Wednesday, 23 September 2009

'Allez chercher des poissons dans les arbres!'

...said the fruit and veg shop manager, giving a loud and very public earful to her boss, who was apparently stocktaking, across several square metres of perfectly ripe peaches, €2.70 a kilo, about £1.50 per pound, obviously unconcerned about job security. Or maybe she'd already lost it.

I've been wondering about the English equivalent. It's a wonderfully derisive remark, and 'Go look for fish in the trees' hardly does it justice. Of course a lot depends on tone, and she gave it plenty, but I guess the translation just doesn't have the rhythmic directness of the French. Derisive, and a bit surreal, too. Remember it for your next visit to France, just in case you need to tell someone to get lost in expressive (but perfectly decent) French.

& a national newspaper reports on a chess tournament in Kolkata at which the French champion, Russian by birth but now French, nodded off at the board. & stayed nodded. His opponent must have grinned, and held his breath for fear of waking him, as the minutes ticked by. Finally, an hour or so later, his clock rang and he awoke, but the time he was allowed for the match had expired. & so he (and la France) lost.

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