Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Evil Boiler Man and Back To University

WE got a letter last week warning that some person was going to intrude on our homes to do something or other with the boiler. I put a gigantic sign on mine saying Dear Boiler Man, please do not alter settings: hot water ON; central heating OFF. And what did the bastard do? About an hour after he'd left I noticed an unseemly rumbling from the corner, checked and found the radiators on. And when I looked more closely, I saw the hot water setting had been changed from minimum to maximum. I don't know how stupid he thought I was, but I'd obviously troubled, before he came, to draw a diagram of the all dials and settings. So I knew exactly how to undo his sabotage. Complaining to the landlord would do no good at all. If I only knew what company he worked for, I would have complained to his boss. Fucking bastard. If you don't want to deal with junkie nutters you shouldn't do jobs in rented accommodation! I don't even look like a junkie any more. Everyone says how well I seem ~ having put on weight and colour in my cheeks. They say I look especially well when my mood is "elevated". Which is one reason I don't consider hypomania [mild mania] an "illness". Even though it can prevent me sleeping for days on end...

Speaking of which, my depression appears to be evaporating. I still get bad moods lasting hours on end. But then again I get good ones, too. And that's about as "well" as I ever get. The only time me and my mood feel truly "normal" (no dragging tiredness; no lingering melancholy and I'm not angry all the time at nothing) is when I've just come down from a hypomanic "blip". In the aftermath of a psychotic episode I don't feel well at all. About ten years ago I got hit on the head by a truck and that made me concussed enough to spend the next week forgetting where I was, what I was doing etc etc. Well psychosis made me more confused even than concussion. And I'm talking here of the after-effects when the episode had worn off. I remember routinely typing short words precisely BACKWARDS. And the letters on the keyboard changing into snakes. I wrote a frank letter to my Mum that seems to have been a bit too frank. It's caused a permanent rift with my step-Dad... All this stuff when, as far as I was concerned, I was completely "sane".

I haven't managed to give up heroin, but I have seemingly learnt quite a lot of German. For some reason, a simple news report can leave me baffled, with barely a clue what happened. And yet documentaries on dinosaurs and outer space I can follow with ease. Partly because dinosaur names are the same. And astronomy vocabulary is mostly very simple: schwarzes Loch (black hole) roter Zwerg (red dwarf) die Erdumlaufbahn (orbit). The last of these is four simple words together: Erd means earth, um is around or about, laufen to run and Bahn just means a path or way, as in Autobahn. So it's simpler than you'd think. I have hardback notebook that, when I'm in the mood, I use to write down every word I hear yet cannot recall the meaning of. A lot of these words are very familiar. I've heard them scores of times but keep forgetting what they mean. So I write them all down, whenever I'm in the mood to do so, complete with translations. I've been in the mood quite a lot lately.

Contrary to the oft-stated "fact" that the English language has more words than any other, German actually  seems to have more. Off the top of my head, I can think of only two ways of describing a man's wife in English ~ wife and partner (can you think of any others?) Whereas German has Frau, Ehefrau, Weib, Weibchen, Partnerin and Gattin.

One of my satellite boxes has developed a fault, so instead of being able to switch between the two using just a remote control, I actually have to cross the room and switch scart leads. Meaning except when Dallas comes on at 9pm Wednesday I cannot be bothered and have been stuck with television in foreign languages. I shouldn't complain: I wanted foreign TV to expand my mind... and finally I seem to be reaping some reward. My comprehension of German seems to be improving already. (I was going to say my "command" of the language was verbessert, but this isn't true. I'm not even trying to "speak" German better, just to understand it. Partly this is because, if I ever do end up studying German literature again, there is no way in hell I'm reading the books in translation, the way most students actually do. Partly because the standard of language-teaching in this country is abysmal. At school we went from GCSE, where you are required to do nothing more complicated than write postcards and simple letters detailing your home, family and interests, to an A Level course where we were supposed to read Kafka in the original!

On Thursday my support worker made a sudden visit. He is supposed to be helping me through the Verwirrung of my council tax situation and other loads of crap. He has a BA in PPE (politics philosophy and economics) from a very prestigious British university and spent most of the time talking about the political situation in West Africa. He seems to think I have a lot of potential in me and offered to look into ways I could get into university (again!) and fund it. But British universities are unreasonably expensive these days. You have to pay thousands of pounds a year in tuition fees and it's all too much. Plus the fact that I've been a student before and dropped out midway through (yes ~ depression AGAIN) probably scuppers me even more. I looked into studying in Germany and it's a lot cheaper.

If I won the lottery, there's no question: I would want to do Japanese. If I it were practical to devote the best part of a decade to picking up and perfecting language skills and I wanted to do a course with more practical value then I'd pick Chinese, hopefully with Japanese as at least a subsidiary. (In Europe you don't do a liberal arts course with a "major" ~ you apply to do one or two subjects to honours level right from the start. Which saves a lot of time if you know you want to do something like languages, psychology or law.) I looked into how far oriental language courses take you from scratch and they seemed to be implying that after four years' study I wouldn't have much better command of Japanese, at least in terms of vocabulary, than I do now in German!

If I were able, I would want to study to be a translator. It's the one profession, except "creative writing" that I feel I'd be any good at that I could do from home. But to be a translator, you need a higher degree in the languages you want to work in. (And it usually is languages plural.) So it would be far more practical to choose German as the main language than some exotic tongue I barely know at all.

A few Americans have commented in the past seemingly unaware as to why my fascination with German. German has more mother-tongue speakers in the EU than any other ~ 92 million, as opposed to 72 million for French. English has only about 65 million native speakers in Europe. Of all EU countries, Germany probably the strongest economy. And German seems to be a less popular subject of study nowadays than French or Spanish, putting you at an advantage in the jobs market.

I seem to be the only person I know who is not happy stuck on benefits. If I'm going to be forced to live (and, to be honest, I would still rather die) then I want to DO SOMETHING.

OK; this is all I can say on the subject now. I have to go. Hope y'all have a charming weekend. I've got to run before my Iceland cottage pies melt and the Black Forest Trifles goo all over Sainsburys' own brand aspartame-free lemonade... XX

She looks and sounds a lot better in this vid (than she did in Opus III) ...

I've no idea of the name of this tune, but it sounds OK...



Syd said...

Gleds, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad that you seem to be feeling better.
I think the following are some known synonyms for wife in English--bride, companion, consort, helpmate, mate, other half, partner, better half, spouse, and the term "old lady" that was popular in the 60's and 70's.

Akelamalu said...

I'm glad you're feeling better Gleds. You are still trying to come off heroin aren't you? I hope so.

Gledwood said...

SYD: the German examples, except Partnerin, as far as I know, can all literally be translated "wife"... probably they have their own words for "other half" "better half" "old lady" etc but I'm not fluent enough in the language to know them.

AKELAMALU: yeah I'm definitely feeling better this week, thanks. Heroin? Ugh I don't know what to say about that...