Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Wednesday, 14 April 2010


In the same first language, conversation is like a tennis game: you bat the sentences back and forth, until one of you stops being able to reach the ball and then you start again.

In a second language, it`s not quite like that.

“We go to lunch,” my closest Japanese teacher friend said first thing this morning.
“Yes,” I agreed, even though it was 8.30am and we had another three hours to wait. And then I added “Hai,” just because I could. “When?” I asked him eventually. It seemed like a sensible question.
“In three hours.”
“Oh. Okay.”
“Teacher is Tiger Woods.”
I stared as politely as I could.
“Who is?”
“What teacher?”
“Lunch teacher.”
I smiled and nodded as hard as I could, and then said: “what lunch teacher?”
“The teacher we eat lunch with today.”
“I see.” Once that had been established, I had the next element to grapple with. “He`s Tiger Woods?”
“Yes. Japanese Tiger Woods.”
“He`s a famous golf player?”
“Eh? What`s famous?”
“Oh. No. No golf.”
“He doesn`t play golf?”
“Tiger Woods?”
“No, the teacher we`re having lunch with.”
“I don`t know. Maybe.”
There was another pause while we both tried to work out what was going on.
“But he`s Tiger Woods?”
“Yes. Lots of girlfriends. Very handsome.”
“Ohhh. Oh, I see.”
“I doubt it.”
“Be careful.”
“Oh.” I laughed, a little bit disappointed. I thought we might be having lunch with a famous golf player. “I`d rather poke my ear drums out with a rusty nail. ”
“Don`t worry.”
“Good.” There was a pause. “So we go to lunch?”
“In three hours?”
“No." He looked at me in confusion. "In two hours fifty minutes.”
“Oh." I looked at him in similar confusion. "Okay.”

And then we both sat down in silence, utterly exhausted.

When you`re communicating in a second language, it`s not like tennis at all. You whack the sentence as hard as you can, and then stand with your hands on your hips and watch it land in a tree or in a pile of sand somewhere in the distance. And then you wait forever while the other person goes and tries to find it again.

Perhaps, I decided as I started the two hour fifty minute wait, our conversation had more to do with golf than we initially thought.