Mobile menu

Off topic: The Little Translator relates the Barcelona Connection
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jul 15, 2008

The Little Translator claws his way back:

The Little Translator goes for the Big Lie:

The Little Translator meets the Mob:

The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy:

The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy (II):

The Little Translator turns Little Detective:

The Little Translator in the dying hours of 2007:

The Little Translator and the Basque sex kittens:

The Little Translator turns Little Detective (I½):

The Little Translator and the reluctant Sergeant:

The Little Translator goes for a ride in a car:

The Little Translator addresses the Queen of England:

”To the right and left of the Ramblas in Barcelona you can find any number of mean little streets”, I began as Garmendia flashed past car after car on the road to Vitoria (still!!), “but not so many years ago, at least, it wasn’t those streets you needed to be so careful on – it was the Rambla itself. Lots of pesetas, pounds, dollars, marks, shekels and yens walking down the Rambla, see, cash on the hoof, and very little or none at all on those mean streets, so smart thieves would steal where the money was, and dive back into the jigsaw of the Chino to the right or the Gótico to the left, where you’d never find them, nor would it do any good if you did, nor would the police take much interest.

Edurne was living in a vaguely upmarket street – in some rather relative terms, that is – but she was nevertheless a little nervous about some of her neighbours. They all seemed to have broken noses. The men were just as bad. There was a permanent kind of police caravan stationed on some waste ground, but even so it was by way of being a token presence, and the coppers stationed around it seemed to focus all their efforts on making sure the caravan itself wasn’t stolen. Even the police dogs went around on tiptoe, barked only rarely, and never ferociously. Dogs have facial expression too, and Edurne could swear some of them wore nervous grins as they panted in the heat.

She had been told that just before the Olympics the coppers rounded up a lot of known petty offenders and gave them free bed and board in the Modelo Prison for a few weeks to prevent any nuisance to the huge influx of tourists and their money over the Games. Common practice in pre-Olympic cities, apparently. Not such a bad deal for the inmates, either. Three square meals a day, no missus or screaming kids to get your back up, and all the drugs you could beg, steal or extort.

She was told as much one night by a habitual old lag who came in to leer at her occasionally behind the bar in the Café Strasbourg. He was one of the group that had been quietly lifted for that fortnight.

“Not bad at all”, he confided to her, moving around on his stool for a better angle at peering inside her blouse as she took out bottles from the waist-high fridge. “A lot of people I know from around here were inside too, so it was like a holiday with your mates paid for by the government.”

After the Olympics it was business as usual, though, and the wails of tourists again echoed around the streets in the vicinity of the Picasso Museum off Calle Princesa, as purse-pinchers pinched purses and pickpockets picked pockets and fled sharpish up Barra de Ferro where the maze starts in the Gótico, down Banys Vells, right on to Plateria and on through to Santa María del Mar to get lost in the crowd or up across Via Laietana to Regomir, Escudellers and all the rest.”

Just then the phone rang in my pocket.

“Maybe a job coming through?” queried Sergeant Garmendia.

“Well, yes and no”, I answered. “It’s a customer who owes me money for the last few jobs despite several phone calls, is nonchalantly pretending to have forgotten, as is often the case in an often sleazy business, and is offering me another job as an absurd kind of trade-off so that I’ll feel obliged to do it in order to get paid for the previous translations.”

Garmendia was mightily impressed.

“How on earth do you know all that before you answer?”

“I’m writing the sodding thing, aren’t I?” I muttered as I took out the phone and checked to make sure I was in a-customer-rang-the-other-day mode. “Of course I know.”

“This is the Little Translator”, I said sweetly into the phone. “No job too big or too little” … “Ah Martin, how splendid of you to call. How timely. How opportune. To what do I owe the pleasure? Do you have some good news for me?”

“Oh, hello”, said Martin. He sounded rather surprised at the pleasant reception. As well he might, but it’s always best to confuse troublemaking customers if you can. “Yes, it is good news. I’ve a job for you if you’re interested.”

“I’m slightly tied up at the minute”, I told him, and thought it would be best to come to the point. “There’s also the matter of my last bill.”

I put my hand over the receiver and nudged the Sergeant. “Now he’ll say that’s no problem, because I can redo the bill with this job added in”.

“Well”, said Martin, right on cue, “that’s no problem, because you can redo the bill with this job added in”.

I smiled and jerked thumbs-up at the Sergeant.

“Have you ever spoken to Idoia, my new secretary, Martin?” I asked him. “No? A charming lass. Very attractive. The resourceful type, too. Innovative. And she’s a computer nerd, to boot”.


“To BOOT”, I said again. “Computers. Boot. Geddit?”

“Oh, I see, boot, very funny, yes”, Martin answered rather testily. “You were saying about Idoia?”

“Yes, only been with me a short time, but she’s been making all sorts of changes to my system. For instance, as a precautionary measure she has my bank account all connected up to the files I deliver. If the money goes ‘ping’ in my account by the agreed cut-off date … in this case, say, by the twentieth” – I consulted my watch – “oh look, that’s tomorrow – then everything’s OK, but if not, if the money hasn’t gone ‘ping’ by then, a horrible virus is unleashed into the customer’s system, poisoning directories and wreaking havoc on all it encounters. You can’t even delete them because it starts from when the file lands. Messy. Chaos. Unspeakable chaos.” …

“What?” said Martin. “What are you saying? A virus? But that’s illegal. You can’t do that. …. hello? hello? hello? Are you there?”

I came back on line.

“The thing is”, I continued, “it’s so unspeakable that for a moment there I literally couldn’t speak”.

“I’ll pay it in today”, he said hastily.

“Do. That would be fine, Martin. Thank you – goodbye, and have a real nice day now, won’t you?”

“Wait, wait a minute”, he said. “What about the new job?”

“The other job”, I mused. “Like I said, I’m a little busy at the moment. I’m, er, on a mission”.

I did try to say it with a capital M for emphasis, but failed miserably.

“Mission?” said he.

“Yes, a mission”, I repeated, trying again, and wondering how the hell Martin could say it with a capital and I couldn’t. Then it came to me.

“Doh, you’re such a fool, LT”, I told myself. “He made it the first word in the sentence, that’s how.”

I looked over at the Sergeant with his dark glasses. The CD was playing She Caught the Katy.

“Yes”, I told him. “Mission from God …”

Well, I was getting there, but not quite the full shilling since I had been forced to leave out that rather important initial A. I tried to take a run at it to kind of kickstart it in.

“ … Martin, you’ve got to understand we’re on a Mission from God”, I finished, successfully this time. God came out with a capital G, too, but then that’s kind of like automatic.

“That other job”, I continued. “I’ll have to think about that, Martin.” Pause. “There, I’ve thought about it. You can stick the other job right up your ar-….“.

But Garmendia had his hand over MY mouth this time. “Henry’s about”, he warned as he rang off.

“This Henry”, he went on. “You should let me speak to him. I could fix that word ban for you, I’m sure. Being a policeman and all that.”

I wasn’t convinced.

“That might be a little impractical”.

“Why’s that?”

“Oh, in that Henry is a real live person in New York, whereas you are merely the light-hearted figment of a mildly deranged imagination.”

This deflated him quite a bit. Of course it did. Nobody likes to be told they don’t exist.

“Well, get on with the story, then”, he said, sulkily.

I had started flicking through the newspaper, though. There was a photo of some ertzainas dealing with pickets during the transport strike a few weeks ago.

[I don't think this photo's going to come out, but it's hardly crucial]

“Talking of policemen”, I said, “won’t your wife be concerned about you? In fact, doesn’t she worry in general about you being a pi- … er, a police officer? And you have to phone her mother too, don’t forget.”

“Yes, yes, I’ll ring her in a bit. Have to think out what to say to the silly old cow. My mother-in-law, I mean.”

He glanced over at the picture. “Oh yes, look, that’s me in the centre in riot gear with the lads the other day near Mungia. My wife – yes, sometimes she’s worried, but then she sees me all dressed up in my leather boots, with my big hard stick and my glistening red helmet, and that changes her tune”.

“I’ll bet it does”, I said in awe.

“Too right. And those gleaming steel handcuffs, the black uniform …”

“Quite. I get the picture”, I cut him off hurriedly. “Got to watch it here - anybody could be reading this”, I thought.

I took up the story again.

“Edurne had no problem getting a job in the Café Strasbourg. There was little competition, for nobody was in a big hurry to work in such a dive. It was called Café Strasbourg because …”

The phone rang. A good job, too, because it’s been busy lately and I hadn’t yet figured out why the hell it was called Café Strasbourg. A rather grand voice said:

“Mr Little Translator? I am putting you through to Her Majesty now. Do be good enough to call her Mum, please. Thank you”.

You can imagine the shock I got.

“Her Ma-ma-majesty?”, I thought. “The Queen? MUM? My mum the Queen? There’s got to be some mistake” ...

Direct link Reply with quote

Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
Italian to English
+ ...
They just get better and better! Jul 15, 2008

Not to mention ruder

Direct link Reply with quote

Noni Gilbert
Local time: 17:13
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just this moaning... Jul 15, 2008

...I was musing on how much I would enjoy reading another episode. Thank you!

Direct link Reply with quote
French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:13
French to English
+ ...
perfect excuse Jul 16, 2008

Ah... another Little Translator episode, the perfect excuse to procrastinate!

Direct link Reply with quote

To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

The Little Translator relates the Barcelona Connection

Advanced search

Across v6.3
Translation Toolkit and Sales Potential under One Roof

Apart from features that enable you to translate more efficiently, the new Across Translator Edition v6.3 comprises your crossMarket membership. The new online network for Across users assists you in exploring new sales potential and generating revenue.

More info »
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »

All of
  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs