing scheme may be necessary…most folks seem content to make do with the folded matchbook cover (maybe now a scarce item due to smoking laws) or the folded scrap of fish finger packaging

fish sticks? I can’t even walk down that aisle in the supermarket as the mere sight of a box of ’em can make me lose my appetite. Pre-Vatican 2 fish sticks were the main course at the narrowback clan’s dinner table nearly EVERY friday…EVERY. Even in the most impoverished periods in my near adult and adult life could I not bring myself to even nibble on one to fend off starvation

My teacher friend once asked his class of russian ESL students what was the most striking impression they had of the first days in the US – their near unanimous reply? Supermarkets. one said she thought the first one she visited was a food museum

17. MountPenguin - January 23, 2008

1987 or 1988 I did a student exchange-type thing with someone in Vienna; he was absolutely fascinated by the “huge” UK supermarkets, especially the cereals sections. (Though I don’t think he realized that having 14 types of Nutritious Choco-o-Loop Morning Goop is necessarily a civilisational advantage).

18. Arabella - January 23, 2008

Because there’s never an old beer mat to fold up and stick beneath a wobbler when you need one. Your solution is a happy meeting between style and function and can you make them yellow?

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

Did those Russians think US supermarkets were like ‘museums’ as they looked a bit, hm, old? When I visited New York a few years ago, their supermarkets reminded me of run-down branches of International/Gateway/Somerfield/the Co-op/insert name of crap, dirty, old, run down, probably now bankrupt supermarket chain in areas of Britain where people have little money/etc. in the 1980s.

20. narrowback - January 24, 2008

d.z. no, for these folks, given where they reside, the supermarket(s) would’ve been well ordered, nice and shiny. supermarkets in NYC are a different story and I know exactly what you mean. when i resided there one reason I looked forward to visiting the family in the suburbs was that I could go to a “decent” supermarket.

21. Arabella - January 24, 2008

I was in Quack’s cafe today and the table, two chairs…all wobbling. I thought of you and your moulds.

22. Mr D - January 25, 2008

I once went to a Halloween party as a lump of mould.

23. pleite - January 28, 2008

Mr D, I’m trying to work out what the costume was made of. Did you sew together a huge number of brillo pads? Must have hurt like fuck.

Arabella, I’m perfectly happy for them to be yellow. Will you sort out the US market for us? And what should they be called, by rights? Mould has an image problem.

Narrowback, do you mean Vatican 2 abandoned the fish-on-Friday thing? A good pal here – Bavarian – once told me about his family’s incredibly strict diet. Friday fish was only the start of it. I must say, going to a supermarket in St. Petersburg – they were a day out – was a rare luxury.

DZ, hoorah for crappy old supermarkets and crappy old bookshops. I suppose I’d die of agoraphobia in a UK supermarket now, having got used to our tiny ones. And I’ve got a feeling I used to go to Foyles specifically FOR the Teach-Yourself-Uzbek section, language nerd that I was. I probably didn’t know you could write about gayness.

Penguin, indeed, I don’t think the UK can sneer down its nose with only Sunny Delight to back up its position. Except the food over there’s rather good now, isn’t it? I meant to start a PR campaign for the humble UK sausage. God they’re good. How dare the Germans try to outsausage us when we so outsausage them? Let’s talk up our saussies.

Marsha, they would, apart from perhaps the smallest one. But they’re exactly what I was thinking of, shape-wise, though I wouldn’t want them in that material. Nor see-through, in case the unctuous filler goo was unsightly.

Emma, thank god we’ve got Spain covered. How’s business doing? Are they going like hot cakes? Or am I jumping the gun? And I’ve never known how to pronounce that place name, though think I have also heard, or perhaps imagined, that it is vaguely in keeping with its French (or Belgian) origins.

Isar, it was just wordpress’s strict filtering again. I rescued it. But the first link came out funny so I hope I’ve edited you correctly. And that map’s very good. Is that to scale? And I’m very geographically consistent, as I used to live in Crouch End, so practically Pankow. And Spandau being Ealing makes Berlin seem far more manageable, somehow.

Sylvia, I thought St. Reatham was all rather desirable now, in a Clapham-like way? And aren’t you getting some tube line or other extended to you? And Streatham feels positively city-centre in comparison to its geographical Berlin equivalent, Lichterfelde, which I’ve never been to but imagine is fairly docile.

And Geoff, hoorah for Ruislip being a gateway to knowledge. Never should I berate the ‘burbs again. And your friend is a very honourable temporary thief. My cousin and I used to borrow books from our local library on a permanent basis. Threats were to be ignored in those days. One day, years later, I went with a great big bag and left all the books I’d rather over-borrowed at reception.

24. Mr D - January 28, 2008

Horrible green-brown T-shirt and trouser-like items from a shop selling clothes for a pound, and children’s face paints all over my face, arms and hair – the lumpier, the better.

(I didn’t pull.)

25. narrowback - January 28, 2008

yup, prior to Vat2 meatless fridays were a year round thing for papists…now – from what I hear – it’s only for lent.

26. IsarSteve - January 29, 2008

Emma #14.. I know this is a bit late.. but I was just thinking..

Perhaps it might be more logical if the Central Line was coloured brown instead of orange/red on the map?

BiB ..permission given to delete this lousy comment if needs be..

27. pleite - January 29, 2008

Isar, no, there’s no censorship policy here. Though I suppose I ought to say… “Matron!”

Narrowback, is Vat2 also where they dispensed with the Latin mass? My old lady friend says allowing mass in the vernacular is what killed her husband!

Mr D, just as well you didn’t pull. You’d have got bits stuck all over your pullee. Leave pulling for your unmouldy days.

28. narrowback - January 29, 2008

correct BiB and it threw us young altar boys for a loop as well having to re-memorize the entire thing

29. pleite - January 29, 2008

Narrowback, I don’t know how I know this, or how I noticed it, but I’ve got a feeling the Latin mass is making a comeback, or is at least being allowed to do so. Don’t think I’ve ever been to a Latin mass in my life. (Went to an English-language one at Christmas and was deeply unimpressed.) But I can still remember the odd hymn. ‘Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-oria Hosanna in excelsis’ remains a bit of a fave. (Can you tell Geoff your prostitute-meets-gay story on the post above?)

30. narrowback - January 29, 2008

“Gloria in Excelsis Deo”…one of my faves as well tho’ the spelling may be a bit off. my latin is WAY more than rusty.

while i have no loyalty to the ideology, I do recall finding the latin high mass with incense stenchers, chants and all somewhat trancendental. Then again I was only 10 and hadn’t discovered drugs.

haven’t been to a mass since a polish wedding 15 years ago

there’s been an “underground” latin mass for 40 years and since PPII they’ve been allowed to surface

31. pleite - January 29, 2008

Narrowback, an Orthodox service can still thrill me for the same reasons. Incense, chanting and stunningly beautiful churches. I went to Evensong at Westminster Abbey with the Russian a few years ago and that was pretty good as far as Protestantism goes, though the Russian did ask if we had to stay to the end. (We ducked out of the utterly dreary Catholic mass in Glasgow which had no mythic qualities whatsoever and the church looked like the one in The Simpsons.)

32. marshaklein - January 30, 2008

I’ve been to a few masses over the years, what with the distaff side of Brian’s family being of the faith, although, almost without exception, they’ve been in suburban English churches and rather depressing (modern Catholic hymns…why?). We once stumbled into the Madeleine Church, just of Place de la Concorde, as a mass was about to begin. It was breathtakingly beautiful. Having said that, one of the loveliest services I’ve ever been part of was when my brother-in-law married his (Finnish) wife who’s Lutheran. Very simple service with a sung blessing – the pastor had one of those fantastic base-baritone voices the Finns do so well. Just electrifying.

33. pleite - January 30, 2008

Marsha, I haven’t done Lutherans galore but I’ve been to a couple of Scandiweddings and the Danish priest/pastor/vicar/whatever was wearing a ruff. Marvellous! I can’t remember Paris. Madeleine sounds amazingly familiar but I can’t remember the bastard. Not in images. St. Eustache always did it for me, as Parisian churches go, though I never witnessed a service. And Notre Dame is not a tourist attraction for nothing though, again, I’m not sure I ever witnessed an actual service. The Russian and I managed to have a whole joint moment together the other day as we got gripped by a docu on Belsat about an Orthodox church in Poland. In Polish with Belarusian muttered over the top. We understood one word in eight but it was still captivating enough to watch.

34. rock - January 31, 2008

I became prim at about forty five. Can’t shake it except with chemicals and booze. Sad. I’ve tried everything. Hope you are wel

35. pleite - February 1, 2008

Rock, I’m not too bad except that I’ve been ill for ever. I tell the Russian on a daily basis that I probably won’t be alive in the morning but, so far, sure enough, there I go and wake up again the next day. Extraordinary.

I need to primmen myself up a bit more. My beard is greying nicely, which I think might give me a hint of respectability without actually having to be very respectable.

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