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Off topic: The Little Translator slides into the crease at the end of 2008
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 29, 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:

The Little Translator relates the Barcelona Connection:

The Little Translator makes a right royal faux pas:

The Little Translator throws his hat in the ring with Obama and McCain:

The Little Translator solves the world economic crisis:

Sergeant Garmendia insisted on taking me to another place, though, with even more dope-heads slumped around the room.

He took off his sunglasses very slowly at the bar. Then he put them back on very slowly. As he started to take them off again just as slowly, I asked:

“What’s with the sunglasses, Sergeant?”

Garmendia sighed drunkenly as he ordered another two Patxarans.

“I’m trying to do it like David Caruso. In CSI Miami, you know. The guy can't act worth shit, but nobody can do the cool sunglasses routine like David Caruso. Sure, the ambiance of those Gucci forensic gloves and special Armani lab goggles helps, like Miami Vice updated to the 21st century, but he’s the big star for that reason only, and although the other CSI boss men, little Gary Siniese in New York and chubby Paul Guilfoyle in Las Vegas, have to wear lab coats every so often, you’ll never see Caruso in a white coat. They say it’s in his contract. No lab coats. Just the sunglasses. Nobody can do shades as coolly as David Caruso can. Other actors learn their lines, but David Caruso just stands in front of his bathroom mirror for a few hours every day slowly taking those shades off and putting them on again.”

“They blend a couple of Caruso trademarks into a whole routine,” continued Garmendia. “For instance, there he is with his hands crossed over his crotch looking down at the ground, always positioned skew-whiff to whoever he's talking to, occasionally raising his head a little to look at people or staring up at the sky, but mostly he concentrates on the ground all mysterious, and looks at everyone askance. They give him these deadpan phrases, too. Somebody might say, for instance: “It’s a tough world out there for a 20-year old black kid, Horatio.” He’s been staring up at the sky as this is said, and then he slowly takes off those shades (or slowly puts them on) and says: “It’s a tough world out there for all of us, Alex.” Or the suspect they’re questioning shouts: “I don’t care, see? You can’t prove a thing," and Caruso just puts on those goddamn shades of his, looks at him up and sideways and says: "You may care sooner than you know, Mister."

But that’s not all – as soon as he’s said these non sequiturs, he instantly walks off out of shot. Well, I say walk, but you watch next time. I really don’t know how they do it. Either he's on a kind of trolley tied to a rope around his waist which somebody pulls to the side at the critical moment, or he doesn't actually walk, and just shifts his upper body to the side off-camera. It’s a mystery. Like why women borrow your disposable razors and put them back with the plastic cap on, thinking you won’t notice. And you don’t. Not until you slice half your frigging cheek off the next day, and find the razor’s black with armpit hairs.”

“Anyway,” he changed the subject, “what else did you do before you became a translator?”

“Well, at one point I wanted to be a rock star. I went to a singing audition for a group years ago. I was waiting my turn, and there was just me and this other bloke left in the waiting room. It was me next on the list, and then him. I was caught short just before my turn and asked him if he knew where the bog was. He said “Yes, I’ve just been, it’s down there to the right, you can’t miss it, at all, at all, at all.” He told me wrong, though, it was miles away, and by the time I got back he’d sneaked in ahead of me, told them the other candidate had gone home, and that’s how he got into the band, the treacherous Irish git. His surname’s not Hewson any more – in fact he’s so big now he only needs the one name. I did try to challenge him about this once after a gig at the Manchester Apollo, but the gorillas on the door wouldn’t let me in. Anyway, he’ll deny it all, of course. If I try mentioning it to him now, he’ll just turn his lawyers on me for slander and for not helping out with poverty and greenhouse gases”.

“Talking of which,” said the Sergeant, “I read that last year the world’s richest countries allocated 4,500 million euros to feed the world’s starving. Impressive, huh? And over the same period they spent 190 times that on weapons, 850,000 million euros.”

“Terrible, isn't it?” I admitted ruefully. “We don’t know we’re born.”

“What’s terrible about it? What’s so terrible about all those people and organisations working to find solutions to hunger and poverty – governments, the World Food Programme too, UNICEF … and all those arms dealers?”

My brow creased over. “Arms dealers? I don’t get it. How can they help?”

“Well, it’s just a different way of dealing with the same problem. You treat the cause instead of the effect. Weapons help deal with poverty too, by simply helping to eliminate people. Hunger and poverty are only a problem if there are human beings to be hungry and poor, so if you bring up the heavy artillery and remove a decent amount of them from the equation, you automatically remove a lot of hunger and poverty. Brings the statistics down nicely. Just think how much real-time ongoing active misery can be eliminated by an hour’s work with a Kalashnikov. Or cluster bombs. Or anti-personnel mines. And when you get into the potential kill count of Scud missiles and chemical weapons and so on, well the mind simply boggles.”

Garmendia came back to the point. “As you said before, time’s a-wasting all right. But I’ll ring home a bit later, after we’ve found a place to crash."

“What’s more urgent is the Barcelona Connection," he insisted. "You're dragging your feet on that one, you know."

“Well, these narrations take time,” I explained. “It all has to be prepared. Like a work of art. Like a good play. The acts, the scenes, the luvvies sniffing at their greasepaint and dreaming of glory in the wings.”

“A good play?” echoed the Sergeant. “Like Oscar Wilde, for example?”

“O yes," I enthused, “exactly. Like Oscar Wilde. Like Oscar …”

Friends, I’m afraid the wavies are back.

Reading Gaol, 22 January 1896

Dearest dearest Mosie,

Here I am in a simply hateful little cell in Reading. Designed by Helen Keller, by the looks of it. Every day I walk the treadmill, pick the oakum, and sew mail bags. I had been sewing some absolutely delightful little patterns until an utter brute of a warder came up and said: “’Ere, Wilde, wot you effing think you’re effing doing stitching effing angels into them effing bags?”

Oh Mosie, the dandy of the Dorchester no longer. Adieu to the toast of Tottenham Court Road. Gone are the days when the crème de la crème of London Town admitted me to their parlours and dining rooms with carte blanche to be entertainingly rude and foppish to all and sundry. I say, do you remember that weekend at Lord Caernarvon’s little place in the country when we were gorging ourselves on canapés and swilling back Veuve Clicquot by the case like there was no tomorrow, and that dreadful hatchet-faced woman flounced up in all her haughtiness and said: “Mr Wilde, you are drunk, Sir, revoltingly drunk.” Do you? And do you remember how I sent her packing? “And you, Madam, are ugly, revoltingly ugly, but at least tomorrow I shall be sober.” Ah, the wit, Mosie, the biting satire, the mordant repartee, all lost and gone forever since they sent me to this awful place. And the plays, the novels, the poetry. The Importance of Being Earnest. A Woman of No Importance. Lady Windermere’s Fan. Do you recall I was originally going to make it “Lady Windermere’s Pussy”, but there was a problem with the censors, so I had to write in all that ludicrous stuff about fans. Yes, here I languish, and my only crime some harmless woo-wooing and shirt-lifting now and again in Victoria’s stifling, taboo-ridden realm.

There are other poor souls in here who are much worse off than me, though. One rather large gentleman I’ve become extremely fond of. As muscly and exciting as those dockers I told you I used to spy on from behind pallets on the wharves of Dublin. We first met in the showers. He happened to be standing behind me as I bent down to pick up the soap.

“You’re Wilde, aren’t you? Well, you ought to effing know I’m the effing Daddy in here,” he told me with a terrible tender roughness that sliced through my very heartstrings.

I was trembling as I cried: "Yes, o yes, I'm Wilde all right. I'm your very own wild boy. And I'd be just enchanted to play Mummy to your Daddy.”

It was in Reading Gaol, Mosie, that despite the terrible misery of the place I discovered the true meaning of doing Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Certainly brought the tears to my eyes, I can tell you. Woo, woo!

“Ooh, I’m coming over a little queer!” he cried later. I looked behind me, and saw it was no lie, either. Woo, woo! But I knew he was one of us anyway, Mosie, the very first time I saw him. "That fellow's got to swing," I had written in my notes for a special ballad I’m thinking of writing in here. And he certainly does swing, Mosie. Woo, woo! Plus he’s due to be hanged for murder most foul, so he’ll be swinging in a rather different way shortly. What a shame.

Did you read about my damnably cruel trial, Mosie? Heavens, it was the most horrendous miscarriage of justice, don’t you know. The full fifteen rounds with the Marquis of Queensbury. And Lord Carson too. Dear old Carson - I remember him from when Mamma sent me to study at TCD, you know. The carefree days of gowns, mortarboards, cloisters, Georgian door arches and red brick in Dublin, and then years later the monster is responsible for my institutionalisation.

“Are you a sodomite, Sir?” Carson asked me in court for the prosecution.

“The lives of human beings may take a variety of directions,” I defended myself. “One little piggy may go to market, another little piggy may eat roast beef and so on, whereas this particular little piggy may go woo-woo-woo all the way home.”

He chose to ignore this. “Have you practised this unspeakably outrageous, foul and infinitely godless fornicatory activity, Sir?” was the next question.

“My dear fellow,” I replied. “Allow me to put it like this. Sometimes a man has to do what a man has to do, and a boy has to woo what a boy has to woo.”

The judge was by no means impartial, either. “Stand up, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde,” he rasped. "Your offence does not permit the death penalty to be handed down, but believe me I would have no difficulty whatsoever in donning the black cap in that case. I would personally prefer you to be well hung.”

I just couldn’t resist it, Mosie. I was in there faster than a speeding bullet. My last jibe in public, if you like:

“I too, your honour," I simpered. “You simply wouldn't believe how many pretty men have told me the same. I bet you say that to all the boys with quiffs who appear before you. Woo, woo!”

After he had passed sentence, I was asked if I had anything to say.

“Of course I have,” I cried. “I have two vitally important things to say … “ – and, dear Mosie, a great hush descended on the room – “I wish firstly to say in connection with my trial that it is no exaggeration whatsoever to state that the clerk of the court has an absolutely darling little wig, and further that I would be simply thrilled if the splendidly handsome gentleman two rows from the back in the delightful pink and turquoise waistcoat could see his way to paying me a visit some day at Pentonville.”

The Sergeant chipped in.

“Er, how about you forget Oscar Wilde and get on with Barcelona,” he suggested.

I gave in. “OK, OK …”

“... Elisa was one of Edurne’s best customers at the Café Strasbourg. She looked around a hundred years old, but was actually about seventy-five. Elisa wasn’t 100% sure, though, since she had been orphaned even before the Spanish Civil War, all the records had been destroyed, and so she could only guess. This gave her a good head start on the thousands and thousands of orphans created by both the Republic and Franco. Although the Second Republic only had three years of war to make suitable arrangements for orphaning people off in the carnage of 1936-1939, Franco had more like forty to do so at his leisure with executions, imprisonment in horrendous conditions, hunger and the like. The new authorities told Elisa that, even though her parents had died before the war, chances were that being working-class layabouts and/or Masons or Red separatists, they would have fought against Franco if they HAD lived, so she wasn’t getting any State handouts. She took up the oldest profession on Barcelona’s Ramblas and the dark malodorous alleyways round about. She was a non-practising lesbian, too. She had liked men once, but a long time ago, not any more. And now it was too late to make any difference ...

She had a special price for her little bottle of San Miguel, five pesetas less. She sat there the whole day getting belligerently drunk. And Elisa didn't care who she crossed, either. She was 80% blind, so fear didn’t come into it because she couldn't see who she was messing with anyway. One day a group of tough-looking bikers were standing near her and one of them accidentally brushed her arm as he passed the table. Elisa stood up and threw the half-full bottle she was drinking at him, and then the two empties that hadn’t been taken away yet. And it was the bikers who left the bar, not her.

Edurne had to help her home after closing time every night with a torch, up three storeys to a dump of a place just down the street. Elisa sang and burped and moaned and groaned as Edurne helped her up the stairs, and smiled like a child as she placed a kiss on the young barmaid’s head before staggering into her pigsty of a home.

The Strasbourg was an interesting place to work all right, but after six months working among all the tarts and pimps and wide boys and human dross, Edurne found herself wondering if anyone would ever love her and take her away from all this. And then one day Koldo came in, the man who would love her and take her away from all this.

The man who would eventually kill her. The Asmatutakoizena Killer.

I paused to take a drink of Patxaran.

“I say, LT, chapeau, old boy, please do go on,” said Professor Brookesduddy.

“I can’t,” I replied. "I want to leave it as a kind of cliffhanger for the end of the year. You see …”

I broke off and looked at my interlocutor standing beside Garmendia.

“Brookesduddy! What the hell are you doing here?”

“Noblesse oblige, mon vieux. Don’t you remember? You’ve summoned us all for your end-of-year message.”

I looked around, and it was true. They were all there. Brookesduddy, Allen Larkin, Sergeant Hopkins and all the rest of them from my court case in the early days, the quartet of men-haters from The Mound who had kicked my teeth in, the Queen surrounded by corgis, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, Shakespeare himself, Hemingway, Agatha Christie, Oscar and …

I rubbed my eyes. “Christ, it must be the smoke in this bar’s getting to me,” I told myself.

Garmendia put his arm around my shoulder.

“Don’t worry about it,” he insisted. “Let’s concentrate on a message of good cheer together for 2009. In Basque and English.”

And so we did:


Except to the Asmatutakoizena Killer, of course.

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Marina Soldati  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:16
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Great! Dec 29, 2008

Happy New Year to you too!


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Spanish to English
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Wonderful stuff:-) Dec 29, 2008

Mervyn, that was wonderful, terrific stuff - do let me know when you publish, I'll have the first copy off the shelf:-)

And thanks for the entertainment all through this year, hopefully you'll carry on next year too. So all the best for 2009, hope it allows you plenty of time to write:-)

One thing though: was it really Wilde who said “And you, Madam, are ugly, revoltingly ugly, but at least tomorrow I shall be sober.”?

I thought it was Winston Churchill (Lady Astor?, Bessie Braddock? ).... I wouldn't have known, but it just so happened to come up in a forum not too long ago.

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Men in white coats Dec 29, 2008

I take it all back - this very evening I've just seen David Caruso in a white lab coat. They must have rescinded the contract.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:16
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
From an aficionada Dec 30, 2008

Dear Mervyn,
Brilliant! Thank you for keeping us so wickedly entertained.
I particularly appreciate your lampooning of the dismal alleged actor David Caruso - and have you noticed the infuriating inaudibility of everyone in the grisly series?
And your lampooning of the annoying Bono - I assume it was to him you were alluding - or perhaps that other annoying Irish do-gooder whose name momentarily escapes me?

And Wilde's comment that his cell in Reading Gaol must have been designed by Helen Keller ...

Re the "you are very drunk" quotation, I believe that exchange was in fact between Churchill and Bessie Braddock, not noted for her good looks.

The Lady Astor / Churchill exchange went as follows, I think:

Lady Astor: Mr Churchill, if you were my husband I'd give you poison.
Churchill: Lady Astor, if you were my wife I'd take it.

Lastly, why is the fair Felicity not in the final 2008 line-up?

Trusting that LT's adventures will continue in 2009 and wishing you a felicitous new year.

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Italian to English
+ ...
Auguri a tutti Dec 30, 2008

Happy New Year, Merv, Sergeant and LT!

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Asmatutakoizena Dec 30, 2008

Many thanks to all for the encouragement!!!!!!!!!!

Although LT hits have plunged lower than Madoff shares, and the general lost interest is larger than, er, something quite large, The Little Translator does not give a proverbial toss and will indeed be active in 2009, pouncing like a lion on ProZ like, er, a pouncing lion, with endless weak similes, metaphors, and infantile double-entendres.

Just you wait.


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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:16
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Wonderful stuff as always! Jan 1, 2009

Letty (LT's fan)

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The Little Translator slides into the crease at the end of 2008

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