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Party! November 1, 2009

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
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The useful side-effect of the Russian having magnifying glasses surgically attached to his face to spot my shortcomings more easily is that he’s now brilliant at reading the small print on any threats that come in the post and all-roundly excellent at noticing the little things in life that might easily pass us surgically-unenhanced types by.

We trooped into the house from an outing to buy booze or food, or perhaps both. I shuddered as I walked past the newly-erected map of the house, showing who lives where with full names. “Darling, now they’ll all know we’re two men,” when I think the disguise the Russian had been using had had everyone convinced all along. But he showed no interest. He was already polishing his surgical enhancements and peering at a new note that had been put up by a neighbour.

There, in mousey handwriting, was an apology-cum-invitation for/to a party. A new neighbour, she explained. And the move coincided with her birthday, she explained. How couldn’t she have a party, she wrote, as if trying to convince herself it was a good idea. So she apologised in advance if there was going to be any noise and added that if any of us should like to attend her party, we were more than welcome. Please bring your own eye-glasses.

The Russian and I concluded in speed and silence that we would stay at home. We would tut as strains of Livin’ La Vida Loca reached our ears but resist calling the police just this once. Let the girl have some fun. Her birthday AND a new flat. Live and let live a little. But our trains of thought were interrupted by a clamour at the front door. The flash of cameras almost blinded us – the Russian’s magnifying glasses have their downsides too – and we were nearly flattened by a throng of men wearing corduroy and carrying clipboards.

“Guinness Book of Records,” they explained once we’d recovered our footing and hidden our surprise/disgust at the presence of other humans in our house.

“Are we down for ‘dullest house in the world for a record number of consecutive years’?” we inquired as one in different languages to the thankfully multilingual team.

“No, ‘speediest decision not to attend a party’,” replied one of the corduroy-wearing men as he pinned badges to our lapels and gave us each a plastic-bag’s worth of freebie Guinness paraphernalia. The Russian apologised for stabbing him in the face with the handles of his magnifying glasses and I suggested once more he have them sawn off. We smiled for the cameras and made our way up the stairs, chastened that we had been rewarded for our unwillingness to extend the hand of friendship to a newcomer in our midst.

The day of the party arrived. The Russian and I were redoubledly thrilled both at the thought of flagrantly missing an opportunity to make a social effort and out of curiosity at what a party in this house might sound like. I mean, it’s all very well hearing Ricky Martin a mile or so down the road but people have been known to call the police at a post-watershed sneeze up here. I made any excuse to venture into the communal bits of the house. Recycled coffee grains one by one. Quickly got a job delivering flyers for pizza parlours so I could spend time loitering by the post-box. Checked the electricity metre. Went to the cellar to see if any of the rat-poison had gone.


“Darling, the party’s very quiet, isn’t it?”

“She not write time on eenvityayshn. Maybe voz dyaytime party. Zey khev ze koffyee and ze kyake and go.”

Which could easily have been the case and the noise she was pre-apologising for might well have been the furious tinkling of forks on plates and coffee cups being replaced deafeningly on acoustic saucers.

The Russian and I got on with some communal silence. But curiosity got the better of me and I went for one last peek from behind the curtains, dislodging a fly we thought we’d made a deal with as I did so. The Russian and I looked at each other in panic.

Three seconds later the doorbell rang. The Russian slipped back into his disguise just in case it was the landlord double-checking. We checked our hair in the hallway mirror in case it was the photographer from the Guinness Book or Records back for one last stunning shot.

The neighbours had formed a human pyramid so that no-one’s view of the spectacle would be hindered. Every woman wore a hair-net. Every man wore a dressing-gown over pyjamas and held an unlit pipe. The Russian recoiled slightly to cancel out the effect of his magnifying glasses. The spokeswoman for the group, who explained this was unusually inconvenient because she was still sweeping up crumbs from the very successful party she’d just hosted – the neighbours concurred with nods – and that she hoped this wasn’t how it was always going to be, looked demonstratively at her watch.

It was 10pm.

She handed me a fly-swat and gave wordless instructions for the human pyramid to disassemble.


1. Marsha Klein - November 2, 2009

Ha! A stunning return to form! Love the Russian’s disguise – a very fetching shade of pink. Was thinking about him the other day while admiring a silver birch tree. Then I remembered that silver birch trees don’t exist in Scotland!

P.S Holiday was in Cornwall, so no plane required and very enjoyable it was too.

2. narrowback - November 2, 2009

party avoidance behavior… reassuring – HA! – that I’m not the only won aflicted. Last night was halloween a MAJOR excuse to party here. I absented myself by slinking off to a non-halloweenish ethnic cultural event distant from the center of “partying? a refugee so to speak

3. narrowback - November 2, 2009


4. BiB - November 2, 2009

Narrowback, I’m sorry to say I did actually ignore the doorbell at one point on Saturday presuming it was going to be children trying to extort money through entertainment. I rang the Kinderamt instead and asked if they were somehow planning on putting the brakes on all this unhealthy fun.

Marsha, Cornwall has become a tradition. I’ve still never been. Bet I never go. And, yes, syeelvyer byurch egzyeest only in Raasha. If you want to see the real thing, get on a plane. Or a rather long train journey. Reckon it’d only be a day and a half to Kaliningrad… But, Marsha, you’ve stolen someone’s identity. Look whom you’re signing in as.

5. Marsha Klein - November 2, 2009

Oh help! That’s not me. Trouble is, I’m not sure where I’ve gone (so to speak)…

I think this is me this time…

6. BiB - November 2, 2009

Yep, that looks more like you than the emo gent at the other place.

7. zoeleon - November 11, 2009

Brilliant, truly brilliant. It couldn’t resonate any better with someone just coming in from impossibly, jarringly caotic Madrid.

8. Ed Ward - November 19, 2009

So glad to see you’re back! If I’ve taken your link off of my blog, assuming you’d passed away or something, I’ll reinstate it immediately. If not, your reappearance will automatically be noted. Huzzah!

9. Arabella - November 21, 2009

Makes me wonder: how DOES one host a tea party in Germany when vacuuming, clinking the lid of the teapot and the application of loud lipstick is prohibited during the afternoon?

10. Emma in Barcelona - December 6, 2009

BiB – how wonderful to be reading you again! I wish the neighbours (or veins as they are rather unattractively called in Catalan) would be as vigilant in my building as yours – the boys upstairs hold regular pre- and post- club weekend bashes and not so much as a tut from anyone else. Of course if I were a more fun person, I would either be at their parties or not know about them being out socialising myself. But I am not and am limited to internal hurrumphing and feeling weary just at the thought of not being in my pyjamas.

11. BiB - July 13, 2010

Emma, a billion apologies for taking fifty years to react. I’ve been naughty. But I hope your Catalan neighbours were out celebrating Spain’s glorious victory on Sunday night. The BBC managed to find some surly ones who said this wasn’t their victory too (though liked the Catalan flag being on display).

Arabella, I have given up on all hostly duties until we move to somewhere much more noise-friendly. Mind you, we have so much moral high ground with the horrible direct neighbours, I think I’m within my rights to host a rave every night. Boy can that lady shout.

Ed, thank you. I’m finding it a major struggle to keep up with blogging, I have to say. It’s been semi-ruined ever since I made the association that it was akin to masturbating in public. Dang, how do I mentally delete that association?

Zoeleon, I dread to think how much noise must have been made by neighbours – and everyone else – in Madrid last night. The scenes looked like pretty good fun on TV. And I was almost convinced I was going to experience success close up this time round…

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