The Art of Translation

Some wonderful signs in English seen around the world where something vital has been lost in translation …

Norway cocktail lounge: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.

Rome doctor’s surgery: Specialist in women and other diseases.

Bangkok dry cleaners: Drop your trousers here for the best results.

Nairobi restaurant: Customers who find our waitresses rude ought to see the manager.

Nairobi – Mombasa main road: Take notice – when this sign is under water, this road is impassable.

A city restaurant: Open seven days a week and weekends.

In a cemetery: Persons are prohibited from picking flowers from any but their own graves.

Tokyo hotel rules and regulations: Guests are requested not to smoke or do other disgusting behaviours in bed.

Swiss restaurant menu: Our wines leave you nothing to hope for.

Japan hotel: You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.

Moscow hotel lobby opposite a Russian orthodox monastery: You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous Russian and soviet composers, artists and writers are buried daily except Thursday.

Germany Black Forest: It is strictly forbidden on our camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for this purpose.

Zurich hotel: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.

Thailand donkey ride promotion: Would you like to ride on your own ass?

Copenhagen airline ticket office: We take your bags and send them in all directions.

Rome laundry: Ladies, leave your clothes here and spend the afternoon having a good time.

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In The Beginning

Another way of looking at the United Kingdom mess that is Brexit …

In the Beginning was The Referendum
And then came the Assumptions

And the Assumptions were without form
And the Plan was completely without substance

And the darkness was upon the face of the Voters
And the Voters spoke amongst themselves, some saying ‘It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh.’

And others saying ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

And the people of Wales and Cornwall said ‘We have voted to leave the EU but we want to keep getting the money the EU sends us.’

And the Voters went unto their Councillors and some said
‘It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof.’

And others said ‘Brexit means Brexit’

And the Councillors went unto their Mayors and some said unto them
‘It is a container of excrement and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it.’

And others said to them ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

And the Mayors went unto their MPs and sayeth
‘It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength.’

And the MPs spoke among themselves, some saying to one another
‘If we do not agree to this Plan, we may lose our seats and expense accounts.’

And others saying to one another ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

‘We shall say that it will stop immigration and promote World Trade and will have no downside to it.’

And the MPs went unto the Brexit team and sayeth unto them
‘This Plan will stop immigration and payments to the EU and so will be a very powerful stimulus to the economy.’

And the Brexit Team, already believing their own lies, said to one another
‘Brexit means Brexit’.

The Brexit Team went unto the Prime Minister and sayeth unto her
‘This new Plan will stop immigration, stop payments to the EU and actively promote the growth and prosperity of this Country, allowing us to give an extra £350 million a week to the NHS.’

And the Prime Minister looked upon The Plan, and, being totally blinded by personal power, saw that it was good. And the Prime Minister, having little vocabulary, said ‘Brexit means Brexit.’

And the Plan was challenged in the Courts.

And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and chants of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ by those gathered who did not wish the flaws of the plan to be exposed.

And the Judges retired to consider if the Plan was legal
Although there really was no plan because none knew what Brexit was.

And through all this, shit continued to happen.
And the response of the Government to this shit was to say ‘Brexit means Brexit’.

The Majority Is The Minority

I recently saw this on social media and thought I’d share a slightly edited version it as it sums up the result of the EU Referendum perfectly …

On 23 June 2016, 52% of people who could be bothered or were eligible to vote, elected to leave the European Union. At about 6am on 24 June, Britain began a steep decline into the sort of stupidity not seen since L. Ron Hubbard decided we were descended from space lizards.

In the ensuing months since that national brainfart, the country has lost grip on its language, grace, wit and decency. Marmite has survived by the skin of its teeth and seeing as it tastes like sheep droppings that wasn’t exactly a win.

The problem with all of this began when people tried to interpret what Brexit meant. The unelected Prime Minister, Theresa May quipped “Well, why ask me?” and “Brexit means Brexit” heralding the nation’s slide into mental incompetence in defining a word by itself. So what? Teabags means teabags. It still doesn’t tell us what the tea, or the bag, consists of or its relationship with the rest of the world. Of course, May became PM after Cameron threw his toys out of his pram and had supported the Remain campaign, meaning she had no involvement with the Brexit of which she’s now in charge. This coup d’état was greeted by the public with total apathy, which is not surprising when you consider that they’ve also swallowed the claim 52% of Britain voted to leave the EU.

They didn’t! Only 71.8% of voters took part, which means the nation is amputating its EU membership on the basis of a 37% mandate. In simple terms, 17m people decided what the remaining 47m citizens were going to have to put up with for the forseeable future. It can be called a lot of things, even democracy, but it can’t be called 52% of the UK electorate. In the new post-Brexit era of being considered virtually brain dead, the British people are told that they voted for less migration, more migration, greater parliamentary sovereignty than the one we’ve already got which allows MPs to block Brexit, hard Brexit, a Royal yacht, soft Brexit, a proper job for Boris Johnson, trade deals with China, staying in the single market and leaving the single market. This is despite the fact that most can remember what the ballot paper looked like and that it didn’t have that many words on it. 

The question posed was to leave or remain. The consequences were unknown, both sides warned of fire and brimstone if we got it wrong, and in the end many voters who were badly off felt things couldn’t possibly get any worse, so decided to smack David Cameron in the face by voting against his recommendation. The upshot of this decision, so far, is that the badly off are now worse off and Cameron is about to embark upon a multi-million pound money-spinning career that may, or may not, involve Panamanian bank accounts.Quite simply, the referendum question posed was, in hindsight, the wrong one. The ballot paper should have said: “Would you like Britain to be remain as stupid as it is now? Or would you like it to be more stupid?” Once the obnoxious Michael Gove had pushed all the experts over a metaphorical cliff of ignorance, the voters were left, by definition, with people who are not experts. Now, the buffoons running the show are driving the masses over the same cliff, insisting all the while that life will be better once they’re over the scary bit at the edge. Better? So inflation is taking off, 10,000 more people are unemployed, the price of fuel,is spiralling and the value of the pound has slumped by 15%, compared with a mere 4% during Black Wednesday in 1992. On top of all that, there are already warnings of price rises in food and clothes, meaning the less well off will be hit disproportionately hard.

Prior to the referendum, City experts bet heavily on a drop in the pound, whilst non-experts said they were “talking the country down” as opposed to knowing exactly what they were doing. In the days after the vote politicians said migration won’t be any different, the NHS is still screwed and that people shouldn’t believe what is written on the sides of buses! Unsurprisingly, a study has found 6% of Leave voters now think that was stupid, which is greater than the 4% margin of victory, whilst non-experts in favour of Brexit say people shouldn’t pay any attention to this because it’s stupid. It seems everyone concerned with Brexit should be ignored as they’re all clueless! On top of all this, the English language has been mangled to introduce a ridiculous number of clumsy lexical portmanteaux, starting with Brexit and mutating into Bremainers, Bremoaners, Brexiters and Brexiteers. It can only be a matter of time before some poor sub-editor has to squeeze BRE-HA-HA into a headline.

As a nation we decry the barrel bombing of Aleppo, and don’t stop to notice these are the people who were too sick or slow to leave, or who could not afford to pay the people traffickers. In juxtaposition, we complain about the dreadful migrant hordes who were the wealthiest, quickest and cleverest people in Aleppo who managed to get out, and say we don’t want their sort here. This makes no sense. If you insist on controlled migration of people we need and can use their skills, then it’s the people who escaped Syria that should be welcomed by the most hardened UKIPper. There are now non-dental expert MPs telling dentists to check migrants’ ages, despite dentists saying teeth don’t work like that. Also, in the past few weeks, every child of nursery school level has been asked what country they were born in. One of the nicest men in football, Gary Lineker, has been subjected to a torrent of abuse for pointing out we’re not being very nice. To compound the nastiness, George Osborne is making a mint as “a renowned economics expert” and Nigel Farage has been exported to make Donald Trump even worse.

Who benefits from a fall in the pound? Only people paid in foreign currencies such as Fromage, and certainly not the 17m who voted for Brexit. Who benefits from a slump in the City? Only mega rich traders, not those who support Brexit. Who benefits from a lack of simple mathematics and experts? People who want the majority to remain ignorant and stupid. Who benefits from Britain behaving like ignorant racists? Only ignorant racists, who think it confirms they were right all along.

Brexit was about giving the wealthy élite one in the eye, and it’s failed miserably. If only the right question had been printed on that ballot paper … things could all have been very different. This majority is most certainly the minority!