jump to navigation

Words and pictures March 3, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

But without the pictures. There should be pictures, as illustration is a good thing, and has caught on like mad. If clever types aren’t illustrating their points with cogent examples, then other types, who might easily be just as clever, are illustrating their words with pictures. You know, like, I want to tell you about a house. And, oh, look, here’s a picture of the house. Such a good prop to help foil any potential slip twixt brain and lip. So I’ll have to try and paint a picture for you in words, when some pictures would have done just as well. Would have done much better, in fact. But I can’t really take pictures, because of not really being able to do anything, and when I do own pieces of technology – I do have a camera, oddly, bought during a rash flush of seeming solvent – I like to hide them from myself to unremind myself that they exist. It often doesn’t matter too much, because what I’d do with a camera is no better than what I don’t do by not using it but it’s problematic with a mobile phone, say, which I normally like to have switched off in case I die and the Russian will be able to rifle through it.

So, darlings, some light Sunday-afternoon*, hint-of-spring, rainbow-weather, roaring-hangover, dreading-the-working-week (yes, planning to start some work on a Monday morning like normal folk), not-showered-and-dressed blogging. Some things-wot-I-have-seen blogging. Some really-my-life-doesn’t-deserve-to-have-a-website blogging. Some I-can’t-think-of-anything-else blogging.

Darlings, I’ve told you before that Ruislip is Ruislip. But there are the seeds, which probably won’t thrive, of gentrification. You know, the Lidl stocking lobster. The real gay hairdresser. And the odd café or two springing into existence if you don’t mind. We don’t give them our custom because it is now pavlovianly embedded in us to get as far away as possible from where we live whenever we leave the house. Fun can not be associated with Ruislip. We did have one friend who lived close by but we instantly had to lose touch when we simultaneously understood, as our eyes met over a suburban table, with stabbing, unforgiving clarity, what we had both surrendered to. And I haven’t practised walking blindfolded from Ruislip to the border of the next area enough times yet to have learnt where all the obstacles to an injury-free start to a night out are so I do still, on my way to somewhere else, receive visual evidence that I live where I live. Sometimes, if we’ve had two booze-free days in a row, say, I might even notice what I see.

Darlings, and all of sudden there was a Kaffee Togo in Ruislip. Africa! In Ruislip! Who had thought through the branding? We don’t want the outside world in Ruislip. We want the wall back, for fuck’s sake. Wedding, our nearest West-Berlin bit, seems a million miles away. No, if we’re going to go international in Ruislip, we need to start easy. Soften the culture shock. A Café Austria, say. A Café Luxembourg at a push. Ruislipians could cope with that. But odd that their sign said Kaffee. Coffee. And not Café. Until I finally clicked that they were selling coffee ‘to go’. Tossers. To go! In Ruislip! You’ll be relieved to hear I firebombed the premises to avoid any such linguistic misunderstandings in future.

That got me so livid I started noticing the written word non-stop. A clothes shop I’ve bought at multiple times, because every time I bought something they gave me a voucher for a reduction on my next purchase and I bought inexorably and inexorably on until I had to turn to crime to feed my habit before I realised that not buying things is even cheaper than buying things with 10% off, had showcased on its window, presumably written in the fresh sperm of its employees, “Sale continues inside store.” Continues? And in English? Admittedly, not in Ruislip, but still. I had to take my begloved hands out of my pockets so that I could make indignant tosser signs at the offending window and then started taking a run up towards the shop for increased momentum, to make sure they’d understand I thought this was awful toss, and in my enthusiasm accidentally shattered the glass their non-poetry was written on. Still, linguistic crime no. 2 solved.

A café was offering an ‘Anabolisches Frühstück’ – an anabolic breakfast – which I thought was overly caving into drugs in sport, even for the former East Germany. What sort of message is that to be sending to the kids? And this an Olympic year! I ducked in to see if these flagrant purveyors of non-sportsmanship were wearing dark-blue vests with DDR sewn on in a pleasingly square font. Some Turkish men sold standard Turkish fare. “Queer,” I thought. “I wonder if they’re lacing the kebabs with designer steroids.” Till it turned out I was being dyslexic again. Their Frühstück was in fact Anatolisch – Anatolian, euphemistic for Turkish.

Darlings, all too disorienting. I staggered home and resolved never to read again.

*got delayed. Goldfish attention span.


1. Ed Ward - March 3, 2008

Actually, Kaffee Togo wouldn’t be such an anomaly. Back in the DDR days, up your way was where the Friendly Socialist Nations had their embassies and consulates and so on, and when the country unified and everything moved here, a lot of them couldn’t afford real estate any closer to the Reichstag and so on so they’re still there. And let’s face it, even Togolese (Togoans? Togs? Wait…can’t be that last one…) probably want to get out of the house, even if it is the embassy, now and again.

Also, don’t worry about “coffee to go,” because those are the only three words in English most Germans know. It’s exotic! Think about it: up until a couple of years ago, nobody sold coffee in any kind of takeaway containers here. Just those flimsy white plastic cups that burned your fingers right away.

Anyway, sounds like you *do* need to get out of the house more. Or maybe get some reading glasses…

2. pleite - March 3, 2008

Ed, don’t be naughty. You know that Germans speak good English. Aren’t you having a quick Berlin spring of loving the place and all its happy people? You’ll pine for the place when you get to France, you mark my words! Aber, aber, sometimes, when the advertising slogans get a bit more complex, or, worse, are written in a sort of Euro-English, I do wonder if it’s going to go over lots of Germans’ heads. Of course I can’t now think of a single example. But then I suppose it’s the same cachet that advertising slogans in French have in the English-speaking world. “Chanel no. 45. Pipi de chat.” Dunno what it means but if it’s in French, it must be good.

-lese is a good ending, n’est-ce pas? Just checked it auf Deutsch. Togoisch. Which ain’t bad either.

I do need to get out more, but might have to start doing it a lot less for worky reasons. Drone…

3. narrowback - March 4, 2008

if you find the pace of gentrification (and I’ll point out I hate the word) in Ruislip dizzying it’s a good thing you don’t visit places like NYC, Chicago or San Francisco on a regular basis…you’d have a stroke. The jewish deli just down the street now has valet parking and the wait for a table is up to an hour on Sundays, the corner greasy spoon has ow been renamed the “bongo room” and charges almost $20 for a ham and cheese omlet. just this past weekend on my way back across town from a party I decided to take a seondary route to avoid complex traffic patterns and, ahem, the inevitable saturday night DUI checkpoints, I cut through a neighborhood that until a year or so ago was a no-mans land after dark….abandoned warehouses, vacant lots and empty wind swept streets…”buzz, wrong answer” it apparently is now hot nightclub central… traffic, crowds, double/tripled parked limos AND lots of police…that’ll teach me to rely on memory.

can’t tell you how many times I’ve near sprained my neck when there’s that disconnect between eye and brain…got worse when I started visiting berlin. one time stood at a corner for five minutes staring down the block at a store sign and wondering why a retailer would advertise/sell Bad Art

4. pleite - March 4, 2008

Ha, Bad Art is a good one, isn’t it?

Well, yes, the pace of change is not so breakneck here. Though the decrepit houses on our street are gradually being spruced up too and soon there’ll be no telling rich from poor. Honestly, what these Germans need is a good old class system like back in the UK where, as soon as someone opens their mouth, you can form 700 utterly prejudiced opinions about them by the end of the first sentence.

5. Mr D - March 4, 2008

I commented to my flatmate yesterday about Hamburg being Grunge City, with inhabitants who look like they’ve spent half their lives taking hard drugs – because they have – and she said that Berlin is worse. Is this changing, then?

6. Ed Ward - March 4, 2008

Jeez, Narrowback, we have whole *streets* filled with Bad Art here. The New York Times writes about it all the time.

7. pleite - March 4, 2008

Mr D, I’m not too sure about drugs and Berlin, to be honest. I’m sure there’s no shortage of them, obviously, but I don’t think grunge really suits Berlin. Yes, lots of driftery types. Lots of dropouty types. But it’s a very different place from Hamburg (another place I’ve never been), I suppose, because Hamburg is basically a richish place, isn’t it? Tradingy. Whereas Berlin is, or was, a good old working-class kinda place. Sort of tough without being rough. Say what we like and like what we say. But then of course a fair gaggle of media types (though, as you know, Berlin is not the capital of Germany in the same way that London is the capital of the UK) and now just SO MANY people from England. Yes, Americans too, I’m sure. And probably Scots and Australians and South Africans. But just so fucking many English accents on the streets, it’s unglaublich (although this is probably confined to a very small area). I had a blip sensation that smartness was coming to town on the fashion front but maybe I just happened to see within one random five-minute period the ten Berliners with suit-jobs.

8. pleite - March 4, 2008

Ed, we overlap. But, yes, Narrowback, go over to Ben’s place for more New York on Berlin, but without the puppeteers. I, for one, still claim my right to call myself a beautiful loser.

9. Lukeski - March 4, 2008

Have the powers that be in former East Berlin taken it upon themselvs to paint the tower blocks in a variety of colours?

In London/provincial Britain 10 years later, they, of course, gentrified them by adding cladding in primary colours and improving security, etc – in Prague they have taken to painting whole estates in various (unmatching) primary colours, and in Tirana (according to Michael Palin at least), the government admits that it is the simplest and cheapest way to improve people’s perceptions of their standard of living – no investment in roads, etc, just use up the job lot of lilac we have. And of course, as a fan of (post)socialist urban decay, it offends me immensely…

10. Lukeski - March 4, 2008

Testicles, you were posting as I was trying to write something non-vapid… I am researching the former Hotel Internacional in Prague, a Stalin birthday cake of the highest order (and the only one I have seen in CR) for a presentation in Czech next week.

11. pleite - March 4, 2008

Lukeski, darling, a presentation? In Czech? Now, darling, I don’t want to look for fault, but do you speak Czech? Or are you going to pretend and read, as Tony Blair does when he pretends to speak French?

But, no, I haven’t seen them going wild with painting the town red, or any other colour, here yet. Though tower blocks round the corner from us have been spruced up, but sort of in a neat grey, to cancel out the decay grey. Mr. Lonely Planet, who was here this weekend, has also raved to me about Tirana. But have they painted the nuclear bunker igloos too?

12. Lukeski - March 4, 2008

Seemingly so, in a kind of Yellow Submarine pastiche. Shame really. I am seemingly lower-intermediate Czech now – by September I will be on the upper-intermediate course.

I was moaning to Pavlik about the extra case (instrumental becomes instrumental and locative – similar to Polish, no?), and, apart from the locative case, there are far too many endings to learn. Memories of dear N. Brown and his candles on birthday cakes – my head is generally left spinning so I dread to think what the others (none of whom have studied a language before) make of it…

And I, of course, try the pause at the end of each word hoping a Czech will dive in with the correct ending. But they don’t generally;(

13. marshaklein - March 4, 2008

Sign on the entrance to Lakeland Limited (purveyor of kitchen equipment, including gadgets you never realised you needed):

“For health and safety reasons, please do not consume any food or drink on these premises”

Wondered snottily why they don’t have a similar sign on all branches of Macdonalds, before remembering that I once heard a nutritionist say that it was all very well the middle classes tut-tutting about the appalling chavs and their McDonalds habit but that the same charges (high fat/salt content) could be laid at the door of Pizza Express, a popular hang-out for middle class families.

“Sale continues inside store” That’s one that’s springing up all over Edinburgh too (presumably because of impending economic decline. What do economists eat for breakfast? Credit crunch!)
What does it mean? And where is this sale that “continues” inside the store, taking place?

Even after years and years of living in Edinburgh, I still read the sign for “Hanover Street” as “Hangover Street”, even when I haven’t got one.

14. pleite - March 4, 2008

Marsha, maybe we need to make drastic protest actions against these plain wrong continues. Shall we both stand with foghorns, like that man on Parliament Square, and scream, “Your sale ‘starts’ or even ‘is’ inside your store,” but then they might clintonianly come back with a, “…depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” It’s not easy being purist activists.

Lukeski, damn those non-obliging Czechs. It’s odd that any language should make Russian look easy, but even more irregular and complex Slavic ones do, indeed, do that. Polish has a vocative to add to the regular Slavic palette and is much more irregular than Russian but is, at least, perfectly phonetic. But Bulgarian has articles. Articles! Have you ever known anything so obscene?

Spellcheck has disappeared. Expect typos galore.

15. Mr D - March 4, 2008

Difficulty with spoken Czech is how they add the start of the following word to the end of the precious one.

Eg “I’m happy to be here on Prague, which I’ll be saying in 8 hours when the train I’m on arrives:

Jsem rád, že jsem tady [accent missing] v Praze.

Pronounced something like:

Sem rád, žej sem tadyf Praze.

It’s really tough, and you kind of have to have some kind of foresight into how you’re planning to end your sentence!

(All mistakes are my own… you can’t have them!)

16. pleite - March 4, 2008

Mr D, you mustn’t make me wistful for my Slavonic-language-learning days. But you made that all easy and comprehensible and before I know it I’ll have signed up for Macedonian evening classes. Nein. Mustn’t get tempted. And I have got more work to do than everyone else on earth put together and, oh god… WHEN can I just start working at effing Lidl?

17. ThePenguin - March 5, 2008

The local shrine here is “Togo Jinja”. Actually it’s a long “ô”, but they don’t bother with the macron thing, and as it’s quite a big shrine (it’s the national memorial to one Admiral Togo, famous for giving the Russkies quite a drubbing at sea back in 1905), there’s always lots “Togo”.

18. d.z. arbeitsagentur - March 5, 2008

BiB: http://www.superazubi.de/
6 short paragraphs of bullshit: http://www.superazubi.de/index.php?id=8&lang=de

I believe the starting date is September 1st.

19. d.z. arbeitsagentur - March 5, 2008

By the way, I absolutlely love the short film on that page (first hidden to my eyes thanks to Firefox’s automatic blocking of most annoying things). They missed the end caption “and that’s it. For the rest of your fucking life.”

20. pleite - March 5, 2008

DZ, I’ve applied. That music makes me think I should be in a very dark gay establishment, frequented by men with no hair and a preference for leather and the all-pervading smell of poppers. I liked the Summe – 3.91 that flashes up on the till, which is presumably a reference to the hourly wage.

Penguin, we’re keeping Berlin warm for you in the meantime. Strikes on at the mo, unless they’ve been cancelled. Some snow. No shrines, though, but, and I hope Mrs. Penguin has dashed down to see it, the Japanese Spring in the Arcaden.

21. d.z. arbeitssklaverei - March 5, 2008

The hourly wage in lire.

22. emeline - March 5, 2008

Dear Pleite!
Chère ou cher Pleite, dans ma langue maternelle.

Thank you so much for writing a nice comment! What a wonderful reader you are!

Un immense et chaleureux merci pour ton commentaire à propos de mon déménagement de Blogger vers WordPress. Tu es un formidable internaute!


23. pleite - March 6, 2008

Emeline, il n’y a pas de quoi, et mes félicitations à l’occasion de ton déménagement. C’est en lisant ton blog, et celui de Didier, que je comprends que je comprends très peu du “vrai” français. Et j’ai honte à chaque fois que je lis un blog intélligent, comme le tien. Moi, je n’écris que des conneries sur moi-même. (Eh oui, cher, pas chère.)

Oh yes, we speak French round here too.

DZ, I was going to allow myself a little fond old reminisce for the pre-euro days but have stopped myself in case I instantly turn into an anti-European. Mind you, I do happen to think Brussels is about the nastiest place on the planet. Nice food, though.

24. d.z. bodenberg - March 6, 2008

Brussels is pretty disgusting, but that’s based purely on my impressions of Bruxelles-Midi station and the surrounding area. I haven’t visited the rusting sculpture thingy with the interconnected domes supposedly representing Europe, but I should. Looking at pictures of it reminds me of places like Morecambe or Cromer, so perhaps it’s not too bad after all.

25. Ed Ward - March 6, 2008

Oh, Brussels has its moments. Nice Congolese restaurants in the Matombe district, great comics museum on rue de Sable, and for all it’s a cliche, the Grand’ Place is pretty nice. Good beer, too.

26. d.z. bodenberg - March 6, 2008

That Lidl music reminds me very much of mid-90s late-night-ITV “Gaychat” adverts (as parodied on Father Ted as “Priestchat”). I don’t remember a Julia Davis lookalike, or any other supermarket employee being portrayed though (as opposed to a man in a builder’s hat, or someone a suit with a mobile phone (presumably in those days representing a coke dealer)). 3.91 per minute cheap rate, 3.91 at all other times. Or something like that.

Still haven’t learnt how to link:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=8tpSGRWCOWg , based on these

and, starring a poor MC Hammer copy, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-N_wsSgkGI

I couldn’t find the one I actually wanted to link to, hence the thousands of other links.

27. pleite - March 6, 2008

DZ, good lord. I have been teleported back to gloomy English winter evenings. If I ever watch TV late here, all the het phone-line ads have boobs galore, yet the gay ones just have the number. Is the sight, even, of a man enough to turn the whole country gay? I think it must be. It’s what happened to me, after all.

Ed, you’re right. It does have its moments. And I’m with you on the Grand’ Place. It really is stunningly beautiful. I like the beer. I like the moules frites. I like Jacques Brel. Oh, wait, sorry, he’s dead. And might not even be Bruxellois. There’s a great musical instrument museum with a great view over the city. But when I first went there, or on one early trip, I was struck by the gloom that that local/immigrant divide creates. And I was hopeless at pretending to be a grown-up when going there for work.

28. d.z. bodenberg - March 6, 2008

Well, quite, BiB. But at least in those days those phone-line ads were just ad breaks, interrupting the odd episode of Jobfinder, Pages from Oracle, or Get Stuffed, where as now entire channels are made up of the stuff (some dark memories of having once watched TV Berlin when living in Friedrichshain, it being the only channel we could get, apart from a very fuzzy BBC World – and that was pre-digital days).

29. pleite - March 6, 2008

Yes, hooray for progress.

Have you noticed the internet is broken? Blogger broken. WordPress a bit broken. Even Google broken.

Oh god, I have an impossible amount of work to complete and ill-timed social engagements. Time to think about running off to a monastery again. Still looking for the gay atheist monks.

30. Christina G - March 6, 2008

So what makes up a Turkish breakfast?

And Ocean City, Maryland is the nastiest place on earth.

31. narrowback - March 6, 2008

I’ll have to diasagree with you and Ed regarding Belgian beer… never took to it. Then again, as most nations tend to export the lowest common denominator swill maybe I’ve never been exposed to a “good” belgian beer.

re: you desire for employment at Lidl…I have a very similar workplace mantra…just replace “Lidl” with “Walmart”…on many a day the prospect of wearing a blue vest, vapidly chating “welcome to Walmart” and pushing a shopping cart towards the customer seems oh so preferable to so-called professional employment.

with all due respect to Christina, while OC is pretty vile there are more than a few STRONG competitors for the title of “nastiest” here in the states

BTW BiB, I hope you’ll be around in early May & have the time for some more pints

32. marshaklein - March 7, 2008

A mother writes…

Today, Daisy had to suggest careers she might be interested in pursuing after leaving school. First on the list was “translator”.

Should I be worried?

33. pleite - March 7, 2008

Marsha, as I sit here toiling through an ever-lengthening, too-much-time-consuming, thoughts-of-suicide-and-where-did-it-all-go-wrong-inducing translation, never have I been compelled to react to a blog comment more quickly. Nein, non, no, ei, nyet and no in every other language in the world. Don’t do it, daughter. Just say nyet… Well, unless you happen to love it, of course. Sometimes it can be all right. But I SO hate what I’m doing right now. Impossibly obscure and difficult whilst being utterly uninteresting and unexciting at the same time. Never was new knowledge welcomed by me with such a sneer.

Narrowback, I’m sure I’ll be here. I mostly am. I still haven’t bought filofax pages yet for this year, though – normally happens mid-April – so can’t plan anything till then. And I’m in an anti-beer mood, though I heroically managed to consume a drop or two the other day. The grape is currently my tipple of need.

Christina, I’ve heard bad things about Gary, Indiana. For a UK equivalent, may I unrecommend Margate, if we’re sticking with a coastal theme? A German pal of mine was moving to London and he and his girlfriend decided to quickly pop to the coast one day. Stuck a pin in a near bit of the map and happened to stumble across one of the most deprived bits of the country. They weren’t majorly impressed with the food, either… Speaking of which, don’t know what went into a Turkish breakfast, but I’m almost sure it wasn’t neat steroids.

34. ThePenguin - March 7, 2008

Marsha, there might be a boom in demand for English/Gaelic translation, you never know! How are Daisy’s studies coming along?

Personally I’d recommend getting some sort of specialist knowledge (anything from accountancy to zoology), Just Knowing A Language Or Two will only get you so far (though it puts you way ahead of the warm bodies doing “English conversation”). Did think of becoming a translator once, and it’s a fallback position should I ever develop a terminal case of unemployability in my current line of wage slavery.

35. pleite - March 7, 2008

Penguin – I so want to write Pengers, but what if folk wanted to pronounce the g as a j? And writing Penguers might make folk want to get a w in on the act, which would be all wrong – good point. I’m very, very glad indeed I know bits of foreign languages but on their absolute own – and they are very hard pushed to find anything bordering on intelligent company in my head, let me tell you – they’re not a passport to success on the working front. Yes, knowing languages and something else would be good. I secretly wish I was a doctor, as I think that’s an awfully worthwhile thing to do. But my highest scientific qualification is a grade U in Physics O Level, so I might not quite be cut out for the job.

Oh GOD, this job…

36. narrowback - March 7, 2008

just as long as you don’t object to others imbibing in a barley pop or two…

Gary is one of the places I was thinking of as competitors…it’s just down the road from me…dead steel mills, abandoned petro-chemical plants and devastated neighborhoods…and that’s just the physical side of it. Just this morn the Federal govt. indicted the Chief of Police and his two immediate subordinates for gross violations of civil rights.

37. pleite - March 7, 2008

Eek, Narrowback, I didn’t even know the place had a charming old human side too to complete the picture, though physical and social gloom no doubt often go hand-in-hand. When I worked in St. Petersburg, on a project with pretty deprived children, it struck me that they would always go off ‘to play’, or stick their heads in a bag of glue, in exceedingly ugly places. Logically, because they were abandoned, and they could be left in peace and quiet there – the police might not think to go onto an abandoned building site – but it was as if they were so down on themselves, and so knew that they were right at the bottom of the pile, that only shit places were good enough for them and they were only good enough for shit places. I dread to think what’s happened to all those teenagers now. Even in Putin’s (won’t pretend it’s Medvedev’s yet) paradise, I somehow can’t imagine a happy ending.

38. narrowback - March 7, 2008

your st. petersburg children don’t sound disimilar from many kids in dead rustbelt and even some “successful” cities here in the states…gary, detroit, camden, east la, the list goes on. “go ahead shoot me i’m already dead” is a line in a song that a friend of mine wrote about his time as a cop in some bad – very bad – areas of brooklyn kids who have given up all hope before they hit 18

39. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2008

Hmm, after the comments above I feel distinctly guilty bringing up the subject of my own, over-privileged teen.
BiB, thank you for your prompt response. Daisy assures me that she “only put “translator” because it’s one of the careers listed in the booklet we were given. Anyway, the teachers aren’t really interested, they’re just being nosy”. So young and yet so cynical… Now I sort of wish she’d put down “porn star, reality TV contestant, internet fraudster”, just to see if anyone commented.
I guess translation is one of those careers that sounds more glam than it actually is. I suppose what gets forgotten is that every time you read a set of instuctions of the “insert screw A into housing B”-type, some (or several) poor sod(s) have had to translate them into the a dozen different languages.

Penguin: I think Daisy’s really only interested in translating Gaelic folk-songs. You know the type; people weeping by the end but only because the song’s gone on so long they’ve missed their child’s birthday.

40. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2008

Ooh, I’ve gone all anonymous! How’d that happen?

41. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2008


42. ThePenguin - March 7, 2008

Hello? You’re back. I guessed it was you. No idea about Gaelic folk-songs, but it sounds like a good exercise for becoming a translator.

From experience I’d suggest there are two basic career options: either something with an easily-comprehensible label (teacher, doctor, bus driver, translator, MP etc.), or something without. I seem to have drifted into the latter, the best I can say is that I “do stuff with computers”, though precisely what it’s hard to explain unless you also “do stuff with computers”. I’m not a “programmer”, though I do write code. Spent most of today arguing with various people around the world about product codes, and transferred about 50 GB of data from server A to server B. Between 5 and 8pm I shredded documents while conversing in a mixture of Japanese and English. Such is life.

43. emeline - March 7, 2008

Cher Pleite – is it a real or fake name?

I highly enjoy reading your blog! You are quite amusing! Well-done!

Tell me, what is your secret – I know that you’re talented but it is not the only one reason – to have got a lot of readers? How do you “optimize” your blog? Did you subscribe your blog in a site such as technorati, or anything else?

Thank you!
PS: Are you still living in Berlin?


44. emeline - March 7, 2008


Last question: I normally have an image on my profile but it doesn’t appear! Why?

I am not used to be boring but I am quite curious, and I like to ask a lot of questions!

45. rock - March 8, 2008

Tell me when you find the gay atheist monks. Please. This is very important. Make sure they don’t let Leonard Cohen in for little holidays, I couldn’t bear it.

46. Taiga the Fox - March 11, 2008

Anabolisches Frühstück! BiB, now you definitely made me laugh out loud!
Oh, I am apparently going to be using my camera in Berlin in April. Kaffee?

47. Geoff - March 11, 2008

Oi. Don’t knock Margate. I spend many a happy day there as a teenager escaping from Canterbury and spending the afternoon in the pub safe in the knowledge I’d be safe from getting caught by teachers. Later on it was where I went to my first ever gay club, Rumours (inevitably nicknamed tumours by the patrons as it was so grim).

Aside from those personal memories, I think there’s nothing nicer than a faded seaside resort, and nowhere is more faded than Margate. Plus Margate in winter has a strange end of the world feel – it’s almost literally the end of England, but last time I was there it was made even stranger by the presence of high numbers of eastern europeans (asylum seekers who were shipped there by Kent county council because of all its B&Bs after they arrived in Dover), meaning out of season you were more likely to hear albanian or russian on the streets than english.

All this talk of chatlines reminds me of the one that seemed to be in every single ad break on german mtv for what seemed like years…

“wieder mal gelangweilt? lust auf ´nen neuen weg leute kennen zu lernen? die partyline – unterhalte dich mit tollen leuten aus ganz europa. ruf an! 001 809 563 viermal die null. 001 809 563 viermal die null”

48. pleite - March 12, 2008

Geoff, I haven’t been to Margate since we were taken there by school on an outing to that funfair. Is it Benbow Brothers? No, it can’t be. My only properly spiritual liaison with the Kent coast was with Herne Bay, which might well be grim – I can’t really remember – but the house I stayed at was an inch from the sea and looked out over a grey nothingness so grey you couldn’t tell where the sky-grey ended and the sea-grey began. It was heaven. Brighton was my family’s coastal resort of choice. I remember just my mother and me going once for a naughty day trip. So extravagant. I probably had rock and posh chocolate from The Lanes and everything.

Taiga, just you try and stop me. I was vaguely thinking of a UK trip the weekend of April 5th and 6th. Let me know if that’s when you plan to be here so I can try to reschedule. I’ve already started practising Finnish in the shower.

Rock, do you mean Mr. Cohen dabbles with the clergy? But, girlfriend, the gay atheist monks are going to have founded a monastery so bloody remote, and on an island so blustery and craggy, that not even the most intrepid Canadian tourist will have been there (or heard of it). I will, it goes without saying, send you a coded invitation. You can provide us with our first art exhibition. Will make a change from the fruit and vegetable show.

Emeline, questions are good. I ask questions galore myself. Right, quickly, technically, as a fellow wordpresser. I think the photo only appears if you comment when logged into wordpress. If you comment while logged out, even though your comp might have cookiely remembered who you are, it won’t remember your avatar too… Yes, still in Berlin and pleite (German for broke/bankrupt) here. Worry I might be here for ever. Eek… And it’s all a bit of a mystery how you get blogging and how you and readers find each other, isn’t it? I first found contacts through a friend, Pavlik, who has a blog. I read the blogs his blog took me to and gradually, as in real life, if you hang around the party long enough, you’re bound to get chatting to people eventually. And then I think blogging has a local element too, so I’ve got to know oodles of Berlin bloggers. And commenting here and there makes people notice you, I suppose. But I think I have few readers but very generous commenters. And I’m not sure about subscribing to things like Technorati. I haven’t done that but I know the site is on there. I thought Technorati found you rather than the other way round. But, anyway, in short, I say be a friendly and generous blogger and you’re bound to get to know more and more of your blogfellows.

Penguin, having a job without a title means being a consultant. Start calling yourself a consultant immediately. I have to admit that once I got myself business cards printed up for about 2p and I did actually have translator/consultant embossed upon them. Luckily, I’d paid for a typo to be included and so they were never used, though I sometimes put hot cups down on them so as not to get rings on my IKEA chipboard.

Ooh, Marsha, wordpress must have been having a blip. It can do those. I’ll go back and have a fiddle and deanonymise you… But, yes, a lot of paid translation work can be precisely that sort of thing. Instructions for how to make a drill work. The trouble is, that type of text is not only utterly uninteresting but actually also rather hard. And probably badly paid. So you earn a pittance for having a horrible time and straining your brain. But there are the good times, like when you get a piece of light journalism to translate and if half of it’s an interview, then it just couldn’t be easier. I could do those standing on my head. Till the cows came home. With my hands tied behind my back. With no computer. Or pen or paper. Or pulse.

Narrowback, Jesus, “go ahead shoot me i’m already dead.” How grim. In spite of everything they were exposed to, the Russian ruffians I met still had some innocence about them. They weren’t quite New York yet (though they wanted to be). Although I do remember one of my favourite ruffians talking about his own death with grown-up mocking. He was dim and dishonest and I just can’t imagine where the fuck he must be now.

49. ThePenguin - March 12, 2008

Oddly enough, as of today I have an official job title and a bilingual card to go with it. Unfortunately I am currently not only “head” but also “body” of the department involved, but it impressed the mother-in-law no end.

50. pleite - March 12, 2008

Penguin, bloody well done. I’m in awe and admiration with how well you have acquitted yourself in sorting out a new life for yourself in Japan in a matter of minutes. Is Berlin already seeming like a dim and distant memory? (I hope your wife isn’t. Has she joined you yet?) Does the mention of the Ringbahn, the Arcaden, the Fernsehturm make you snort with derision at how hopelessly parochial we are? I feel awfully undynamic in comparison (though, I’ll have you know, I have negotiated/had truck with three whole different sets of employers today).

51. Taiga Fox - March 12, 2008

Bembom Brothers! I’ve been there too.
Anyway, I’m not going to be in Berlin on that weeked though, because I’m in a funeral. Will let you know later.

52. pleite - March 12, 2008

Taiga, sorry to hear it, though how can you know so far in advance? But sorry. An advanced-warning funeral reminds me of an American documentary about someone on death row who was reprieved at the last minute and his already arranged funeral had to be cancelled. Too odd.

Bembom. Yes, that’s it. A ride called the Mary Rose. The most terrifying thing ever.

53. ThePenguin - March 13, 2008

I tell you, it was (in all seriousness) thanks to Bambi. I am sure something else would have come along, but probably involving wearing one of those suit thingies, so I’m happy for now.

Berlin, oh yes. Strike thingy and all that. Hope you’re coping well. Mrs. Yanpa is suffering along with the rest of you. Pass my regards on to Berlin’s shop workers, being treated like an actual customer gets tiresome after a while.

(Actually that is a lie, I enjoy having even the ATMs thanking me profusely).

54. pleite - March 13, 2008

Bambi? Is that how you’ve christened the person whom you sort of electronically bumped into who gave you a job? Or am I missing something? I was just shaping up for a whole lazy non-work day but more has come along, and, no, they can’t wait till after the weekend. Saturday deadlines! Something in this freelance business has gone seriously wrong. I’m sure I must now work EVEN harder than some (though probably not many) people with real jobs.

Berlin ATMs now say, “Nimm das Geld und hau ab!”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: