The Little Translator claws his way back: http://www.proz.com/topic/85405
The Little Translator goes for the Big Lie: http://www.proz.com/topic/86945
The Little Translator meets the Mob: http://www.proz.com/topic/88711
The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy: http://www.proz.com/topic/90107
The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy (II): http://www.proz.com/topic/91508
The Little Translator turns Little Detective: http://www.proz.com/topic/91763
The Little Translator in the dying hours of 2007: http://www.proz.com/topic/92996
One of my least favourite customers rang a couple of days ago. He had a very tempting job for me, apparently. His word, not mine. The word tempting, I mean, not apparently - he didn't say “I have a job for you, apparently.” He said it was tempting (I like to get these things clear). Since smoke has been coming from my keyboard since New Year with a barrow-load of jobs, I was pretty fraught and therefore not champing at the bit to take on any more. "O tempt me, tempt me then", I said, yawning a little into the receiver as I did so, to gain the upper hand.
“Just the job for a translator like yourself”, he enthused.
“It isn’t more trains, is it?” I asked him.
The last one, you see, had been an extremely long, tough, precise and exasperating document on railways/train manufacture, which I must admit had partially taken me over in the end. After a couple of weeks I found myself in idle moments loitering around San Nicolás metro station, occasionally taking trains for no reason, but more often just stepping into them and out again to have a good look at the door mechanism, or simply standing around on the platform when they arrived to inspect the carbodies, or whatever.
Questioned one night by security, too. “I was wondering what you were up to, sir”, the bloke in the ill-fitting uniform said. He said the “sir” a little grudgingly, I thought. That challenging expression said “Watch it bodger - I’m not a policeman, but I could be if I wanted to”. “You’ve been here for two hours”, he said, running his index finger up and down the baton, “but all you do is look at the trains and interfere with the doors. What’s the game?”
“My good man”, I told him, “I’m a hands-on translator operating a project which happens to involve railway vehicles and facilities at this moment in time”. I wish I had a translator badge to flash for this kind of situation, but at least I’d said “at this moment in time”. It means bog all except “now”, but sounds good. He stopped fingering his silly baton.
“I’m just edging myself into the part, if you will”, I continued. He seemed puzzled. “Look, you’ve seen that film In the Name of the Father, haven’t you?” He nodded. “Well”, I went on, “before they shot that film, perhaps you didn’t know that Daniel Day-Lewis insisted on having himself shut up in a fake cell for hours on end, while a load of extras outside were instructed to scream “IRA scum” and other niceties at him all night long, and all the while he answered to no other name but Gerry. Method acting. And this is method translating. See that up there? It’s a cadmium-copper catenary system, cleverly arranged to move around from left to right of the centre line on the track so the contact wire doesn’t end up grooving the pantograph. Now, other systems, such as that used on the Heathrow Express facility, hang the wire ….”
“Move along, sir”, was all he said, doubtless wondering what a cadmium was. So much for appreciation of a professional attitude.
No, it wasn’t trains, the customer told me. “But”, he said, “it’s very confidential. Description of a restructuring process at a large company.”
“Oh, yes, “restructuring””, I said. “An interesting term. Let me guess – thirty or forty PowerPoint slides by a big shot consultant with a cunning plan to cut costs by firing half the staff without actually calling it that?”
My customer chose to ignore this. He said casually: “You’ll have to sign a Confidentiality Agreement” (how DO they say those things in caps?).
“Not me”, I said cheerfully. “I have an aversion to signing my name to anything unless it means instantaneous dosh. Besides, I have another system to guarantee 100% confidentiality. Nobody gets to know about the content, nobody, not even myself. If I’m using Dragon to dictate, it’s simple – I just never listen to myself as I talk. The mike’s bust at the moment, though, so I’ll have to type this one in. But don’t worry, I’m a touch typist, and I can blindfold myself so I can’t see a single word of it. The only problem I can see is my proof-reader, but that can be taken care of too, I suppose.” I lowered my voice to a whisper. “I know where he lives, see”.
Meanwhile the phone had gone dead, but like I said, I was too busy anyway, and any free time I had was to be spent on detective work on the Asmatutakoizena Murder.
I know what you’re thinking, by the way – where are all these sex kittens? Just a little ruse, I’m afraid. A dirty ploy. Still, now you’re here, you may as well read on.
What I did have figured out about Matey was that he had Macbeth Syndrome. With more translations for the woman’s relatives in England, I had found out Matey had rather a lot to gain from the death. The police had put me in direct contact with them, and I could see that my suspicions were being borne out. Another Woman, that sort of thing. Money. Temptation. He reckoned he could get away with it. It’s as clear as day to me. Look what happened to Macbeth …
Imagine the scene. You’ve been working your tail off for the King of Scotland all afternoon, doing what you do best – severing heads with your trusty axe, in at the sharp end of the fray cleaving all around you, hacking people to death. A gory day, but also a glory day. You remark as much, in fact, to your comrade-in-arms Banquo, as you leave the battlefield: “So foul and fair a day I have not seen.” As you trek happily back tae yer cassel to knock back a few wee drams and either exercise your seigneurial rights with one of the kitchen lassies, and/or gi’ the missus a gud seein’-tae as the warrior’s repose, you hear that your boss is ecstatic with your prowess and outstanding loyalty. You would whistle “Such a Perfect Day”, but Lou Reed won’t be around for another 800 or 900 years.
Alas, if only you hadn’t told the lady back in Inverness about the Witches ...
All hail to Macbeth, Macbeth King of Scotland, they had screeched at you. King of Scotland? King? Me? Me the King? But I can't be King, you think, I'm only a lord. There must be dozens of people in line for the throne … there's, let’s see, there’s the King himself, to start with, then there's his two sons, also the Earl of This, the Count of That, the Thane of the Other – the list of loyal subjects is endless. But wait - talking of loyalty, or lack of it, you remember that not only have you given the Norwegians a good kicking today, but one of your own who threw in his lot with the Scandinavians is even now being put to the sword on the wet Scottish heath, and you’ve been given his title and lands in view of your battle kill count. Not quite so endless after all, that list. And it could be cut back a little more, mayhap. Cut back, yes. CUT. The thought fairly gets your fingers a-tapping on the handle of that bloodstained sword of yours, doesn’t it?
Back in Inverness, although you’re obviously a tried and tested master butcher, you hadn’t realised your lady was such a homicidal maniac herself. The King and his entourage arrive at the castle this night, she hisses in your ear - Kill them all, Macbeth. When you demur a little, you listen in awe as she tells you that, had she known its father was going to turn out to be such a bloody wimp, she would have ripped the new-born baby from her breast and bashed its brains out on the ground. Wow, you think. The triumphant strains of “I, I will be King, and you, you will be Queen” would come into your head, except David Bowie isn’t around yet to do Heroes.
So you can’t help moving on to the Dirty Deed itself. It’s easy, really - after a pleasant dinner with Their Royal Highnesses, you just tiptoe into the King’s chamber, deal him a quick one-two with your double-sided length of sharp cold iron, and later cry treachery by a few innocent guards, whom you instantly dispatch. Easy as falling off a caber.
It doesn’t end there, though. The two princes escaped, for one thing. You’re set to be crowned King, but people are already beginning to talk. There’s your crony Banquo, for example. He’s been moaning ever since the two of you met the Witches that they hadn’t prophesied anything good about HIM. Perhaps, you decide, life would be a mite easier if Banquo weren’t around any more, and in 11th century Scotland there’s no shortage of likely lads who could help you out with Banquo for a consideration. Shakespeare, though, must have been having an off day when he was finalising their part names. Rather unimaginative. Let me see, they were called “First Murderer”, erm, “Second Murderer”, and … oh botheration, do you know, I can never remember the name of the third mur- … oh yes, “Third Murderer”, that was it.
Meanwhile, back at the castle, the situation is getting out of control. Even dead, Banquo keeps popping up everywhere to embarrass you. Your Trouble and Strife – no better name in this case – is going around the bend, and finally you’re rumbled and on a wanted list. You still clutch at the ultimate prophesy by the Witches, though – Macbeth cannot be killed by a man of woman born.
It certainly lulls you into a sense of security, and so you just can’t resist jeering about it to Macduff as the two of you battle it out at the end. Oh yeah? says Macduff, busy thrusting and parrying, What you don’t know is that I was born by Caesarean section, and so your “by woman born” bit doesn’t count.
What rotten luck, eh? And so you literally lose your head to Macduff. Rather unlikely, too, the Caesarean bit, but that’s the way Shakespeare has it.
Next time I’ll tell you how I linked the Macbeth Syndrome to Matey for Sergeant Garmendia. If I can.
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