Lost in Translation
A fair few years ago we took our eldest daughter from Scarborough to Edinburgh to begin her first year at University. After successfully completing all the necessary practicalities we ventured, early evening, into the local pub. Being well away from the centre it was not exactly packed with cosmopolitan tourists but had a vibrant buzz. We selected seats adjacent to a couple of gnarled characters surrounded by their fishing tackle (rods and baskets). They were both affably merry which combined with their strong accents rendered comprehending their conversation a tad problematic.
However, by a combination of gestures and picking out the odd word we understood that they had been fishing in the local canal. They had decided to move to the drier environment of the pub when it started to rain mid-afternoon, hence the jovial disposition. We conveyed to them, we think, our purpose for being in Edinburgh and as time passed we felt that we were beginning to have mutual success in understanding one another.
As we finished our drinks and prepared to leave it became obvious that one fisherman was keen to show us his catch. There was quite an exaggerated build up as he lifted his fishing basket onto the table. Further loud chattering attracted the attention of drinkers at other tables and the bar. The expectations were heightened by the gestures of his friend indicating that the size of the catch was over half a metre long and the movement of his bent arms by his side worryingly suggested that the gills of the unfortunate creature may still be moving.
A distinct hush settled as the lid was opened and an arm reached in and dramatically pulled out a totally bald, whole, dead chicken. Holding it by the legs in one hand he picked up his fishing rod and appeared to be trying to re-enact the moment when he allegedly pulled it out of the canal. The rest of the audience nonchalantly turned away and carried on drinking. We said our farewells and made our mystified way towards the exit. We reflected at the time, and indeed since, on at which particular moment did we lose the plot.
Since arriving in France at the start of 2015 we have had one or two plucked chicken moments. Included in these have been mixing up a duck and a red flowering plant ( canard/ canna), the local hunt and the annual go-cart race (la chasse/ la caisse d’ Availles) and the inappropriate use of “Je suis anglaise.” when informing a passing car’s occupants that I could not help them with directions because “I am an English woman.”The reality is that several years on we regularly recall that memorable Edinburgh pub moment. Equally we have had a number of giggles about our French faux pas. We can also reflect that we have brought a smile to our neighbours and other locals with our own versions of ‘Lost in Translation’. Brian Robinson October 2016