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White trash September 19, 2008

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

Google says I’m riff-raff. Spot on, of course, but you don’t expect computers to be quite so damned discerning. But maybe it can sense the HP Sauce stains on my shirt or smell the vinegar off my crisp-soiled fingers. All I wanted was to google something, like any sane and sober person, when it provided a very ugly screen, which they’ve enuglied especially to put us riff-raff in our place, telling me that I reminded them of a virus-creating robot and spyware-ridden ne’er-do-well and, frankly, a bit of a tosser. And I had to do word verification just to get things back to normal, as if I was posting a comment on some lovely blog. I was struggling to hold back tears as it was – imagine not being allowed access to google. Surely a far more severe punishment than the death penalty – but they thought they’d complete the humiliation. The word verification word was ‘sCUmbAg’. Honestly!

I’m on the island. Bloody hell. Lovely here, innit? The Russian and I have already had to exchange soul-searching SMSes. “Darling,” I might write. “London is the wickedest place on the planet. We should probably move here tomorrow.” But he has to go and spoil things and shatter delusions by introducing reality. “Vere I vill vörk? Vot I vill do? Deesh-vosher?” Which, combined with freshly-formed thoughts of bedsits and single-ringed hotplates and the western end of the Bakerloo Line, saw me removing my dunce’s cap and thinking the current set-up, where I am treated to fantastic but infrequent snippets of London, is perhaps not the worst thing in the world.

I accept I may not be the first to point this out but it’s worth repeating. My god. Isn’t London fan-fucking-tastic (pardon me tmesis)? A pal asked me what had changed since I was last here as normally there’s some obvious shift or other. Though this time nothing has leapt out. Well, there always appear to be new buildings around Canary Wharf but I can’t remember that skyline from one trip to the next. I wouldn’t notice fashion trends, though people seem well-presented and, though this could be to do with my own magnificent age and decrepitude, folk look in good shape. Perhaps slobbishness is out (though I put on a good couple of kilos a day from all the delicious sausages). “Hmm,” I said to the pal. “Well, of course it’s still 900 times more crowded and racier than Berlin, but maybe things don’t seem quite as hectic as normal.” But I must have hit some quiet blip as when I ended up at London Bridge station some hours later, I thought I might pass out from the excitement of so much movement. Bloody hell. Humans swarming this way and that. Crowds the likes of which Berlin only sees when American presidential candidates or the Love Parade come to town. And yet, to my touristy eye, the atmosphere seemed pleasant enough. I never felt I was only a hair’s breadth from a frustration-unleashed bloodbath.

And my mother has moved to beyond London’s borders. To betjemanian Metroland. Even London Underground staff look bewildered when I ask for a zones 1-9 travelcard. “Where ya goin’?” they ask, pouring scorn on my mental probity. Then their eyes roll with dollar signs as they ring up my bill, a one-way ticket costing, naturally, 700 pounds. Still, London is so magnificent that I have even resisted the urge to engage in the quick getting-a-dig-in-at-how-expensive-everything-is conversation with Londoners. How else are we riff-raff to be kept out, after all?

So here I sit, blogging on what feels like a boiling hot day, though the body may have reset itself to autumn, in my mother’s Metroland garden. A little splash o’ Reeocka to wash down my second go of sausages of the day. A 25-metre extension cable keeping me hooked up to the grid. And nothing to disrupt the idyll but the odd scratch of a squirrel and my mother’s pen dancing elegantly across the Daily Mirror crossword (and perhaps my testiness at having to give hints to, “Scottish River. Three letters. TA_”).

It’s a privilege to be here.


1. red - September 19, 2008

you’re spoilt you know- London and Berlin are two of my favourite cities and you get to flit from one to the other. spoilt, i say.

2. BiB - September 19, 2008

Red, I agree. Really. I’ve been thinking that today. Even as a skint wastrel and flake, I get to mooch around the world like it was my oyster. Plus my lack of geographic ambition spoils me, because I don’t even want to get much further.

London is beautiful and exciting and the whole world in one place. Sort of. I’ve completely forgotten what Berlin’s like now but plan to be reminded of its joys next week, if I’m spared.

3. Marsha Klein - September 19, 2008

If, on your return to Berlin, you want to be reminded of how gorgeous London is, you could do worse than visit the new link on my blogroll (it’s the only photography-related one!). There you will find lovely, lovely pictures of London and a load of beautiful Scottish land, sea and sky ‘scapes to boot.

Enjoy your Rioja, kitten!

4. BiB - September 19, 2008

Marsha, but I was right, wasn’t I? It is the River Tax, isn’t it?

Shall examine the site when I can have a more leisurely surf at home next week. Almost cried from one of the first Scottish pics I opened.

5. Arabella - September 19, 2008

Oh for a sarnie of English sausages (bread dipped please!).

6. Valerie in San Diego - September 20, 2008

It sounds marvellous from here. Especially the sausages (especially since we’re vegetarian at home and I’m now home for the weekend).

(I love San Diego, it’s a very livable city, but it’s a million people and, while it’s got its attractions — Zoo! Beach! Desert! Mountains!—, as a city it’s nowhere near as fascinating as a ramble around London can be.)

Waggle a sausage in my direction, please. And for once, I mean that literally and not naughtily!

7. ThePenguin - September 21, 2008

I wonder if London will become a little saner now the global finance industry is disappearing up its own subprime? (Presumably the only reason why the pavements of Canary Wharf weren’t splattered with merchant bankers is because they couldn’t get the windows in the skyscrapers open?)

8. Mark Holland - September 21, 2008

Perhaps the bankers ended up splashing into the docks, got dragged out by the tide and being washed ashore on Heligoland as we speak?

9. Llewtrah - September 22, 2008

I can only cope with London in small doses and with frequent access to parks (of the untamed wilderness type, not the manicured type).

10. BiB - September 22, 2008

Llewtrah, hello! I am coming round to the idea more and more that I am right to only visit London once in a blue moon, for that keeps my love ardent and my passion voracious. I must say I do miss being able to pop to the river which I could do at my mum’s old pad near Teddington Lock.

Mark, I’ve alerted the coastguard and they are going to stand on Germany’s northwestern shores (and further adrift) and will set beacons aflame if a multitude of wet men in suits start to appear. D’you think they’ll manage to ask for assistance/maraud in Heligolandic?

Pengers, are you suggesting British skyscrapers are not built to the highest standards? Or maybe the windows were sealed shut so that bankers couldn’t set fivers alight to throw at anti-capitalism protesters. (Did that ever happen?) The odd thing was, and maybe this is only because the effects haven’t fully set in yet – anyway, isn’t there talk of riding out that storm? – or because the sun was shining but I’d never seen London happier.

Valerie, the sausages there are so bloody good. I can’t think where I’ve ever tasted better. Not that I’ve ever conducted a culinary tour devoted purely to the sausage, you understand. Or, for that matter, to any foodstuff. But I ate so many of the damned things that I could barely wobble onto the plane home. Crash diet. Starting any day now.

Arabella, as one whose tongue is no doubt familiar with both English and American sausage – cor blimey. That worked out more double entendrish than I could have hoped for – would you like to pronounce a comparison? I didn’t think saussies were any big deal when I was a nipper but it was in France that (two) folk – admittedly, one of the two was English, and the other was his daughter – began to rave about them and set me on the path to sausage-love. He especially loved post-war austerity sausages, masochistically, which would have had all sorts of meat replacements in them, such as bread.

11. narrowback - September 24, 2008

forgive the ignorance but are London sausages similar to irish bangers or are they a different sort altogether? I remember a scene in “In the Name of the Father” where they carry sausages over from Belfast…is it a matter of taste (i.e. NYC pizza vs. Chicago pizza) or is style/form?

With regard to american sausages you’d need to be a bit more specific BiB…d’ya want to compare breakfast sausages or the more main meal type – which are typically variations of wurst albeit americanized

your relationship with London sounds very similar to mine with NYC tho the ardor is failing the longer I reside in Chicago. Ah, we’ll put it to the test on Saturday.

12. BiB - September 24, 2008

I’m guessing but I’d say the saussies in England and Ireland are similar. Certainly they’re called bangers in England too. And when fried – none of this frankfurter-being-cooked-in-water malarkey – the skin will always be a nice dark brown. I suppose you can get Bratwurst in the UK, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it. The saussies of my youth, though similar to the ones I still love, were thinnish little affairs whereas, perhaps with prosperity and all the added sage, they’ve ended up right fat old things now.

13. narrowback - September 25, 2008

bangers and mash is comfort food for me

now don’t disparage the lowly frankfurter…in NYC it’s been a street food staple for over a century. granted some vendors sell the fried version but I’ve always been partial to the dirty water pup aka the ratdog. true aficionados prefer the Sabrett brand all beef kosher boiled in a water and beer mixture

14. BiB - September 25, 2008

To my knowledge the frankfurter has never been much of a hit in the UK, although it might be what gets stuck in hot-dogs. What seems to have completely gone out of food fashion, and which I loved when young, is black pudding, which was at least sausage shaped, if not actually a sausage. (Or does it qualify?) I haven’t tried Blutwurst here and don’t know if it’s similar. Anyway, my adult taste buds might object, at least cognitively.

I bloody adore bangers and mash.

15. narrowback - September 25, 2008

I think that technically black pudding meets the definition of sausage. one of my faves as well…maybe the next time i’m in town we’ll have to hunt down an irish breakfast/fry-up (I know a few places)

I found the berlin blutwurst OK but its not black pudding. different spices & manner of preparation. it’s boiled I think

16. BiB - September 25, 2008

Narrowback, I had thought EXACTLY the same thing. Next time you’re here, we’ll get a fry-up or bangers-‘n’-mash somewhere. There used to be a place called Ascot, I think, on Oranienburgerstr. which did what, if memory serves, they called an English breakfast. Gone the way of the dodo now.

Right, have spent the whole day avoiding work. Better dash off to the Stammtisch!

17. narrowback - September 26, 2008

and here I’ve been consigned to eating mcdonalds in the suburbs of toledo, ohio but sure thing next trip. January I think. I enjoy observing the LL Tag festivities.

the Kilkenny at Hackeshermarkt – forgive the spelling I’m away from my resources- has the breakfast as well as the Irish Pub out in Charlottenburg. It’s a deal then.

18. BiB - September 26, 2008

You’re on. Thank god it’s not in the Oscar Wilde which is the most depressing bar I’ve been to in Berlin.

19. Mark Holland - September 26, 2008
20. narrowback - September 27, 2008

maybe it’s my ISP (irish sensory perception – related to pubs) but despite being mentioned in all guide books as one of “THE” irish pubs of Berlin I’ve never set foot in the place

just this evening I stopped and had a pint at the pub where I had my first actual pint of guiness many, many, many, many moons – no, light years ago. Wiki “Tipperary Hill” it’s in Syracuse NY an interesting wee story

21. BiB - September 27, 2008

Narrowback, thank your ISP lavishly. It really is a decidedly grim place.

Mark, I’m not sure I ever watched Ripping Yarns, and I now regret that. Bloody hell, Michael Palin’s good. But poor old Eric!

22. marshaklein - September 28, 2008

Black pudding is the business and something we occasionally treat ourselves to with our Sunday morning scrambled eggs and bacon. Well, Brian and I do, the girls are too sophisticated (or squeamish, depending on your point of view).

Black pudding, fried egg and fried bread was a favourite cooked breakfast when I was a student. Mmmmm!

23. BiB - September 29, 2008

Marshypops, about once every 30 years I rustle up the full-on, heart-attack, fried breakfast, with bacon, saussies (obviously rubbish German ones. As we all know the Germans know nothing about sausage), mushrooms, tomatoes and eggs for me and the Russian. But I haven’t yet done the black pudding thang. Duly noted for the next occasion in 2011.

24. narrowback - September 29, 2008

What, no beans?

maybe next visit I’ll add the full breakfast kit (white & black pudding, bangers,rashers, etc.) to the list of items to be smuggled in… I’m already pretty adept in getting A his consignment of american chewing tobacco & O’s sald dressing dressing

25. BiB - September 30, 2008

Narrowback, I don’t majorly go with the beans as a breakfast ingredient although I know our German cousins, when doing the honours, think they’re an authentic touch.

The Russian and I did smuggle comestibles out of the UK once when I think it was streng verboten to do so, but I bet we didn’t infect a single god-damned person with BSE.

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