A.B. Day

Que vous ayez mis le doigt sur un grimoire précieux, que vous soyez vous même un ardent remplisseur de parchemin, installez vous dans l'un des poufs, prenez une tasse de thé, et discutez prose !
Querdal
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A.B. Day

Messagepar Querdal » dim. nov. 22, 2009 7:04 pm

One month ago, my father told me about some English guy who wanted to visit our village. My father is the mayor of our 600-inhabitants village, called Benney, South from Nancy. The guy was called Alan Benney, and he was convinced the history of his family was linked to our village. I was amazed to hear this, because I had never heard about people named the same as the village I had grown in. My father doesn't speak English so well, and he had just run through Benney's e-mail that morning. He was not sure to have got all of it, and unable to reply by himself. That's why he asked me to translate the e-mail.

Alan Benney was actually an Australian, 42-years-old South Australian, nice and grammatically incoherent man. He didn't speak a word of French, but was about to come in France to visit friends, and wanted to spend one or two days in our “beautiful town”, as he said. He said he would be pleased, in the meantime, to meet the mayor.

I sent by e-mail my translation to the mayor, who sent me back his friendly, French-speaking reply, which I translated back. Alan Benney answered fast (and friendly) and so did he all the following times. That's why he, my father and I exchanged many e-mails that week. The e-mails were mostly about Alan's trip organization ‒ not meaning there was so much to talk about. But Alan never answered clearly to my father's questions, he had to ask those three times. Where, what day, what hour? Finally, we managed to agree on a meeting in Benney Town Hall at ten o'clock on Wednesday October 14th.

Alan kept talking about how much he was excited to meet my father and visit our “superb village”. I tried to translate his messages as close as I could from the originals, and that implied to forget punctuation as he did, and to affect curious sentence constructions as he did. Benney wanted to know if we had a “hotel motel or b & b” in Benney. My father and I tried to explain we had no B&B in France, and there was a “Chambre d'Hôtes” in a near village. That was perfect to him, he booked it. But to the end, he kept calling it a B&B.

Then we advised him to take a TGV to Nancy, and then to hire a car to be free to move. We explained what a “TGV” was. Benney seemed completely amazed: “waow 320 mph is very fast,” he wrote.
Finally, the “Alan Benney Day” arrived. I had insisted to be there, to meet him (a true Australian, walking and speaking! And such a nice person, as I previewed it), although I had a course set at the Fac at 14 o'clock.

“I don't know what we're gonna do,” my father said (in French). “We meet in Town Hall, we take a coffee… We have a tour in the village… And that's it. I've gotta be at work at thirteen and half. I don't know what we're gonna talk about.”

Twenty-five to ten, two men and a woman stepped in the Town Hall: Alan Benney, John Bell and his wife Anne, coming right from the Chambre d'Hôtes we had advised. I was not in the room at that moment, so it was a bit uncomfortable, as I understood: John and Anne, a retired English couple, spoke a bit French as they'd been living in Corrèze for four years, but not enough to have a conversation. And none of the French people present (meaning my father, the town hall secretary, the two counselors and the local correspondent to L'Est Républicain) were god enough in English to clear the stage.

I came in as a Translation Prophet, learned the names and presented everyone to everybody. John and Anne accompanied their friend through his trip, the secretary was trying to do her job quietly, the journalist wanted to publish an article about A.B.'s coming, and the counselors came just to have a look. It was a very confusing moment, as everyone asked questions about everything at the same time, wanted to be translated and to understand what others said.

We sat in the counseling room and took a coffee with biscuits. I tried to translate as often as I could, but sometimes Alan and John didn't let me. My father and the other people were trying to follow the conversation, but they often had to interrupt us to ask for a translation. John and Alan explained (Anne almost didn't talk) they had come to Benney the day before, walked around, taken photographs and met people.

“We first entered the grocery shop, and discovered it's a bar as well. The barman spoke no English, we spoke no French but we had fun!” They had taken photos of themselves shoulder to shoulder with the barman, holding whiskey bottles and laughing.

“Then we went to the church, which we found our way to thanks to the steeple pointing over the roofs. There we met the priest, who opened the door for us, and we visited the church. Then we went to the school, and there asked where we could find the cemetery. Some girl answered there was no cemetery in Benney. We went to the main street, met a man who explained how to find the cemetery. We went, and found a graveyard that read only recent dates.”

At that moment, three people entered the Town Hall : my mother, a young and beautiful woman and her baby. I was very glad to see one out of the three. The young woman, whose name is Gaëlle, is an English teacher who lives in Benney, and has taken a congé maternité to take care of her child. She has spent eight month in Australia, too. That morning, she came to give a hand to the translation, and I was just screaming silent for help. I was unable to understand a question Alan had asked several times, and my father was beginning to get eager.

We went on the clues that made Alan think his ancestors come from Benney. We came to understand that the cemetery they had visited the day before was not Benney's one. The indications from the man in the street were all good, but they had taken the wrong road and gone to the nearest village.

We showed to our guests the oldest plan of the village we have: a gigantic book from 1864, called “le Cadastre”… They seemed to like it, took many photos.

We went for a walk in the village, aiming to the true cemetery of Benney. We were lucky: the day was sunny and pretty warm for the season. Walking, we could talk more freely than sitting in a Counsel Room. Most of the French talked in French with the French, while I chatted in English with John, Alan and Gaëlle about many things. Gaëlle says the first Australian word she learned when landing in that country was G'day, abbreviation to “Good day”, used as “Hello”. I said I had heard my first Australian word on radio, during the Olympic Days in Sidney: biscy, for biscuit. Alan said he worked in the Australian military intelligence, new technology weapons. He was very discrete about this.

Alan asked whether I had ever been in Autraslia. I answered I’d been to Hastings, England, for a week with my class when I was twelve, and I’d like very much to go and work or study in the US for one year or more. I had never thought of “Aussie”, as he said, but that could be a seducing idea. Alan said that if ever I go to Aussie, he’d be glad to house me for some days. I note preciously the offer.

We walk in the cemetery; they look at the graves, the names, the dates… Seem to like it, although Alan is disappointed to find no Benney there. But it’s already time to go: my father and I have to go back to Nancy very soon, and so do the Bells & Benney to get in their TGV back to Paris, then to Corrèze. We go back to Town Hall to drink some champagne; Alan doesn’t hesitate to serve us again generously our own champagne, and claims “We emptied it! We did it!” We take the last photographs, promise to stay in touch, say good bye and… they are gone.

That day made me realize a curious thing: talking in English is a real pleasure to me. I’m not talking about that kind of talking we do in English class, were they’re just a conventional exercise between people who’d rather communicate in French. I’m talking about real conversations, real communication where you have no choice to make yourself understood by other people. And in the meantime, your language level progress so fast… But tat morning was not enough to me, in terms of immersion and duration. Meeting Alan and John made even stronger my desire to go for a long period in an English-speaking country, and be the only French-speaking guy around. That would be some of a great adventure.

“Well,” my father said anxiously some days later, “he’s gonna tell all his family our cemetery is superb, our champagne is alright, our biscies are exquisite… Will Benney become a tourism area for Benneys from all over the globe?!”
Dernière édition par Querdal le dim. nov. 22, 2009 7:09 pm, édité 1 fois.
Il n'y a qu'un âne qui s'appelle Querdal.
Querdal
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Re: A.B. Day

Messagepar Querdal » dim. nov. 22, 2009 7:07 pm

J'ai proposé ce texte à mon prof d'anglais en tant qu'ébauche du travail qu'il nous demande pour la fin du semestre, mais il l'a refusé et m'a réorienté au niveau du sujet (oui on a lechoix du sujet, mais au final c'est quand même lui qui dit "Non, ça je m'en fous. Faites-moi plutôt un topo là-dessus."
Mais je l'aimais bien moi mon topo, donc j'ai décidé de le poster ici :)
Il n'y a qu'un âne qui s'appelle Querdal.
Eilraet
Chapelier de l'apocalypse
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Inscription : dim. mars 26, 2006 4:07 pm

Re: A.B. Day

Messagepar Eilraet » dim. nov. 22, 2009 7:10 pm

Je fais la grève de la lecture tant que tu sautes pas des lignes entre tes paragraphes, en tout cas pour ce soir (remarque je le lirais pas ce soir je suis censé être en train de pondre 5 pages de monographie >_<)

Edit : ok, moi et Lion on hallucine très très fort là, 10 secondes après que j'ai posté les sauts de lignes étaient là >_<
perl -E 'say s/(.*r).*\K/, \l$1.\n/r, ${["Take one down and pass it around. ", "Go to the store and buy some more. "]}[/N/], $::b{$_} // $a, "\n" for reverse sort { $a <=> $b } keys %{ { %::b = map { ($a, $b) = ($_, $a) } map { join "", "$_ bottle", "s" x !/^1$/, " of beer on the wall" } "No more", 1..99 } };'
Alecto
Freya la victorieuse
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Re: A.B. Day

Messagepar Alecto » dim. nov. 22, 2009 7:13 pm

"were god enough in English to clear the stage." ^^
Et alors, vous avez des nouvelles ? C'est pas banal comme histoire !
Querdal
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Re: A.B. Day

Messagepar Querdal » dim. nov. 22, 2009 9:58 pm

Arf to clear the stage, je savais pas comment dire ça, j'ai utilisé une métaphore vidéoludique :P Je sais pas si c'est passable en anglais courant.

En fait juste après avoir posté mon commentaire je me suis rendu compte que le premier post était super compact donc j'ai vite fait aéré... Espérant que personne n'aurait vu la page entre temps :P

Alan a poursuivi son voyage en France et au Royaume-Uni, il est resté vachement longtemps. Il a posté plein de photos de Benney sur Facebook depuis la Corrèze, maintenantn il est rentré en Australie. On papote des fois sur Facebook, mais je sais jamais si mes difficultés à le comprendre résultent de ses frivolités grammaticales ou de mon niveau trop faible.
Il n'y a qu'un âne qui s'appelle Querdal.

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