Category Archives: Life

Numbers for a change

I am the world’s worst at understanding the mysteries of mathematics – but I do like numbers. I remember sitting in a maths exam once, knowing that I hadn’t a clue how to solve the problems, but playing with the numbers to see what would happen if I played with them in my own sweet way. I’m pretty sure I failed the exam but I had a certain amount of entertainment in the time allotted.

A couple of satisfying sequences of numbers came up today.

The Pa-rent is 82 today and he was born 28.1.28

The jar of sauerkraut I opened needs to be eaten by 20.11.2011.

I have nothing profound to add. Just thought I’d mention these things.

And so it came to pass

that following a sleepless night and an early start to the morning in order to meet a deadline, your favourite translator was found still to be in her pyjamas at 5 p.m. Noting that she had no particular reason to bother getting dressed at this late hour, she finished a couple of emails, faffed about on Facebook and was just considering what to cook for supper before having an early night when the phone rang.

Kerensa: Hello?

Voice: Hello Kerensa, this is P, your friendly vicar. We have a meeting of the thingummybob committee this evening starting at 8 p.m.

Kerensa [darts a look at the clock]. So that’d be 5 minutes ago then? Ah, you’d better give me 15 minutes and I’ll be there.

Gentle reader, I could barely dress for laughing so hard. I attempted to drag my hair out of its bad hair day mode and make it look as if I had been dressed for the past 13 hours.

I think I got away with it: I got there in 10 minutes. I’m just off to reaquaint myself with my jimjams now. I can’t be bothered to write up the minutes of the meeting.

Well, hang it…

I think part of the reason I haven’t blogged recently is because I omitted to blog about something in the summer. I have come to the sad realisation that I am nerdier than I thought as it seems that I like to blog in chronological order.  I could *make* myself blog about that particular incident but, frankly, it wasn’t that interesting so I’m just going to throw caution to the winds, gentle reader, and get on with blogging about more recent events.

Stand by for a delivery of postcards – coming soon. I think.

Something to say

Gentle reader. I have something to say. In fact, I feel I have quite a lot to say. There is much to catch up on. The thing that is puzzling me, however,  is that I simply can’t imagine where I used to find the time to blog.

If anyone sees my little bits of spare time lying around, would they be kind enough to send them back to me? I will try to use them profitably in composing interesting and entertaining blog posts.  Much obliged.

(Another thing I have to say is that the boxes which used to hang over this window in which I write have tidied themselves up while I have been away and now sit neatly at the right of my screen. This is a HUGE improvement.  For, whereas I realise this will not improve the quality of the content in any way – you will be stuck with the usual standard – it does mean that I can at least *see* what I am writing. I do hope this is a permanent feature.)

Saturday evening reality

I have just arrived at my desk having eaten a very nice spagetti bolognese cooked with my temporary lodger, Tutti Frutti.  As I splashed in a generous glug of red wine left over from the bottle we opened last night, he mentioned how much he had enjoyed it. I told him that it was remarkably good value and on offer in the local supermarket.  That was enough for TF. He hot-footed it down there immediately and came back with another two bottles.

So, I am sitting here in a comfortable and mellow haze, wondering if I can really let myself loose on a text about skiing in Switzerland. Yesterday’s schedule went a bit off the rails and I didn’t get everything done that I had planned.  The spag bol was a bit on the spontaneous side. Should I plough on or risk leaving the work until tomorrow?

Decisions, decisions….

Edit: a couple of hours later. I really don’t think it is my mental state (I am entirely sober again now….)…I think the author must have had a few drinks him/herself before writing this text. It is littered with spelling mistakes, sentences that start off to explain a point and change mid-stream into sentences that start off (yes, exactly like that!). It is a speech to be delivered at an event – so not of international diplomatic incident ilk – but even so, it would be nice to know what the poor speaker is supposed to be getting at….. I’ll have to get hold of the client first thing on Monday morning to sort it out….

Night, night.

The Lists

There hasn’t been much in the way of translation-related blog fodder to report on in recent days – as regular readers (if I still have any!) will have noticed.

I have instead been concentrating on The List of Things To Do.  This is something of a misnomer as I have several Lists of Things To Do. Some are more important than others. All are long. Most seem to have an extraordinary knack of getting even longer even though I have been crossing jobs off them for days now.

In fact, I have so many Lists of Things To Do that I have devised a new system for them. I’m not yet sure if I can bring myself to publicly explain the intricacies of the system. Someone might call The Men in White Coats to take me away.

One of the things on my List is to write up a couple of long overdue blog entries. For some reason that I cannot quite fathom, I have not got the energy to embark upon this little project. And yet I have managed to find the energy to write 190 words about Lists at 1 a.m.  I will get round to it – I’ve got to – it’s on my List – but probably not in the next week or so unless a nice chunk of time miraculously presents itself .

I’m also thinking about changing the name of my blog – but actually this concept has not yet made it onto the List. So we’re stuck with the current format until such time as I have time to think about the whole thing in more detail.

I could probably witter on like this for some considerable time but I shall take pity on my readers and sign off now. I just wanted to pop by and let you know that I am still here. It’s just that I seem to have a lot to do at the moment. It’s true! My List tells me so.

Nice to know

that some people are doing their bit for international understanding and harmony.

I was told this story by a Scottish lady I met at a party last week. She said it was true – she works in the field, so she may be right.

A German was arrested for speeding offences in Scotland. He appeared in court the next day. The presiding official asked him to state his name and address. This met with a blank response.  The official asked the police officer if the defendant could speak English. The officer replied rather sheepishly that he couldn’t. The official blew his top pointing out that the whole case was a waste of court time and money without an interpreter.  Not wishing to waste more time, he turned to the courtroom and asked if anyone present could speak German and would be prepared to act as interpreter.  A man at the back of the room volunteered his services.  The official started again and asked the interpreter to ask the man to state his name. The volunteer turned to the defendant and shouted:

Vot iss your name?

He was jailed for contempt of court.

One may laugh – but it is actually quite a serious situation. In my line of work I hear lots of this type of story – (they often seem to revolve around courts) – one was a  Chinese takeaway assistant drafted in to interpret for a serious case involving a Chinese defendant…. only to find that neither Chinese understood the other because they spoke different dialects; young people with a GCSE in a language asked to translate complex documents (argh…) INTO the foreign language. The list is endless.

Britons are not known internationally for their language prowess – such as perhaps the Dutch or Scandinavians possess – but I should like to point out that there are in fact thousands of professionally qualified British translators and interpreters (other nationalities, too, of course) who would be only too pleased to offer their services.

Ha. This started off with the intention of being a mildly amusing story and has turned into the draft of a speech to convert the masses. I could go on at some length on this topic but I’ll save the rest for a second instalment. You have been warned 😉

Extra services

In addition to my translation and proofreading services, it would appear that I am filling other gaps in the market.

If my stats are to be believed, there are a few people who need to know the Norwegian for “my pencil is blue”. I remember writing at some length (at least 4 words) on this very subject  in Norwegian some tme ago.

There also seems to be a lot of interest in Rumtopfs (I suppose strictly speaking that should be Rumtöpfe) over the Pond.  And also in that location I suspect there is some institution with Jodi Picoult’s “Plain Truth” on the curriculum. Various searches (with some random themes) on that book.

Only too pleased to be making my mark in the world.

Echoes and reflections

Today I received an email from someone I have never met. But it made me ponder.

It was quite short and ran along the lines of “I’m writing to you because you have been in contact with my sister, M, in the past. I have the sad duty to inform you that M lost her battle last week with cancer which recurred recently. I thought you should know.”

M was not a friend of mine, she was a passing acquaintance really. I had had no idea she had been so unwell.  I simply participated in one of her creative writing courses three years ago.  One particular memory of her is that one evening she took the class out to look at our surroundings with “new eyes”. M gave us some pointers about how to look afresh at familiar surroundings (so that we could then write about them later). One thing I remember noticing was how the willow trees reflected the shape of the railway arches, near which they were growing.

In many ways, this is very unremarkable, except that I have remembered this shape and when I walk down that way at this time of year, I admire the willow trees and the arches again. And I remember that evening, the class and the tutor. And wonder again if the trees were planted deliberately with their shape in mind, or if it is a happy co-incidence that this harmony exists.

It is just a small influence M had on my life and yet one which now I am unlikely to forget for a long time…and perhaps I will now be even more conscious of the juxtaposition of the natural and built environment.

M has made a small contribution to my life – and no doubt much more significant contributions to others’ lives.  It reminds us that we all have the opportunity to make positive contributions to the world and these do not have to be major events. They are much more likely to be on a smaller scale and yet no less significant for that.

It seems very cruel that M’s life should be cut short at the age of 52 – and yet I have reason to be thankful that our lives coincided for a few evenings three years ago.


Speaking of birthday cards

…(see previous post), I thought I would tell you this little tale.

Last weekend I had invited some friends to dinner. Some arrived on time and we decided to enjoy our first chance of sitting in the garden as it was such a lovely evening. The disadvantage of this from my point of view was that I would not be able to hear the arrival of the second lot of guests.  I left the front door open so that they could let themselves in and come through the house to find us.

I heard them as they entered the kitchen and went to greet them. T said, “We couldn’t remember the house number so as the front door was open, we came in and saw some birthday cards on the mantelpiece. Once I’d looked inside one, I knew we were in the right house.”

Hilarious! Good job I hadn’t got round to adding them to the pile of cards from yesteryear… Can you imagine if they’d entered the wrong house and the owner chanced upon complete strangers reading his/her birthday cards?!