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English to Spanish: The Death of Grass General field: Art/Literary
Source text - English Chapter 7
Tedcaster was on edge, like a border town half-frightened, half-excited, at the prospect of invasion. They filled up their tanks, and the garage proprietor looked at the money they gave him as though wondering what value it had. They got a newspaper there, too. It was a copy of the Yorkshire Evening Press — it was stamped 3d and they were charged 6d, without even an undertone of apology. The news it gave was identical with that which they had heard on the radio; the dull solemnity of the official hand-out barely concealed a note of fear.
They left Tedcaster and pulled into a lane, just off the main road. They had filled their Thermos flasks in the town but had to rely on their original stores of food. Mary seemed to have recovered by now; she drank tea and had a little from the tin of meat they opened. But Ann would not eat or drink anything. She sat in a silence that was unfathomable — whether of pain, shame, or brooding bitter triumph, John could not tell. He tried to get her to talk at first, but Olivia, who had stayed with them, warned him off silently.
The Citroen and the Vauxhall had been drawn up side by side, occupying the entire width of the narrow lane, and they had their meal communally in the two cars. The radio jabbered softly — a recording of a talk on Moorish architecture. It was the sort of thing that almost parodied the vaunted British phlegm. Perhaps it had been put on with that in mind; but the situation, John thought, was not so easily to be played down.
When the voice stopped, abruptly, the immediate thought was that the set had broken down. Roger nodded to John, and he switched on the radio in his own car; but nothing happened.
‘Their breakdown,’ Roger said. ‘I feel still hungry. Think we dare risk another tin, Skipper?’
‘We probably could,’ John said, ‘but until we get clear of the West Riding, I’d rather we didn’t.’
‘Fair enough,’ Roger said. ‘I’ll move the buckle one notch to the right.’
The voice began suddenly and, with both radios now on, seemed very loud. The accent was quite unlike what might be expected on the B.B.C. — a lightly veneered Cockney. The voice was angry, and scared at the same time:
‘This is the Citizens’ Emergency Committee in London. We have taken charge of the B.B.C. Stand by for an emergency announcement. Stand by. We will play an interval signal until the announcement is ready. Please stand by.’
‘Aha!’ Roger said. ‘Citizens’ Emergency Committee, is it? Who the bloody hell is wasting effort on revolutions at a time like this?’
From the other car, Olivia looked at him reproachfully. He said rather loudly:
‘Don’t worry about the kids. It’s no longer a question of Eton or Borstal. They are going to be potato-grubbers however good their table manners.’
The promised interval signal was played; the chimes, altogether incongruous, of Bow Bells. Ann looked up, and John caught her eye; those jingling changes were something that went back through their lives to childhood — for a moment, they were childhood and innocence in a world of plenty.
He said, only loud enough for her to hear: ‘It won’t always be like this.’
She looked at him indifferently. ‘Won’t it?’
The new voice was more typical of a broadcasting announcer. But it still held an unprofessional urgency.
‘This is London. We bring you the first bulletin of the Citizens’ Emergency Committee.
‘The Citizens’ Emergency Committee has taken over the government of London and the Home Counties owing to the unparalleled treachery of the late Prime Minister, Raymond Welling. We have incontrovertible evidence that this man, whose duty it was to protect his fellow-citizens, has made far-reaching plans for their destruction.
‘The facts are these:
‘The country’s food position is desperate. No more grain, meat, foodstuffs of any kind, are being sent from overseas. We have nothing to eat but what we can grow out of our own soil, or fish from our own coasts. The reason for this is that the counter-virus which was bred to attack the Chung-Li grass virus has proved inadequate.
‘On learning of this situation, Welling put forward a plan which was eventually approved by the Cabinet, all of whom must share responsibility for it. Welling himself became Prime Minister for the purpose of carrying it out. The plan was that British aeroplanes should drop atomic and hydrogen bombs on the country’s principal cities. It was calculated that if half the country’s population were murdered in this way, it might be possible to maintain a subsistence level for the rest.’
‘By God!’ Roger said. ‘That’s not the gaff they’re blowing — they’re blowing the top off Vesuvius.’
‘The people of London,’ the voice went on, ‘refuse to believe that Englishmen will carry out Welling’s scheme for mass-murder. We appeal to the Air Force, who in the past have defended this city against her enemies, not to dip their hands now into innocent blood. Such a crime would besmirch not only those who performed it, but their children’s children for a thousand years.
‘It is known that Welling and the other members of this bestial Cabinet have gone to an Air Force base. We ask the Air Force to surrender them to face the justice of the people.
‘All citizens are asked to keep calm and to remain at their posts. The restrictions imposed by Welling on travel outside city boundaries have now no legal or other validity, but citizens are urged not to attempt any panic flight out of London. The Emergency Committee is making arrangements for collecting potatoes, fish and whatever other food is available and transporting it to London, where it will be fairly rationed out. If the country only shows the Dunkirk spirit, we can pull through. Hardship must be expected, but we can pull through.’
There was a pause. The voice continued:
‘Stand by for further emergency bulletins. Meanwhile we shall play you some gramophone records.’
Roger turned off his set. ‘Meanwhile,’ he said, ‘we shall play you some gramophone records. I never believed that story of Nero and his fiddle until now.’
Millicent Pirrie said: ‘It was true, then — what you said.’
‘At least,’ Pirrie said, ‘the story has now received wide circulation. That’s much the same thing, isn’t it?’
‘They’re mad!’ Roger said. ‘Stark, raving, incurably mad. How Welling must be writhing.’
‘I should think so,’ Millicent said indignantly.
‘At their inefficiency,’ Roger explained. ‘What a way to carry on! At my guess, the Emergency Committee’s a triumvirate, and composed of a professional anarchist, a parson, and a left-wing female schoolteacher. It would take that kind of combination to show such an ignorance of elementary human behaviour.’
John said: ‘They’re trying to be honest about things.’
‘That’s what I mean,’ Roger said. ‘I know I speak from the exalted wisdom of an ex-Public Relations Officer, but you don’t have to have had much to do with humanity in the mass to know that honesty is never advisable and frequently disastrous.’
‘It will be disastrous in this case,’ Pirrie said.
‘Too bloody true, it will. The country faces starvation — things are in such a state that the Prime Minister decided to wipe the cities out — the Air Force would never do such a thing, but all the same we appeal to them not to — and you can leave London but we’d rather you didn’t! There’s only one result news like that can have: nine million people on the move — anywhere, anyhow, but out.’
‘But the Air Force wouldn’t do it,’ Olivia said. ‘You know they wouldn’t.’
‘No,’ Roger said, ‘I don’t know. And I wasn’t prepared to risk it. On the whole. I’m inclined to think not. But it doesn’t matter now. I wasn’t willing to take a chance on human decency when it was a matter of hydrogen bombs and famine — do you seriously imagine anyone else is going to?’
Pirrie remarked thoughtfully: ‘That nine million you spoke of refers to London, of course. There are a few million urban dwellers in the West Riding as well, not to mention the north-eastern industrial areas.’
‘By God, yes!’ Roger said. ‘This will set them on the move, too. Not quite as fast as London, but fast enough.’ He looked at John. ‘Well, Skipper, do we drive all night?’
John said slowly: ‘It’s the safest thing to do. Once we get beyond Harrogate we should be all right.’
‘There is the question of route,’ Pirrie suggested. He spread out his own road-map and examined it, peering through the gold-rimmed spectacles which he used for close work. ‘Do we skirt Harrogate to the west and travel up the Nidd valley, or do we take the main road through Ripon? We are going through Wensleydale still?’
John said: ‘What do you think, Roger?’
‘Theoretically, the byways are safer. All the same, I don’t like the look of that road over Masham Moor.’ He looked out into the swiftly dusking sky. ‘Especially by night. If we can get through on the main road, it would be a good deal easier.’
‘Pirrie?’ John asked.
Pirrie shrugged. ‘As you prefer.’
‘We’ll try the main road then. We’ll go round Harrogate. There’s a road through Starbeck and Bilton. We’d better miss Ripon, too, to be on the safe side. I’ll take the lead now, and you can bring up the rear, Roger. Blast on your horn if you find yourself dropping behind for any reason.’
Roger grinned. ‘I’ll put a bullet through the back of Pirrie’s tin Lizzy as well.’
Pirrie smiled gently. ‘I shall endeavour not to set too hot a pace for you, Mr Buckley.’
Translation - Spanish La muerte de la hierba
Tedcaster estaba inquieta, como una ciudad fronteriza medio asustada y medio excitada ante la posibilidad de invasión. Llenaron los depósitos de los coches y el dueño de la gasolinera miró el dinero que le dieron como preguntándose qué valor tendría. También compraron un periódico. Era una copia del Yorkshire Evening Press. Indicaba su precio en la portada, 3 peniques, pero les cobró 6 sin ni siquiera murmurar una disculpa. Las noticias que traía eran idénticas a las que habían escuchado en la radio; la desganada solemnidad del boletín oficial apenas disimulaba un tono de miedo.
Dejaron Tedcaster y se detuvieron en un camino apartado de la carretera principal. Habían llenado sus termos en la pequeña ciudad, pero dependían de sus provisiones de comida originales. Parecía que Mary ya se había recuperado; bebió té y comió un poco de carne de la lata que habían abierto. Pero Ann no comió ni bebió nada. Se sentó sumida en un silencio indescifrable; John no sabía si era dolor, remordimiento o un amargo y perturbador triunfo. Al principio intentó que hablara, pero Olivia, que se había quedado con ellos, se lo desaconsejó en silencio.
El Citroen y el Opel estaban colocados uno al lado del otro, ocupando todo el ancho del estrecho camino. Comieron todos juntos en ambos coches. Salía un suave parloteo de la radio, una grabación de una charla sobre arquitectura morisca. Era el tipo de elección que casi parodiaba la elogiada indiferencia británica. A lo mejor lo estaban retransmitiendo con esa intención, pero la situación, pensó John, no era tan fácil de minimizar.
Cuando, súbitamente, calló la voz, su pensamiento inmediato fue que el equipo de radio se había estropeado. Roger hizo un gesto con la cabeza a John y este encendió la radio de su propio coche, pero no ocurrió nada.
—Esto es su ruptura —dijo Roger—. Todavía tengo hambre. ¿Nos atrevemos con otra lata, Capitán?
—Podríamos arriesgarnos —respondió John—, pero no hasta que nos alejemos de la zona de Yorkshire.
—Me parece justo —dijo Roger—. Tendré que abrocharme el cinturón un poco más.
De repente, comenzó a sonar, muy alta, una voz que salía de las dos radios encendidas. Su acento no era muy parecido al acostumbrado a oírse en la BBC, este tenía una apariencia ligeramente Cockney. La voz sonaba enfadada y asustada al mismo tiempo.
—Este es el Comité de Emergencia Ciudadana en Londres. Hemos tomado el mando de la BBC. Esperen para escuchar el comunicado de emergencia. Esperen. Emitiremos una señal de intervalo hasta que el comunicado esté listo. Esperen, por favor.
—¡Ajá! —dijo Roger—. Así que el Comité de Emergencia Ciudadana. ¿Quién cojones malgasta sus fuerzas en revoluciones en un momento como este?
Olivia le miró con reproche desde el otro coche. Él dijo bastante alto:
—No te preocupes por los niños. Ya no se trata de Oxford o la cárcel. Por muy buenos que sean sus modales en la mesa van a acabar recogiendo patatas.
Sonó la prometida señal de espera; las campanadas totalmente incoherentes de Bow Bells. Ann miró hacia arriba y John encontró su mirada. Esos cambiantes tintineos les llevaban hacia atrás, hasta los tiempos de su infancia; y por un momento eran pequeños e inocentes en un mundo de abundancia.
—No siempre será así — dijo él, lo suficientemente alto como para que solo ella le escuchara.
—¿Tú crees? — le miró ella con indiferencia.
La nueva voz era más usual en un locutor, aunque también revelaba una urgencia poco profesional.
My name is Claudia González Barriada and I am a Spanish student of Modern Languages and Translation. I am about to finish the degree and I would love to work as a translator of literary and audiovisual texts, as well as a corrector or editor of any type of texts.