Sunday, 3 July 2005

Those frogs at the BBC

The other day, a dear friend gave me the address of a blog written by a French woman, a freelance translator like me, who, like me, lives in the UK. I logged on to it and found it an interesting read. I then looked at some of the comments and, to my horror, noticed a name I never wanted to see or hear again in my entire life.

Back in the 80s, before computers and even electric typewriters, I worked at the BBC French Service for a few months as a part-time translator and reader of news bulletins. When that man and I worked together (we usually worked in pairs), he would take one look at my translation and instantly crumple the piece of paper up and chuck it in the bin. All the while, puffing on cigarette after cigarette and making me cough. He’d been there for years so was supposed to supervise me. There was nothing wrong with my translations, by the way; he was just an arrogant misogynist and a bully. What we call a goujat, in French.

But, then, the whole culture of the French Service encouraged that type of behaviour: the newsroom was a noisy, smoky, stuffy place, which tried very hard to be reminiscent of old-fashioned newspaper offices, except that it was peopled with bitter losers – French would-be journalists who couldn’t make it in France. Some of them had been there since the war. Most of the time, the ones who had talent left after a few months, after they had acquired enough experience, and ended up working for prestigious radio or TV stations. Some of the others, well, they’re still there and I’d rather not be reminded of them.

So, I’d like to slap XK for making my life a misery and for setting a bad example to others who might have behaved a little better without him. Or maybe not.


  1. I always enjoyed your slap posts, bela, and will miss them on the other board.

    I want to slap the other board for not being, at least to me, as friendly and easy going as it used to be. I miss the posters who have left, but fully understand their leaving. I hesitate to post because I wonder who I will offend with my post.

    It appears that some posters have set themselves up as board moderators and if you don't agree with everything someone posts, you open yourself to hostility.

    I am still drawn to the board for the topic and because I usually enjoy what people have to say. I just wish I enjoyed it like I used to.

    Have a great day! Oh, and I'll add a slap to the jerk you worked for years ago. :-)

  2. I agree with you. I didn't think anyone could object to Slap of the Week, since there were those big no-nos, but somehow the mere fact that it wasn't "positive" seemed to offend.

    I too have felt the shift. Perhaps it's just a phase.

    Thank you for your sympathy! :-)

  3. My SLAP goes to all those irresponsible pet owners who leave their cats outside during the 4th July weekend, to be terrorized (and often tortured) by fireworks. I cannot tell you how angry, hopeless and disgusted I feel about this. I am also angry at the county for allowing fireworks to be used by people who often end up hurting others and themselves. Surely fireworks should ONLY be allowed in a safe, public place, used by professionals, and NOT allowed in urban areas?

  4. I couldn't agree with you more, A. I've never understood how individuals could be allowed to use fireworks in the UK (it doesn't happen in France). We normally have fireworks here around the 5th November (to celebrate the Gunpowder Plot), but they start more or less at the beginning of October and go on, it always seems, until Christmas.

    Vets' surgeries are always full of people bringing pets that have been scared out of their wits by all that banging.

  5. Oops, dear J, sorry you ran into the erstwhile (and probably current) villain on that blog. Still, I hope the positives there outweigh the negatives. YOUR blog is zesty. No surprises there ;D.

  6. Bela, some inadvertent footwork on the keys caused s. to appear instead of my name! You've got to watch this keyboard---one false move and you've done something very fancy and unintended. Anyway, it was Laura/LaureAnne/Laureline who wrote the above.

  7. Oh, L, that blog is truly fascinating. She's so young and has done so much. I'm especially envious of her subtitling work. I've always wanted to do that. In another life maybe...

    Seeing that name from the past was a bit of a shock. It's funny because someone I met a couple of years ago worked in the Iranian department in the 90s and, when I told her I'd worked at Bush House too, the first thing she asked was whether I'd met XK. She'd found him unbearable - and she only knew him from the canteen! LOL!

    Thanks for your kind words. xxx


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