Monday, 20 May 2013

London has no radishes

Sometimes wires get crossed.

In the days of manual switchboards, no doubt wires were crossed with comic and compromising consequences.  But for all our digital sophistication we are not immune from ad hoc communication muddle.

Take my dinner party the other night: Cristian was talking about the nature of London society.  When he came to a point he couldn’t express in English he spoke to me in Italian.  The longer I live outside Italy the more I forget, but feeling an obligation to translate rather than interpret, I pronounced enigmatically to the table: “London has no radishes”.   The rest of the party stared blankly.  “Radishes?” one guest finally asked.  “I think so” I said with diminishing confidence.  “Seriously, radishes?” another guest challenged.  Assessing collective bemusement, Cristian spoke to me further in Italian, fleshing out his idea.  “OH” I said as the penny dropped.  “He means ROOTS not radishes… he’s saying many people who live in London have moved from elsewhere and therefore don’t have roots in London”. 

When I told Cristian in Italian I’d mistaken radicio for radicchio, and then to further complicate matters had confused Italian chicory for ravanello (the correct translation for radish)… he laughed the loudest.  Just goes to show what a difference one little leaf or one little ‘ch’ can make!

Frankly that was double-crossed wires; the reason for which might have been troppo vino.

Clearly my brain is overloaded after recently completing an intensive course in the UK’s favoured Project Management methodology: Prince 2.   The day before this dinner party I spent almost entirely on the sofa – study, classes, and daily 6am bootcamps having caught up with me.  (Ok, yes, and one late night celebrating.)  So when my friend Kate rang to say she was approaching my house in the car and suggested picking me up to take me back to her house for dinner, then to a movie, after which she would drop me back home… it was the most tranquil Saturday-night-out I could imagine.  So I agreed to come down stairs and “await my chariot” while making no effort whatsoever to change clothes or spruce myself up.  Kate’s family greeted me warmly and it was a delightful evening with three-year-old Scarlett saying at regular intervals “I love you Julie”.   Can’t beat that for adorable.

After dinner Kate and I ventured to the cinema; door to door in a car, which after leaving various cars behind in Australia and Italy and travelling in London now on foot or public transport, was a luxury.  As we stood in a queue to collect the tickets Kate had pre-booked, she mentioned she didn’t remember much about Part 2.  I recounted the near-to-final scene when Robert Downey Jr is up on the Tower Bridge scaffolding talking to his nemesis and love-interest, the pretty actress, Rachel McAdams, who is glamorously dressed in period costume complete with bows and bustle etc.  Kate’s expression told me she was none the wiser and a teenage girl behind us in the queue squinted at me oddly.  Yet as the southern English often look at me strangely for doing things like chatting to strangers on trains, I thought nothing more about it. 

We grabbed the tickets quickly and moved into the cinema as the feature was about to start.  My first thought as we chose a seat was “why isn’t it full on a Saturday night when the series is so popular?”  Soon we’re into it anyway and Mr Downey is in usual good form.  He’s such a fabulous actor.  Sexy too.  After some minutes, though, it occurs to me he isn’t very English.  And where is Dr Watson I wonder?  Not to worry, he’ll turn up.  Then again, isn’t this out of period?  The costumes and setting appear modern, probably American.  And when did Gwyneth Paltrow join the cast?  About ten minutes into the film I’m thinking: “what the hell are those metal suits and robots all about?”  Only after these questions have pushed their way through my foggy, exhausted brain does it dawn on me that my wires are entirely crossed.  This is not Sherlock Holmes 3.  This is Iron Man 3.  Drrr. 

Between giggles and sighs of recognition I whisper to Kate: “I am a complete idiot (or words to that effect)… when I heard you say Robert Downey Jr and Part 3 my mind jumped to the series I know and I didn’t register another thing about it.  I’ve never seen Iron Man before. I thought we were coming to Sherlock Holmes and have been expecting Jude Law.”

Kate says she was surprised I’d been so keen to see a boy’s movie, when it hadn’t been what she’d have expected me to like… adding “that’s why you were talking about Tower Bridge and bustles…”.  Too funny.

This gave us both quite a laugh, of course, and as it turns out crossed wires are sometimes advantageous – a ‘don’t have to think’ movie exactly what the Dr ordered and I thoroughly enjoyed Iron Man 3.

(I only hope my concentration in the final exam last Friday was significantly more refined; for I have to wait some weeks to receive the results.)

Then today I jumped online to check out the stats for my blogs.  Being busy I hadn’t looked for a couple of weeks, so was interested to find lots of readers from new countries on   “Very nice” I thought.  “Though how did people in Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, India and Romania find me all of a sudden?”   Readership had also gone up noticeably in Russia and Sweden.   

I was about to put it down to random luck and log off, when I saw traffic had been coming via something called ‘top blog stories’.   “How lovely… someone must have recommended or ‘liked’ my blog on another site”.  I felt chuffed.  So of course I clicked on the link to find out what they’d said about my writing.  Well, talk about crossed- wires… I found myself on a porn site. 

It wasn’t overly explicit but it was definitely dodgy.  “How the hell did that happen?”  I wondered.  So I exited and typed the URL again, checking to see if I’d made a mistake.  Sure enough, I found myself on another porn site.  Or at least the opening page had different images.

“What the &*^#?  What does it mean?”  

Suddenly fears about my blog or, worse, my laptop, being hacked… sent me scurrying quickly away.  I’ll have to seek answers from someone with superior IT knowledge, and until then leave it well alone.

Meanwhile it’s ironic my last post on ‘There’s Always a Story’ called Holiday of Obligation talked about Jesus.  For if people from those countries confused  with another site then they too got more than they bargained for!

So maybe I’ll have the last laugh.  Time will tell.  I’m amused anyway about crossed wires and pondering the many scenarios (and movie scripts) which have and could be constructed around such confusion. 

All it takes to start is a radish.