Monday, October 20, 2008

Farewell, Youssoufaki

Phew, I moved house and somehow managed not lose my job, my missus, my marbles, or - most importantly of course - my connection with you, gentle reader; I do hope you're still out there somewhere. We had to give up our lovely RDS broadband though. RDS is an extension of CERN's Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss Alps: modern, high-tech, and pretty darned fast. We could have gone for RomTelecom, which like The Dacia Car, another national institution, actually does kinda work, in its own way, but the power for it is generated in Moldavia by a donkey walking round and round in a circle with a carrot dangling in front of its nose; and even a Moldavian donkey will stop in its tracks occasionally and ask itself the question "why?" So we got UPC - bundled with cable TV channels like Discovery, Chav Shopping++ Gold, Red Hot Rijswijk, etc - which is responsible for peasants knowing more about the Serengeti National Park, bling and Dutch Housewives than they know about the next village, agricultural machinery and actual housework. But it's a bit slow.

Speaking of donkeys, it seems that my best male friend here in Romania is no longer with us. I don't know his name - being a beast of burden he probably never had one - so I'll call him Youssoufaki after the much beloved donkey in Kazantzakis' book The Greek Passion - named, but ironically, please note, after a Turkish Agha's catamite - whom his master believed understood everything he felt and said. My Youssoufaki used to pull carts of hay, bring shepherds down from the hill or simply stand around looking sexy. He was at his best though when rolling around scratching his back in a puddle of dust and waving his legs in the air. Like a proper townie twat I used to run up and stroke his neck and talk to him. But, "he's no longer with us", they told me when I visited his village recently. I thought this a little ambiguous, but to spare my feelings they wouldn't elaborate. So I fear I'll never know whether he's gone to some other, meaner master, to Dreamy Meadows Donkey Sanctuary Retirement Home and Devon Fudge Shop (pictured above), or to the dog food factory. Sorry to be so maudlin. Farewell old son.

20 comments:

The Dotterel said...

Our deepest sympathies, Gadj. Did he really just stand around looking sexy?

Gorilla Bananas said...

Is the donkey Romania's national animal or have I confused it with Ille Nastase?

scarlet-blue said...

"Discovery, Chav Shopping"
Yey! My favourite!

Oh Gadj, seriously, I'm going to be worrying about an unknown donkey for the rest of the day now.
Sx

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Was their actual phrase something like the Polish "Nie ma", which can mean anything from "It's off the menu" to "He's been assassinated" ? To say that someone is dead the Poles say he is "not-living". I find this a bit squeamish for a people who ordinarily have no fear of death. If you've been in the back of a Warsaw taxi you'll know what I mean.

Crabtree said...

Ane pas mettre entre toutes les oreilles !!

The donkey sausages come from Sardinia.

Cadichon or "the memories of a donkey"; I do not remember any my childhood; I was probably unfortunate as all the little donkeys, pretty, graceful as we are it all; very certainly I was full of spirit,

[Sophie Rostoptchine, comtesse of Ségur]

Instead of saying: Stupid as a donkey or stubborn as a donkey, one will say: spirit as a donkey, scholar as a donkey!

Barry Teeth, Beet Poet said...

So, is the bloody donkey dead or what?

I thought The Ukrainians version of Anarchy lacked so depth and texture, but not a bad stab.

Kevin Musgrove said...

I hope not to bump into him on the French salami stall at this year's Festive Market in Manchester.

Last year I innocently thought that "donkey" was a bit of ribaldry until the stallholder told me otherwise.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Thanks, Dot. Sexyness is in the eye of the beholder, obviously. I'd like to think he'd had an active romantic life, which he was happily reminiscing whilst standing around, but I suspect he was probably just thinking about hay.

You have confused the two, Bananas, but this is understandable! With 2500 notches on his bedpost, Nastase has indeed become the new symbol of Romanian priapism.

Don't worry, Scarlet, buy a weighty gold necklace for £4.99 and a imitation Burberry cap and you'll feel much better :-)

Ah, the Poles, you have to admire them Daffers. My Romanian's not good enough yet to know the extent of such linguistic ambiguities here, but there seem to say "nu mai este aici" ("is no longer here") a lot. (Very place-specific, the Romanians... = parochial).

I'm glad that you're a fan too, monsieur Crabtree. Did Sophie Rostoptchine, comtesse of Ségur write "Cadichon or The Memories of a Donkey"? There seem to have been a surprising number of literary works endowing these animals with high intelligence!

I dunno, Baz. Perhaps we should drop the dead donkey talk to spare Scarlet's feelings :-) You're probably right about the Ukrainians version versus the Pistol's, though I am irrevocably drawn to the former as it includes abuse of folk music instruments.

Buy and eat the sausage, Kev, it's what he would have wanted. (And it could be pretty tasty, depending from which bit of him it's been cut).

Mrs Pouncer said...

Gadji, when I was a child we kept three donkeys in our end field. Their names were Alice, Malice and Chalice; I had chosen Alice for the mare, and my mother had picked the other names because one was a beastly biter and the other had the air of sanctity, she claimed.

Donkeys have had a good press. Millions of near-suicidal souls must have wrenched open their Gideon's at Travelodges the length and breadth of Britain only to be faced with some donkey reference or other. And don't get me started on asses and mules. This has led to the enormous popularity of sanctuaries and derbies, but true countrywomen such as myself know the truth: donkeys can be hostile and violent, even to each other, and they harbour lice.

Crabtree said...

Kevin Musgrove,
What this be "The salami tactics" of Hungarian origin, or salami "salame", native of Italy!

You can say to the salesman, that it changes the origin of its products, there is not French salami!!

Crabtree said...

I add that Bob Marley inspired itself of our donkey of the poitou ;)

No Good Boyo said...

Mrs Boyo narrowly missed becoming head of some West Country donkey trust. Youssi should count his lucky hooves.

Ellis Nadler said...

i'm in bucharest this weekend. any recommendations?

Gadjo Dilo said...

Mrs Pouncer, good point. Donkeys would be good animals to contemplate when one is feeling suicidal though: they're endlessly stoic, and rarely resort to topping themselves regardless of what life throws at them.

That's it monsieur, we must keep telling the French that they did not invent every type of foodstuff in the world! (It gets a bore but we really have to keep trying). Bob Marley should've been as laid back as your average donkey after all that ganga he smoked.

Woah, Mrs Boyo as a head of a West Country donkey trust - that's a reality TV show beyond even the wildest dreams of Channel 4!

Are you seriously coming to Bucharest, Mr Nadler? Most people's recommendation would be to immediately get on a train north to Transylvania! (Nicer scenery and people, and less chance of getting run over). But there are things to see and do in Bucharest - better there for music - popular, jazz and classical. And the art gallery's worth a look - the best works by Brâncuşi (in my opinion) are in New York, but Grigorescu was a very good Victorian-era painter and there's some other decent stuff as well. Hope you have a good time. ALWAYS look both ways, twice, before crossing any road though!

Can Bass 1 said...

I have offered up a small prayer, dear boy. (I am not one of those Christians -Catholics, I believe are chief amongst them) that deny the existence of an immortal animal soul. God's heaven ('...if such should be' as Hardy put it) will be a veritable menagerie. Your donkey will be braying for you when you reach the Pearly Gates.

Gyppo Byard said...

Weird donkey sychnronicity - this morning I caused Mrs Byard to have a fit of giggles in my attempts to teach baby Guthlac the Malay tongue, holding up a stuffed toy donkey before his eyes and saying "soya bean! soya bean!" (I had confused, not for the first time - nor, I suspect the last - keledai with kedelai. One means 'donkey' and the other 'soya bean'. And I still can't remember which is which...

Gadjo Dilo said...

My dear Mr Can Bass, I thank you, and am reassured by your voice of gentle authority this morning. Should one be so presumptious as to presume an after-life - and, as Hardy said, one shouldn't... the doubt keeps overly confident types on their toes for one thing - then donkeys would surely feature strongly in it; in fact, it might well be just donkeys. (Of interest only to you and I: speaking of Catholic heaven, Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor the Catholic "Primate" of England and Wales is a universalist, which I find endearing.)

Sychnronicity indeed, Gyppo. Fortunately, context is a great disambiguiser and it's hard to think of a scenario where soya bean might be mistaken for donkey - though we could ry to think of one!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Crabtree: I know better than to argue with any Frenchman armed with umpteen dozen meaty truncheons!

I like the idea of a Heaven populated solely by donkeys, though it only works if they're the benign creatures of popular myth.

Gyppo Byard said...

Gadjo bor - I 'as tagged you. Rules on my blog...

Gadjo Dilo said...

You're right Kevin, but then so many ideas only really work nicely if they confirm to a mythical ideal ;-)

Thanks Gyppo, I's seen it - as to now makes one of thems fancy lists like thems gadjies does!