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Gutluftberg March 12, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

A friend of mine who disobeys all rules of propriety invited me to his boyfriend-who-doesn’t-live-in-Berlin’s birthday party at someone-else-who-does’s house. In one of those queer bits of the city where what passes for ancient is a car-wash with balloons up to celebrate its third birthday nestling under one of the early upward whooshes of a motorway. You’d think humans would have given the location up as a bad job but, oddly enough, people have gone and forced themselves to settle there just to show how versatile we are as a species and that no level of adversity is insurmountable. Especially not here in Berlin. We’ve been there done that on the adversity stakes. Nothing can shock us. Give us a bit of town under an early upward whoosh of a motorway called Wilmersburg or Charlottendorf and we’ll build a bloody house there and just bloody well go and live in it AND have an orange tan year round for good measure.

Still, you don’t expect people from Argentina to have to come and make the point for the Berliners too.

The friend who disobeys all rules of propriety has been around. A proper wanderer. Started out in life as a Mexican. Has lived in the States and Canada. Has lived everywhere in Europe. Has been to Asia to find himself. Got lost and ended up back here, having turned into a European along the way and it is only right that his peripateticness should see us be city-neighbours for the second time in our lives.

He now lives in one of those Tempelbergs or Schönehofs so I am statistically less likely to see him than I am to meet the Wild Ape-Man of Ushuaia but, once in a while, we will bury the hatchet, admit, goddammit, that this is one city whether we like it or not and agree to meet.

The Mexican’s gone majorly native as a European. I’ve been to Mexico with him. His relatives commented on how crap his Spanish had got. He speaks English with an Englishy/Irishy accent. He is now technically French. But I’m happy to say that he’s been on our shores for long enough to have even developed a certain northern European solemnity. He’s French at a dinner party. English if drunk. Scandinavianly black if the mood requires it.

Which is why it was such a bloody shock to be reminded that he is in fact Mexican.

So the party was being held by an Argentinian in some bloody Zehlenrade. I bade the Russian farewell and set out with a compass, a knapsack, some good solid walking shoes, a length of rope and 300 Greek drachmas which was all the foreign currency we could find at short notice. I managed to catch a lift part of the way from a Tyrolean shepherd in a charabanc who had come to Berlin to make his fortune. We shared a meal of bread and cheese and parted at Spahlem S-Bahnhof whence I strew breadcrumbs lest I get lost. I found the car-wash and the early upward whoosh of the motorway and knew I was nearing my destination. The snow was falling thick and heavy by now. I remembered an old wives’ tale from our village and walked in the footprints other intrepid travellers had made before me. I reached my destination exhausted. I crawled into the party-house on my knees.

Only to be greeted by various Spanish-speaking revellers. And, darlings, I’d forgotten just how happy Spanish-speaking people are. My friend veered psychotically between unbridled joy whenever he had dealings with an Argentinian, Chilean or Spaniard and then breathed out deeply and downed tempo when he had to come and talk to one of us miserable old northern Europeans.

But, darlings, what’s the secret? The Argentinians, Chileans and Spaniards maintained a fun-factor that when totted up equalled more fun in their combined couple of hours than I have had in my whole 37 years. And it was good fun. Nice fun. Fun fun. Good-to-watch fun. Exhausting fun. As the evening drew on, the Argentinians, Chileans and Spaniards bellowed with hearty laughter in one unconsciously demarcated laughorium corner of the room – the Euro-Mexican would ping back and forth like a pinball – and we northern types gently huddled quietly, conspiratorially, uneasily in our frownorium corner.

It can’t be Catholicism, because Austrians are Catholics. It can’t just be the sun. Somalia has sun. And, anyway, they were in Berlin, and the sun hasn’t shone here since 1534, and their solar memory can’t be that vivid.

I soon had to bid my Argentinian hostess farewell. The journey back was to be long and arduous. And the jollity was exhausting. I turned up my collar. Pulled my hat down over my ears. Accepted bread and cheese for the journey.

The blizzard had stopped by the time I got out onto the street. And the street was so lifeless that silences were competing with each other for perfection. Not a car took advantage of the early upward whoosh of the motorway. The greyness settled everywhere like a thick layer of dust.

And then a buzz from above. A multi-coloured plane swooped overhead. The Spaniards, Argentinians and Chileans waved and cheered. The Euro-Mexican donned a mask to show equal extremes of emotion. And then a trap-door on the underside of the fuselage opened and the Spanish-speakers hurled rainbows which hit the pavement, the trees, the houses, colouring everything they touched, and bounced all the way back into the sky.

The Ordnungsamt says it’ll cost a fortune to wash off.


1. marshaklein - March 12, 2008

It IS the sun. That, and siestas (maybe they don’t go in for siestas in Somalia?) Throw in a little (or a lot of) wine and some music and surely you have a recipe for perma-fun?

What does your post title mean? I’ve just looked it up with no success. Sometimes I feel awfully stupid.

2. pleite - March 12, 2008

Nein, nein, Marsha, not stupid at all. It’s my own stupid confection. It seemed like a good idea whenever it was I wrote this pus, which I can’t even remember, as I am now hallucinating from tiredness, having worked 53 hours a day every day for the last millennium. Ignore the last third of the compound, work out the English (or Spanish, if ya hear what I’m sayin’) for the first two thirds and it should sort of be hey presto.

So is it simply sun + Catholicism? But then Filipinos wouldn’t live it up the same way. So it’s sun+Catholicism(lapsed or otherwise)+booze+sleep+European-or-of-European-origin culture? I’m off to the Croatian-Montenegrin border to see if there’s an instant engloomment the second I cross form Catholickia into Orthodoxia.

3. marshaklein - March 12, 2008

Buenos Aires? Because your host was Argentinian?

Does Catholicism make people happy do you think? I suppose it might, with its “jam today” approach rather than the very definite “jam tomorrow” attitude of the Protestants. I’ve always sort of assumed that the festivals, saints’ days and promise of redemption are by way of compensation for (often) grinding poverty in the here-and-now.

I’m sorry. I’m more than usually disillusioned with the Catholic church at the moment. Don’t listen to me – I’m just being northern European!

4. Ben - March 12, 2008

Do tell. Yuhang just hosted (couch-surfed, rather) an wandering artist painter guy from Argentina last week. It was a hoot. If you would have been at Stammtisch you would also have met him, but alas you were not.

5. Ben - March 12, 2008

I would say Sun + relative poverty + good wine (and despite Catholicism).

6. Liukchik - March 12, 2008

Yes, but what about the Poles? – the last party I attended (likewise in the hinterland of Sarf Lahndan) – was composed of Poles, who have the Catholicism, relative poverty, yet not the unremitting gloom I was expecting. Indeed, they were (are?) lively, noisy passionate individuals with or without half a bottle of Zubrowka within them.

7. pleite - March 12, 2008

Liukchik, is nothing sacred? Poles gone jolly? I just vegged in front of the TV for a quick sec and there was a travel documentary on Spanish TV about the Baltic States and each country had its representative on and they fitted my gloom-stereotypes quite nicely. Lithuanians are a Catholic mix of Finns and Russians, silent and morose, which is a good combination. Also as beautiful as hell.

Ben, am just coming towards the end of a period of horridly loathsome business/busyness and haven’t done a social thing for fifty years. OK, a lie, but hope to be back on the circuit soon. This Argentinian woman was hilarious. Violently hospitable. Hyperactively entertaining… Which is not to say the Spanish-speaking world doesn’t do gloom, but they even seem to embrace that with good cheer. I can imagine her laughing through the tears as she told me about how Eduardo (say) had run off with her mother and then her father before joining the revolution and who was last seen fighting as a mercenary in Equatorial Guinea. (They speak Spanish there, actually, don’t they? Can’t even guess at the jolliness factor.)

Marsha, genau genau, an attempt at getting Buenos Aires into the title. I don’t know about enjollying Catholicism and my flight to the Balkans doesn’t take off for another hour. But, who knows? Maybe Ben has it with the sun+relative poverty+booze. Let’s see if Chileans and Argentinians gradually turn into Norwegians now that they’re getting all rich and boring. I remember hearing an Irish person bemoaning Ireland’s new wealth on the radio once and how that had taken away from their famous jolliness. And my peak jolliness, lasting one intensely joyous second, happened to coincide with me leaving the Catholic church in an office not a three-minute walk from here.

8. Geoff - March 13, 2008

A friend of mine who’s just come back from a year in south america claims there is an inverse relationship between happyness and wealth in the countries he visited – Chile was by far his least favourite country on the continent for that reason, so there could be something in that theory

9. Mr D - March 13, 2008

What about the ‘Better Out Than In’ theory (which I may have just made up)? I once read something – probably utter nonsense – about how much of people’s inner thoughts they share with other people. At one extreme were South Americans, and at the other were Finns and the Japanese. Spaniards were about fifty-fifty, whereas the British and the Germans were between Spaniards and Finns.

Of course, that’s in massive national generalisation territory. Oh well! But anyway, perhaps there is something to be said for people losing some of the fear of being judged by others and leading a more open life. Then there’s no need for people to look over their shoulders all the time, and they can just get on with living.

10. pleite - March 13, 2008

Mr D, yes, I remember that. We’ve discussed it before somewhere, I think. And I’m sure natural non-inhibitedness is inversely proportional to alcohol consumption. When I said I was English to a Spanish lady there, she told me stories of her English friends, and laughed benevolently, as if she was talking of some wild animals she’d vaguely managed to tame, of how they would tell her about what great nights out they had and who passed out first. I frowned and tutted (then probably passed out).

Geoff, yes, Chile would be the country to watch, as the one that’s furthest along the road to becoming an economist’s dream. Mind you, I had a Chilean friend in Paris, who did do gloom, actually, but, yes, in a laughter-through-the-tears way, and what she found a bit disappointing in Paris was that she couldn’t go out with her friends, as she would do in Chile, and… bugger, there was a verb for it, fetejar? Festejar? Something like that. It sounded like a very concerted (and successful) effort at going out and having a good time. I’ve got a feeling it involved quite a lot of being outdoors and not all that much boozing.

11. Mr D - March 13, 2008

Oh God, I’m repeating myself without being aware of it – not a good sign.

Danes are always number one in lists of happy people, which is such a joke. Some say it’s low expectations that makes them feel content. After all, it can’t be poverty, as they’ve already bought everything in the world. Oh – maybe that’s what makes them feel happy. Or perhaps all the really sad Danes have topped themselves – which kind of skews the figures, but at least they’ve done it for the nation.

12. pleite - March 13, 2008

No prob, Mr D. I repeat myself while aware of it. I’ve mentioned the Mexican and his wanderings before.

Actually, what also spurred this post, a bit, was a conversation with my Danish pal who has a 1-year-old child. My Danish pal can do proper gloom. Her husband not so much, but he is, nonetheless, a Dane, so can at least appreciate it. And their daughter is, of course, perfect and happy. My pal and I wondered at how it was possible to be happy ALL THE TIME. It’s not right.

Anyway, a nice twist on the suicide figures. Danes top themselves galore, but they do it for Denmark.

13. Mr D - March 13, 2008

It could be a new Olympic event. Although it sounds like runners in Beijing will be doing something similar, anyway, due to the air pollution.

When I was a child I used to think that actors who died in films actually wanted to die!

14. pleite - March 14, 2008

We mustn’t encourage sporting suicide. Anyway, the Danes, Japanese and Hungarians would have the medals sewn up. No, we must promote a Happy Olympics. Is it too late to get onto the IOC and ask for smiling to be added as an event?

I remember reading some horribly patriotic (English-language, oddly) rag in Russia and a writer, presumably using a fake English name, or who’d been heavily edited, said running-down-escalators should be introduced at the Olympics so that the Russians could win all the medals. They had plenty of practice in St. Petersburg, you see. Very deep metro.

I’m avoiding work. It’s 11pm. I want to go out to play.

15. Marsha Klein - March 14, 2008

Perhaps work-avoidance could be a new Olympic sport? It’s my only chance of ever being an Olympian! Bags I get to carry the team flag at the opening ceremony. Blazers will be worn (along with white Crimplene trousers for the men and white box pleated skirts for the women)

16. pleite - March 14, 2008

Bet I’d beat you coming down the home straight. I’m sure I’m World Champion work-avoider material. In fact, I am officially about to give up for the night to make sure I have 17 nervous breakdowns tomorrow and try to get three days’ work done by Saturday. Life is very boring at the moment indeed.

17. redneckarts - March 14, 2008

you don’t need no pictures dude. But if you have any racy ones send em along. Hope yer well. spring soon. Even here. Though the snowbanks are as high as the cow who left them to my care and ran off to miami.

18. redneckarts - March 14, 2008

I have a thing for nice gloomy masculinge poles, har…. forgive me.

19. Mr D - March 14, 2008

Surely the best work avoidance competitors wouldn’t even turn up at the Olympic Games, let alone fight over who got to carry the flag?

Most of the time I can’t do work avoidance, what with standing in front of a class full of students! I think they’d notice…

(Actually I never stand and I spend most of the time sitting quietly in a corner while they get on with group work and presentations, but that wouldn’t have had the same comedy effect.)

Right, I’ve just found out I have to collect a pile of finals exam papers to mark from Monday, so no more commenting as a means of procrastinating instead of tidying and washing and stuff.

Good luck getting your work done!

20. pleite - March 14, 2008

Mr D, yes, I think it’s good, sometimes, to be forced to behave, isn’t it? I suppose my deadlines do sort of force me to do the same – I very rarely miss one – but the flexibility is a problem. The bigger the job I get, the worse the problem is. If I’m given a month to do something, then, naturally, I stare at the wall and gather dust for 28 days then cry and work like a maniac for the last three.

Redneck, I keep forgetting to notice the weather, as looking to my right, to the nearest window, takes too long and I don’t have a spare second. But, yes, there’s no denying it, spring is almost here. It’s not EVEN freezing any more… And, yes, I’m a great believer in the Eastern European male. Isn’t Canada full of people of Ukrainian origin? The UK’s good if you want to go and get an eyeful of Pole and if you haven’t got the energy for the last leg of the journey over to Poland itself. Hurry, though, while stocks last. My Easyjetonomics survey tells me the movement of Poles to the UK is slowing down. I’ve even read reports that many are moving back. Imagine!

21. Liukchik - March 14, 2008

They most certainly are. 4.5 zloty to the pound now, instead of 7.5. And they can work for major multinationals in their hometowns, rather than in JJB in Peterborough.

22. Beaman - March 14, 2008

This Mexican chap sounds a thoroughly interesting fellow. He reminds me a little of old whats-his-name, … Larry (just checked Wiki), in Somerset Maughan’s ‘The Razor’s Edge’. Fantastic book. Have you read it?

23. pleite - March 14, 2008

Beaman, he is. I suppose we’re all on a search, in one way or another, but his being all over the place, geographically, only makes it all the clearer. And I haven’t read The Razor’s Edge. I don’t know Somerset Maugham at all, apart from whatever of his came up at school, which was, I think, Cakes and Ale, but I can’t remember it at all. Do you recommend him? Having to study literature, rather than just be allowed to read it, always took the fun out of it for me.

Speaking of whick, Liukchik, did you happen to notice this post when you logged into wordpress? Don’t think I could enjoy a single word of Dosters till I knew I wouldn’t have to write a bloody essay on it… And, yes, personally, given the choice, I’d rather live in Wroclaw than Peterborough, but I’d rather rather live in neither.

24. Beaman - March 16, 2008

I love Somerset Maugham’s work. My neighbour in Berlin introduced me to a couple of his books. The one I mentioned and also ‘Of Human Bondage’. I think you’d like them.

25. pleite - March 16, 2008

Thanks for the tip, Beaman. Have one big Somerset Maugham tome lying around my mum’s place which I’ll pick up on my next trip, whenever that will be. And meant to say last time that I’m reading Némirovsky’s Suite Française at the moment which I imagine would interest you and I’m having my first ever dabble with Heinrich Böll, whom Germans have been recommending to me for ever, and who is nicely teasing from the first few pages I’ve read.

26. Katchyta - March 26, 2008

I’m just back from 5 weeks in India and a week’s vacation to Egypt, and in the background, years of living and/or working in Latin America, so I thought I’d take a stab at this. Sun is definitely necessary, but not sufficient, I’d say. I’ve been mulling it over for a couple of weeks, now, while simultaneously processing the horror of Egypt’s highest rate of female circumcision in the world (my apologies, BiB, but I think this is critical). If one looks at pre-Columbian art or Hindu temple carvings, chubby earth goddesses are the central focus. Ancient Egypt has its share of phallic fertility symbols (India’s not too shabby either when it comes to phalluses, or is it phalli?), but Egypt has a disconcerting tendency to represent their women at roughly one-fifth the size of the men.

Female genital mutilation dates back to millenia pre-Islam, as far as anyone can tell, so it’s not just religion. And I certainly don’t agree that it’s poverty, although being relatively affluent in a poor country (as most of my intelligentsia friends are) certainly helps put a sunny perspective on things. No, I think the second part of the equation is a culture’s ancient practice of worshiping women as the source of fertility and life, and the ability of the culture to retain that fundamental focus despite the imposed moralism, that’s the key. And sun, always sun.

27. BiB - March 26, 2008

Katchyta, what a brilliantly interesting theory. Sun+woman-worship. As I said to you in the flesh, I’m sceptical about poverty being much of a factor because it would rule Spain out, unless the memory of poverty is still there in the culture, because Spain surely can’t be considered poor in any real way any more. And then I never like to miss an opportunity to mention that essay that someone or other wrote a few years ago which said that money DOES bring happiness, but only to the point where it makes life materially comfortable. The rich are not happier, because of money, at least, than the all-right-off.

If Denmark had sun…

28. Mr D - March 27, 2008

But it does! And when it shines people are happy and smile and laugh and stuff. And then it disappears and they go all glum again (expect when under the influence). On a sunny yet cloudy day I swear you could almost notice the change minute by minute as the sun comes and goes behind the clouds! ;-)

29. BiB - March 27, 2008

Mr D, do you know, a good number of the times I’ve been to Denmark, it has been the perfectest weather imaginable (as long as you like boiling hot). And I was in a house by the sea, which is the one I dream about going mad and growing old in and it was all gardens and football and badminton and Danish flags and topless boys and ludicrously beautiful Danish ladies and booze and it was ALL very nice indeed. Maybe the Danes only do that survey when the sun is shining.

I have also once been when winter should really have been over, for decency’s sake, and the snowflakes in Copenhagen had had flint arrows attached and they spiked you in the eyes and drew blood and left thousands dead. My Danish pals looked very despondent indeed whilst I did the, “oh, but isn’t slow lovely,” spiel. (They weren’t fooled.)

30. Mr D - March 27, 2008

Ah, the great flint-arrow-snowflake massacre of May 1997. I’ve heard the stories – the tales of death and destruction, the cost to the economy, the national sense of horror.

Me, I was tanning myself in South Bohemia at the time, with Czech hunks pouring pivo down my throat and feeding me platters of smazeny syr. As they do.

31. BiB - March 27, 2008

Ooh, what’s smazeny? Guessing from Russian, I’m thinking it must be something melty or spready, but then if it’s cheese spread, my mind is awash with images of packets of Dairylea and those nicely-openable triangles, which destroys the Czech-hunk image a bit.

The Russian and I are seriously fantasy-planning a Prague trip where we aim to run into all those famous (?) Czech “actors.” Naturally we assume we’ll bump into Pavel Novotny (nsftwhc (not safe for those with heart conditions)) and all sorts of others who will have tourist-convenient jobs, like tour-guides.

God, I want to blog all day. Because I have more work than is decent for any human. Fuck, fuck, fuck.

32. Liukchik - March 27, 2008

Bredcrumbed fried cheese. Mmmmm.

33. BiB - March 27, 2008

God, Liukchik, isn’t frying the best thing ever invented? Apart from heating things over hot coals, actually.

34. Liukchik - March 27, 2008

Yes, the Czechs have an almost Irish passion for frying. And with lard, none of these healthy vegetable oils.

35. BiB - March 27, 2008

How marvellous. Though more work has come in and I think our one little potential window for our stunningly-beautiful-Czech-actor – I hope Pavel’s stayed off the lard – tour has just been bricked up. Is this how grown-ups work all the time? How the fuck do people bear it? I can’t remember the last time I breathed.

36. Mr D - March 27, 2008

Paul Newman! Funny stage name.

ČR does have its fair share of hunks. But all they’re interested in is money.

Lard! Please say it ain’t so. I had no choice but to live off smažený sýr for my first two weeks, way back when, as it was the ONLY non-meat option available – well, apart from breadcrumb-fried cauliflower. Now I feel slightly sick.

37. BiB - March 27, 2008

You mean they’re materialistic or interested in your money if you are playing the rich-foreigner role? In which case, they’d be disappointed with me, obviously (on either count, and on many more besides, no doubt).

I’ve been fast-tracked for quadruple heart bypass surgery since seeing the image on that wikipedia page.

38. Mr D - March 27, 2008

It looks better on your plate!

They see all foreigners as being rich and exploitable. But I’m not bitter…

39. BiB - March 28, 2008

With the exception of Slovaks, I bet.

Friable cheeses are a good thing, though halloumi is the only one I go in for. Fucking good in a salad. Or, as is more often the case, pilfered from a salad before dinner is ready.

40. Mr D - March 28, 2008

Never heard of it – must try it. I like blue cheese in a salad. With mustard dressing. Might sound odd, but they go well together. Either that, or the years of tobacco really have knackered my tastebuds!

41. BiB - March 28, 2008

No, I approve that combination too. But go for halloumi. It’s available in regular German supermarkets. A bit rubbery, rather salty, and fries nicely without melting into a splat. Looks pretty when combined with green and red too.

I am drinking beer and pretending to work. And experiencing a very intense missing of the evil tobacco.

42. marshaklein - March 28, 2008

Oooh, Saint Delia has a lovely recipe for a fried halloumi salad with a caper dressing:


I was actually here to contribute some terribly deep thoughts I had earlier today about this post, only I can’t really remember them now. I know my theory was related to Katchyta’s comment above. I remember it involved Catholicism, the Marian tradition and latin lovers.

I’ll let you know if it comes back to me. Or not. We could just swap fried chees recipes instead.

43. marshaklein - March 28, 2008

Mmm! Blue cheese with pear and walnuts. Salty, sweet AND crunchy.

44. BiB - March 28, 2008

Marsha, please do. Katchyta had to be encouraged to leave that comment, having had technical ishooz before, thinking it was now out-of-date, but I encouraged her to. (She’s a Berlin human pal as well as cyber-person, you see.)

I think I first had halloumi precisely with capers chez my sister, and I’m sure she’d been inspired by a Delia prog. I don’t bother to douse it in flour, though. I like capers of both kinds. (Ba-doom-tish.)

45. marshaklein - March 28, 2008

I was just trying for that drum/cymbal combo, over at Mr D.’s place. I had to go for “Boom, boom” instead – and that wasn’t even funny when Basil Brush said it.

I remember Delia saying on a TV programme, years ago:

“I always like to have capers in the kitchen”!

Oh how we laughed!

46. BiB - March 28, 2008

I was unsure about ba-doom-tish, but glad you got it.

Thank you for being up so late to accompany me in my non-working, beer-drinking guilt. The two bottles are placed on the floor – as empty bottles always must be in a Russian household – staring up at me like Battersea Power Station. The untranslated words! The untranslated words!

47. marshaklein - March 28, 2008

Surely to properly be Battersea power station there needs to be 4 bottles?

That’s not really helping, I’m sure.

48. BiB - March 28, 2008

I was blocking out the design. We accidentally drank a bottle of champagne earlier too to help us work but that would make the proportions all wrong and would only make three towers… unless I open another bottle of wine, which seems a bit naughty at 1.36am.

49. Mr D - March 28, 2008

Go to bed, young man! :-)

50. marshaklein - March 28, 2008

I’ve been trying, without success, to think of a landmark you could make out of your two beer bottles and champagne bottle.

I think Mr D. might have the right idea.

Goodnight x

51. BiB - March 28, 2008

Darlings, thank you. Was going to protest and say I am at the height of my powers. It’s only 2am. Perhaps I could squeeze another couple of hours of translating and youtube-surfing out of myself, or I could just admit defeat…

52. Marsha Klein - March 29, 2008

I think what I was going to say earlier was that I had been giving some consideration to the various theories on here and wondered if Katchyta’s point about woman-worship didn’t tie in quite nicely with your previous theory about Catholicism. The Catholic church venrates Mary as the mother of Christ and possibly that spills over into wider society in predominantly Catholic countries (this isn’t intended as some sort of “Catholicism-as-feminism” argument. Obviously, that would be stupid). I did also wonder if the notion of the latin lover didn’t have vaguely the same roots – ie that men who’ve grown up worshipping a woman will respond more instinctively to a female partner.
It all seemed like a much more unified theory in my head, I must say! Do latin men enjoy the same reputation as wonderful lovers among male partners, I wonder? Or is the “latin lover” theory too closely allied to notions of machismo?

I’m sure I heard on Woman’s Hour recently that Dutch women are the happiest in Europe (or least likely to suffer from depression, at any rate). All of which makes a complete nonsense of my ramblings above!

53. Mr D - March 29, 2008

Half of Holland is Catholic(-ish). Besides, the Dutch are too busy talking loudly to pay attention to any inner voices of depression.

The most passionate sex I ever had was with a Mexican. He even uttered: “Paradiso!” at one stage, which did my ego the world of good. Or it would have done, but pretty much all we were doing at that time was “sitting”. Is that in the Karma Sutra?

54. emeline - March 29, 2008

I enjoy your sense of humour, Mr D! Doing a sitting seems to be nice; obviously, I don’t speak about meditation!

55. BiB - March 29, 2008

Emeline, some people/nations must just sit better than others. It’s the only explanation.

Mr D, I must instantly get onto my Euro-Mexican pal and ask him his secret. And if he is similarly passionate…

…and Marsha, I think, yes, the Latin lover thing crosses over. Are we throwing, for the purpose of this ‘research’, Italians in with the Spanish-speaking Latins? Daren’t go into the detail Mr D has but, boys and girls, I hear Italy’s nice at this time of year, and they’ve got the Virgin Maria and the mama…

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