I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon, about two hours after I flew home to my quiet, slightly empty flat, bleary-eyed and with my head still buzzing from the sound of Dutch voices.
It was strange getting into a taxi and speaking to a man from Manchester.
I know I was only speaking English at the festival (well, except for last night, when I read out Saturday’s column in the Book N’ Bar and stuttered my way through the ‘bad Dutch’ translation part), but it felt like a different kind of English somehow; English spoken to not-native-English speakers, if that makes any sense. Does it? I don’t know. My head is still a bit of a mess.
It’s odd. I need to write an ‘epilogue’ for the Chronicles project at some point, and I know I can take a bit longer on it that the other daily columns I’ve had to produce, but I feel like I should do it right now. This is probably because for the last three days, the way we’ve been working is to write frantically in the afternoons – usually during the first spell of ‘free time’ we’ve had, from about 2pm-ish – and then to meet back in the hotel lobby at 5 with the column saved on a memory stick, ready to upload on the website and hand over to the translator.
So, even though I’m back in Manchester now, part of me is thinking that I need to get this last thing finished by 5pm today and then somehow meet up with Helen, the Chronicles organiser, to hand it over.
It’s been such a good experience.
I have a newfound respect for translators. I know a lot more about how they work than I did six days ago. I know now that translation throws up all sorts of little problems and questions and that by the time a translator has been working on a novel for a few months – with it sitting in their head all day and night – it begins to feel just as much their work as the original author’s. At Crossing Border, I think the translators had the harder task. While we were expected to hand in our columns by 5pm each day (which left us the evenings free to wander round and drink and watch bands), the translators were holed up in their rooms working overnight, ready to hand in at 9am the following morning. So hats off to them.
It’s good to think that An and the others will finally be able to get some sleep now.
Right, it’s almost 5pm.
I feel compelled to stop writing and hand this in somewhere.
So I think I think my plan is to save it on a memory stick and walk down the stairs of my flat and go into the Lloyds pub across the road and just give it to a stranger at the bar.
[Note: In the end I gave the memory stick to an old man with a big ginger beard, reading a newspaper standing up. He just said, ‘Thanks very much,’ and put it in the pocket of his tweed blazer as if it was ‘the most natural thing in the world’.]