Not Saussure

May 13, 2007

Curious searches

Filed under: Russia/USSR, Uncategorized — notsaussure @ 1:15 pm

I made a resolution I wasn’t going to succumb to the temptation of writing about the odd searches that lead people to this blog, so it was, of course, inevitable that I would write about it….

Every day, though, two or three people arrive here having googled for the phrase ‘Fuck you’.  It’s not my habit to swear — my late wife, who swore like a Hull fishwife (coming from Hull and having been PA for the director of a trawler company, you see) didn’t like it, since she knew that meant I was about seriously to lose my temper — so it leads only to a post about the Iranian writer of graphic novels, Marjane Satrapi, a lady whom it is clearly unwise to tell she shouldn’t smoke.  And now, of course, here.

Why, though, do people google for that phrase? Other than if you’re trying to find the Phillip Larkin poem, (it’s here, by the way), I can’t think of a reason for so doing. People presumably know what it means and when it’s commonly used.

Or maybe not — my sometime interpreter and PA in Russia, the lovely and talented Inna, had a somewhat mischievous sense of humour, as I discovered when I asked her to teach me a few useful Russian phrases. My, how we laughed when I discovered that, rather than asking waiters and waitresses for — as I thought — an ashtray, I’d been asking for something completely different (which I would doubtless have enjoyed, but it’s hardly the sort of thing one asks of a complete stranger….). No wonder I kept on getting strange looks, and it’s a tribute to the hospitality of the Hotel Astoria in St Petersburg that I didn’t get my face slapped. I began to smell a rat after the barman in the night club there told me he’d be glad to oblige, but I’d probably be better off asking one of the young ladies sitting at the far end of the bar, and it would probably cost $150 (the price one pays, you see, for staying in posh hotels).

I did, after that, tend to check her advice on colloquial phrases rather closely.



  1. Or this:

    tent etiquette pissing

    Somewhow that one found its way to me… Your guess is as good as mine.

    Comment by Longrider — May 13, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  2. Hmm, I googled that, and found the reference in your comments policy, but I’m stuck with the idea of someone sitting in a tent on the other side of the world, despearate for a piss, and desperately googling as to the precise etiquette of the matter with his legs crossed.

    Comment by notsaussure — May 13, 2007 @ 5:45 pm

  3. I have forgotten how I found your site, possibly I read one of your comments elsewhere and thought ‘that’s a funny way to spell not so sure, so I had better check this link out’. In any event, I pass Philip Larkin’s old house at least 3 times a day taking Rocky for a walk. He lived at 32 Pearson Avenue. And, I gather, he wrote about the antics of those on the balcony of the house next door.

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — May 13, 2007 @ 6:59 pm

  4. So far today, I’ve had hits for “Sex with insects”, “Pornography for women” and “Was Stalin a bad man?”.

    I don’t like to think closely upon what this says about my daily preoccupations.

    Comment by Flying Rodent — May 13, 2007 @ 9:26 pm

  5. I note that 4 found my site by simply typing “John” into Google and 3 by typing “dickhead society”.

    Comment by jailhouselawyer — May 13, 2007 @ 10:19 pm

  6. $150 was a bit steep.

    Comment by jameshigham — May 14, 2007 @ 6:42 pm

  7. They work it out on the basis of the room rates for the hotel, or so one of the girls once explained to me. When she was working at the Grand Hotel Europe she charged considerably more and when she was working at the Pribaltiyskaya or the Pulkovskaya she’d charge rather less. Somewhere like the Moskva and it would have been far cheaper, but that would have the drawback that you’d have to stay at the Moskva, which would never do.

    A bit of clarification for those who aren’t familiar with Russian hotels — the hookers, at least in the better hotels, are normally perfectly happy to have their drinks bought them and practice their English on you, so long as you make it clear that you’re not in the market so they can end the conversation and go to attend to a paying customer if he presents himself. Very entertaining drinking companions they normally are, too.

    Comment by notsaussure — May 14, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

  8. That is hilarious.

    Comment by Ruthie — May 15, 2007 @ 12:43 am

  9. […] I’m really not sure about the full implications of this, other than that, on principle, I begin to worry when politicians of all parties seem to agree that such-and-such is a good thing and begin to vie with each other about how they’ll deliver more of it. If we were to have a completely socially mobile society, it seems to me, there’d be just as good a chance that the son of the richest man in the country would end up in the gutter as there was that the son of a beggar would end up in the Sunday Times ‘rich list’ — 1 in 5. In practical terms, I’m really not sure how we’d achieve this or whether we’d want to. I used to joke to my interpreter and PA in Russia that Communism had clearly managed to achieve one of its ends, since the grand-daughter of a Kievan merchant prince had ended up working for the grandson of a dirt-poor Irish farmer (Inna had as black a sense of humour as, at times, do I, or otherwise I wouldn’t have dared crack such a joke, obviously — and, besides, I felt a little retaliation was due). […]

    Pingback by Social Mobility « Not Saussure — May 20, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: