Off topic: The Little Translator makes a right royal faux pas
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sep 22, 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:

“Mr Little Translator?” the voice said again. “I am putting you through to The Presence. The next voice you hear will be Her Majesty’s. Please do remember to call her Mum”.

Mum. Mum! This Little Translator’s mind had been momentarily transfixed with Hollywood-like daydreams of the world’s most powerful and moneyed woman making a last-ditch attempt to locate her long-lost son on learning his birth toe-tag had been mistaken for some commoner’s brat at the hospital, and bestow her entire fortune on him. Until I remembered “The Queen”, where Blair gets told to call her “Mum”, too.

“This is the Queen of Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Dominions and Commonwealth. Are we right in thinking that we are speaking to Little Translator?”

Garmendia leaned across. “Who is it? Another one who hasn’t paid you?”

I shooshed him, and turned to the window for more privacy.

“Yes, mum”, I sighed.

“We were intrigued by some of your comments on a thing called, Mr Little Translator”, she went on.

“We? Is the Duke of Edinburgh or someone there with you? You keep saying “we”.
“Oh no, there’s only us here, I mean there’s only me. That’s the royal “we”. To set us, I mean, me, apart from the teeming millions, the great unwashed, the hoi-polloi, you understand. A little regal trick we picked up from our great-great-grandmother Victoria … we mean I picked up … I mean I mean I picked up, if you see what we mean … we mean I mean … I mean I mean I mean.”

“Can’t you use “one” instead, like your eldest does all the time?” I suggested. “It’s much more practical and less confusing.”

“Now, there’s a good idea”, she said. “One will.”

“Whereas one did appreciate your positive comments about one’s regalness as portrayed by Ms. Mirren, one is nevertheless a little anxious to put the record straight on such an international outlet as”, the Queen went on. “About one’s money and meanness and so on. One might remind you of the sentimental side of things, too, like one’s unmistakably human awe of that noble stag standing out against the Scottish Highlands, and one’s unmistakably human tears on learning it had been shot”.

[I don’t know about you, but my reading of her sadness about that stag was because she’d wanted to bag the blighter herself, instead of some millionaire businessman from across the Pond, but I wisely kept my thoughts to myself.]

The Sergeant was nudging me again.

“What’s going on? Who is it?”

I waved him away with my free hand.

“Don’t get me wrong”, I told her, “I’m not knocking it. I want to be rich like you. What I need is advice. Help. Some royal help, perhaps. If only I could call my translation company something like The Queen’s English, with that knock-on patronage effect, the royal stamp of approval. Like “By Appointment” on the HP Sauce bottles.”

“Well”, she said, “there is that possibility. We’ll think about it. I mean one will think about it. Meanwhile, since you’re knocking around Spain, why don’t you write a book to get rich? Like …”

Friends, I did try to warn her.

“Please don’t say it”, I shouted into the phone. “It brings on the wavies.”

Garmendia looked across, perplexed.

“Beg pardon?”, said the Queen. “Like Hemingway, that’s all I was going to say …”

For God’s sake, I thought. Too late. Those echoes and wavy Hemingway lines were back.

“Short the day and long the night”, I found myself mumbling as I woke up. Couldn’t remember the night before, but it must have been a long one for sure, already. Hey, at least I’d got something suitably creative and tortured to write for my next round of copy to the paper. I muttered it to myself a few times. Then I sighed it theatrically. I was a little worried that perhaps it would be better as “Long the day and short the night”, but decided it really didn’t matter a coyote’s howl anyways. Come to think of it, that “coyote’s howl” thing had potential too, already. “Short the day, and long the night, long as a coyote’s howl”. No, it lacked a little balance.

I said it in a low growl into my pillow: “Short the day and long the night”. Yep, it was a damn fine phrase already. “Short the day and long the night”, I said again, in the most haunted, mysterious, decadent, suggestive and sinister way I could, all at the same time already.

“Oh John, that’s so-o-o beautiful.”

I could feel the warm breasts aroused against my body as she spooned into my back, and raised up one milky leg with her wicked wet curls rasping over my buttocks.

“Oh John”, came another whisper in that smoky smoochy smouldering way only she had, as her naughty nimble fingers glided slowly and sexily across my hip down to where the great beast rose up from slumber to greet them.

“Oh Felicity”, I said, turning over.

… “Felicity? What? Who the Sam Hill heck is Felicity?” came the reply as the smoking, smooching, smouldering and fingers disappeared, leaving nothing but an angry, suspicious, naked wench sitting up in bed beside me.

Rule Number One for international hacks waking up after a hard day’s night. Never say the woman’s name without running that vital face check first. Moreover, I know it seems a kinda obvious thing to say in these cases, but if you break Rule Number One, then get a grip already, and don’t break Rule Number Two. What I mean is, never ever then say: “Jesus H.C., who the hell are YOU already?”

I scratched my head and looked her up and down. “Jesus H.C.”, I said. “Who the hell are YOU already?”

“You jerk! You don’t remember anything? Elizabeth. From Lonely Plains, Wisconsin? Tagnabbit, did last night mean nothing to you, you insensitive monster?”

And in the confusion I clean forgot about Rule Number Three, sure as hot hell fire I did, like a goddamn motherfriggin’ horse’s ass.

“Gee I’m sorry honey”, I said to her all bleary-eyed, “but you just gotta understand I thought you were somebody else, see?”

I was half asleep all right, but I’m here to tell you that bedside lamp crashing against my skull woke me up already, before she stormed out of the hotel room with just a sheet around her.

“You hick!” I shouted after her. “Your first orgasm ever, and you think it’s love already. Never been with a real man before, huh, Elizabeth?”

“I BEG YOUR PARDON?” said Mrs Windsor, all in capitals, as the wavy lines faded.

Me too. “OH BUGGER”, I thought, staring at the phone.

The Sergeant had been listening in astonishment to my last outburst. I doubt he understood why, but he was on my side all right.

“Who IS it?” hissed Garmendia. “Gimme that”, he snapped, grabbing the phone before I could stop him.

“Listen moosh”, he spat into the mobile, “it’s simple - you pay or else, understand? I know a lot of nasty people, I do. So pay up if you value your legs. Suffice it to say we know where you live.”

He came off the phone and threw it into my lap. “That’s him told”, laughed Garmendia, tearing along in the fast lane. Vitoria loomed up in the distance.

I idly wondered how many years you get for insulting and then threatening the Queen of the Realm. I considered throwing the phone out of the window, but realised there might be quite a few episodes to come, and I’d be sure to need it again to be rude to a customer or two.

Garmendia parked the car in Vitoria. “It’s getting late. Let’s have something to eat. I know a nice swish place.”

Ever been to the Arkupe in Vitoria? It is a nice place, like he said. Real cloth napkins. Special forks for fish. You don’t have to tell them to bring an ice bucket for the white wine or the champagne.

There were only a few others dining. We sat down and had a look at the menu.

“First things first”, said Garmendia. “How about a bottle of txakoli? Txomin Etxaniz from Getaria, the best white wine in the Basque Country. I’m from Bizkaia province born and bred, but the Gipuzkoa txakoli is the only stuff worth a damn because it has those little bubbles that give it a bit more oomph.”

He signalled to a waitress.

“A nice cold bottle of Txomin Etxaniz”, he said, and, as she was walking away:

“ … and an ice-bucket too, please”.

The waitress smiled. “I quite understand, sir. As the gentlemen said only a few paragraphs ago, here that goes without saying.”

Again I got the distinct impression this tale was getting beyond my control …

Two rather posh ladies were shown to a table beside us as we started into our third bottle of Txomin Etxaniz to wash down our clams, cod and hake in sauce.

Garmendia was in expansive mood. Tired from the driving, he had made the mistake of drinking wine to sate his thirst, and so by the time we had got to dessert he was glassy-eyed and telling some rather risqué jokes. I could see the ladies whispering to each other every so often at the next table. Not that I cared much by this stage myself. After all, we were on a Mission from God.

He leaned across the table to me as the waitress brought our pantxinetas, and said to me loudly:

“You’ll like this one, listen … The Hunchbank of Notre Dame’s loafing around Pigalle one night, looking to score. He goes up to the first girl on the prime patch, leers at her a bit” … [here Garmendia leered and hunch-backed horribly in imitation, oblivious to the growing silent revulsion of our neighbours], “… says “Fancy a bit of nookie with the hunchback love doctor, precioussss?”, and the tart pales, says, “God no, just go away will you, Quasimodo, you horrendous brute you”. He goes on to Number Two, and says “Got time for a session, love? …” but she’s having none of it either. “Get lost”, she says, “can’t you see there’s a queue?”

There was now no conversation between the two ladies, just the odd clipped sound of knife and fork on plate. Garmendia was enjoying himself hugely, his sentences continuously punctuated with lewd hur-hur-hur laughter:

“So on he goes, on down down the entire street, asking all of them, and they all say no one after the other, go away Quasimodo, get back to your bells”, and the street gets sleazier and sleazier and they’re all increasingly less attractive, until he comes to the very last one, Gloria, who’s been on the game since she learned to count money. She looks at Quasimodo, scratches her bottom and says, “Oh all right, go on then, I need the money to lift me bouncies up a bit”. She takes him around the corner to the stack of fish pallets she calls her office, and he gets to work on her.”

Garmendia was quite graphic in his horrid description of intercourse, waving his hands around the table and rolling his eyes horribly.

… “ he goes at her like the clappers, one eye Seine-wards and the other Saône-wards, slaver dripping down on her, panting his foul breath all over her nose and down her throat. Gloria looks up at him in horror and disgust, she holds out for as long as she can, but finally she can’t take it any more and she jerks forward from the pallets and barfs all over his shoulder. Quasimodo stops and looks behind him. “Hey”, he gasps, “did you just throw up over my back then?” She wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, says, “Yes, yes, I’m really sorry, but it’s just that you’re so disgusting, and I couldn’t help it”. “Oh no, that’s all right”, he says, “it’s just that I thought my hump had burst with the effort, that’s all”.

As the elated Garmendia erupted in peals of laughter at the punchline, I felt, rather than saw, the hand of one of the ladies rise to her mouth as she almost gagged.

I hurried Garmendia through the rest of the meal, although I was pretty gone myself.

“Perhaps we should have our coffees at another place, and I can continue to fill you in on the Barcelona Connection”, I suggested as we left.

We both leaned on the bar, Garmendia actually needing to lean a little bit more than me. I collected my thoughts and began.

“Well”, I said, “as you may or may not remember, I was telling you that Edurne had got a job at the Café Strasbourg. It was called that for the best possible reason, because the bloke that opened it was from Strasbourg. He originally opened it in the late 19th century when it was a classy area, although now it was next to what looked like a bomb site, a piece of unsalubrious waste ground not far from Avinguda Paral.lel.

There were still traces of that former class in the shabby old bar when Edurne started work there. The marble bar counter, the table tops, also Italian marble, resting on those old black Singer sewing machine bases, the huge mirrors and columns all round the room, a kind of modernist architectonic pool into which the art world plunged down through the years. All the switched-on painters, sculptors, playwrights and novelists would go there to soak up the ambience, get suitably sloshed and then stagger off to daub, chisel and scribble their wild creations to the acclaim of patrons far and wide. And the Strasbourg had absinthe, too.

Absinthe! Sinister, wicked absinthe. So sinister and wicked they banned it in France. Edurne had been told never to serve more than three to any person at a session, for it was unpredictable stuff. People came to the Café Strasbourg simply to investigate this absinthe reputation. It wasn’t long before Edurne was taking pleasure in arriving deadpan at the table of some newcomer, depositing a glass of the yellow liquid, a bottle of water, two lumps of sugar, a toothpick, a glass container that looked like the bottom of a litre bottle of Coke, but with a tiny central hole at the bottom, and letting them get on with it.

The way to do it was to position the sugar over the hole in the odd container, balance this on top of the glass, and pour in water very gradually, chip-chip-chipping away at the lumps with the toothpick, and the sugar and water solution gradually dripped down onto the absinthe. What you ended up with looked just like Pernod or Ricard, but it had a much odder effect …”

I broke off as I noticed a number of patrons staring at the TV in the corner of the bar. There was a reporter standing outside Buckingham Palace. We moved a little closer to hear. Extra police were being drafted in as Palace security was suddenly stepped up late this afternoon, he said. Details were still sketchy since aides remained tight-lipped, but inquiries were “ongoing” following Special Branch’s routine pick-up of what they would only describe as “a telephone monitoring incident” with possible Irish and Basque terrorist links.

“Hey, go on, tell me about this absinthe,” said the Sergeant, swaying slightly.

“Garmendia”, I told him nervously, “I think we may have created a diplomatic incident, but let’s walk out of here very slowly. I’ll tell you about it in another bar”.


juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:48
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Hi Little Translator... Sep 24, 2008

I think your fans all got a bit worried to be in association by proxy with some telephone freaks talking with dubious accents. (Huh, even I dare not to spell it out!)
Never mind. In secret they are gagging for the next installment. Keep it up.icon_smile.gif


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
German to English
+ ...
Three days, and only one comment Sep 25, 2008

... it seems that most of us are also slipping out of the room slowly and quietly, hoping that no-one notices.

What else did the Special Branch spokesman say on the telly? Should I really be worried?


Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Italian to English
+ ...
I'm just wondering how much longer Merv can get away with it! Sep 25, 2008



Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Getting away with it Sep 25, 2008

Me too.

Andy Warhol said once, Art is what you can get away with.


Victor Dewsbery  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
German to English
+ ...
Quick getaway? Sep 25, 2008

Did Warhol suggest how to get past the guards and the surveillance machines with a whopping great sculpture up your jumper?


Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
A sculpture, maybe ... Sep 25, 2008

... as long as it was somebody else's. If it was somebody trying to abscond with an image of a tin of Campbell's soup, now, that would be another matter.


Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:48
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Carry on getting away with it Sep 25, 2008

Don't stop, Merv. We're lapping it up. You'll be a Knight of the Garter in no time.
By the way, I think that when LT is under the influence, he should call Felicity Facility - what do you think? Along the lines of "I'm not so think as drunkle seem to peep" or "Good constanoon, afterble". On the other hand, maybe I should start my own series?


Local time: 12:48
French to English
+ ...
Yes please Jenny Sep 25, 2008

I love LT and am an avid reader but sometimes Mervyn seems to be busy doing something else - that pays better or at all maybe - and there is a gap in the flow. So, yes please Jenny!

Jenny Forbes wrote:

On the other hand, maybe I should start my own series?


Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:48
English to German
+ ...
So many adventures! Sep 25, 2008

Is the Little Translator still dealing with translations eventually? Remotely?

I do like the stories, though.


Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:48
Spanish to English
+ ...
Are you kidding? Sep 25, 2008

Thanks, Nicole. But why do you think it's been so long? Why do you think it's become so weird lately? Why, why, why? I think last night was the first time I got the full eight hours in as many weeks (due to translation, I might add, not to Hemingwayesque shenanigans, har-har).



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 makes a right royal faux pas

Advanced search

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 »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »

  • All of
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search