Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Mr Bore, Mr Big and Mr Bullshitter

Places like this worry me. They make me feel like a snob. I'm not judging people on appearances, honest, just on the shite they spew. Does that make me a snob? Sod it.

Here's a story I may have told before but I can't remember. To be honest, this little bit of my trip is a genuine holiday and I've been on the gin. It's way too hot for me to be arsed to search back through eighteen months of blogs to check if I'm going through old material. Anyway, here's the story. In 1996, I moved to Austria for work. It was a normal office job, just like any in the UK. What I loved was that, despite the number of people in my division, there were no office politics - people worked and lived and ate large quantities of pork in beautiful, peaceful tranquility.

Then I had German lessons and, over a period of months, I gradually understood what my co-workers were jabbering on about and it was loaded with just as much hateful nastiness as anywhere else. Well, I say 'just as much' but I don't remember anyone in Britain ever claiming that "the Jews got just what they deserved". And that wasn't from some eighty-odd year-old, ex-soldier diehard Nazi but from Astrid, a thirty year-old woman in my office. Who also happened to be a Nazi.

The moral of this story is that, unless you can understand exactly what people are saying, it's easy to hear them through rose-cadenced ear trumpets. As I pass through Europe, with my minimal language skills, everyone seems sweet 'n' lovely but maybe that's a failing on my part. If I could truly grasp everything they said i'm sure I would find that many of 'em are just as tedious or mean-spirited as a lot of Brits that I do understand.

You can use a foreign language to hide your defects. Living in Spain, I saw people with huge personality flaws choose partners with a different native language. While most people asked "She's lovely. Why in God's name is she going out with that dick?", missing linguistic pointers she didn't so easily see through the ruse that he wasn't an absolutely massive tosser. If you're reading this and suspect that you might be an absolutely massive tosser, take that as a top tip: Pick an Auslander. (Also, thinking about it now, since she couldn't have been a native English speaker either, maybe she was an absolutely massive tosser too. Good luck to 'em!)

Anyway, I'm currently in The Ship Inn Hotel, a very nice hotel it seems to me, in Girne, northern Cyprus. This is the first time I've been around Englanders since leaving Spain. It makes me realise how important it is to surround yourself by people who you genuinely like and who don't bore the tits off you. Whether I lived in Spain or Austria or the UK, I've tried to do this. To be honest, here in Cyprus, I've sort of kept myself to myself.

So to the 'personalities': There's one poolside nob - Mr Bullshitter - who goes around telling people 'facts'. One fact is that, here in Cyprus, next week it will be 55C. This has inflated in the telling. The first time it was the high 40s, and then 50. It's like a weather forecast based on Turkey's former rate of inflation. Incidentally, for all global warming's impending doom, the official records say it's never been hotter than about 44C here and so the chance of its reaching 55C is a bit slim, anorexic even. And also the weather forecast disagrees with him.  Maybe he has his own weather satellite, I dunno. To give an additional flavour of how unscientific his approach is, he pointed towards the tops of the local mountains and explained, given the haze, how much hotter it is up there. Sorry, fella, it doesn't work like that. Read a book. There's a reason the snow's on top of 'em and not the bottom.

There's another - Mr Bore - who's told precisely the same set of stories to everyone here, except me fortunately, but I've now heard them forty-six times. He always has a few days covering up to avoid a sunburn, he's been bitten by precisely fifteen mosquitoes - one right between his toes - and he likes to sit around the pool during the day but, at night, y'know, he needs a bit of entertainment. C'mon, man, if you have to repeat yourself so frequently at least make it a story worth telling. Regale us with how the Jews got just what they deserved or something juicy like that.

The final star is Mr Big, a bloke who commands a small crowd of people to listen to his wisdom about how he moved to Greek Cyprus nine years ago and comes up to Turkish Cyprus a few times a year. They sit around him, enrapt, like infant school children as he tells of his mystical adventures. Listen, if you're reading this in the UK or in your home country and think that there's something special or tricky about moving abroad, there isn't. It's often a lot better than living in your home country (if your home country is the UK, anyway) but, technically speaking, it's a piece of piss and any idiot can do it because I've spoken to lots of 'em. Hell, I am one of 'em! If you want to do it, go for it. If you don't, fine. Just don't think that you've done anything 'cool' or should earn any kudos by moving. Even snails can do that.

Tomorrow I leave and I can reimmerse myself in a world of linguistic incomprehension where I suspect I will be more at ease, happy wallowing in my ignorance. Unfortunately to do this I have to spend a few days cycling up massive bloody hills in 40-odd degree temperatures and so I'm torn. And I'll have no gin.

OK, the availability of gin would usually trump being surrounded by idiots, but I really do have to leave. Güle güle!

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