Not so lost in translation

I am always startled by how quickly time flies. Only yesterday it feels did I get back from my summer break and now it’s almost Christmas again. Especially the last couple weeks seem to have flown by. Somehow all wrapped up in work and puffing through the marathon of life I barely realised we were well into December. Then at the end of last week I swung by Rome to present my first book, Fromm! which has been translated into Italian. Publishing a book in itself feels fabulous. Whenever I hold a copy in my hands I can’t quite believe that each word was really written by me and read by many. It’s worth writing a book just for this experience. Having a book translated is even more surreal. Especially if in a language you are not fluent in. I might understand Italian but speaking it properly is another matter. Yes, my little book was really translated into Italian. Sitting behind a desk with several microphones and presenters beside me in a bookstore (the Vatikan’s go figure) felt a little bizarre. Lot’s of Italian babble going on next to me first and foremost by the lovely publisher, who gave the most flattering introduction to an Italian public patiently listening. She spoke of my book as though it were an utter work of genius. This made me wonder whether she had actually read it. In fact she knew the book almost by heart, she even recited passages. She seemed to know it a lot better than I did actually. After all I wrote it well over two years ago. Weirdly, all those appreciative words made me quite uncomfortable. Thank God it all happened in Italian where everything sounds slightly less real and more cartoonish anyway. After intro 1, a second followed suit. This time the speaker was my mother’s best friend Alessandra Borghese. She has known me since I was a child so she has had plenty of material to draw from although it did feel as though more than enough had been said already. But Alessandra being a Roman celebrity and a successful author herself, injected a squirt of glamour, into the evening. I was very delighted to see even a couple of my local friends showed up to the presentation to reduce the age ratio somewhat.

The best part of the evening was that everything I said was simultaneously translated into Italian.  Somehow the fact that someone else is translating what you say seems to add gravitas. Everything appears to be a lot more substantial than it actually is. Note to self: Always move around with a translator from now on, I am digging the style. There were a couple old Roman eccentrics as well as priests and cardinals in the audience adding to the perfect Fellini vibe. Internally I kept smirking at it all. Afterwards when signing stacks of books with my wonky handwriting I realised that despite having signed countless books when it first came out in Germany my handwriting was still that of a twelve year-old boy.

After all the hoo-ha I finally managed to escape. By then my face was in a full blown cramp from all the polite smiling. We had a very civilised dinner at the stunning Circolo della Caccia and then stopped by a friend’s birthday party before I passed out. A night and a morning in Rome was of course far too short for my liking but the next day we were off again direction Munich. We had been invited by my grandmother to see a play, which she’s been raving about for weeks. She loved and praised the play so much that my aunt and uncle plus their kids as well as my mum, brother and I all tagged along. The play was performed in a small theatre in the suburbs of Munich. Turns out the play was unexpectedly vulgar, full of swearing, nudity and sexual insinuations. I saw my mother hissing and tossing in discomfort next to me while my Grandmother seeing it for the fourth time was curving herself laughing out loud. My well under-aged cousins seemed fairly amused and my brother of course loved the seediness. I thought it funny, at times downright ridiculous. The most interesting part for me however was observing the fact that my Grandmother’s choice for a pre-Christmas family outing was this raunchy production. My Grandmother is a rock n’ roller.

Anyway in the Heimat I have been since then with our annual shoot that happened this weekend. Today I’m off on another African adventure first stop Watamu, Kenya. My mum’s house is my favourite place to kick back and indulge in lots of sport and healthy living. To me there is no better antidote to the binge-feasting European Christmas.

Before I go I have one last note for the road. I have made a couple of new observations regarding Germany in the past couple of days. As some of you know many of my previous blogs feasted on English inefficiency. In my mind Germany was the land of milk and honey as far as efficiency and organisation go. The roads were perfectly de-frosted in Winter, the handyman arrives swiftly whenever you need him and every problem is immediately and efficiently solved. Turns out, not at all. The roads have been utter chaos covered in snow and ice for days on end. In fact apparently they have run out of salt and it’s just mid-December. Walking around Munich you practically need ice-skates. At my grandmother’s house a broken modem meant no internet. Getting someone over to repair apparently takes weeks. Wait a minute, blank rage with every utility call and chaos on winter roads (albeit the conditions are a little more dramatic than in the UK) but nevertheless that somehow rings a bell? I am almost feeling homesick now.

Next up I will be touching base from Kenya, so stay tuned for more. xxx

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  1. Cheekylange says:

    Funny I noticed the same thing when I went to Munich for the holidays, but then again there is still the German ‘Schadenfreude’ and Envy. (Loved Fromm and shall read it again in Italian when I’m in Rome this year for a month). x

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