Monday, 5 April 2010

Why I am such a rubbish blogger at the moment

Many things. The last post that I wrote - and have not yet published - was about being attacked in the town centre last Friday, and I decided that it was too angry a post to actually publish. I am toning it down, but I want it out there so that other ex-pats are aware that the Belgian police are not necessarily on your side.

I'm in Sevenoaks at the moment and I don't use the computer as much here, mostly because there are Real People to talk to, dogs to walk, etc.

Things (in no particular order)

Easter - Easter at home is all about daffodils and roast dinners and going to church a lot. I don't attend church in Brussels: there's something about francophone Catholicism that I find hugely uninspiring. Probably the fact that people go in, listen and stare with glazed eyes for an hour, take Communion and then flee the scene. There is no participation, no sense of connection or enthusiasm and worst of all No Music, apart from the usual nasal chanter leading responses that no-one joins in.
On the other hand, I am loath to go to one of those suspiciously friendly ex-pat churches, where well-meaning but overbearing parishioners zoom in on unsuspecting newcomers like hawks and before you know it you are on the coffee rota and attending evening songs of praise and signed up to goodness knows what else.
I am just starting my third decade on the planet, I have grey hairs (only two) and lines on my forehead and am increasingly wondering what it will be like to die. If I am going to be religious, I need it to engage me on an intellectual level, because at the moment I'm afraid Dawkins and the like have a pretty strong rational argument.
In the church that my parents attend, there are intelligent, professional people, whom I admire, and who have very strong beliefs, and I want to know where it all comes from. What do they know that I don't?

Katyń: I rented the DVD and finally saw this film, monopolising my parents' television and lounge for a good couple of hours (by the time I'd got 36 minutes into the Andrzej Wajda interview at the end I think they had had more or less enough).
I'm not a film critic and I tend to get emotionally involved in films, rather than making a detached analysis. I do however watch films set during this period with a great deal of caution, knowing how easy it is to be carried along and to become incensed about an issue which is not my battle.
One thing I will say is that the English subtitles on my rented DVD were appalling. Obviously my Polish isn't good enough for me to be able to catch everything on a film soundtrack (nor for that matter are my French and Italian, sometimes, if the accent is difficult, the dialogue fast and the background music loud). So I wasn't checking the translation. In any case, there's a fair amount of Russian and German dialogue in the film. And I'm not a trained subtitler, although I'm aware that there are certain time and space restrictions.
But: every time I looked down, the quality of the English was poor. It had clearly never even been checked by a native speaker. Subtitles are a way for foreigners, in this case English speakers, to access a film and a story that they would never otherwise have heard. What a betrayal of Wajda and of his subject matter to use such bad quality subtitling! Why, for the umpteenth time, is no-one prepared to pay for decent Polish to English translation?!

The Other Dog is very old and grumpy now and almost completely blind. He was diagnosed with diabetes some time last year and in the time it took to get it under control he lost his sight. He also has liver failure and is still not putting on weight, for no apparent reason. My parents have had him insured from the outset, which is lucky because the tests and consultations and overnight stays at the specialist vet's have already run to thousands of pounds. He seems perfectly happy, although he walks into cupboards a lot and occasionally trips over bumps if we forget to say 'step!'. He still eats and enjoys going for short walks and snarls at us if we tread on his tail. His ears prick up when you call him and he trots along with his tail in the air like a flag. My theory is that if he's still bright enough to try and raid the kitchen bin then he's far from ready to go yet. But I'm sad for all the people who have to put down pets which are still relatively healthy because they simply can't afford the vet's bills.

Things: my parents' house is full of things. Things they have collected over more than thirty years of marriage, things their grown-up children have left behind, things they have inherited from elderly relatives who have moved on in any sense. Some of the things are interesting: the tub chair my paternal grandmother used to sit in to have her hair set, a mysterious pastel portrait known only as 'Mrs Harford', boxes and boxes of old slides and photos. But all the interesting things are smothered in piles of linen and papers and old clothes and crumbling plastic bags full of ancient children's toys.
When somebody visits, they have to rearrange the things to make room for the extra person.

When I stay here, I feel as though I am suffocating under the weight of all the old things.


student SGH said...

PL -> EN bad translations sooner or later have to crop up. Just downloaded Dom zły (don't tell anyone I'm a pirate) and noticed English subtitles are assembled into the picture. I have an inkling that I have to watch it armed with a pen and a few sheets of papers to take down all slip-ups of amateur translator.

I don't know if you'll find solace in it, but usually when I watch an English-lnaguage film with Polish subtitles EN -> PL translation is so mangled that dialogue don't even make sense. I prefer English subtitles, they're very helpful when actors speak fast or their accent is hard to grasp.

I you have any particular problems understanding something I have this film, just tell the moment (hh:mm:ss) and maybe I'll clear it up.

Anonymous said...

Decent PL-EN translators find Brussels more sexy than Krakow (where KATYN was made). That's the problem. :D

Korie said...

Oy, jeez, I hope you're okay. And no, police aren't always on the side of the attackee.

Laura said...

I recently watched a pirated copy of the first Millenium film and it had the worst subtitles ever. I just couldn't wait for it to come out in the UK.

Anon - surely nobody finds Brussels sexy?

pinolona said...

Korie, yes, I'm fine thanks, everything is ok. All over now.

Bartek, thanks! I understood everything - I got quite a lot of the Polish *feels proud* and the subtitles were comprehensible, it's just that the English was sort of cumbersome, awkward, generally not very English. Reading them sort of made you feel that you were missing out on the art of the film, if that makes sense.

Laura, what's the Millenium film?

Anon - not quite: Polish _interpreters_ find Brussels an attractive place to work, for fairly obvious reasons, but I know several who commute from Poland, so it doesn't necessarily mean leaving Kraków!
In any case, subtitling is a completely different skill and you don't have to be in Brussels or Kraków or anywhere in particular to do it, as long as you have a fast internet connection and - presumably - a very good DVD player. In any case, I know plenty of good translators in Kraków who have no intention of moving to Brussels (although whether they offer subtitling services is another matter).
I don't think that subtitling is necessarily done where the film was made: I would imagine these probably came from the company that released the English version of the DVD.

Michael Dembinski said...

Easter: Humans do have an inbuilt yearning for the Eternal. Package that need into a product, weave social control into it, work out how to monetise it - and bingo, you have Religion. My spiritual guidelines are thus: Shun any religion that professes to follow a the revealed truth. We should all Seek. Not follow, lazily. We should find, in the paths of our lives, commonality of spiritual awareness, and build on it. Shun any religion that demands money of you, however little. Money breeds hierarchy, hierarchy breeds dogma, which stifles seeking.

A worthwhile read: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman.

Jeannie said...

The authorities certainly thwarted your closure regarding the attack. These same authorities probably go to Church with glassy eyes due to having bankrupt moral backbones. They probably prefer a more secularized religion than anything meaningful so that they can resume their hateful lives.

Jesus said for us to love our enemies, that it's easy for us to love those who already love us. Say a prayer for those authorities. It will be difficult and revolting at first, but try and see if it lifts your spirits. It's easy to hate evil people. It's hard to say a heart-felt prayer for them, but try it.

I did this with someone. It took me three months before I could stomach the thought. Once I actually did, though, something worked.

Try it!

Laura said... or probably more helpfully,

It's the film of a gloomy Scandi crime novel. Ben enjoyed it so much that he was nearly persuaded to read the books!

adthelad said...

Don'tquite agree with Michael. What he seems to be saying is don't listen to your elders, who have organisd together to spread a message which most people are completely unaware of or out of tune with. I posted a link on Michał's site and think it might go some of the way in hinting at an answer to the faith question. Here it is
Also, the more one practices with truely good people the more one pics up the vibe, or the intrinsic nature of our conjoined humanity and spirituality.

The Sister said...

I agree with the suffocating feeling, I don't understand how Mum and Dad can live in so much mess! And having to move the rubbish between your room and mine depending upon who's home next.
I'm surprised at how well Brandy is coping with his blindness, Mum put Dad's sandwich on the table and turned around for two seconds to pick up Jeremy's and Brandy stole Dad's sandwich! For a blind dog he does surprisingly well! Except for the time I accidently walked him into a lamp post...

Anonymous said...

Hope you're okay, Felicity. Sounds like a scary thing - bastards.

In a previous life I had a diabetic dog, Rottweiler. It was very sad to see such a lively and happy guy slowly deteriorate. He went blind too and then organs started giving up and in the end we put him down. He lasted a good few years with the disease though. Cost us a bloody fortune (no insurance)!

Subtitles. Yeah. Mostly garbage.