Wednesday, February 28

could it be "usaphile?"

enid: "what would you change about your past, if you were allowed hindsight?"

the man: "i'd have travelled in asia rather than the states after university. i suppose i was too much of a... a... there's no word for it."

enid: "you liked america?"

the man: "yeah."

enid: "no, there isn't. not like francophile."

the man: "yankophile?"

enid: "i think there's a good reason there's no word for it."

Tuesday, February 27

music before music stops

beccy posted the last three songs she'd listen to before all the ipods, radios and banjos* in the world stopped working, and then tagged enid to do the same. while enid is very chuffed and grateful to be tagged for only the second time ever, she's very nervous. you see, in her house, the man is the one who does music. enid's tastes are not fashionable or exciting. she likes to call rap "crap with a silent 'c'", which the man, who thinks of himself as john peel reincarnated, doesn't find funny. (not even the first time.)

(*probably banjos would actually still work after the cataclysmic event that stopped music. and so would bagpipes.)

once, when enid and the man had been going out for just a few weeks, two of the man's friends came to stay. late in the evening, after quite a lot of alcohol had been imbibed, the man opened a cupboard, where enid had hidden her albums, and showed them to his friends.

"sting!" they laughed, clutching their sides.

"simon and garfunkel!" they hooted, tears streaming from their eyes.

"al stewart!" they guffawed, rolling around on the floor.

so you can probably understand that, although enid does have some 21st century tastes, she's still nervous about sharing hr music with anyone except her psychiatrist. ah well, here goes.

she'll start with a blast from the past - patterns by simon and garfunkel, because when she was 18 and even more terminally untrendy than she is today, this song summed up enid's fears about life. she often chooses songs for their lyrics - probably why the man and his friends mock her choice of ear food.

From the moment of my birth
To the instant of my death,
There are patterns I must follow
Just as I must breathe each breath.
Like a rat in a maze
The path before me lies,
And the pattern never alters
Until the rat dies.

enid's spent a lot of her life living abroad, not having children, avoiding any hint of a life with patterns in it. was it the right decision? would she have been happier with someone she met at 20 and two children? and in the end, is not doing that more of a pattern than going for all the everyday anti-patterns (chaos) that children bring?

enid can't find this on youtube, so here's another favourite of hers, original video from the sixties too...

here's something a bit more recent - the jeweller by this mortal coil.

The jeweler has a shop
On the corner of the boulevard
In the night, in small spectacles
He polishes old coins
He uses spit and cloth and ashes
He makes them shine with ashes
He knows the use of ashes
He worships God with ashes.

enid loves the idea of an old man doing his best work even though no-one really notices or cares. a bit like those stone carvers in cathedrals that did as good a job on the bits no-one could see, because god could. (enid doesn't believe in god, nor he in her. it's a metaphor.) she also loves the minor key of this song, really haunting, she thinks.

(she's not found a very good version of the song on youtube - it only starts a fair way in, and then it's not as good as the one she has in itunes. but it will give you the idea.)

and finally, because english speakers tend to think that french music is crap (with a capital 'c' rather than a silent one), here's enid's favourite french song, from a couple of years ago. it's "elle m'a dit," by cali. it makes her want to cry because she misses france.

Je crois que je ne t'aime plus.
Elle m'a dit ça hier,
ça a claqué dans l'air
comme un coup de revolver.

Je crois que je ne t'aime plus.
Elle a jeté ça hier,
entre le fromage et le dessert
comme mon cadavre à la mer.

edit: enid totally forgot to tag anyone. she tags sally and juvation. (juvation's a pop star, so he'll put her to shame. sally probably has good taste (as opposed to enid, not juvation. although...)

Monday, February 26

on the difficulties of conversing while wearing a padded hood

the man: "and then I defended myself from some mice"

enid: "what?"

the man: "i said, I up-ended myself on some ice."

where enid blogs

enid loves the view from where she sits at her computer. that's why there are more pictures of that than the crap desk and chair borrowed from the man's work. (all their own furniture has been locked in storage in paris for a year and a half.)

other people are writing about their blog environments today - go and have a look at a dingo's got my barby. (is that an australian blog, do you think? nah.)

Sunday, February 25

of mice and men; a weekend that wasn't as planned

what enid had planned:

1. some nice long lie ins with jet lag. (enid loves west-east jet lag, because she's a morning person usually. it gives her a taste of what it's like to stay up all night with pots of energy, and then sleep in like a drugged thing, despite black russian terriers with early morning walk-wishes.)

2. meeting little miss moi on saturday night for a nice cup of tea and polite conversation. (aka getting pissed and dissing molvania a bit. oh, and handing over some vegemite.)

3. long walks with the dogs on the island

what actually happened:

1. the man woke up early every morning (see 3).

2. enid got flu and spent the weekend in the flat feeling crap.

3. it was very cold, and enid had flu (see 2).

3. the man, whose software is shipping this weekend, had a very, very bad time with his boss, hoohah. (whom they don't like anyway, because he doesn't trust them enough to co-sign their mortgage for a couple of months.) it brought it home to the man that he's not been happy for a while, thinks the company is pretty broken in many ways, and (hush! don't tell!) is considering not going to california after all. this has meant lots of lots of deciding how he feels (never easy) and they, as a couple, feel. (even harder.)

the choices are:

1. the man takes job in california, they take on a big mortgage which needs both their incomes to pay it off. if tm wants to change jobs, it's much harder than it would be in europe because he's an alien with an L-1 visa from hoohah's company. on the plus side, they have good friends there, the house is fab, the weather is like the south of france and people speak a kind of english. the percentage of shares they have in the start-up continue to grow (at the moment something like 33% have vested.)

2. the man resigns, presumably enid is sacked from his company too (she used to work there, and has shares and a retainer to consult a few days a month), and they spend the summer touring europe. enid carries on contracting for the uk company at least two weeks a month, and the rest of the time she and the man work on their next venture. (and enid already has someone who wants to co-operate with that. why is he now in new york? oh, yes, a bit because she was going to california and it was nearer than kenya. sigh.) this probably makes more sense than putting all their eggs in one basket. if they want, after six months wandering, they can re-import the hounds from hell to the uk, because they'll have been out of the country long enough.

one vote each, what do you think?

Friday, February 23

no news

enid's sorry but she doesn't feel funny today. well, only funny peculiar. she thinks she's getting the flu like just about every molvanian she knows including half the man's office. welcome home indeed.

there's no news on the house except bad news - now spike is saying they need a us resident to co-sign the forms. the man asked his boss, hoohah, who refused in case the man was the tiniest bit late with a mortgage payment and gave hoohah a bad credit record! hoohah didn't seem so concerned when the boot was on the other foot last year: before the company got finance, enid and the man's salary was two months or more late on several occasions.

luckily they have a real friend, an englishman living in the bay area, who is a star and said yes.

more tomorrow, if enid does not have to take to her bed.

Thursday, February 22

taking credit where none is due

and now the hard part.

months ago, enid and the man gave up on getting a mortgage from hbsc for reasons that will be very apparent if you read this and this. you'll find this hard to believe, but hbsc america are less responsive than hbsc jersey. enid and the man mentioned their predicament to the man's boss, hoohah, who recommended a californian broker called spike. the man phoned spike to get mortgage pre-approval. "hey, no big deal," spike said. "a friend of hoohah's is a friend of mine. that's fine."

this sounded suspiciously easy to enid. before they booked their recent house-hunting trip to the states, she insisted spike sent a proper pre-approval letter. spike obliged, though he didn't take up credit references, he didn't enquire about previous mortgages nor did he ask about savings or salaries. well, thought enid, hoohah must have told him what we earn and how super-honest we are. and if margaret's got the letter, then we've got a mortgage. that's what pre-approval means, right?


as you may know, enid and the man found the house of their dreams. margaret contacted spike as they was drawing up the offer. "how long will it take you to get this mortgage arranged?" she asked.

"twenty-four hours should do it," spike replied.

"i'll put three days on this form," said margaret. (she is from new england.)

the offer was accepted and spike called the man. "we need credit references, salary details, a list of your assets, liabilities, incomings and outgoings, a blood sample and a written letter from your mother excusing you from games." (ok, he didn't really ask for all of these.)

enid was jolly cross. did spike really think he could do all this across time zones in three days, let alone one? especially when she and the man were out of contact for two of them, flying back to molvania.

and so the headless chicken stuff began. spike wanted salary information - he interviewed their hr departments. he wanted three lines of credit - he called the uk and spoke to barclaycard and a company which had given them a loan when they were renovating their previous house. both reports were good. spike called portlend, enid and the man's previous mortgage lender. portlend refused to discuss payment history on the phone, and said this can only be done in writing. but the man has written to them and faxed them before, when they were trying to get the mortgage with hbsc, and had no reply. with the kind of blind hope shown by the six hundred at sevastopol, they faxed portlend again pleading with them for a response this time.

there was no response.

now spike decided he must have an equifax report. he wasn't able to order this himself - god knows why not - so the man set it up online. before making it active, though, equifax needed a fax of a credit card statement. of course, enid and the man didn't have one with them in the states. in fact, they don't even have one in molvania - their statements are sent to tm's mother's house in lancashire. so tease (tm's sister) drove over, collected one, and faxed it. the account went live on tuesday afternoon, as enid and the man checked into their heathrow hotel. you'll be glad to know that all this effort was worth it - their credit rating was excellent. (whew!) spike had said he needed three lines of credit or the equifax report, and now he had the report and two lines of credit. twenty-four hours to go, and they were home and dry.

weren't they?

no. spike now decided he needed the equifax report and three lines of credit. enid suggested their landlord. the man faxed portlend again.

yesterday (wednesday) enid and the man got back to their flat in molvania. the electricity was cut off, and they had no internet, hot water or heating. it was -17C outside... and inside. what a welcome. but when at last the power returned, their email brought good news and bad news. the good news - the vendors have given them another two days to get a mortgage. the bad news - spike now thought that they didn't have enough cash in the bank to put down the required deposit.

"couldn't he have said that before we flew to america and made an offer on a house?" enid asked, opening a bottle of anti-depressant (red wine).

luckily, spike was mistaken. the man had given him a rough figure for their savings, erring on the side of caution. enid updated the numbers and told spike the true figure. at midnight last night, he called them back saying he'd found them a mortgage.

but this morning, there were no emails from spike, and none from margaret. there was one from the man's mother to say that a letter from portlend had arrived in the morning post. has spike found a mortgage? even without the third line of credit? are the vendors still happy? what does the portlend letter say? will everything work out before the deadline expires?

all these, and many other questions may be answered tomorrow. oh, and if you need an american mortgage, enid has a broker she can recommend... for evisceration.

Wednesday, February 21


enid and the man are getting dressed for dinner. their posher clothes are checked through to kiev, so enid's having to wear her jeans again. she hitches them up by jumping in the air and hoisting them. (hey, it works for her, don't knock it.)

the man clearly thinks this is ridiculous. pulling his best satire face, he copies her. in mid air, he screams, "fucking hell!", then jumps around the room frog-wise, clutching his genitals.

"what's up?"

in a forty-a-day voice, the man gasps, "i crushed one of me spuds!"

enid does not show the sympathy that is expected, unless the sympathy that is expected is to hoot with mocking laughter - which after almost ten years of marriage, it probably is.

the diner game

one or more, aged six to sixty.

equipment needed:
one american diner, one american wait person

how to play:
the game begins when the waitress says," hi, i'm candice and i'll be your server today. what can i get you guys?" the oldest female takes her turn first. she must order her meal so comprehensively that candice doesn't ask any supplemental questions. each supplemental question that is asked scores against her.

she orders "a milkshake." this is very poor strategy. candice is likely to ask, "what flavor? extra large or monumental? full-fat or semi-skimmed? ice?" - costing the player a massive four out of order points (oops).

here's an example from a more experienced player: "i'll take a monumental strawberry milkshake with full-fat milk, a scoop of chocolate ice-cream, a little ice, and oreos* crumbled on top."

now let enid set the scene. she and the man are sitting in a typical 50s diner in san francisco - formica tables, car number plates on the walls, elvis on the jukebox (not quite literally). candice approaches.

candice: " hi, i'm candice and i'll be your server today. what can i get you guys?"

enid: "i'll have a house green salad, with caesar dressing, parmesan and sourdough bread, please."

candice: "do you want that dressing on the side?"

enid: shit. i mean, yes, thanks.

the man: "one oops for you there, enid. candice, i'll take a double greedy bastard cheese burger with crispy bacon please. wholemeal buns, lightly toasted. swiss cheese, bacon very, very crispy, and burgers medium rare. go easy on the lettuce, plenty of gherkins. i see you supply ketchup and mustard - i shall not be requesting any additional sauces."

enid (hushed tones): respect.

candice: "thank y-"

the man: "yes!"

candice: "-ou sir. and how would you like to pay - cash or credit card?"

the man: "bugger!"

enid: "oops!"

candice: ""

*enid has no idea what oreos are. they may be small blackbirds, in which case crumbling them on milkshake seems a little cruel.

Monday, February 19

only in california

there's a new free magazine out in san francisco called "bay woof". the byline is "news with bite for bay area dog lovers." enough for an oic post all on its own, you might think, but there's more... on page 18, there's a calendar of doggy events for the next couple of months. on march 1st, you and your doggy friend can attend the annual bark and whine ball at san francisco gift center pavilion. it's a fund raiser for the SPCA, and offers a cocktail buffet, live music* and silent** auction. the text reads, "where else can you dance with your favorite pooch and still be considered socially acceptable?"***

what is more, and enid is not making this up, the event is black tie.

*fluffy is a disco diva, stalin's more a doom metal and grind core kind of animal.
**ever optimistic, these americans.
***the tenderloin.

Sunday, February 18

in which margaret twitches her left cheek at will

enid and the man have a house. well, they have a house if the mortgage goes through, the vendor doesn't resort to the kind of dirty tactics the last one did, and the market for kidneys is bullish. (so please don't uncross those fingers just yet.) on saturday morning enid and tm sat in their future living room and signed a stack of papers thicker than belgium.

the house is victorian. (oddly, americans describe the eras of their older houses using british monarchs.) no-one knows exactly when it was built, because the original papers were lost in the 1906 earthquake, but it looks exactly the same as other turn of the century houses around. it's in the mission district, which was built on the ranches of the original spanish-mexican settlers and still has a large latino population. the mission is known as being one of san francisco's sunnier areas, well away from the fog belt on the west of the city - and yesterday it was showing its happiest face. it was 21 degrees and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. enid stood in her future garden by her future lemon tree (laden with fruit) and thought that her luck, after two long years, was changing.

Friday, February 16

house racing

you know that scene in casino royale, when jimmy bond slides over $7,000,000 worth of chips because mr. evil villain's left cheek is twitching, giving away that he's bluffing... but then he's double-bluffing and poor james has lost everything? buying a house in san francisco has more in common with this than enid feels comfortable with.

wind back to wednesday. enid and the man found the house of their dreams. it's a renovated victorian one in the sunny mission district of san francisco. they made an offer that afternoon, at just over the asking price.

on thursday evening, margaret phoned to say that there were nine other offers on the house. four were rejected, but the five others, and theirs, were still in the running. the vendor, ima propertydeveloper, was generously giving those six people until 5 p.m. on friday to make a higher offer. sigh. over dinner and the backs of some envelopes, enid and the man worked out how they could afford to offer more. who needs two kidneys, anyway?

this morning, margaret is putting their counter offer to ima. here is the casino royale part - it expires at 3 p.m. this afternoon, meaning that ima has to decide before all the other counter offers come in. enid just hopes margaret can twitch her left cheek at will.

Wednesday, February 14

jetlagging behind

so you think you've got it sussed. you've made it to eleven at night without sleeping, you're as tired as a sloth with narcolepsy, and the cool sheets feel so good on your achy limbs. you crash into a deep slumber.

you wake. "finally sussed it," you think. there's probably a self-satisfied smirk on your face, but it's too dark to see. the hotel must have thick curtains, because surely the sun rose hours ago. you grope your way into the bathroom, switch the air con on and off a few times, call room service, and finally succeed in getting the light on. you examine your watch. 1:30 a.m. you shake your watch, but it is still going. ah, perhaps you left it on uk time. back in the dark room, you fumble around knocking glasses of water over to find your husband's watch. it too says 1:30. you've slept for all of two and a half hours.

you get back into bed and try to think of boring things like how you might make an extra bedroom in the house you saw the day before. ten minutes later you're crouched on the floor in the bathroom with pen and paper drawing plans.

this is silly. back to bed, lie still and think about something else. anything else. no, not what you've got to buy at frys, that will just end up with you back in the bathroom making lists. you breathe deeply and count up to a hundred in german. still awake. perhaps you'll read the interweb for ten minutes, and then try again.

it's three thirty. what happened there? was there really any urgent need to find molvanian food bloggers with a decent recipe for blini? let alone san franciscan dog parks with an off leash zone. god, you feel crap. you feel as if a large group of mexicans had been having a party in your head and they forgot to clean up afterwards.

now what's the time? four thirty. you shut the computer down and try again. ein, zwei, drei... hundert. it's not working. perhaps there was something to be said for counting sheep. what's german for sheep? google will know. DON'T START THE COMPUTER AGAIN. you'll end up looking up where to buy llama wool in haight ashbury*. just lie still and think sleepy thoughts. good, getting quite dozy. ah, you're drifting off now.

bugger. your husband has switched the light on and fired his computer up. may as well join him. the german for sheep is das schaf.

six thirty. not only have the mexicans not cleared up, now they've emptied the ash trays all over the floor and trod their contents into the carpet. six thirty. only thirty minutes to seven o'clock when mama's in washington square opens (thanks chris!). suddenly coffee and huevos rancheros seem like the most enticing things in the world. getting out of this room seems like the most enticing thing in the world.

if enid ever invents a religion, hell won't be burning pits or devils with pitchforks, it will be eternity spent in california with your body clock in london... in a small san francisco hotel room without a kettle.


Tuesday, February 13

did they poke it with a citistick?

one final, short banking story for you. when enid and the man were living in japan, they banked with citibank. most japanese people cannot pronounce a single "s" sound - they pronounce it "sh" instead.

only in california

enid's and the man's realtor, margaret, is driving them down fillmore street. she points at an ordinary-looking diy shop. "see that hardware store? they interviewed a friend of mine for a job there. everything was going well until they asked her her star sign, which was pisces. 'oh, sorry,' they said. 'in that case, we're not going to be able to offer you the job. we've got too many water signs working here already.'"

Sunday, February 11

the upside of living in molvania

everything has its upside, even cholera (you don't feel the cold and lose a lot of weight). the same is true for molvania.

kernib's winters are not as harsh as those of verkhoyansk, ulan bator or the amundsen-scott south pole station.

molvania is not as corrupt as sierra leone, angola or the republic of congo, and has more civil liberties than turkey, the uae and iraq.

there are not as many murders per capita in molvania as there are in columbia, venezuala or belarus. perhaps because of this, people in molvania are more likely to reach 60 than those in kazakhstan, russian or turkmenistan.

but who cares, because molvania has more rollercoasters per capita than india, bangladesh or pakistan.

oddly enough, with all these advantages, the only people in the world who are unhappier than molvanians are those living in belarus, moldova and bulgaria. enid doesn't understand why - it's a great place to live, and the vareniki are yummy.

(for other people's views on home, have a look at marnie at i didn't say it was your fault.)

what a load of bankers (continued)

at the end of the last part of this story, enid had managed to get a replacement cash card, but had no pin number for it. she called hbsc, who said,"oh, it'll be the same as your last one."

"oh, fantastic!" (was this saga finally coming to an end?)

"unless..." (no. enid spotted that the background music to her life had switched to a minor key, and the bassoons had started playing.)

"unless what?"

"unless you changed it."

"i changed it," said enid.

"why don't you try it, and then call me back to order a new one if it doesn't work."

"huh?" said enid. "you're telling me that if i've changed the pin, then i need a new one. i'm telling you i've changed the pin, so, by your logic, i need a new one. let's avoid a pointless trip to the bankomat in the snow, and another phone call, and order the new pin now." you've got to wonder, thought enid, at how stupid these people can be.

at this point, to avoid needless repetition, enid will just refer the reader to her last posting on this subject. imagine another round of instructions to send the pin number by courier, those instructions being ignored, a letter being lost, the instructions to send by courier being repeated in stronger terms, and skip forward a month to a tuesday afternoon in january. enid is working in her living room. there's a knock on the door - it's the courier. enid thanks him, and takes two (two?) well wrapped letters back to her desk.

she opens them. both of them tell her her new pin code - which is exactly the same as her old one. was the stupid customer service representative in bangalore actually not so stupid after all? and if so, why could she tell enid if her original pin code was the same, but not tell her if she'd changed it. is hbsc owned by cold war russians?

well, enough's enough. enid's decided she'll be switching banks. she's going to move her money to sally's new financial institution, TPB. go and read about it- it's the funniest-and-at-the-same-time-most-scarily-accurate posting enid's seen for yonks.

Saturday, February 10

the first ever quite literally moment

enid and the man spent the first four weeks of their honey-two-moons in vietnam. one day they were in a bus to the dmz, where they had the misfortune to be sharing air with an englishman of the most obnoxious kind. he was good-looking in a hugh grant way and, worse, he knew it. he lounged on the back seat, flipped his floppy fringe and bored the arses off his victims (most of the bus - he had a carrying voice).

"yeah, we were in pat pong for the moon festival, yeah stoned out of our minds the whole time. there was this noodle shack where we got the most fantastic pad thai for only 3 baht. great tofu. that's where i got this ying yang tattoo - mindblowing isn't it. yeah, and i feel so sorry for my friends stuck at uni at home - they're missing out on a real education, seeing the world, taking on board some new concepts..."

half way through a description of a bar in koh samui, he said, "and the girls were quite literally throwing themselves at me."

enid and the man looked at each other as the same mental picture formed in their minds. the man mimed bodily propulsion, and let out a small monty python squeak. enid giggled. then enid mimed more forceful bodily propulsion, and let out a louder monty python squeak. the man laughed. very soon natural escalation of bodily gestures had taken them to the point where they were barely able to breathe for laughter and the whole bus was staring at them.

since then, quite-literally moments have been one of their favourite running jokes. a joke, which unlike dutch ovens or the ring stories, enid is willing to share with the interweb.

their most recent qlm was this morning, as enid read this: "A minuet ago (quite literally), Redfin expanded its San Francisco “Sweet Digs” blog to include “eyewitness reviews” of Bay Area listings."

Friday, February 9

walking along oxford street

a girl just ahead is wearing pink shorts, black fishnets and long white boots. (it doesn't only happen in molvania.)

the man (booming like a fog horn in a force 9 gale): what the bloody hell does she think she looks like!

enid (in a hissy whisper): remember which country you're in!

the man (normal volume): oh, yeah...

Thursday, February 8

dog resumé

enid and the man are worried that if they don't manage to buy a house this week, they will be homeless when they get to san francisco. it's not easy to rent a place when you're a pet owner, because your landlord can be sued if your dog bites someone - clearly a risk enid and the man take seriously. they discovered on the interweb that it's best to prepare a pet resumé (cv) to try to persuade your future landlord that your big black dog loves small children, and not just to eat.

enid's not so keen on fibbing. here's the resumé above adapted for stalin:


Description: Stalin is a genocidal, large dog who will not hesitate to use his teeth on guests. He is a 5 year old 40 kg Black Russian terrier who is immature, excitable and highly-strung. We have had Stalin for five years, and he is a cherished member of our family, but we've still not managed to train him out of biting guests and menacing The Man's mother. If you have any questions about our dog, please ask her dog sitter, Tanya at this number - 44 777 6666. Ask for ward 3 - facial injuries reconstruction unit.

Health/Grooming: Stalin is neutered, which hasn't benefited his behaviour one jot. He regularly picks up fleas, which we tend to notice when he gets babiosis and starts throwing up on our landlord's carpets. We brush Stalin on the 32nd of each month and have him professionally groomed biannually if we can find someone brave enough. Stalin is kept up-to-date on all vaccinations by top quality Molvanian vets.

Activities:We walk Stalin three times a day, and go to one of Kiev’s many off-leash areas for more vigorous exercise at least twice a week. Stalin's behaviour on and off-leash is poor. On-leash, he tugs like a traction engine to get within tooth-range of small dogs. Off-leash he menaces small children with food, chases smaller dogs, larger dogs, horses and sometimes cars. He loves the beach, and friends often beg us to leave him at home. These activities satisfy Stalin's exercise requirements, and he is calm and content relaxing indoors while we are away at work. (Sadly, this is not true of our other dog, Fluffy, who is great with people, but thinks wearing her paws to the bone scratching a hole in the door is preferable to being shut in alone.)

About us:As dog owners, we always try to act responsibly. We have taken three classes on dog behaviour, had a vet psychologist to visit us, and hired an ex-Ukrainian army dog teacher to beat Stalin into submission, err, we mean train him. We always clean up after our dog, and we arrange for reliable pet care if we are going away. We are so sure that Stalin will be a "good tenant," we are willing to put up an additional security deposit of $1,000,000. We are committed to responsible, caring pet ownership - if only our pets were committed to responsible people ownership in return.

References: Our current landlord has just died. Other letters of recommendation were lost in transit when we moved to Ukraine. Sorry.

We would be happy to have a potential landlord meet Stalin, so long as he stood behind glass and took out personal medical insurance.

leaving on a jet plane

today enid is flying to the uk for work and then on to san francisco to go shopping for all the little things you can't buy in molvania. her shopping list looks like this:

- pg tips tea bags (100)

- senseo coffee pods (50)

- those liquid blue gel aspirins (2 packets)

- body shop shampoo

- house (3 bedrooms, or 2 plus study)

wish her luck! she's not sure if they have the interweb in america, but if they do she'll try to post from there.

Tuesday, February 6

what a load of bankers

enid has blogged before about her bank, the heavily disguised hbsc. well, there is another hbsc story - a dark story of human passions, frustration and regret. now time has passed and the wounds have begun to heal, enid feels able to revisit the past and tell the saga of the lost cash card. draw your seats closer to the fire, light your pipes and we'll begin.

our story begins on a street in kernib, molvania. it's friday evening, and enid stops at a bankomat to draw out some cash for the weekend. the machine puts up a big red shouty message on the screen, telling enid in russian, molvanian and english that there's no money in her account - but enid's just been paid and there is money in her account. enid thumps the machine's keyboard, swears at it (restricting herself to english), and heads for home. it's only when she's unlocking her front door that she remembers she didn't retrieve her card. she runs back as fast as she can, puffing like a asthmatic walrus. of course the card is gone. buggery bollocks. some molvanian is right now spending enid's hard-earned on tart's trinkets in the glittery shops of mandarin plaza.

back home, enid calls hbsc. luck, for the last time in several months, is on her side - no money is missing from the account. the bank cancels the card and enid orders a replacement. "how long will it take to get here? i've a trip to the uk in two weeks."

"if we send it by courier, it will be there in four days or so - but it will cost you an extra £10."

"never mind," enid says. "i wouldn't want you to post it anyway. only 50% of molvanian post actually arrives."

"righty-ho, i've noted that down, ms singular," replies hbsc, in a bangalore accent. "nice weather we've been having here in blighty, isn't it? quite splendid for the cricket?"

"save your cultural pretences for others, and speed that card on its way."

four days later, five, then six and still no courier from hbsc. enid calls. "that card you couriered to me?"

"oh, no, we posted it. it would have cost £10 extra to courier it."

"but i expressly told you not to post it," enid says. when angry she tends to use words like "expressly", which are not part of her everyday lexicon. (nor is "lexicon" part of her lexicon, come to that.)

"sorry, ms singular, but the card should be with you in two weeks now. bit chilly here in blighty, isn't it? still, the sun's out, which is jolly spiffing."

enid, who is prepared this time, points out that its 36 degrees in southern india, and night time to boot.

enid and her barclaycard squeak through the trip to the uk without major financial hardship. back in molvania, the two weeks come and go and enid phones hbsc again. "so, as i predicted, the letter with my card in has gone missing. i'll be in the uk again in a couple of weeks - can you deliver another card to a branch near my parents' house, so i can pick it up in person?"

"certainly ms singular, which branch?"


"i've made an instruction for that on your records. been a bit wet here in blighty lately, hasn't it? i hope the cricket's not rained off"

"i live in molvania, the place you posted the missing letter to," enid retorts. "the weather in blighty is merely of passing interest, and the cricket less so. please ensure that card arrives as promised."

three days before she flies, enid phones the bank again to check that the card has been dispatched. she is assured that it has. "there's a note here on the file that says to send it to whitstable branch."

"but was it actually sent?"

"it says to send it on the file, so it will have been sent."

"last time it said to courier it to kernib, but was it couriered?"

"let me ch-"

"that was a rhetorical question."

enid's mother and father drive her to whitstable. well, her father drives and her mother points out what he's doing wrong. they manage to park right outside the bank and enid runs inside. "oh no," says the helpful teller (who should be made head of offshore banking at once). "i'm pretty sure that we've not had any letters for collection. but wait there while i turn the bank upside down for you."

she does so. no letter containing much needed cash card.

back at her parents' place, enid calls. "that card you sent for collection to your whitstable branch..."

"we didn't send a card to whitstable-"

"i know."

"-we sent it to kernib. that's the address on the account. why would we send it to whitstable?"


"ms singular?"

"is. there. perhaps. a note. in the system. to say. to send it to whitstable? did i not call you merely three days ago to confirm you'd sent it? i've just driven to whitstable expressly to pick this bloody card up, and to be quite frank i'm so angry that i'm using words that are not in my usual lexicon at all."

"oh, yes, now i scroll down a bit there is a note to that effect. sorry. still, the card will be in kernib when you get back, won't it?"

"if you couriered it, it might. did you courier it?"


a week after enid's return to molvania, by some miraculous turn of fate, her card arrives in the post. the accompanying letter mentions her new pin code, which will arrive in a separate letter. there is, of course, no separate letter.

(to be continued, probably for the rest of enid's life.)

Monday, February 5

fun monday

this week's fun monday is hosted at anecdotes, antidotes and anodes, and the idea is to link to memorable posts and introduce each other to new bloggers or little-read blog posts from old friends.

if ever there were two words not meant for each other, they were "fun" and "monday", so enid decided that in her posting she'd try to cheer you up a bit. she's posted links to bloggers she thinks you may not have read, bloggers who deserve a wider audience.

enid's just discovered twenty major, who blogs from dublin and is very funny indeed. here he is on those out of office message things.

carpetblogger used to blog from ukraine, which is almost exactly the same country as molvania, so enid only wishes they'd managed to meet up and be opinionated about the country together. here is carpetblogger in fine form, dissing aerosvit. (enid doesn't usually make new year's resolutions, but she's just made one about not using this airline.)

enid's real-world, meat-based, friend juvation blogs very amusingly about destroying objects, including this base station. if only he'd blog more often - perhaps if you persuade him, he will.

yaxlich is probably better known to most people the others above, but enid couldn't miss out on one of his funniest posts, this one in which he stays up late and blogs under the influence. (of what is not specified. enid often blogs under the influence of caffeine, but no-one has suspected a thing.)

it's only five long days until the weekend. have a fun monday!

Saturday, February 3

inny or outy?

enid and the man have two very different views of what tidy is. the man is messy in public - in fact when he first moved in with enid he grew a pile of discarded clothes in the bedroom that was higher than the bed by the time enid decided that, new relationship or not, she was going to order him to use the washing machine. oddly, the man is very tidy where no one can see it. he likes to pack his socks and underpants in sub-cases within his suitcase, which enid thinks is very weird.

enid likes the surface of things to be very tidy, minimalist even, but she can cope with cupboards whose doors have to be pushed shut on a pile of jetsam with an escape wish.

what sort of tidy are you, inny or outy?

Thursday, February 1

phriday photo

an 18th century suicide note began and ended, “all this buttoning and unbuttoning.” the author must have lived in molvania in winter. to pop out for milk, enid has to take off her top and jeans, then pull on long johns and thermal vest, warm roll-neck jumper and thick trousers, overcoat, hat, scarf and gloves. ten minutes later, when she gets back, the process is reversed. heaven forbid she forget to buy the coffee.

the phriday photo below is a wild dog living in the park near enid's flat.

the barber of seville

lawrence of australia is an old friend of enid’s, so named because he travelled overland from australia to berlin and most photos of the period show him with a towel on his head, sitting on camel/horseback in crapistan (thanks to carpetblogger for that one). all the stans not being enough for him, lawrence went on to run the office in kernib for a year, and enid thinks the whole eastern europe thing has driven him slightly mental. (and if he’s not loonytunes already, his partner’s just had a new baby, so he soon will be.) when he was in kernib, lawrence collected metro stations (at the last count he’d visited 36 of the 48* in the metropolis.

more to the point of this story, lawrence also collected operas. he tried to see as many different ones as he could to take advantage of a country where the average seat in the stalls costs less than one day travel card on the london underground.

this week, lawrence is visiting kernib. aha, the barber of seville is on, and a visit shall be arranged.

the man and enid arrived early. the trappings of the opera are great fun - huge cloakrooms with great brass tokens, chandeliers, boxes with babushkas to guard them, little bars everywhere serving a wide range of alcohol and little open sandwiches with smoked salmon or salami... which is convenient, as surviving the singing is only possible with lashings of crimean champagne inside you. at a quid a glass, you can afford to get totally arse-holed, and enid did her level best to achieve that state before act one.

the boys were well prepared: lawrence had bought the programme notes, and already had 78 operas** notched on his bedpost. the man had visited wikipedia that afternoon and done some swotting. enid added nothing to this cultural mix, but was no worse that the others at getting through the whole first act without spotting that the opera was in molvanian not italian. (or french, as the man claimed it would be. but we are talking about the cultural giant who asked what the "m" stood for in “per diem”.)

so, for those of you who would enjoy a plot synopsis from an inebriated individual who can’t speak molvanian, it goes something like this:

some people (dressed mostly in black) mill around a lot singing at each other. this goes on a long time. apparently one of them is the male love interest, a count disguised as a poor student - he wants the female love interest, rosina, to want him for himself, not his money. (he’s a very silly boy - what does he think men have to offer women except their financial worth? “tell you what, marry me and you can wash my underpants, clear up after me and get locked in by me.” “err, no thanks.” “i’m stupidly wealthy.” “oh, go on then.”) a fat woman appears on a balcony. you think this must be rosina, who is living with her guardian who has designs on her own money. (if she has her own money, why’s the count so bothered about the true love thing? she doesn’t need to marry at all, and frankly, enid would advise this course of action.) “rosina” sings a bit, then the first act is over. you rush to the bar for more champagne.

the plot’s getting hazier now. you weren’t sleeping then, just resting your eyes. the fat woman is back, writing a letter, and you think how rude you were being about her, because she’s not that fat at all really. a little later the man tells you that this is a different woman, who is actually rosina. you’re never entirely sure who the fat lady was, but she does appear on stage at the same time as rosina, so there’s something in what the man says.

the count comes in, disguised as a drunk soldier. he appears to have a bit of a penchant for disguises - if you were rosina, you’d keep your underwear drawer locked after you’re married. when everyone else is distracted, he passes a letter to rosina, but then draws attention to himself by singing about it. he is arrested, but then unarrested again. the end of act 2, so you rush to the bar for more champagne.

the count is disguised as a singing tutor this time! there is no end to his resources. more letter-passing goes on, during which some soldiers march up and down a bit. or was that act 2? there’s quite a lot more singing, but it ends as you expected it would, with a car chase and gun battle, uh, you mean with rosina and the count getting married. there’s dramatic foreshadowing of this, because all through act 3, rosina is wearing a wedding dress. “what, this old thing? well, i just thought someone might possibly pop the question, and i didn’t want to be unprepared. a count, you say? oh, all right then.”

the most dramatic event of the evening comes as the cast are bowing to massive applause. the curtain, a big old beast that’s probably the original for the iron one in churchill’s famous speech, come down and clocks one of the performers.

*these numbers are made up.
**another lie.