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Walk February 13, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

IsarSteve’s post about, and photos of, Stolpersteine – ‘stumbling blocks’ built into the pavement outside the last dwelling-place of victims of the Nazi era, aiming, in this way, to keep their memory alive – made me want to get out of the house and go and scour the pavements of Pankow to see if commemoration had made it this far. There was a specific building I was aiming for, one that used to be a Jewish orphanage. I remembered a plaque on its façade with some details of what fate had befallen its residents – the deportation of ‘many of the school-children, apprentices and teachers resident here’ to extermination camps in 1942 – and, upon slightly more insistent inspection yesterday, discovered that that’s all there appears to be. The prayer room of the synagogue that used to be there survives, in some form or other, but twice I have tried to find it and twice I have failed and I worry about snooping around civic buildings too much to wander up every staircase and down every corridor. It’s hard to apply a hierarchy to those who deserve to be commemorated – I’m sure the project’s organisers would happily commemorate everyone they possibly could, and will happily lay a Stolperstein to any victim whose details can be corroborated and whose stone someone is willing to finance – but I thought it would be extra fitting to individualise the orphans of Orphanage no. 2 of the Jewish Community in Berlin, robbed as they already had been of their pasts, of a normal present, and then of any future.

After a mammoth session of being cooped up at the computer and only leaving the house to make a beeline, looking neither left, nor right, for addresses promising alcohol for the last god knows how long, it was overwhelmingly invigorating to go and get some daytime air into my lungs and stretch my legs as all about me regular Berliners, and not just those in search of alcohol, were stretching theirs. Sitting at home and working away, the only movement is from one room to another. Visual stimuli consist chiefly of the flickering of the computer screen and the flicking of dictionary pages. Society consists of the Russian as he does his best at being a one-man show.

So, as I wandered into the outside world, in the daylight, without having to concentrate on preparing to imbibe, there were so many stimuli I thought I might have a seizure. Even in Pankow, the Ruislip of Mitteleuropa! As I hadn’t attained any speed higher than 1kph since before the flood, the pace society was setting on our well-trodden streets seemed lightningly quick. Indeed, the hustle and bustle of cars, bikes, trams and youngsters running around all took place at such a different tempo to my working motor-slumber that it felt a bit like the depiction of the future in some future-depicting film. With traffic like in The Fifth Element.

I soon acclimatised, of course, and saved up culture shock for when I get to go somewhere deserving of the dissonance, rather than simply coming back to the present. I did worry, though, what would happen to poor Shakespeare if some clever type decided to bring him back to life – as the wonderfully bonkers Russian philosopher Nikolai Fedorov said we should. Not Shakespeare. Everyone. We owed it to our ancestors to bring everyone back to life and then make everyone live for ever – and he was plonked in the middle of London. Not that it need be Shakespeare, of course. Any old person would do, though at least Shakespeare might be able to get a play out of his experience before, presumably, going mad.

To avoid my Shakespeare scenario, I thought I’d better extend the walk, and make it into a proper walk, and commune with and observe my fellow citizens a bit longer before heading back for another session of conjugal bliss with my computer. A man pushed a hot-dog into his face with urgency, as if he was shredding a very compromising document, all the while managing to speak on his mobile phone. I altered my step so I could eavesdrop on a young German-Irish couple whom it was hard to place on the relationship continuum. They looked physically as if they’d got to the very-bored-of-each-other stage but their conversation was at the only-just-met stage and had the fatal intercultural twist so they had to feign interest in fantastically mundane aspects of each other’s worlds. “And what beers do you have?” asked the German, wishing he was somewhere else. “Guinness!” answered the Irish lady predictably and not without umbrage. “It’s an acquired taste. Very heavy.”

I sped on in my attempt at halting the further atrophy of my wizened musculature. Took myself through the Mauerpark. Was instantly gripped by fear at the sight of dogs and people playing football. “What if a dog comes towards me? What if a football comes towards me?”

A dog came bounding towards me, wagging its tail in a way that meant, “I’m going to enjoy biting you,” rather than, “I’m going to enjoy being stroked by you.” Before he took the lethal leap, he turned round, in that dim way that dogs do, to see if he had permission from his owner to maim. Such bad logic. His owner prevented him from maiming. I took the dog aside. “Why would it be OK to maim me while slavishly doing what your owner said? If he said, ‘maim,’ and you maimed, wouldn’t there be a contradiction in you being nice to him but horrid to me?” It cocked its head and issued a whiney pre-bark. I was getting nowhere. “Wie sagt man ‘contradictory’ auf Deutsch?” I shouted after his owner but they’d already wandered off to play god elsewhere.

Bounce, bounce, bounce, went the full-sized, proper, leather football being played with by four teenagers before trickling to a stop at my feet. One of them was walking towards me. I could have walked on. I could have left it. Let the teenager come and get it. But I’d already made my decision. The teenager and I had exchanged body language clearer than an SMS on a high-res mobile-phone display. I was going to kick the ball to him. I adjusted my stance. Remembered BaH’s advice not to toe-punt it, not to be a ‘spitzer’. “Get this right, BiB,” I muttered to myself. “You’re doing this for England. You’re doing this for gaydom. Goddammit, you’re doing this for Obama.” A collective ssshhh rang out, sprayed everyone in spittle and brought silence. In far-off windows I could see people jostling to get a better view. I looked up to a cloud over my right shoulder in which the Russian’s face appeared. “Davai, davai,” he mouthed. I stepped up to the ball. Turned my right foot to the side. Quickly made sure my hair was OK. And kicked… A perfect delivery. It landed with just the right force at his feet. “Vielen Dank,” he shouted, his back already turned, not even realising he’d had truck with a homosexual.

I grabbed my crotch and walked home, counting the day’s stimuli.



1. IsarSteve - February 13, 2008

Stolpersteine: You always say it so well.. A good laugh after the sadness always helps..

Obi Obama: Is this just a “gay thing” ? Is it just because he looks so good? I hope Obama does it, because I also think an end to the “Dynasties Era” would be a good thing for us all. I suppose I’ve fallen for this “change” and “Brave New America” thing, BUT something in the back of my head keeps screaming BBBBBLLLLLLLAAAAAIIIIIIRRRRR.
Please not again..! (I fell for Blair and his big idea too, although not for his looks)
Does Obi have any policies apart from not being one of the others? I do hope so…

2. pleite - February 13, 2008

It’s queer all us non-Americans being so gripped this time round, isn’t it, but then it does seem like a more interesting battle than usual – unless I’ve just been swept up in the hype – and then it being neck-and-neck between Hillary and Obama, whom I hope to have remembered to stop calling Osama soon, and them both being majorly mediagenic, helps.

I don’t think it’s a gay thing, though I’m sure Obama’s looks can’t do him any harm in some quarters. I didn’t know enough about the candidates earlier to really have a proper view. I’d read Edwards was the most left-wing. Seen Huckabee, on the other side, having a telephone conversation with God. And then sort of felt 50-50 between Obama and Hillary when it got down to that constellation. But I’m bored of her crying and instinctively like him more.

3. ThePenguin - February 13, 2008

There’s a town called “Obama” in Japan, and they’re getting quite excited about it, although the poster produced by his “support group” there contains an unfortunate linguistic misunderstanding.

4. narrowback - February 13, 2008

on my next trip you’ll have to point me in the direction of the former orphange.

thanks for the compliment over on steve’s blog.

bill clinton was our “blair” coming on after what seemed like decades of our “thatcher”…thank god for term limits.

but to more contemporary themes… i believe that it really is because obama represents “change” in a more fundemental than just a change in economic policies, a shift in foreign policy, etc.

it’s almost 1 am here and i’m too spent to get into a detailed political analysis…that’ll have to wait for another time…suffice to say that he’s brought a lot of voters out who would not have normally voted in the primary, he’s attractive to the anti-war faction within the democratic party that wasn’t happy with hilary’s past positions and has appeal for those young democrats who were disgruntled with the “now it’s hilary’s/john’s turn”.

don’t worry BiB…many american news reporters & politicians slipped with the osama mistake up to the new hampshire primary. in fact last fall i believe it was romney who slipped which immediately generated charges that he was trying to smear obama

5. Marsha Klein - February 13, 2008

I love the way you write. A bit of history, a touch of pathos, a hint of surrealism, all wrapped up with lots of good humour. You’re really rather good at this blogging lark, you know.

Now I want to go for a walk around Berlin.

6. Ed Ward - February 13, 2008

Just to give you some het solidarity on the football thing, I was walking past the local field the other day when I spotted a brand-new ball jam up against a parked car on my side of the fence and a young guy looking at it and brightening when he saw someone approaching. I mean, those things cost money. So I picked it up, and momentarily considered a kick, but then thought, fool! You’re American! So I heaved it like a basketball.

And yeah, getting out of the house is a good idea. I’ve still got bits of this neighborhood to explore, but I’m chained to work — not that I’m complaining about that.

But the leg-stretching also turns into brain-stretching after a long haul at the keyboard. As I believe this post of yours proves.

7. pleite - February 13, 2008

Ed, too true. I think I still love being a freelancing type who doesn’t know if he’ll be able to eat tomorrow, even though it must have shot my nerves to shreds, but I do sneakily sometimes allow myself to think that it would all be SO much easier if I just simply bloody well had a job in a bank. I did have one of those when I was about 2 and I managed it, I suppose, but I think I prefer the nerve-shattering version of the world of work all in all.

Marsha, I suppose anywhere’s good for a walk around. Well, Ruislip wouldn’t be, really, although – oh god, cliché time – you can always put your history hat on in Berlin. A house here that stands out incongruously because it’s older than all the others. A former Jewish orphanage there. In Edinburgh you have beauty on your side. Where my mother lives, I have the Thames within metres, which is lovely lovely. And thank you. I’m hopeless with the mores of blogging. A million words once a week is getting the balance wrong. But fuck it, it’s fun.

Narrowback, will do, though, as I say, there’s nothing there yet (he says, harbouring fantasies that he’ll start a Stolpersteine-for-the-Pankow-orphanage-orphans campaign) but for a very simple plaque, though I’d be amazed if whoever runs the building now – I think it’s a school but I can’t quite tell – didn’t have more information on the place’s past… Well, Obama seems to have the wind in his sails at the moment. I suppose I naturally distrust anyone who goes into politics, and I haven’t yet properly fallen for his charms – I think I haven’t admired a politician since Zoran Đinđić, and he was assassinated – but I would certainly have initial enthusiasm for him if he was elected president.

Penguin, I’d heard about Japan’s Obama. I must say I’m not too impressed by the town people’s reasoning for backing a politician. Isn’t there a South African politician called Tokyo Sexwale? I hope all Japan has the common decency to support him.

8. IsarSteve - February 14, 2008

There might just be a problem with your idea for Orphanage Stones. ==PANKOW== I seem to vaguely remember that they have problems with religious institutions in Central Europe’s Ruislip.

Might not the stones, one for every orphan, all be dug up and chucked at the windows of particular new building?

Trotz-alle-dem , Have you any ideas how the money could drummed up?
Don’t know about you, but I do feel somehow touched by the Stolpersteine. Maybe because I belong to one of the “opressed minorities”?

I would be willing to help ..

9. pleite - February 14, 2008

Dunno, Isar, to tell the truth. Well, if it WAS to become a half-concrete idea, I suppose I’d contact the Stolperstein people and the former orphanage, presuming they had info on who had been deported from the building (which they just must have), and ask what the procedure is. The plaque there just says ‘many’, so god knows how many victims there were and what it would cost. And then I’d deploy my (non-existent) fund-raising skills by writing to every rich bitch in this city and everyone I know in London. I once tried to raise some money for a project I was working on in Russia. I remember a couple of fantastically rude and aggressive replies more than anything.

I don’t think it’d be a problem in Pankow. I suppose one advantage of Stolpersteine’s relative invisibility is that they dull the ardour of those who like to be offended by everything.

10. Ed Ward - February 14, 2008

Except in Munich, where, last I heard, they were banned.

11. pleite - February 14, 2008

I’d heard that too, Ed, so have just had a mosey around the Stolperstein site. It lists where the stones have been laid and Munich is, indeed, conspicuous by its absence from the list.

12. ThePenguin - February 14, 2008

Tokyo Sexwale? Doesn’t ring a bell, but he certainly exists. With a name like that, a career on Japanese TV would be a sure thing.

13. pleite - February 14, 2008

Leider I don’t think Sexwale is pronounced sex-whale. Isn’t that click that some southern African languages have sometimes depicted with an x? That would completely desex his name, if so, though a click’s as good a phoneme – is that the word I mean? – to have in your surname as any.

14. Mr D - February 14, 2008

Allophone’s what you’re getting at, I think, rather than phoneme. But phoneme could also be right, depending on whether it can be realised by other allophones. For instance, the RP phoneme typically written as /k/ is pronounced differently in different positions, and can therefore be realised by numerous different allophones. Take ‘King Kong’, for instance. Both ‘K’s there are actually different sounds (allophones). That’s due to the following vowels. We have [ç] in ‘king’ and [k] in ‘kong’. Well, they’re both aspirated here, too, but I can’t type a little raised ‘h’ after them here. And there are more allophonic realisations of the phoneme /k/, too, eg unreleased and so on. These are all allophones of one phoneme, as they wouldn’t change the meaning. [d] is not an allophone of /k/, though, as ‘King Dong’ would have a different meaning.

15. IsarSteve - February 14, 2008

As an ex-Münchner (daher Isar :o) ) I can confirm that they are “banned” or at least “not allowed”. But, I’ve no idea why..!
The OB of München is actually a very resonable (SPD) politician. e.g. He and his wife always head the CSD parade in München and he was also partly responsible for the parade being diverted through the centre of town and using Marienplatz (town square) for the after march party.. Much to the annoyance of the CSU..
München is much more tolerant than people think… reine Vorurteile..

16. narrowback - February 14, 2008

If I recall correctly, the original basis for the Munich “ban” was that the local jewish community objected vehemently to the concept. Their position was that the concept “dishonored” the memory of the victim by having their name trod upon by pedestrians. However, I believe that this debate occurred 8-10 years ago and I wonder if sentiments have changed since given how Demnig’s project has expanded and flourished.

BiB, I’d still be interested in checking out the orphanage…you’d be surprised at the number of photos of simple plaques and otherwise nondescript buildings I have… and if you’re looking for donors, count me in for a few euros.

Regarding Obama believe me, i am more than a wee bit cynical about any mainstream politician…even more so when they come from my adopted home of Chicago where the dead vote and the living vote twice. Obama was one of my local reps before he jumped to the federal stage.

17. Mr D - February 14, 2008

Oh crap, I used the wrong phonetic symbol. How embarrassing!

I meant [c], not [ç]. Obviously.

18. pleite - February 15, 2008

Mr D, I must say I have had a couple of e-mails from people saying, “Cor, don’t tell him I said, but that Mr D, calls himself a linguist!” OK, not really. And thank you for that brilliant allophone stuff. The degree I did only had a smidgen of linguistics in it – is that where this sort of stuff would have come up? I think we touched on morphology too – which I regret. So if Mr. Sexwale’s x is a click, can I call that an allophone?

Narrowback, I’ve found a not-that-great-actually website for the building with not oodles of info but it turns out the architect was also killed at Theresienstadt. The building might house a million interesting stories, which is a nice thing that can happen when you peel away one little layer of the unknown. Another million equally interesting layers might appear. Anyway, do you know, I’ve taken the bull by the horns and written them a letter. Exploratory. Introductory. Saying it’s an idea, what do they think, do they have info, would it be allowed etc. etc. We’ll see what happens.

Isar, yes, I’m sure Munich must be different from the rest of Bavaria, even if I do have visions of everyone looking like Steffi Graf’s mother with hard hair and wearing a fur coat. Even the men. Even in summer. But a pal here also tells me very good things about the city. I WILL explore Germany one day. (*No you won’t.*)

19. Mr D - February 15, 2008

Oh gosh, that would have been a nightmare situation!

Yes, you can call a click an allophone – it’s the smallest unit you can split language down into.

From memory – always a dangerous thing to use after your 100th birthday – there are four possible known clicks in the languages of the world. The sweetest is the bilabial click, which sounds like you’re giving someone a peck on the cheek!

My least favourite allophone is the voiceless anal bilabial fricative. Found all over the world, but never pronounced by women (as they don’t make such sounds).

I’m not sure what the phonetic symbol would be. Perhaps one that looks like a raspberry?

20. pleite - February 15, 2008

Mr D, a pal of mine is always very keen to point out that French men and women pronounce the word ‘oui’ differently – women say it breathily, he claims, in practice, no doubt, for when they can get the porno voice-over on a TV ad – thus proving that men and women are different and that anyone who strays from the classic gender roles is a tosser. Or thereabouts.

But how to distinguish, phonetic-symbol-wise, the voiceless anal bilabial fricative from the voiced mouthal bilabial fricative? Perhaps a raspberry plus an exclamation mark, or, in this day an age, a raspberry with an unsmiley face. But, god, fricative. I haven’t heard that word since 1994. Is it related to affricates? It must be. Which isn’t related to Africa, I don’t suppose.

21. d.z. bodenberg - February 16, 2008

München is much more tolerant than people think… reine Vorurteile..

I think that’s probably because most people, unsurprisingly, associate Munich with the rest of Bavaria, which it obviously isn’t. 1919 is all I say on that front. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bavarian_Soviet_Republic
I wonder if Lenin and the Pope replied to the telegrams?

22. pleite - February 16, 2008

DZ, is that wiki thing a piss-take? Or is it all true? It’s the best one I’ve read, if so. More actioned-packed than the best (or worst) Hollywood thriller. Of course I’m very excited to read the word “Räterepublik”. I think lots of people mustn’t know that the word Soviet simply means council/counsel (yes, both). I know the word for Soviet in some Slavic languages is closer to the German root. I think it’s Radziecki in Polish. Something like that in Ukrainian too… Радянський – thank you, wikipedia – radians’kij. And the Slavic world is full of Radas to this day.

Was it you who told me about naked swimmers fahring schwarz on Munich trams? I’ve never looked at the place in the same conservative light ever since.

23. Blonde at Heart - February 16, 2008

I can’t believe you remembered that! And you’re counting down to Eurovision? I guess you can, when both your homeland and the land in which you live now present the contest with proper songs, unlike my country (although each year I hope we’ll put something half decent and win that thing).

24. Markus Stahl / d.z. bodenberg - February 16, 2008

The Bavarian Soviet Republic is very much an historical fact. The bit about the telegrams is something I’ve never read before, but I could imagine it to be very true, though the fact that it is on the Wikipedia makes its genuineness much less likely. Hang on, I could start a career as a German Mark Steel on the back of that anecdote alone. If only there was a German equivalent of Radio 4.

Naked faredodgers on Munich trams? Doesn’t ring a bell at the moment, but I wouldn’t rule out myself being the source of that information.

25. Mr D - February 16, 2008

Twas me.

26. Markus Stahl / d.z. bodenberg - February 16, 2008

Go on, give us the source of the info again.

27. Markus Stahl / d.z. bodenberg - February 16, 2008

Sounds like it’s true regarding the key to the toilets. This article from the junge Welt mentions it too.

Der Volksbeauftragte für das Äußere, ein gewisser Dr. Lipp, stellte sich nach wenigen Tagen als geisteskrank heraus. Zuvor beklagte er sich in einem Telegramm an Lenin noch: »Bamberg Sitz des Flüchtlings Hoffmann, welcher aus meinem Ministerium den Abortschlüssel mitgenommen hat.«

The taz gets in a mention too: http://www.taz.de/index.php?id=archivseite&dig=2003/09/20/a0156

28. narrowback - February 16, 2008

interesting…the building also housed the cuban’s ddr embassy. i’ll definately check it out.

ah, the bavarian soviet republic. haven’t encountered a discussion of that in quite some time. iirc, lenin, doubtful of their “revolutionary” credentials (and who wouldn’t if the story about the cable to him is true) cabled back asking if they had expropriated the banks yet and how many bourgeoisie had been shot as hostages. never heard if the pope answered back.

29. Mr D - February 17, 2008
30. pleite - February 18, 2008

Thanks, Mr D, and I see that DZ had mentioned the Bavarian Soviet Republic in that thread which I presumably thought at the time was just some joke.

Narrowback, didn’t know that. The current Cuban embassy is still around here so I thought it had always been there. The website says the building now houses a library but maybe it’s still got a number of functions. I WILL find the old prayer room one day, though it was being used for a Caritas project, according to the site, so is perhaps not free for wandering around.

DZ, is the taz your paper of choice, then? And thank you for pointing me in the direction of Mark Steel, whom I’m not sure I knew – fucking ivory tower – though his voice sounds familiar. He’s got very nice skin and a lovely smile. I’m going to have a crush on him until Alzheimer’s takes care of it, as it does everything, within a couple of days. I had wondered if Mark Steel might be Mark Thomas, but he isn’t, because Mark Thomas is, but Mark Steel does link to him, which is almost as good as being him.

BaH, yep, I get all tingly whenever I think about it. Can only be three months or so now. Though, I must say, the Eurovision having become the Yugosoviet Song Contest has spoiled it an incy-wincy bit, but it’s still almost perfect. You’re wrong, it goes without saying, about the quality of Israel’s entrants. A scandal that last year’s fun song never even made the final.

31. d.z. bodenberg - February 18, 2008

Mark Thomas is not Mark Steel, and vice-versa, though both have had a long-term relationship with the British SWP. Whereas Mark Thomas just flirted a bit, Mark Steel went in for the full marriage, though he very recently has divorced himself. One reason given was that “no comrades turned up at his gigs to sell Socialist Worker”. Vain? Also Mark Thomas was quite funny, for a time, at least; where as Mark Steel only does historical comparisons (albeit very educational ones at that) accompanied by a rare laugh.

Regardless of all this, I apologise for repeating myself. I promise that in the next thread where Munich gets mentioned, I’ll not mention the Räterepublik at all unless absolutely necessary. I will try though in my life to write some kind of “comedy” sketch where the key to the toilet goes missing and in the row than ensues one character screams “well what the fuck do you want me to do? Send Lenin a telegram? Or the fucking Pope?”. . Have the Germans (I mean Pro7) nicked the Young Ones yet as an idea for some sitcom-ish-television?

I don’t like the taz that much, incidentally. I’m not old and cynical (or rich, or Green-voting) enough for it (yet), I suspect. But it has a Berlin page (or two), which is a plus.

32. pleite - February 18, 2008

DZ, no need to apologise, or not to repeat yourself. It takes me, this proves, at least two mentions of an educational fact before I take the hint and distinguish between reality and fiction. By the way, there is a Russian play, the details of which I don’t really know, where the protagonist writes to everyone. Even Lenin, though I don’t know if it was about the key for the toilet. The actress is now here and will be performing in this this very Thursday.

33. d.z. bodenberg - February 18, 2008

I tend to forget the key to my flat whilst on the way to the toilet. Luckily, one can still send telegrams in Germany, but only by phone, so I don’t know how the payment would go should I need to appeal to….Chavez? for help. I wonder if he also does shoe repairs? Key cutting and shoes don’t go together like salt and pepper over here, do they. Why is that, Germans?

Incidentally, I was in your neck of Stonebridge Park the other day (have we settled on what part of London you’re living in, in Berlin yet?) and saw that strange/nasty nightclub place on the main road. God, it reminded me of home (of a place ridiculously called “Atlanta Boulevard”, which I believe now holds a branch of Lidl). Luckily for me, I was in a tram so couldn’t get uncomfortably close.

I like the look of that play, by the way. Perhaps I can jump the actress concerned and force her to act it out impromptu especially for me.

34. pleite - February 19, 2008

Stonebridge Park! Harlesden! Willesden Green! Neasden! God I never want to live in London again! And ! for good measure!

It’s a shame Yeltsin’s dead. And, indeed, not in power. He started out as a toilet specialist, I believe, though I don’t suppose toilet studies (Toilettistik auf Deutsch) necessarily covered the key to the dunny too.

The actress is a pal. I’ll ask her if there are any plans to revive the Bogaev play.

35. d.z. bodenberg - February 19, 2008

A toilet specialist? I think that’s probably the nicest thing I’ve ever heard about Yeltsin, apart from that piece of film where he’s very drunk at a press conference with Clinton. Though I suppose you mean he studied something about sewage and didn’t stand outside the smallest room Sverdlovsk had to offer with a plate and would cough in disdain when someone left less than 4 kopecks on it.

I could never understand the fuss over Raymond Briggs’ “Gentleman Jim” – for me it was a nice book about a man who goes to work and enjoyed it and took pride in his shiny tiles. For everyone else (at junior school) it was about some bloke who wipes other people’s shit and piss away, for whom they only had disdain. There are less useful jobs in the world. I wonder if there’s a Government Award for Services to Public Convenience (a “Jim”)? Knowing New Labour, there probably is, or would be, if they hadn’t shut all the bogs.

36. pleite - February 19, 2008

We didn’t have Gentleman Jim in my day, though I agree that cleaning the public loos is not an unimportant job and, I’m sure, far more worthy than the nonsense I do. I think it was in those lovely loos at Potsdamer Platz station that I was overcome with a wave of admiration for the toilet-cleaners of the world, and perhaps even exceeded my usual 4-kopeck equivalent. A ludicrously posh woman I vaguely know in London once told me she thought she ought to become a toilet-cleaner. I haven’t heard, oddly enough, that she’s gone through with her plan.

I think Yeltsin’s specialisation was on the plumbing/technical side. Worried I’ve invented this now.

37. d.z. bodenberg - February 19, 2008

I’ll add it to Wikipedia prompt-ish and then your invention will become true, or as true as any entry there is.

38. pleite - February 19, 2008

WordPress went odd there for a sec. Or have I destroyed the perfect symmetry of whatever the four-version of a triptych is?

Does wikipedia only link, in the body of its articles, to other wiki entries? That’s an error, in my view, if the case.

39. d.z. bodenberg - February 19, 2008

There are many errors on Wikipedia, but the entries on obscure 1970s television series are, I suspect, 100% correct. Two more errors (though they could, obviously, be true) in that article on everyone’s favourite ex-RSFSR leader and Russian president. See if you can spot them.

How many times did that last comment get posted? 4? I got about 17 “WordPress.com 500 error” screens each time I attempted to post.

40. IsarSteve - February 19, 2008

Only twice .. for good measure..

I had an inkling you were “verreist” ..Stonebridge Park, the Harrow Road and Brent in general, not my favourite part of town.

Regarding the location of Pankow, it’s gone all quiet on that front. I imagine Ruislip is considering to sound “more pleasing” than Crouch End, Finsbury Park, Harringay or “gar” Tottenham..

41. pleite - February 20, 2008

Isar, I’d be happy with Crouch End because of having lived there, I think happily, though perhaps I’m massaging the memory, for two or three years in a very pretty flat. By the way, no-one’s answered my Stolperstein exploratory e-mail query. Maybe I should still contact the project’s Berlin person anyway and ask them how they proceed but I can’t imagine they even get involved in the advocacy part of it, if that’s the word, but just come in and do the actual doing once everything’s been agreed.

DZ, I see you’re playing spot the difference with us. I thought wordpress had gone multiple again – yes, I think it came through four or five times, the last one – but I see these two are actually different. Mistakes in the Yeltsin entry? I’ll go and see how poor my knowledge is… (Ten minutes later: Christ, it’s long, isn’t it? Umm, well, haven’t had a good scour yet but it says in the box on the right that he was president until December 30th 1999 when it was so December 31st. Millennium eve. I thought that was a classy day to resign. Plus, my ex was visiting me and he’d bought me a TV, and then one of my former host family members came to visit with a friend, whom I can’t remember at all. And the TV sat on the fridge, which the Russian later repaired, which is such a twisted gage d’amour, but one nonetheless, and I might just quickly have to dash and kiss him in his slumber, and then the TV went to his grandmother when we emigrated as dissidents and were handed over to the West at the Brandenburg Gate in the boot of a Lada and… wait there, Yeltsin. Erm, haven’t spotted a second error yet.)

42. d.z. bodenberg - February 20, 2008

Well, I’d just added that he was responsible for “sewerage” (sic) in the ‘Early years’ section. Nothing else though. And it could be true.

You’re right, there is the odd difference. But I only added a bit more after I’d already tried to post it many, many times to no avail. I was getting the “500 error” (presumably as in “you’ll need to click on “refresh” at least 500 times before you’re comment seemingly gets thtough) over at Engelsk’ place yesterday too. I was almost longing for the good old days of Blogspot, where you rarely expect it to work and you know what you’re getting, and are pleasantly surprised when the comment natterings get as far as the page they were meant for.

43. narrowback - February 20, 2008

BiB… I believe that how the project works is that the sponsor (the entity coughing up the 95 euros)contacts Demnig with the relevant information regarding the victim (name, age, fate, etc.) and the address of the last place of “voluntary” residence. Demnig then undertakes the crafting of the stolperstein and, iirc, gets whatever official permission (dept. of planning? public works?) is necessary for the installation on the sidewalk.

I suppose getting the building involved would ease things & they may have the necessary info regarding the victims.

btw obama “won big” yesterday. many pundits are saying that, unless he shoots himself in the foot between now and the convention, he’s got a lock on the democratic nomination… this makes for lots of good late night tv viewing for political junkies like me.

44. pleite - February 22, 2008

Thanks, Narrowback. It’s a tiny bit frustrating that the building hasn’t even acknowledged my mail – maybe they were stunned by my crap German – and, as ever, it probably would be best to make the inquiry in person. Though, who knows, maybe they love the idea and are feverishly discussing it as I type (though I doubt it).

DZ, OK, I’ve solved wordpress’s error for them on this occasion. Yep, they have their blips too. I’m wondering if old blogspot has sorted itself out a bit. I can’t remember a good old case of no sites at all being visitable for ages now. Still like it more over here though.

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