Off topic: The Little Translator addresses the Queen of England
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Jun 6, 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 Sergeant’s brow creased over.

“Potatoes and chorizo”, he mused, “potatoes and chorizo are the problem.”

“That’s an original sentence if ever I heard one, Sergeant”, I said. “They don’t come much more original than that. ‘Potatoes and chorizo are the problem.’ Think about it - I bet you’re the only person in the world to have uttered that sentence, anywhere, ever.”

“They are, you know”, he went on. “Potatoes and chorizo form the basis of my mother-in-law’s power. Potatoes and chorizo. Chorizo and potatoes. You see, one side of her family is from near where we’re going now. Álava province. Where they have a huge potato industry, as you probably know. Her father made a fortune in spuds, with a sideline in peppers. Her mother’s family is from Castilla, and they made millions in pork products, mainly chorizo. So she’s absolutely loaded.”

“And how do you make patatas a la riojana?”, he went on. “Potatoes, chorizo and peppers. My mother-in-law gets it all for free, and she eats nothing else. She gets a sack of potatoes delivered every other week, a dozen peppers, and there are chorizos hanging up everywhere at her place.

There was something I didn’t understand here.

“Look”, I reasoned, “if she’s got so much money, how come she always eats the same thing? And, don’t you get any kickback? I mean, it’s got to be a good thing to have a rich mother-in-law, hasn’t it?”

The Sergeant looked over at me half in sorrow, half in pity. It’s pretty difficult to look over at somebody like that, but he managed it OK.

“You don’t know much about rich people, do you?” he said dryly. And bitterly. The do you? part, I mean. He said the first part dryly, and the second part bitterly. Which is also some achievement, but let’s move on, shall we.

“What I know is those bastards have more money than I do”, I told him. “It’s a situation I’m keen to rectify, but I reckon I’m in the wrong profession.”

“Maybe you should give up translating and write”, suggested Garmendia. “Write about Spain, maybe. Like Hemingway.”

“Wow”, I thought. “Yes, Little Translator, like Hemingway. Like Ernest ...”

Before you start into the next bit, you have to imagine we’re moving into fantasy or flashback mode here, like on the TV or during films when the screen goes wavy and people’s voices go all echoey.

Woke up with a headache. Gee I felt rotten. Went to the telegraph place. Filed some copy to the newspaper. Went across to the bar. Fred was there with Paco. They were drinking brandy. I had one also. Then we all had another. “What about the bulls today, John?” Paco asked me. “I don’t know”, I told him, “I just don’t know, Paco, but what I do know is we’d better have another drink.” So we had another drink, and then another. And another just in case. A bullfighter I knew came in. Manuel. Manuel Porompompero y Fandánguez De la Copla. From the lonely plains of Castilla. He had a sad tortured look about him. No doubt thinking about the ring this afternoon at five o’clock. A las cinco de la tarde. The sand, the heat, the blood, sweat and cheers, the glory, the slurping champagne from Ava Gardner’s high heels afterwards in her hotel room. Or slurping Lucozade at the hospital, recovering from major disembowelment. He was with his manager. They bought us a drink and sat down in a corner to talk about today’s bulls. Then we bought them one. Then Felicity came along.

I think I had always been in love with Felicity. Even before I met her. Felicity was from the lonely plains of Iowa.

"Have a drink, Felicity”, I said. She took off her enormous pink hat and fluttered her eyelashes. “Oh John”, she said. “Oh John”. Nobody could say Oh John like Felicity. “Oh John, I sure wish I could be in love with you, but I simply can’t. Sure as heck I can’t. It’s hateful. Will you buy me a drink even though I can’t love you? You will? That’s just SO sweet.” So we all had a drink etc. etc. etc. etc.

Woke up with a headache. Again. “Hell, better file some copy to the paper”, I thought. “If I can remember anything about yesterday. If I can remember which paper I write for.” My, I felt bad. So bad that a man would be tempted to head for the lonely plains of Idaho. To a log cabin with a gun, perhaps. “No”, I decided, “I’ll leave that for another 20 or 30 years.”

“I SAID …”, said the Sergeant loudly, nudging me sharply and jolting me out of wavy-line mode suddenly, “look at the Queen of England, for instance. One of the richest women in the world, but she wanders around headquarters at the Palace most nights switching off lights to save money. Nothing in her Louis Vuitton handbags except dog biscuits and a shoe horn. What’s the point of carrying money when nobody dares tell you it’s your round?”

“Ye-e-es”, I agreed with him.

At this point I should say, Ma’am, in the unlikely but nevertheless possible event the Palace Translator has been nosing around on Proz. and happens to show you this, that I only pretended to agree with him there. Honest. He’s a rozzer, after all, and they can turn nasty, but of course I don’t share his opinion. And I love your monarchy. Did you see “The Queen”? I loved Helen Mirren - so real, so regal, like you. Do you know, I cried when Tony Blair was so horrible to her like that on the phone. How rotten. When everyone knows the traffic’s murder in Paris.

So, Your Majesty, if the in-house translator ever calls in sick, or you need any translations - writs or summonses in French, perhaps - please don’t hesitate to use my Proz. contact. Or send me your e-mail or nick. Perhaps we could do lunch to discuss terms. A professional price for a professional job, that’s the Little Translator criterion. But, er, no discounts …

Phew. All that merely to justify a blatantly publicity-conscious title on Proz.

“So”, continued Sergeant Garmendia, “my mother-in-law is just the same. One day she bought me a coffee in a cafeteria. I was surprised enough she was paying for it, but as she laid down the coins on the counter, I saw that one of them, a 1-euro coin, had been left with the King of Spain facing upwards. I happened to look down at it, and I swear to Christ Juan Carlos blinked, rubbed his eyes and said “¡Joé!” with the sudden rush of light.”

His features tightened on the steering wheel as he thought about it.

“She never gives us anything – only reminds us how much we’re saving by eating at her place. It’s a syndrome of rich people. It’s actually quite logical. Imagine you have 100 euros. You get used to having 100 euros. But you’d like more. So you work, or steal, or whatever, and suddenly you have 200 euros. You get used to having 200 euros. But you want more than 200, and suddenly you start worrying about having less than 200. Then you get 300, and then you get 500. The fact that you’re now five times better off than before only makes you worry about what will happen when you have 499, or 473, or 418. Outgoings become too hard for you to bear, so you minimise all of them. Some people do it with free sackfuls of potatoes, and others never pay any taxes. God I loathe her, the hateful fuc-“ …

Don’t panic, Prozers, I got my hand over his foul mouth in time. Before he could get that final, ugly K out.

Garmendia drew his mouth back from my hand.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“You can’t say that kind of thing on site, Sergeant. It’s against the rules. Henry wouldn’t allow it.”

“What? What site? What rules? Henry? Who’s Henry?”

“Never mind, never mind”, I told him. “Look, I do have some good advice for you with your mother-in-law, but it’ll have to wait. Perhaps we ought to concentrate on the case in hand.”

Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Little Translator has screwed up again. He had the C in there, so it still sounds like fu- (oops!!) -ck anyway. And they can’t have been talking English, either.

See if I care – and just to prove it, there’s another example coming up in the Neil Armstrong bit below, too.

“Yes”, he agreed, peering at the road in front of him. We were just coming out of the green corridor from Bilbao and into, well, the lonely plains of Álava, one might say. “Yes, we’ve got to bust the Asmatutakoizena Killer. It may be a small incident in a small town in a small province in a small country, but it matters. One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

“Sergeant”, I told him, “I hate to disillusion you, but perhaps you didn’t know that a few years ago they interviewed Neil Armstrong on the 30th anniversary of the moon landings. The reporter said, “So Neil, did you rehearse that one-small-step-for-a-man stuff, or was it spontaneous?” And Armstrong said, “Buddy, not only did I not rehearse it, that’s not actually what I said. I didn’t say MANKIND at the end.”

“What?” Garmendia looked over at me, puzzled. The looking-over bit was pretty easy for him this time, since it was only one emotion, and the information was puzzling par excellence. “But everyone knows he says MANKIND. What did he say?”

“That’s what the reporter asked. He was pretty surprised as well, as you can imagine. And Armstrong told him, “I said “Manny Klein”. And, if you listen to it on Internet, it could be two syllables or three. It could be Mankind, Manny Klein, Man to Man, Marzipan, Maude Gonne, anything, really.”

“But who was Manny Klein?”

“According to Armstrong, Manny Klein had since died, so he could tell them about this. Manny Klein was a good friend of his. Armstrong was best man at his wedding, and Manny Klein was best man at his. Before the moon landings, this was. He told the reporter that on Manny Klein’s first night on honeymoon, he requested, shall we say, an oral favour of his brand-new wife. And she refused. Said, “There’ll be a man on the moon before I’ll put that in my mouth, honey”.

“Oh”, said the Sergeant.

“Yes”, I said, “it wasn’t just Armstrong going down in history that day, you might say.”

“My English would hardly be good enough to pick up on that one”, objected the Sergeant. “And it doesn’t work in Spanish, just in case anyone was wondering”.

“And”, he added, “get on with it, will you? You’ve hardly mentioned anything about translation in this episode. And you still have to tell me what you know about the Killer.”

“Christ”, I thought, heaving a sigh, I don’t know who’s in control of this story, but it’s certainly not me.”

“All right, all right”, I said. “It all began in a sleazy bar in the Raval, Barcelona …”


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
superb Jun 6, 2008

(haven't read it yet, I just know).

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:28
Italian to Danish
+ ...
:) Jun 6, 2008

Mervyn, you are my favourite excuse for leaving work behind!

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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
French to English
+ ...
Friday fun Jun 6, 2008

A lovely way to round off the work week. Thanks Mervyn!

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Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:28
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
I'm so glad you're back... Jun 6, 2008

... Little Translator! Please keep them coming!


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Flo Demolis  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
French to English
+ ...
My favourite bit :-) Jun 6, 2008

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

“You can’t say that kind of thing on site, Sergeant. It’s against the rules. Henry wouldn’t allow it.”

“What? What site? What rules? Henry? Who’s Henry?”


I'm sure Henry will love it too

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Alexandra Scott  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:28
Member (2006)
Italian to English
+ ...
Witty and whimsical as usual Jun 7, 2008

Thanks Mervyn, for the latest instalment!

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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
LT's getting raunchy and growing up! Jun 7, 2008

“it wasn’t just Armstrong going down in history that day, you might say.”

I love it!

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Dr. Jason Faulkner  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:28
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
Genius Aug 7, 2009

Pure genius.

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The Little Translator addresses the Queen of England

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