Saturday, 26 January 2013

The night I drank whisky

Whisky, like coffee and socks for Christmas, is something one really only appreciates as one gets older.  Last night I put some serious effort into appreciating a bottle of 12-year old MacAllan, along with about a litre of very fresh, very strong coffee and a bar of 85% cocoa chocolate. Considering the disparity in levels between the bottle when it was opened and the bottle when I opened bleary eyes this morning and saw it on my desk, I don't feel entirely awful.

Yesterday was a weird day. The move is almost ready to go - I foresee us heading upstairs in the next three weeks or so - but with my material all over the place I was pushed to my colleague's office, as she doesn't work Fridays. I managed to finish off the three translations I got on Thursday and emailed them to be verified by our - let's say boss. We have a sort of civil service system in place, which I find interesting as it's one of the places I've always seen myself ending up.

My colleagues are permanent assistants to the Association, and we all work for the Association. But the Association needs to be "lead" by someone, and those people are Alumni. They come from different areas of oil and gas and are fascinating people but they are also not translators, accountants or web designers. As a result, I find myself translating documents for someone who will read it and be able to tell, with 90% accuracy, if it's English or not.

I can see why civil servants get frustrated by ministers who breeze in and out and who are, from the viewpoint of a "lifer" in the service, here today and gone tomorrow. Gove is in charge of education, for goodness' sake, and the only contact he's had with that field is because he was once a child and was, despite all appearances, educated.

In any case, I got the work done to my satisfaction and also read through a CV and cover letter for a student. We also discussed interview techniques, and I've set aside some time for him to practise with me next week.

Today I've got several pages of work to do, including lesson plans for the new students (starting tomorrow, very exciting!) and for Monday's student. I've also got to learn a sketch for Tuesday's French lesson; I've set myself the task of learning "le tirade du nez" from Cyrano de Bergerac. This is how Russia's newest film star does it:

It's a little hard to translate, for those who don't speak English, but when Steve Martin remade it and called it Roxanne he updated them and, while they lack the flow of the French, they're not bad:


For those who do speak French, see if you can spot the one or two lines which have been literally translated. For those who don't...

Here is an English version. It feels a trifle forced, but it's otherwise excellent. Which is better, Martin's updated version or the translation?

Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . .
Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose
I'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you sup
It must annoy you, dipping in your cup;
You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!'
Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape!
--A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!'
Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular?
For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?'
Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think?
I see you've managed with a fond research
To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!'
Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .suppose
That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose--
Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher,
Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?'
Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed low
By such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!'
Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made,
Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!'
Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes
Names Hippocamelelephantoles
Must have possessed just such a solid lump
Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!'
Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook?
To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!'
Emphatic: 'No wind, O majestic nose,
Can give THEE cold!--save when the mistral blows!'
Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!'
Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!'
Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?'
Simple: 'When is the monument on view?'
Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up!
'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!'
Military: 'Point against cavalry!'
Practical: 'Put it in a lottery!
Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!'
Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . .
'Behold the nose that mars the harmony
Of its master's phiz! blushing its treachery!'

Not too long. Easy peasy!