Wash Day

My grandmother washed her clothes in a large tub. It was roughly cubic, half the size of a large office desk, could be set to vibrate or stir the clothes, and had a built in mangle.

She knew about washing machines but refused to use one. She also knew about microwaves and once in a fit of technophillia that amazed everyone, bought the smallest, cheapest mictowave she could find. And then refuesed ever to use it. I did try using it once - it took twenty minutes to reheat some warm milk.

My grandmother's grandmother washed her clothes in a tin bath, and probably didn't have a mangle.

I wash my clothes in a bucket, stirring them with the handle of a mop, using a detergent that I don't know how to pronounce, because I can't decipher the script it's written in.

I then hang the clothes to dry on a long piece of electrical cord strung from the door into the bathroom. Thus there is a curtain of damp clothes seperating my "kitchen" from my "computer room", steaming gently from the portable heater mounted on a chair.

And so I claim the family prize for Slumming It. At least until one of my interpid cousins washes their clothes in a mountain stream and then builds a log fire to dry them.

According to a recent Gallup poll, gay people spend more time online than straight people. which is to say, about a hundred out gay people in a sample a little over a thousand in London said they spent an hour or more per day on Friendster, Facebook or YouTube.

So, how many gay grls and bendy boiz in Bulgaria use OutEverywhere? Erm, none. And none in Albania, Bangladesh or Camaroon. Afganistan manages two.

There's a few dozen on Gaydar - including one from this town. Squirt, which says "Fancy a shag?" when Gaydar says "Fancy going out sometime?", does even less well.

I could check GayM8, SocialButter or GLEE, but I wouldn't expect anything different. It seems that in much of the world, gay folks who are completely closeted where they live can be out online - but around here, they can't even do that.

Some websites will tell you a different story, but you'll notice they only talk about the capital city.

I asked whether I should concentrate on learning English to teach, or on Bulgarian to use - and I was told the former, partly on the grounds that English has a pleasantly simple grammar and Bulgarian has a horrendously complex one.

The thing about Engish's simple grammar is...it throws up forms that are grammatically fine but, well, odd. They make you stop and ask whether what you just said was actually an English utterance.

Things like "English's simple grammar", which should be unproblematic, but seems to be the kind of thing native speakers just wouldn't say - or would say very rarely. They'd say "simple grammar of English".

So here's a sentence progression of four present tense forms, and I want you to tell me whether the final one is (a) a good, clear, well-formed and proper sentence in English, (b) not an English sentence at all, or (c) a sentence that is grammatically possible, but that no native speaker would produce:

I am patient.
I am being patient.
I have been patient.
I have been being patient.


  1. B (for Headmasters and Policemen) and C, though C is past tense ... erm, isn't it? Well, it is to me, anyway. D is utterly ludicrous, and A would see you in a psych ward.

    Also, nobody says: 'I am being patient' or 'I have been patient'. You'd use the contraction 'I'm or I've'. Do you teach contractions? ... or is that for midwives? ;)

    I' so sorry your 'facilities' seem rather less than adequate (can't help but guffawing). Still, never mind eh?

    Keep your chin up. Felicitations from the old country.


  2. MJ: I see we are of one mind. Which, considering how your mind works, might be faintly disturbing.

    Camy: People do use uncontracted forms, when they're being emphatic - "You said I should be patient. Well I *am* being patient."

    "I have been patient" is in the present tense, though confusingly this particular form can be used to refer either to present results of past events, or to past events.

    But it's no more confusing that "We're going to London next week" being in the present tense but referring to the future.

    "I had been patient" is the past tense equivalent.

    "I have been being patient" is a little strange, but we use the same basic structure for sentences like "I have been running a sweepstake".

    As for midwives, I've never been a wife of any description. Though I have some experience of husbands.