Before any more of July passes by, I feel compelled to record what I can remember of June.
After the very quiet months of April and May from a work point of view, June arrived with pleasant weather, the prospect of replenishing the elderflower cordial stocks and a general question mark about work levels.
Curiously, a couple of friends who visited from Manchester at cordial-making season last year turned up on the doorstep again this year. You may remember that last year’s efforts involved a mad dash around the locality to locate stocks of citric acid (the same day as they arrived). This time, being well stocked with the requisite quantities, the friends happened to arrive as the flowers were soaking in their sugar solution. The kitchen smelled lovely!
Workwise at this time last year, you may remember my being engaged on the Education assignment. If you don’t, then I clearly didn’t moan on about it as much as it deserved. It was an uphill slog of a rather tedious nature. This year I was treated to a customer survey for a cold remedy. Gentle reader, there were 3,500 responses to “What did you like about this product?” Let me tell you now, there were about 7 possible responses to this question ranging from “You won’t catch me buying this muck” to “This is the world’s answer to runny noses, stuffy heads and hacking coughs. Thank you for developing it – I am forever indebted to your company and I can’t wait to spread the good news of your product.” There were the occasional “I like the picture on the packaging” and “Eucalyptus is my least/favourite flavour” to (ahem) break the tedium – which lasted for about 10 working days.
It would not fall into the category of great works of literature (naturally, the translation was a vast improvement on the original mis-spelled, ungrammatical and plainly impenetrable prose) but there were a couple of gems hidden in there. Some people (not my gentle readers, of course) believe that translation is “just” a question of replacing text word for word. A certain amount of interpreting is required to make the original writer’s intentions clear if s/he is not expressing her/himself as clearly as s/he might. One answer was a classic. What do you like about this product ? “it replaces inhaling and is resealable”. What this person meant (I assume) was that it was not necessary to use a steam inhalation and that they liked the fact that the product was in resealable packaging. (I didn’t ever get to see a picture or read a description of said packaging – it may have been some sort of box or perhaps a bag with a zip-style closure or of course anything else. Nobody ever thinks that translators might like to see what they’re trying to describe). I admit it doesn’t seem terribly amusing now… but believe me… at answer 3,004 lots of things can easily lighten the mood and seem absolutely hilarious.
Following this marathon, I had two jobs both from companies which had an exclamation mark after their Name! I found this unbelievably irritating because every time I had to write their Name! I had to insert the punctuation. Not a problem until your computer decides that the Name! is the end of the sentence and starts the next word with an initial capital. It also causes a bit of problem when you are trying to write sentences such as “Name!’s marvellous acheivements are..” So if you are thinking of starting a dynamic new company, consider leaving the exclamation mark out of your Name! please. It gets in the way.
I was then offered a couple of (thankfully) short assignments in French. It’s so long since I did French my eye kept whizzing to the end of the sentences to find the verb. Marie-France came to my aid for a couple of sentences. Huzzah!
On a completely different topic: a friend of mine announced a couple of weeks ago that she and her partner had decided they were going to get married next month. She doesn’t want a big fuss and so the marriage ceremony is going to be for close family only. However, she did want her friends to be able to mark the occasion so she was going to have a hen night. Feeling that this might overwhelm her with attention, she remarked to me, “I haven’t really invited many people yet because I’m thinking of chickening out of my hen night.”
Well, I thought it was funny…but I was in the middle of the product survey at the time. Did I mention it had 3,500 responses?
You will be pleased to know she went ahead with the event and we enjoyed a pleasant evening in an Italian restaurant yesterday.
And now I’m off to strain my elderflower vinegar which has been steeping for three weeks.