Christmas Carols via Google Translate

Popular carols translated from English into several random languages then back into English. Everybody sing along!

Ding Dong Merrily on High

Ding dong merrily on high,
Heav’n ring the doorbell:
Ding Dong! The sky
The Angel singing riv’n.
Gloria in excelsis Hosanna!

Down so low e’en,
Let the bell swungen,
And “I io!”
Priests and people Sungen.
Gloria in excelsis Hosanna!

Please, first duty
Your Matin Carillon bell;
It may well frost
Your evetime song, you singers.
Gloria in excelsis Hosanna!

Silent Night, Holy Night

Silent night, Holy Night,
everything tranquil, everything it bright
Yon virgin mother J. Nino.
Santo Infant Tan tyerno J. Ramah Taman,
sleeps in La Paz sky. Sleep in La Paz sky.
Silent Night, Holy Night,
The Shepherds Tremble Before The View,
The Glorious Women of the Cycle Away,
The Heavenly hostesses canton haleloia;
Christ the Savior, noses! Christ the Savior, noses!
Night of Silence, Holy Night, Sons of God, pure Led of Love Riot Radiance of your Holy face, with the amaneser of the redeeming Grace,
Jesus, it ñ Ore, in your birth.
Jesus, it ñ Pray, in your birth.

The Twelve Days Of Christmas (final verse)

In twelve of Christmas, my true love sent to me
Twelve drummers, eleven tubes and flute
Ten Lords A- nine women dancing,
Eight Maids A-mil, seven swans swimming in water,
six geese, chickens, Gold, four birds of call,
three French chickens, two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree is!

Good King Wenceslas

Good king Vásla saw
Esteban Tour Information
Snow’s lie deep. Significance still
A bright moon shining in the night
Don abuse
It ended up poor
Fuel collection in winter
You and me
if you can,
What is a farmer?
How to find a place?
Teacher, he is a good agreement,
farm
Located directly on the trees
Sources of St. Agnes
My meat brings me wine
I brought sophisticated me here
You and I will have lunch.
When you wear.
The page and the king, they
I went
Bad air is wild
Pain and weather.

The First Noël

Noel angel
Fields are located to the shepherds of the poor,
When the sheep sector,
A cold night, and it was very deep.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

They saw the star to watch
Eastern border is much better
And the earth with high beam
Thus continues day and night.
Noel Noel Noel Noel
Born is the King of Israel!

 

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Just a regular start to the day

Is it the way I talk?

Do I whisper or mumble? Maybe I’ve had a speech impediment all these years without anyone having the courage to tell me. We all know that the voice you hear in your head is different from the one everyone else hears.

Or perhaps I’ve been fitted with some sort of reverse Babelfish device that takes everything I say and renders it into Pawnee.

I ask because at Caffè Nero this morning, I have to say everything at least twice to make myself understood. Which I’d totally get if I was asking for something complicated like a triple venti half-sweet non-fat caramel macchiato, which I’ve just googled. But all I want is to go in, get a coffee and get out.  So I say “Good morning, could I have a regular Americano to take away please?”

“Regular…?”

“Americano, please. And a plain croissant.”

“Eat in or take away?”

“To take away, thanks.” I suppose it’s conceivable that I’d want to eat the croissant there and then but not touch the coffee until I was safely off the premises, but not on this occasion.

“You want milk?”

“Yes, cold milk, please, but could I add it?”

“What?”

“Could I add the milk myself?”

The barista nods and gets to work. I check my phone for something to do. A moment later I hear her addressing me.

“Chocolate?” She’s hovering by the croissants with a paper bag and a pair of tongs.

“Plain, please.” Maybe I didn’t say plain.

Presently a one-third-full cup of coffee appears on the counter. Blimey. Thank God I didn’t order a small one. The barista is just about to pour milk in from a giant jug. Whoa. “Could I pour the milk in myself please?”

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A regular is about two inches of coffee.

Other baristas turn around upon hearing this perceived criticism of their milk-pouring abilities. An explanation is called for. “I just don’t like it drowned in milk.”

“You want hot milk?” How on earth does what I said sound like I’m asking for hot milk?

“No, cold milk is fine. Could I pour it myself, please?” With guarded hesitation she allows me full control of the milk jug. I add just enough to make the coffee coffee-coloured.

I pay and we’re almost done. I want to leave now. I’ve issued enough words. It’s London and it’s early morning. But on the table where they keep the sugar and sticks and napkins and stuff, and where I’d expect to find the lids for the coffee, there aren’t any. My barista, along with all the other baristas, is busy serving other people. I have to speak, again. “Sorry, do you have any lids for the coffee?”

“Excuse?” says one of the baristas.

“Do you have any lids for the coffee?” I gesture at the lid-less table.

“You want a lid?” Yes, I want a sodding lid. Why is this all so hard? He grabs a stack of lids from a shelf behind him and I get ready to place them on the table. Instead, he prises a single one off to give to me then replaces the other lids back on the shelf, evidently assuming that no other customers will want to protect their coffee from spillages.

Although, given the horribly foreshortened state of my ‘regular’, I could have hopped to work without spilling a drop.

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Wrong kind of stereotyping

It’s Saturday morning. Carol’s off at the hairdresser’s and I’m handing a cup of tea to the plumber. He’s here to fix a leak from the WC that he installed last weekend. He pauses to take the tea from me and we exchange smalltalk.

Not our plumber. Not our toilet.

Not our plumber. Not our toilet.

“So how’s it going then, you all right?”

“Yes,” I reply. “Been doing a bit of cleaning because our cleaner’s away on holiday.”

His eyes widen and his mouth forms a little O. He’s truly aghast. But don’t lots of people have cleaners these days? I prepare myself for having to go into a lengthy justification for hiring a ‘home help’, explaining how we pay her more than the living wage, how we both work so don’t have time to clean the house every week, and so on.

But no. I’ve misinterpreted the cause of his shock.

“So what does the missus do, then?”

Well that takes me by surprise, and I actually tell him the truth; that she’s sitting in a hairdressing salon. What I should have said, of course, was that she was doing some soldering work on her MG before heading down the pub with her mates.

A few days later, I notice the leak has returned.

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Dead funny: a stroll around Highgate Cemetery

All the Graves in one grave

All the Graves in one grave

Awkward.

Awkward. Henry edges it in the popularity stakes

For one terrible moment I read this as Arnold LinkedIn

For one terrible moment I read this as Arnold LinkedIn

Well, he SAID he was a poet

Bernard was a ‘poet’

A man of men! Who did not yield! Grrrr! Middle name Marion

A man of men! Who did not yield! Grrrr! Middle name Marion

‘Wake up!’

‘The name’s Green, Green Green.’

The master copywriter. I left him a pen. Sorry, typo: I lent him a pen

The master storyteller. Found a nice Edding 55 in the little box

A life in words. Makes a change from ‘RIP’

*snigger*

No mournful euphemisms for Patrick Caulfield. He dead.

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The Beach Boys and creative ownership

A friend of mine describes the frustrations of not retaining a degree of control over his creative output:

Watching a documentary about the making of The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, I was amused by Al Jardine’s tale of suggesting they record the song ‘Sloop John B’. Brian Wilson wasn’t too keen, but Jardine showed him some chord changes and tried to persuade him it would be great. He then went back to work, and the next he heard was the finished track.

“I was really pissed not to be invited to the recording session, but I guess in the end I was pleased that the idea flew,“ said Jardine, ruefully.

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I wish I shared his insouciance. Whenever an idea of mine is approved and selected for production, only to be hi-jacked by others who change it and deliver the finished thing without involving me at all, I die a little. I know these are professional people who are good at their job, and are only interested in getting good work out into the light of day. And I know that I am not as good as I think I am at art direction, let alone knowing anything about today’s technical skills, but so what?

Our current CD is extremely good at people – one of the best I’ve known. He constantly praises and flatters us all, never taking credit for others’ work and delighting in the growth and achievements of the team. But he gets excited about good new work, and zooms off with it, overseeing every detail, all the way. Which includes tweaking the script, changing the jokes, adding new bits, etc.

And the finished result? I haven’t seen the latest one yet – I’m going to withhold this until I do – but I expect it will be excellent, loved by the client, and feathers in caps all round. So what am I fretting about? I guess it’s frustration about losing control and especially about not being kept in the loop as things progress.

I think what’s missing is a stage, or stages, in the production process where I – and others in a similar position – can be kept in the picture. That’s all – no-one has to take any notice of my suggestions or anything, just let me feel part of it. And defend my original idea where necessary.

Of course, if it all turns out like Pet Sounds then I won’t complain too much.

Do you recognise this scenario? I certainly do. The only thing I’d take issue with is my friend’s assertion that the people who change creative work are ‘are only interested in getting good work out into the light of day’. Maybe that’s what’s happening. Or maybe there are other forces at work. As HG Wells said, ‘No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.’ This is especially true in advertising agencies when people spot a good idea. They want to alter it – ever so slightly – so that they can then claim a tiny bit of ownership for themselves. When you have everyone in an agency – not to mention everyone in the client’s office – itching to add their fingerprint to a piece of creative work, the result is very often the proverbial dog’s dinner.

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The day I met Bernard Manning

Younger readers, this is Bernard Manning.

It’s 1992. I’m a young, fresh-faced freelance copywriter which, amazingly, I still am. I had picked up a few little jobs from a London advertising agency that specialised in film work. That is, they made press ads for when Hollywood films were about to get a video release. I had a lot of fun coming up with ads that were appropriate to the film being advertised, reasoning that this was a key element of my job, but the agency generally rejected my work in favour of a pack shot with the headline ‘OUT NOW ON VIDEO’.

But today my job is a bit different. I am to direct the comedian Bernard Manning in the recording of two radio scripts I’d written. They were to publicise the release of his own video, charmingly titled ‘Banging With Manning’ and allegedly a ‘hilarious’ spoof of sex education videos.

Manning. He was much bigger back then.

I arrive at the Manchester recording studio with the agency’s account lady at the same time as he rolls up in an enormous Cadillac bearing the number plate 1 LAF. No doubt you were supposed to read that 1 as an I in case you were left thinking the plate alluded to the number of actual jokes in one of Bernard’s comedy routines.

The passenger door opens and Bernard, not the lithest comedian on the circuit, grips various parts of the car to leverage himself out of his seat. He waddles across the car park and introductions are made.

“See the boxing last night?” He’s addressing me, correctly assuming that the posh young account lady wouldn’t care one iota about boxing. Neither do I, but I say I missed it while making a face that I hope conveys the idea that this was an unavoidable oversight on my part.

We walk to the studio. “I don’t mind black blokes punching shit out of each other,” he continues, “but I don’t like it when they beat white fellas.”

I don’t have a face ready for a remark like this, much less a suitable vocal response. The account lady and I look at each other. This is going to be interesting.

And it is, and not only in the way I’d been expecting. No sooner does he settle down in the recording studio, still angry about a white boxer being beaten by a black one, than my colleague gets a call from the agency back in London. Apparently the body that oversees the suitability of broadcast advertising has belatedly taken objection to an element of the script. “Which script?” I ask.

“Both of them,” she says.

“What it is about them they don’t like?”

She hesitates. “The word ‘banging’.” The name of the product, in other words.

I glance at Bernard in the booth. Although I can’t hear anything, he seems to be asking the recording engineer questions about the equipment. What’s there to explain? Like all such rooms there’s only a microphone and a pair of headphones, and surely he’s familiar with the former.

“You’re going to have to rewrite the scripts,” says the account manager, “and quickly.”

I look for a place to, er, bash something out while the situation is explained to Manning. He’s not happy. He’s decided that blame for the episode should be laid at London’s door. “Fucking London,” he yells at everyone. “Fucking London idiots,” he adds, getting a bit more specific.

Writing radio scripts isn’t easy. To be honest, I don’t find any writing easy. Those who come up with headlines like OUT NOW ON VIDEO probably do, but I don’t. And although I’m not what you might call precious, I do find a desk and a chair and a bit of peace and quiet help the creative process. Not an enraged shouty comedian stomping about, a product I’m not allowed to mention by name and less than 45 minutes to write and record a couple of 20-second radio commercials.

It gets worse. Once we’re in a position to get something down on tape, it becomes clear that Bernard is as unfamiliar with reading aloud as he is with basic recording equipment. He stumbles over every line, strays from the script, adds pointless pauses and PUTS the emphasis ON all the wrong words. The agency didn’t bring an actual radio producer, someone skilled in the diplomatic art of getting the best work out of the ‘talent’, and all the engineer says after each take is “was that OK?” So it’s down to me to explain to an increasingly impatient Bernard that he needs to read a bit faster, or a bit clearer, or with less yelling, and please can you wait until the microphone’s turned off before saying fucking London wankers.

Luckily, the studio – situated in a largely residential area just outside Manchester, as I recall – doesn’t have any other jobs lined up so we’re allowed to overrun. A couple of hours later we’ve got frayed nerves but two commercials that even the most puritanical member of the radio clearance committee won’t have a problem with.

Recently I was clearing the loft and came across a whole bunch of my old radio ads on C30 cassettes, including the two with Manning. I ordered a bit of kit called the Tonor cassette tape to MP3 convertor, and stuck the least-crap ones on my website. Grit your teeth and have a listen. 5th and 6th ones down.

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The must-win pitch

Those pesky leaflets.

That difficult third ad.

That absolute killer fourth ad.

The unexpected flood of work.

The need for a fresh pair of eyes.

The sudden absence of your best writer.

The party last night that probably explains it.

The part of the brief that nobody wants to do.

The direct response TV ad that you just want to get out the door.

The fifth attempt to get a campaign approved.

The realisation that the client needs a new tone of voice.

The dull series of CRM emails that might actually generate most income for the client.

The radio ads that no one seems able to crack as who listens to radio anyway.

The salesman’s leave behind and someone who know WTF one of those is.

The need for a back-up idea ‘just in case’.
Whatever the reason, if you need a seasoned copywriter to help out for anything from a morning to a couple of weeks, give me a call. I’m on 078 87 87 58 59.

That’s 078 87 87 58 59.

See? Told you I did radio.

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