The titular expression comes from a place far, far away. There, in those distant lands, its time was long, long ago. During an age long, long past, back when people talked of "obsedantul deceniu" and "perioada interbelica", things you've never heard of, for how would you have.
All in all, its original context was a brief interlude so disjunct from the conceivable it's perhaps best approximated as an enchantment, something that perhaps never existed, anywhere. In that once upon a time I spent a year going to "normal" kindergarten, as everything else a state-funded, state-run institution. Generally I went to private, "language-speaking"i, but not that year. That year my kindergarten lived in a coquettish, two storey little building, with its own lawny back yard and a gate and evertything. There were hundreds of children there, and "selected" if such can be said, by the simple criteria of dwelling proximityii. Quite a departure from the suite-in-old-buildingiii standard fare of said "private" kindergartens, but then again the true mark of superiority is a proclivity to thrive in all environments. Thus those four hours a day six days a week provided for an interesting experience in plenty of ways, including the... tidbit we're now discussing.
You do know what a chant is, yes ? Like for instance, that
Emm eye see kay eee why emm ohh you ess eee, a friend to you and me!
thing in Full Metal Jacket ? It's in the second part, which nobody remembers (or much watches), a bunch of subnormal muricans gather with torches towards their Dom za vesanje equivalent. E vremea tiganilor, ce sa mai...
And so went the title : when lunch time came around, kids sat in the kindergarten mess hall, no kidding, six inch tall chairs around a long table in a reconstructed miniature mess hall! And as the bread came in first, they chanted, "Mie colt! Mie colt!" as a sort of... I'm not even sure, cvasi-religious activity perhaps ? In any case, the standard bread of communism, an item called franzela, was hand-sliced in the kitchen, the result piled on trays and brought in. Needless to say there were only two ends for each loaf, and that meant only one kid in about a dozen or so could have the end. Which is what they were chanting for, you see, "[Give] me the end!"
I was reminded of all this because ever since we've returned from Europe I've had a certain unicorn bake bread, which by now she's got down pat (she's also excellent with all sorts of doughs and pastries, a circumstance which I credit foremost to myself, for having had the foresight to place demands on womanhood -- she provides of her nature, it's the demand that truly matters). She makes a new round loaf every day ; in the morning I cut off the colt of a fresh loaf of bread, which usually ends up in the garbage later in the day (as the new loaf comes out of the oven). Because the girls eat very little bread, and... well, sometimes I'll cut another colt, leaving a semicircle of bread with a straight corner. The patterns of bread I throw away, by now an oft repeated form, indicative of the time and place, perennial enough to merit discussion on its own terms and of itself.
I have more corners now than I know what to do with, dear world. I wish I was in Carrickfergus, where there stood twelve kids do the damned thing, in preference of this ridiculous situation where I eat one, maybe two of four, and end up throwing at least half, often three-quarters away! Where the fuck is everyone!!!
Only... the night's in Brallygrand.———
- In my case, mostly German, in that time and place rather undistinguishable from Yidish, or Plattdeutsch if you prefer, not like it makes any practical difference anyways. [↩]
- I nominally had my domicile reset from my parents' flat in town to my grandparents' flat on the other side of the same town, coincidentally four or five blocks away from said kindergarten. This because... well, Soviet era cities were rather a Greek object, in their own way, you see.
Actually, let's delve, why not. So, during the [great patriotic] war, the Soviets found themselves with the back against the wall ; at some point early on Stalin was weeping and it did look to everyone, not just the Germans but everyone, including the Soviets and the Allies, that Russia's pretty much fucked. Then Stalingrad "happened" ; but before Stalingrad could happen two separate managerial advances had to occur. One was the natural extension of the Soviet state's dim view of the peasantry (who were correctly regarded as little better than cattle) to the entire populace. This made possible the "political commissar", which is to say a line of people placed behind the front line, ready and willing to shoot anyone retreating right in their pretty skull they were so cutely concerend with safeguarding. It's not so much that this improved morale ; it's rather that it removed the question of morale altogether (look up muselmann if this is not directly obvious).
The other was industrialized building. It works like this : on the first stage, earth moving machinery is set in, leveling a plot of land worth a few square kilometers. Then track is laid (ideally with machinery, but then again meat is also machinery) in a particular, tree-like fashion, and rail cranes followed by trainloads after trainloads of prefabricated concrete flow in. The cranes set up the prefabs and there you go : a forest of hruschebas can arise practically overnight. This worked splendidly to leverage Soviet strengths, both active (a nascent rail-and-steel complex just like teh muricans had, for instance) and pasive (German bombers were great, but they couldn't fly past the Ural mountains, meaning there's plenty of air-safe space if one gets the railroads working correctly) such that enough tachankas could be poured out to eventually bog down the Germans to the point where they were no longer advancing fast enough, and from there on...
After the war (and after the post-war hurr played out), this wartime industrialized building thingee was leveraged to produce towns out of nowhere, one "cartier" (vaguely equivalent to "neighbourhood", excepting it contained no neighbours nor was there all that much hood going on) at a time. My parents, bright young things that they were, lived in the cartier collecting bright young things such as them, in the neighbourhood of the Institute For Catching Up With American Computers and assorted such electronica ; whereas my grandparents, old soviet gentry that they (mostly against their will) were, lived in the cartier collecting those, across the street from the only "national actor" from that particular town and so following. Even today it's the portion of town with the (by far) highest land values, and so no, the criteria of mere proximity wasn't exactly quite as open-ended as one might naively suspect.
What I'm saying here is quite akin to, translating for the commonplaces of the new (and oh so un-Soviet) socialism, that I had to spend a year comingling with the riff-raff such as one'd be stuck with if they just let anyone in who lived on Park Avenue, or whatever, Mission district, Beverly Hills what have you. Give yourself a moment to take that doozy in! Yes, it's the case that apparently, according to people who've seen the playbook you're following play out before, you're not even doing all that well! You're re-enacting stale old dramaz that went exactly the fuck nowhere, and that was back then, with way better actors! Nor is this any kind of idle posturing, but the most trite of lived experience : yes, such selection by home address is mere baseline, hardly worth the mention, no kind of standard. There are levels of selection above that, of course there are ; as a practical matter there wasn't the slightest chance of five year old me confusing the group of kids whose parents were cool enough to send them to hang out with Genossen Lehrerin for the group of kids whose parents were cool enough to have obtained living repartitii within the inner sanctum, dear lord, how. [↩]
- Obviously all the high bourgeoisie faubourgs that survived bombardment were simply taken over by the state, and allocated for... legitimate, you know, purposes. As a tween my sister practiced ballet in one of them too, I'm sure doing a better job (not to mention more of a job) than whatever chlorotic scions of original lineages had similarily attempted, a century prior. Not to mention her instructor was a) fucking hawt and b) such a memorable fuck I still remember it! Soviet ballerinas ftw, btw (I was going to link an old pic but I can't find it now ;/).
Anyway, the point remains, high vaulted ceilings and that "prospect" thing where all the doors are in line, you know ? [↩]