Saturday, October 04, 2008

September update

Yes, I know it's October, and that this September Update is therefore already out of date. This, unfortunately, is what happens when living life away from the stresses and strains of timetables, clocks, appointments and generally having things to do - I can't even meet my own deadlines anymore.

I'm sorry to say that this will probably develop into a slightly subdued update, on account of still-lingering post-All-Ireland final thrashing syndrome, a lack of orgies and naked swimming parties over the last month, shitty weather and generally a much quieter September than previous months - probably because I spent most of it away from Berlin.

The original plan was to drive back to Ireland to sell the car, but after driving to and around Paris, Versailles etc. on the way, I re-bonded with her and couldn't find it in myself to sell her like some unscrupulous pimp. So now she's sitting in my parents' back garden in Bray, probably rusting and getting covered in brambles. I'm not sure that's a better life for my beloved vehicle but at least I'm not a pimp.
Now that we're separated however, my feelings of loyalty for Derval are receding again. I'll sell her at Christmas - feelings or no feelings. The money will help me cope with the grief.

My weekend in Ireland was spent getting a ticket for the All-Ireland final. I'm sorry to say I was successful - just proves you should always be careful what you wish for. "Don't stop believing" was the slogan for the Waterford lads but nobody expected them to stop hurling. Copper Face Jacks was an interesting experience afterwards though. Hundreds of GAA jerseys and bad teeth in a state of constant motion. Drunken hurling atoms. Those trying to remember what they were trying to forget, others trying to forget what they were trying to remember, and others trying to get served at the bar. I eventually got a pint, and had it promptly sloshed all over my jersey. They should come with detachable bibs and a mini-trough to catch spillages.

Yes, it was good to be back, if only to confirm I was right to get the hell out while I could. When I heard this week that Bertie was getting €68,000 in severance payments after his resignation I nearly puked. Talk about insult to injury! It's time to send a few pikemen to demand the money back from all those parasitic leeches/leeching parasites. A few carefully inserted pikes in the right orifices...

After Ireland, I took my beer-soaked carcass to Madrid to dry out for a week. I had finally made it! Nothing particularly out of the ordinary happened there - A Real Madrid match, La Noche en Blanco (all-night cultural extravaganza with giant plastic ducks in fountains and other cultural stuff), a trip to Don Quijote country (Castilla La Mancha) and other tourist stuff. I also caught up with the parents who are still trying to understand what I'm doing in Berlin instead of Madrid.

Nowhere's perfect, I realise that, but in two and a half weeks I was able to compare four countries and their capital cities. I've come up with the following conclusions:
  • Ireland has more than it's fair share of knackers. (Not the travelling variety - the scumbag variety. The travelling type are, strangely enough, travelling, and endearing Ireland to the Continental Europeans. Half the passengers on the Irish Ferries boats to and from Cherbourg were knackers. I'd say if there was ever a proposal to build a bridge from Ireland to the continent, the rest of Europe would vote it down.)
  • Paris shopkeepers are rude as fuck. (I realise this not exactly new, but I went into a shop, said "Bonjour"to the auld wan behind the counter and she just looked at me! Didn't even answer! You wouldn't mind as much if they didn't try and rob you then with their prices. I promptly left (without saying goodbye) and brought my business to a friendlier establishment.
  • Madrid is loud and rude. Jesus Christ, people fucking ROAR at each other! They must be all deaf. People must get used to it after a while. And the old women there are unbelievable for storming onto the metro to get the seats. Even if there are just two of you waiting for the damn thing, and an empty train rolls into the station, yer wan will probably shove you out of the way so she can sprint into the carriage.
I haven't quite figured out where Berlin fits on this rudeness chart. Most people I've met are ridiculously friendly, but there are others, like the French hag, who won't reply when you say hello to them. The security guard from the company across from my house, standing there looking at me as I locked my bike, remained mute when I issued a friendly, yet I stress, a not too-forceful, hello. Jesus! What's wrong with these people? He had nothing else to do!!! It would probably have been the highlight of his night.

Berlin does strange things to a man. I was given a rose for my birthday. The biggest rose I've ever seen. I actually thought it was great. Imagine that – liking a flower!!! It's still in the vase in my room, albeit slightly mouldy and not as impressive as before.

I also have a plant in my room, which, I'm unashamed to say, is flourishing under my care. Yesterday however, one of the leaves broke, causing me to ask questions of myself. Did I do all that I could to prevent this calamity? Am I a bad plant-parent? What do I do now? Rip off the remainder of the leaf or make some sort of splint to help it recover? Some might say I'm taking leaf of my senses. Jesus, imagine having a kid or a dog...

So life has its pressures, even in Berlin. Despite ever lengthening breakfasts (brewing fresh coffee, boiling eggs and reading the paper seems to take longer and longer each day), monetary concerns are threatening to spoil the mood. Yes, I now need to get a job. Unfortunately however, it might not be as simple as first assumed. Apparently, within a week or having a permanent address, you're supposed to register yourself at the local Bürgeramt. To do that you need proof of your address and a whole other pile of shit. After the rigmarole of registering as a resident, one must register for a work permit, even as an EU citizen, but to do that you need health insurance which is compulsory in Germany. To me health insurance has always been a contradictory notion – one can only get its full benefit you're sick. It's only slightly better than death assurance which of course is a complete waste of time.

Anyway, I went to Bürgeramt yesterday and was confronted by chaos. Despite the surprising lack of fast food, the place was crammed . I managed to get the form I needed but I've been so discouraged by the line of hoops I'm gonna have to jump through, that I'm seriously just thinking of becoming a hitman. No women no kids. Unless they're snotty-nosed fuckers, but there's a surprising lack of snotty-nosed women in Germany anyway. Contrary to popular belief in Ireland, German women take hygiene seriously and snot is definitely not tolerated.

Anyway, we'll see what happens. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a look at the form. One step at a time. I'm gonna have to get some money from somewhere though - I'm hitting Central America for a month after Christmas so I'm gonna have to start saving for that.

I'm afraid my beer-drinking TV job didn't work out. They wanted to fly me to Munich, put me up in a hotel and pay me €100 a day to drink beer for a TV programme to determine the "world's best beer". It sounded too good to be true and it was. They wanted British beer drinkers for their three-man "jury". The stereotypical lager louts and idiots I suppose. There was no way I could pretend to be British. Imagine that on my gravestone. I sympathetically offered to take the part if they said it was a British and Irish jury, but apparently well-refined beer connoisseurs didn't fit into their plans for lowest common denominator television.

This week I took steps to further progress my German. I genuinely thought I'd be fluent by now, but I've a helluva long way to go. Anyway, last Wednesday was the first day of my Deutsch Krimi Lesen class - Criminal novel reading. ("Krimi" is short for Kriminalroman. German is great like that - you can take any word you want, chop the end off, and stick an "I" its place. Thus Americaner becomes Ami, Laptop is Lappi etc. It doesn't work with every word however - my surname doesn't really benefit from this linguistic marvel, although I became Kiri for a while in my last German class.)
I'm getting off the point here slightly. The Krimi is called "Der rote Hahn" (The Red Chicken) so it promises to be real edge of the seat stuff. It's only once a week, so I'm going to have to try my best not to peek and read ahead for the rest of the week.
I've also enrolled in a proper class so that should actually help. That kicks off next Thursday, but it starts at 8.30 every morning. 8.30!!! Crazy Germans. I don't know how I'm going to get up for that five days a week. I might bring a sleeping bag and just kip outside the door every night.

It's a bit cold for that however. It's been fucking freezing!!! I had to invest in a jacket today. I'm quite happy with it. It's got a picture of an elk on the back. Hopefully it's warm too and it'll will fit, but whatever happens I'll look cool this winter - either way.

Okay. Time to go. Once the topic turns to weather a welcome has been overstayed. Once it's pissing rain in Ireland I don't care. If someone starts a pikeman crusade and they're looking for volunteers, please let me know. I'd even forsake one Krimi reading class for the privilege.

Pass gut auf Dich auf, aber sei glücklich - kein Tag kommt wieder!
Liebste Grüße,
Der Sloper