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Precautions March 23, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Working and not playing seems, logically enough, to reap financial rewards. Skintness seems to be at its lowest level in weeks which means I’m allowing myself to do all sorts of daringly entertaining things, like paying bills on time, indulging in a spot of fantasy-flight surfing and, goddammit, even occasionally leaving the house. Mind you, hijinks have a cost all of their own. Snowy the god of snow is in an especially playful mood these days and is sporadically sending us the odd sprinkle. Which means the streets are full of puddles. The Russian and I had popped out for a quick spot of hijinkery and just to prove that I was in exceptionally high spirits at having left the house – I think we’d gone to the supermarket – I decided to jump in a puddle. To make a splash. What could mean fun more than splashing in a puddle? Except I must have got my angle of entry wrong because rather than it splashing outwards, as I had expected it to, the icy water splashed with perfect verticality clean up my legs, which meant effectively wearing a pair of ice-trousers, which was one of the least pleasant experiences I’ve had, and I’ve had a few (though I can’t really think of any, actually, apart from toothache).

Anyway, what with the hijinks, the lack of worry that an unpaid bill would have brought, a drop more leisure time than normal and life bordering fleetingly on the pleasant, the Russian’s mind is working double-shifts with voluntary unpaid overtime to think up loathsome tasks to cancel out the niceness. Occasionally I am winded by the frequency of his requests which seems to have nothing in common with actual need. How can he be asking me again to sweep the murky area where my feet hang out under the very desk I am sitting at now when I must have done it not more than some months ago and everyone knows that dust accrues only annually? I actually saw my beloved whoop for joy when our pet hoover died just as I was taking it out for a walk around our flat. (I think the way I could step on that pedal and make it suck its tail in at speed is man’s greatest technological advance.) Without a hoover, after all, the only solution is to sweep. Down on knees with dustpan and brush. That’s much more horrid labour than mere hoovering. And ergo, or, rather, Russian ergo, a very good thing.

Clap, clap, clap, the Russian will clap as he walks into a room that I am lounging in quietly. It is nothing to do with applause and everything to do with conveying to me that all this sitting around, relaxing, is very worthy of discouragement. “Ve oll laik to seet and do naasink. Not vörk, not eat,” he might say. “So the 23-hour days every day for the last month don’t count, then?” “Yes, but zat feeneesh tventy minutes ago.” And he’ll whizz off, clapping his hands until he has to stop to pick up a cloth to polish something with. “Put voshink avay.” Clap, clap, clap. “Put papyers avay.” Clap, clap, clap. “Sveep.” Clap, clap, clap. I lock the living-room door and explain that it’s all part of a very complicated keyhole-cleaning process.

So I was put on bathroom bin duty. The bathroom bin is, of course, only an interim bin. When something is hurled into the bathroom bin, that is just the start of its post-use career. All the inside bits of loo-roll that we don’t use to make toys with we throw in there and then, when the bin is overflowing or when I have been nagged enough to do it, it will graduate from there to the paper bin in the kitchen. From there, it will eventually go to the house’s paper bin in the yard. Then, once every two weeks, as the notes stuck up all around the hall this week explain with considerable alarm, the boys in blue – not the police – will come and pick it up and take it onto the climax of its recycling life.

I moped from the bathroom to the kitchen. Began the glamorous task of sorting rubbish. Inner bit of loo roll. Paper bin. Empty shampoo bottle. Plastics. Ooh, another inner bit of loo roll. Plastics. Oh, fuck, no, paper. (Fished it out. Corrected my error.) A cotton-bud. Ooh, where do they go? Probably the non-descript bin. And on and on. I worked myself through the pile. And came across a condom.

Now I’m always encouraging the Russian to have affairs. “Have an affair, darling,” I’ll say, when there’s a moment’s silence between the claps. “I’m 74. Much too old to tend to your needs. And you’re only 19 or something. Have an affair, darling.” “I not vont khev affair.” “Oh, darling, honestly, don’t be so conservative.” But coming across a condom shattered my delusions of modernity. I grimaced, held the offending item at distance as if it was a smelly sock and went to find the Russian. I prepared my best Gwyneth Paltrow English accent, pulled back the shower curtain (for he was showering, to excellent dramatic effect) and asked, “Darling, are you having an affair?”

“Vot you doing? Vot? Vot zat? Srow it avay.”

“Darling, are you having an affair? Why else is there a condom in our bin? And I know it’s not from us because couples don’t have sex in March, obviously. Are you bringing men home HERE?”

“How could I khev affair? You never leave khouse. It’s from them,” he said, motioning towards the living room from the shower.

“Them? What them? There isn’t any them.”

“Them. Our gyests from last veek.”

Our guests from last week whom I’d clean forgotten. The realisation that I was holding my friend’s condom in my hand made me grimace more fiercely, the Russian grimace with me and both of us holler yuk-like noises for the next three hours. I dropped it back in the bathroom bin and tried to put the incident out of my mind.

Just as well, really. Wouldn’t have known which bin to recycle it in anyway. Bio or packaging?


1. Marsha Klein - March 23, 2008

I LOVE your “domestic harmony” posts.

A very happy Easter to you and the Russian. x

2. annie - March 23, 2008

hahahahahahahaha! and, ewwwwww. How rude of your guests, having sex in your house. Dirty beasts.

How could I khev affair? You never leave khouse

hahahahahahaha! Love it.

3. ThePenguin - March 24, 2008

ewww, I was having breakfast while reading that.

Fortunately I can go “Snow!? Hahahaha. It’s spring where I am, spring! The pink wotsits are just starting to do their blooming trick, the season of drunken hanami parties is almost upon us”. Oh, and Happy Easter too, I’d forgotten all about that (it’s a complete non-event here).

4. BiB - March 24, 2008

Penguin, I do apologise. I know it was a very unsavoury topic, and for Easter Sunday too. But, yes, snow. More forecast (just to keep you up to speed with the Berlin weather) and temperatures as low as -4. Sunny and bright blue skies, though. It’d be nice weather for December.

Annie, I suppose I can’t impose a sex ban on guests, can I? Though I have wondered whether I might leave a bible by the IKEA sofa-bed from now on. Mind you, no bedside cabinet for it to be tucked discreetly away in. Or put signs up, in a nice clear font, saying, “Sex-having guest(esse)s are reminded it is their own responsibility to dispose of any related detritus.” Or perhaps I should set some rules within the first couple of minutes of their arrival, and make them sign their comprehension of said rules, guaranteeing an enjoyable and light stay for all, no doubt.

Marsha, thank you, but we also rather Japanesely avoided the whole affair. Or ignored it. Or forgot it. Plus we can claim it was only half-Easter as Orthodox and non didn’t coincide this year – they did last – so we will have the thrill of a second go at Easter – I went to Orthodox church last year – some weeks from now. Hope you haven’t got a chocolate hangover.

5. Mr D - March 24, 2008

What is Easter, anyway? (Apart from being a word that foreigners always get wrong when speaking English!)

It has no meaning unless you’re a child or you’ve got a severe case of relig. Same can be said for Christmas, too, but Easter’s not connected to booze and presents and some special cosy spirit. I vote for its destruction. Let it be replaced by a mandatory pagan bonking ritual. (Or is that Glastonbury/the Berlin Love Parade/etc, etc?)

6. BiB - March 24, 2008

Mr D, it’s another equinox one, isn’t it? Originally, I mean. That Christianity has cottoned onto in a big way. Though I’m not sure. And are the eggs meant to mean fertility, which means your bonking festival might not be far off. (I think the Love Parade is only a bonking festival for 15-year-olds, so it could perhaps remain separate in the liturgical calendar as The Feast of Deflowerment, or something.)

The Russian did ask me – presumably this has now happened 8 years running and we’re none the closer to an answer – how we in the Vyest celebrate Easter, and I say we don’t, really. Unless, indeed, it is with the foisting of chocolate onto minors. Which, actually, I suppose to their credit, I must say my parents didn’t go in for at all. Or maybe they were just skint. I don’t know if the ‘western’ churches have especially special services, or anything. The Orthodox do, not that I can tell the difference, really, but it involves actually leaving the church at one point and the priest doing a circuit of the building and blessing food that people have brought along. In Raasha, at home, folk also smash their (regular boiled, though perhaps painted) eggs off each other’s before tucking in.

I tried to tell the Russian about hot cross buns and Easter bonnets too but I think he’d gone out by the time I finished.

7. Katia - March 24, 2008

Greetings from sunny Brooklyn. Loved your post!

I had wanted to go to the German Consulate here in New York today to renew passports, but those lazy Germans got themselves another Oster Feiertag. “Oster Montag” it says on the web. Why not “Oster Diesntag”,too? Why not take the whole week while they are at it.

As far as guests are concerned, now that it’s spring, I am starting to get THOSE calls from Germany from long forgotten friends, the ” we are coming to New York” calls.
The ” Were wondering if we could stay with you” calls.
In other words, “we are too cheap to book a $500 a night hotel, even though the Euro is worth so much more than your sorry dollar.” calls.

” We will bring a bag of Gummibärchen and Kinderschokolade from the old homeland, too”

Oh, I sound bitter, don’t I? But I always wonder if they would remember me from Kindergarten if I lived in Boise, Idaho instead of New York.

I feel so used!

8. Marsha Klein - March 24, 2008

I think Easter comes from Eostre, the anglo-saxon goddess of spring. I’m pretty sure that exchanging eggs (as symbols of fertility, sure enough) predates Christianity by a good way. Like Saturnalia/Yule, the early Christians got hold of the pagan spring festivities and reinterpreted them, with the tradition of rolling decorated eggs down a hill (something I always did as a child and my own kids still do) coming to symbolise the rolling away of the stone at the mouth of Jesus’ tomb. I think I’ve also read that something similar to hot cross buns predate the Christian tradition, the cross being a later addition. Of course, the other thing Easter shares with Christmas is that, once it had been incorporated into Christianity, the forces of commercialism took over and it became a choc-fest (and the time of year that garden centres do most business).
As far as church celebrations go, isn’t Easter supposed to be the really big deal (i.e. bigger than Christmas?) I think there are special services – not that I’d know, being a life-long unbeliever. I like Easter, though. I enjoy decorating eggs and baking and all that kind of stuff (we used to do Easter bonnets too, when the kids were younger). Does the Russian make pashka and kulich? I’ve always fancied trying my hand at Russian Easter baking.

9. Mr D - March 24, 2008

We used to paint hard-boiled eggs and roll them down a hill. We also had to find chocolate eggs hidden in the garden. But what is this Easter bonnet thing?

10. Mangonel - March 25, 2008

Yes, Easter is the biggest Christian (of any denomination) deal of all – the whole of Christianity is because of Easter.

As Marsha said, the eggs and the bunny (should be a hare) belong to Eostre and her european cognates.

Maybe you could nod towards the season with a chocolate flavoured condom?

11. BiB - March 25, 2008

Mango, matron! Though flavouring condoms seems an odd thing to bother doing, either because – oh gosh, I must keep this decent – well, there often ain’t no taste-buds where it’s going to end up and if there do happen to be, well, you don’t want to be distracted with thoughts of chocolate. Mind you, an alternative use could be, if you’re a choc addict, to put a mars bar inside one and just have a wee suck on that and hopefully get your choc-fix.

Mr D, I had a deprived childhood. Never heard of this rolling-eggs-downhill malarkey. Is someone there to catch them at the bottom? It seems an awful waste otherwise. And the bonnets thing is, I think, rewarding yourself at the end of Lent by buying yourself something new. I suppose, if we want to be culturally comparative about it all, we can even claim the gorging on choc at the end of Lent is like that big bash Muslims have at the end of Ramadan.

Marsha, ten out of ten to you for your Russian-Easter-baking knowledge. I think I only heard about them recently. I think the Paskha – that’s also the word for Easter, by the way – is just a big, fuck-off hot cross bun. And I slightly can’t remember what kulich is. Does it come out shaped a bit like the Tower of Babel? Bugger, wait, have just got googling and think I might be wrong on both counts. Anyway, no, the Russian doesn’t do ’em. But, yes, and certainly as far as the Orthodox church is concerned, Easter is the biggy. Russians are (re)new(ed) to the church, in a way, so they’re still catching up with knowing what this Christianity business is all about, but Easter is certainly when they’ll bother to traipse off to church, if at all. Christmas means pretty much nothing at all.

Katia, I always panic for 700 years if someone as much as plans to come over for a cup of tea (which no-one ever does, actually) but then it always turns out fine in the end and is even fun and even the condom-finding incident hasn’t dented my guest enjoyment. But, yes, you are in a guest-hotspot. I’ve always lived in guest-attracting places and sure enough people have turned up wherever I’ve been. I’m glad to have opened Russia’s door to a good few people, including my mother (who hated it, actually, but never mind), who would never have come if I hadn’t been there to guide them through it.

12. d.z.b. - March 25, 2008

Is there anywhere your mother likes, apart from, presumably, the rural idyll to which she is moving?

13. BiB - March 25, 2008

d.z.b., do you know, oddly, she liked Switzerland. There’s a relative there who showed her a good time, I think, and it was ‘awful clean’ or ‘fierce clean altogether,’ or something, and clean=beautiful and, I suppose, good, to old Irish ladies. It does to Russians too, incidentally. Show a Russky something neat and tidy and they’ll be spraying you in ‘krasivo’ before you can soil it to their great consternation.

14. d.z.b. - March 25, 2008

Hang on – but some of them find Alexanderplatz (as was) kbeautiful too, don’t they? Am currently listening to Radio 4 on insomnia. I’d prefer it if the programme was broadcast in the middle of the night, but my work forces me to have some kind of usual sleep pattern, sadly.

15. BiB - March 26, 2008

Russians, you mean, or old Irish ladies? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone call Alexanderplatz beautiful, although I did wonder what the Russian was referring to when, having arrived in Berlin a bit before me on our first visit, he told me the city was ‘beautiful’. Again, I think he must have meant neat and tidy. I still shudder at the memory of my first sightseeing tour, which was a deserted Alexanderplatz on a freezing summer evening. No wonder it took me about four years to even vaguely start enjoying the city.

16. Katchyta - March 26, 2008

There’s one of those lurking at the bottom of my rubbish bin, as well; it seems to have stuck itself to the plastic liner. It’s one of my own so the “yuck” factor is lessened. I could un-stick it, I suppose, but I think I’m leaving it there as a fond but quickly fading memory that sex is, upon the proper semi-annual confluence of stars and snow, possible in Berlin…

17. BiB - March 26, 2008

Yes, quite right. Leave it there as a memento sexum. And, yes (again), it being there of your own putting deyuks it completely, unless you’re particularly prudish or squeamish, and you don’t strike me as either.

18. Ed Ward - March 27, 2008

I’ve seen “strawberry” and (gaaah) “banana” flavored condoms in vending machines in truck-stops in the U.S. and, I think, in dingy Berlin bars. Just a data-point, mind you.

Incidentally, it’s spring in the Languedoc. Mighty nice out there.

19. BiB - March 27, 2008

Ed, are you still down there? (Dashes to facebook. None the wiser.) Oh god, the weather is so going to make you curse Berlin for ever if you’re back within the next couple of days. Though the clocks go forward on Sunday. Hurrah! And I don’t think any more minus temperatures and snow are forecast till May. Hurrah!

20. narrowback - March 27, 2008

ah, a return to minus temperatures and snow just in time for my visit. i guess the weather gods don’t want me to feel homesick. we had 12 inches of snow on good friday and it’s ice storming right now

21. BiB - March 27, 2008

Fuck, I’ve lost the neckerchief I’d tied a knot in. When are you coming?

22. narrowback - March 27, 2008

May 7 thru 13

between the endless winter here in Chi & the fact that my last several visits were at less than optimal times of the year I do hope the weather is a wee bit springlike by that point

23. BiB - March 28, 2008

Oh, I’m sure it’ll be all t-shirts, shorts and sandals by then. Hurrah!

24. narrowback - March 28, 2008

yeah, riiiiiight…

you’ll be around at that time?

25. BiB - March 28, 2008

Sure will. Just off to buy another neckerchief to tie a knot in.

26. Sylvia - March 28, 2008

Ha! Your post struck a chord with me, that’s for sure.
The In laws are coming round tomorrow (SIL is the original Stepford Wife) so I spent a couple of hours just cleaning one room! Hoovering the sofa was a revelation -I found a mountain of crumbs, dust, cushion feathers, money and even cutlery, along with some ancient sweetie wrappers from well before christmas. And I can’t see the difference! Still, at least I felt virtuous enough to enjoy my lunch out later on- Benares in Berkley Square, if you please. Then a quick whizz round the RA for the Russian Exhibition, thanks to my RA members card. Lots of lovely stuff. The place was absolutely heaving.
Still, having guests is the perfect excuse to clean. A recent visitor was most embarassed to see us clearing up the landing in her honour. Not because we were hoping she’d sleep there, but because we desperately needed an excuse to do it! Like the time we only cleared out the garage because of our mousy visitors.
At least it made me take the last pushchair and all the attachments up to the charity shop…… Quite what we thought the mice would do with it, I really don’t know. Still, for the first time since we moved in, there is a vague possibility that we could actually get a car in there!

27. BiB - March 29, 2008

Sylvia, I suppose one minor advantage of being a skint homosexual is that you are likely to accrue a bit less junk. No children. No cars. No garages. But any spare space will, inevitably, become enjunked. This flat comes with its own cellar, down in the basement of the house, and the Russian and I, who own nothing, have still managed to fill it, chiefly with empty suitcases and flattened cardboard boxes, all of which we could, of course, do without.

You’ve been away for an age. Is this all to do with training for your bra-walk?

28. emeline - March 29, 2008

Doh! What an interesting equation: lust added to the Easter Time. It seems to be quite provocative to have sex during a Christian holy day; furthermore homosexuality is an original sin, according to Benedict XVI! Since I’m highly cynical, and a French sinner, I think it could be an amazing rebellion act to make love only during that holy times! That’s the way I like it, uh uh! (I hope you appreciate the reference to the great band KC & The Sunshine Band! I like to listen to Disco music!) Amen.

Pleite, are you used to have a look inside the bins? Maybe your friends would have been more precautionnous by hiding the condom within a toilet paper. What do the Queen thinks about making love at home’s friends? Is it polite, or not?

29. BiB - March 29, 2008

Emeline, I’m sure ERII would never even contemplate such a thing. I wonder what she thought of having raunchy old Nicolas and Carla over for dinner this week.

Bins are no laughing matter in Germany. You misrecycle at your peril. I was only spared the firing squad last time I made an error when the High Court in Karlsruhe plead – bugger, darlings, can’t remember. What’s the past tense of plead? Plead (à la read/read) or pleaded? – for clemency what with me being a dim foreigner ‘n all.

I like your ‘precautionnous’ neologism very, very much indeed.

30. liukchik - March 29, 2008

Pleaded (He pleaded guilty to murder). I think.

31. BiB - March 29, 2008

Then I am officially self-diagnosing Alzheimer’s. Though I could claim it’s because I live abroad and never speak English, but that’s not true (at least not the second part) and I hear English-language radio and watch English-language TV. Thankfully, spell-check has reappeared and it instantly underlined ‘pled’, which I also gave a grammatical shot. Anyway, no time to start a campaign now to have plead follow lead and read’s fine example.

32. d.z. bodenberg - March 29, 2008

My kitchen’s overflowing with tetrapaks and non-returnable plastic bottles (those that had, pre-emptyness, non-fizzy contents or a certain percentage of fruit juices) and a wide range of tin foil since our yellow rubbish container vanished at the start of the year. Perhaps an eager member of recycling staff recycled the bin itself by the mistake – it does have the symbol on it and everything. But never mind that, I noticed today that “How disgusting is my flat” has been dropped by RTL 17, so who’s gonna come round and sort this all out now?

33. BiB - March 29, 2008

Is “How disgusting is my flat” a TV programme? I really need to start watching more TV. The trouble is, now that I have the whole world, or, at least, a good chunk of Europe, the Arab world, Turkey and Cuba at my fingertips, I often go abroad when I switch on the box.

Do you think the culprit is an eco-terrorist/activist of some sort trying to make you cut down on your consumption?

34. d.z. bodenberg - March 30, 2008

I was obviously getting confused regarding the title and channel a bit – though John Peel might have done the voiceovers on something similar a long while ago, in that period before he died when no BBC or Channel 4 programme was complete without him speaking over some pictures. I was actually referring to this, http://www.bbcamerica.com/content/100/index.jsp , which has been dropped, apparently, according to the Media Guardian. So it’s obviously very important news (if not quite as important as Charlotte Green ‘corpsing’ while reading an obituary, which merited a whole page in the print issue of yesterday’s Indy).

In my old place I could watch Iraqi TV in the last days of Saddam. I couldn’t understand much, but it didn’t matter as most of the time they were broadcasting Saddam shooting into the air, and Schlager-like singers singing his praises on a 24 hour loop. Iranian state TV was somewhat more interesting, with a 24 hour simultaneous English live translation, even of their equivalent of Pebble Mill at One. I did feel sorry though for the cookery presenters who were visibly getting very hot under their hijabs. Rustie Lee in a poncho hovering over a gas stove. Health and Safety would never allow it in the UK.

35. BiB - March 30, 2008

“Hot under the hijab” sounds like a sneer. Not from you, but the type of thing some folk might say about hot-headed Muslim reactionaries. Speaking of which, I bothered to watch the Fitna film when it ‘came out’. Good lord, what utter pus. Yes, yes, yes, he should be allowed to make it, of course, and should be allowed to show it, I suppose, but it’s such a bad film. So amazingly bad. It looks as if it’s been cobbled together by, say, my (6-year-old) nephew and has footage of September 11th, July 7th, the Madrid bombings, Ken Bigley’s head. I don’t know what he thought he was adding to the equation.

I like Charlotte Green’s voice. And her corpsing instantly made me dash to find, “Oh Aggers, do stop it.” A pal once sent me a recording of lots of famous TV/radio fits of giggles and it was wonderfully lovely.

Livid our TV doesn’t make it as far as Iraq and Iran. In fact, where the Arab world is concerned, we are very much North Africa only. Morocco galore. (Or do I have to say Moroccan Berbers are not Arab?) Algeria. Tunisia. Egypt. And the Jazeeras, which I don’t think have anything particularly Qatari about them.

Sorry for waffling. Deadline, don’t you know.

36. ThePenguin - March 31, 2008

when the High Court in Karlsruhe plead – bugger, darlings, can’t remember. What’s the past tense of plead? Plead (à la read/read) or pleaded? – for clemency

Surely “the High Court in Karlsruhe granted my plea for clemency”? You were the one doing the pleading, not the court, unless you had a particularly skilled / inept lawyer.

37. d.z. bodenberg - March 31, 2008

Everyone loves Ms Green’s voice, even when distorted on Long Wave – though Aggers (isn’t he dead by now?) or his consorts’ cricket commentary at the moment has put me off retuning just to hear Dogger, Fisher and the rest, which means I have to stick to the German version, which isn’t nearly as nice, especially as the poor soul who has to read it out at 1.05am clearly has even less idea what it means than I do, and is very, very tired, yawning throughout most of it on most occasions.

I actually did only mean “hot under…” in relation to the stupidity of being forced to wear that kind of attire when trying to cook (and not just when trying to cook under the hot lights of live television and above the heat of gas flames).

38. BiB - March 31, 2008

D.Z., indeed, Johnners is long since departed. Though I think Aggers is still going strong. But you mean there is a German shipping forecast? On what? I haven’t cottoned on to German radio at all.

Penguin, my fantasy was the Karlsruhe crowd would intercede on my behalf and perhaps even do a bit of pleading with whatever other two-bit, mickey-mouse court it was that was having me sentenced to firing squad for… forgotten my crime, erm… misrecycling. Or don’t courts do interpleading? I recently learnt the awfully clever legalese word rogatory. Buggered if I remember what it means now though.

Thank you both for such excellently timed comments. Just reading through the final version of my latest pus translation and needed a distraction.

39. emeline - March 31, 2008

Pleite, I was wondering how is Berlin? I mean to live and work there. How is the cost of living? Do the Berliners speak English? Do you like your life there, or do you miss London?

40. ThePenguin - March 31, 2008

BiB, Seewetter from Deutschlandfunk, Germany’s national insomnia cure.


Emeline, I’m not Pleite aka BiB, but I am British and live(d) a long time in Berlin, so I feel qualified to spout off a couple of pfennigs worth. Umm, lousy job market (which is one reason why I’m not there any more), but vastly preferable to any British provincial town. Most educated Berliners speak fairly good-to-excellent English, but the Lumpenproletariat are more hit than miss, and there are vast swathes of the population in certain areas who don’t even speak decent German.

41. emeline - March 31, 2008

Thank you for replying, ThePenguin! You’re nice.
PS: I have written a comment on your fascinating Japanese blog. I’m so pleased for having discovered it!

42. emeline - April 1, 2008

A last question: Pleite, you use WordPress, do you receive some Spams in the comments? I’m fed up with that!

43. BiB - April 2, 2008

Emeline, I think wordpress has this Akismet spam-catching programme as standard and it seems to work very well. I’ve got a feeling I got more spam when I first had this blog and now it appears to have slowed down. In any case, yes, Akismet works well so I don’t mind it too much (and sometimes they make me laugh, even).

Penguin, thank you, you gentleman (and scholar, I’d better add, for tradition’s sake). I somehow thought you’d already lived here, Emeline, as I thought your first (?) blog, Tempus Universalis, was Berlin-based, but I must have imagined that.

44. emeline - April 2, 2008

Pleite, you have actually imagined that ! I live in France (poor Emeline), and I’m still wondering where I could work abroad !

45. BiB - April 3, 2008

Emeline, but France is heaven on earth, isn’t it? Although I’ve met France-hating French people but always think that, like homosexuality, it’s probably just a phase. I want you to leave a comment on PRECISELY April 3rd 2028 to tell me if you are still finding living in France a chore.

Well, if the work is not the essential part of the being-abroad experience, i.e. is just any old job to put a roof over your head, then that would work in either Berlin or London. But, in Berlin, even just with any old job, you could still probably afford to live in first (or at least second) world conditions whereas in London, you would live in unspeakable squalor in a rancidly filthy flat in a part of London so far from anywhere that no-one but you would have heard of it. If the work is an important, careery part of the being-abroad experience, then London is where the streets are paved with gold. Unfortunately, it costs 12 ingots just to take a bus, which is why the pavements there are in a terrible state.

Shit, I forgot, in England, you want to be in a small town…

I hear Paris is nice.

46. emeline - April 3, 2008

Pleite, France isn’t heaven on hearth! Even though gastronomy, landscapes and Paris are incredible, you can’t live through that! Actually, finding a job is quite complicated (even a small job), a place to live too, French people are rude and narrow-minded, and so on… [“homosexuality is just a phase”: I’m used to hear that kind of words about me!]

I have thought once again about working in England, and I have probably changed my mind! Cost of living is unbelievable (health, food, retirement, accomodations, transports, or housing). In London as well as in small towns! I try to find informations about Spain or Berlin, now! I just wait and see!

Paris is nice as a tourist (like in London).

47. d.z. bodenberg - April 3, 2008

Health expensive in Britain? That’s about the cheapest thing in the place…

48. BiB - April 4, 2008

d.z., too true, too true, though National Insurance contributions presumably work out rather a fortune for people earning decent salaries. But there’s a nice psychological comfort in not having to cough anything up (bar perhaps a diseased lung, or some phlegm) when you visit the quacks.

Emeline, hard to know how Berlin would grab you. It might be one of those love-it-or-hate-it places. Sorry for the cliché. I suppose everywhere is like that. My current attitude to the place is resigned satisfaction.

49. emeline - April 4, 2008

Health is expensive in Britain: for instance: the dentists! A lot of French associations based in London told me not to be ill, because pills and doctors are expensive.

Pleite, have you ever visited Madrid? or Luxembourg?

50. BiB - April 4, 2008

I went to Madrid when I was 16 on a sort of informal exchange and liked it well enough but didn’t fall in love. Plus, I was properly in love, for the first time, back in London and couldn’t wait to get home. And I once drove through Luxembourg on the way to somewhere bigger. It had mixed sex public toilets.

Medication is still very heavily subsidised in the UK and, unless this has changed, there is a set price for prescriptions. But, yes, dentists are a system unto themselves, it seems.

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