L’etat, c’est moi (trans. Look at the state of me!)

So, there I was, minding my own business in the middle of Whitehall, the kids were warmly wrapped in a cosy sheet that just happened to have the 1st article of the Declaration of Human Rights painted on it. It was, to all intents and purposes, a perfectly ordinary Sunday.

Through the throng, there came a little man. ‘Quelqu’un qui parle Francais?’ he pleaded. ‘Personne?’

Well, me – obviously. I do. I have a string of translations to my name – fascinating stuff, too. Thirteen volumes. If you want to know anything at all about robot spot welding, I’m your woman. CAD/CAM – easy peasy. Remote control and proprioception – pas de probleme. Of course, this was all about 20 years ago, but still. So I stepped forward.

‘Oui, m’sieur. Je parle Francais. Je peux vous aider?’

Well, it transpired that he was not a Frenchman in distress. What he really wanted was an interview for French radio on what was going on. I was now in too far to get out, so plunged on – recklessly.

It’s amazing, isn’t it, just how blank your mind goes when someone puts you on the spot. Particularly in another language. I think I may have said that Gordon Brown was a ladle. And I’m pretty certain that I expressed nothing but disdain for the people who were carrying the Olympic teatowel that day.

I forgot to ask him what channel the interview was going out on. Probably just as well. But if anyone did hear it – please, don’t tell me what else I got wrong.


9 thoughts on “L’etat, c’est moi (trans. Look at the state of me!)

  1. I do like the idea of an Olympic Tea Towel – Perhaps it should dry an item for each event in every country it ‘rests’.
    It would make very interesting telly watching protesters trying to wrestle the tea-towel from its official tea towel bearer.
    In places of repression they could carry it in disguise i.e. masquerading as a dish-cloth or hand-towel.
    the official start and finish could be the drying of a greek Urn or, in the 2008 case, a china tea-pot.
    Sorry – my imagination ran away.
    Hope you had a uneventful protest.
    Vive le (what is the French for tea-towel – where is Petite Anglaise when you need her.

  2. I had a similar experience in Edinburgh once, although the bloke doing the interviewing was supposedly speaking my native language. To be fair, I was very drunk, and I don’t think the TV man was fit to operate heavy machinery either.

    I do wonder if the clip is ever rolled out on ‘It’ll Be All Reet On The Neet, The Noo’ with Dennis McNordern.

  3. I remember once telling a french family, after a stupendous feast, that I was absolutely full. Patting my stomach to emphasise the point.
    After a brief stunned silence, a wag at the table asked me if I knew who the father was….

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