Saturday, 3 November 2007

Upski and over

You know that feeling when you walk out of the front door and realise you've forgotten something? Actually, scratch that, because then you can just let yourself back in (unless you forgot your keys). No, you know when it's not your front door, but the door's a deadlock and THEN as soon as it closes behind you, you realise you've helpfully left your, hmm, wallet upstairs, under a soggy towel on the bed?

All of which would be fine, were you not leaving for work in south west London and needing to get to an altogether different part of London with about -90p on your oyster card. I'll tell you what happens. You utter the words 'Oh shit', before going back and thumping on the door in the vague hope that the earlier sound of the door closing behind your boyfriend's housemate wasn't in fact him leaving at all, and instead was him popping out to bring in a stray cat or something. Hmmm.

Finding, indeed, that no one is home, an 'Oh Shit' call is made to the boyfriend at work who informs you that - joy of joys - there is a key! Hurrah! End of story? Not quite. The key is in the shed. In the back garden...and there is no side gate. It is at this point that I realised that after all those mornings berating the pesky, noisy, clonky-footed, smash bang wallop sounding builders next door, they may have a use after all. One of them was painting the door frame at the front of the neighbouring house. Round pokes my face.
"Ooh, hello! Excuse me! yeah, Hi. I need to get into the garden, can you get me over from this one?"
In return, I got a blank look. Ah. Foriegn.
Repeating "Garden?" and some pointing towards the house enabled me to discover he was in fact one of the millions of polish people currently employed for their sturdy work and cheap labour skills around the UK. Of course.
"Errr...Dunnoski" he said
(or something)
It was then I put into practice that age old tactic of speaking loudly and slowly, in English, to someone who clearly doesn't understand a word.
"Keeeeys....Neeeeeed tooooo geeetttttt innnnntoooooooo TTHHIIISSSS... THHIIISSSS garden" (More pointing)
"Ahh. Humm...paloshdkski moosheyeyiski" said he, and scuttled off into the house. Translating this as 'follow me', I went through the empty, unfurnished, paint littered house and was met by two more blokes, who also looked at me like I was mental.

Their confusion was evident, especially seeing as the dividing fence was not so much just a fence, but a rather tall fence with huge bushes and plantage on each side. Using sign language and err, more pointing...they positioned a step ladder up against the fence. Too far away.

"Geeeeet thhhheeeee laaddddderrrrrr" suggested I, in suitably loud tones.
"Ah yesh"...and a ladder was positioned up against the bush, which while the two builders held onto it, I scuttled up and hurled myself into the next door garden, or, more accurately, straight into a very thick, dense bush. Probably wrecking years of cultivation and leaving a rather fetching Jo-shaped hole through the middle of the foliage.
When I'd let myself in, got my wallet and returned to the front door to try leaving for work again, I once again poked my head around the door where Polish Painter was back to his job (see, hard working or what)

"Got it!" I said, waving my wallet around in the air "Wasn't robbing the house! Haha! Thanks!" and, seeing his rather blank expression, I left him to get on with it. I put his silence down to the fact that his brain was otherwise engaged; searching for the words 'Stupid Eeenglish'.


London-Lass said...

O yes. Me another Stoopid Eenglish too. Once ended up in conversation (a bit like your goodself) with a handyman who'd arrived to fix our loo door (and other sundries) in the office a while back. Should've just been a quick "Hi, how are you doing? "Not too bad thanks" exchange, but conversation turned out to be so immensely stilted and bulked out with such huge gaps of silence (in conjunction with odd and frightened expressions from handyman) that I just gave up halfway through. And went out for a calming sandwich.

Jessica said...

Yes the age old repeat what you just said very slowly leaving out words and attempting sign language to someone who doesn't speak English, but I must admit to never having done so in England!

Jo said...

londonlass - Euurrgh I detest awkward conversation at the best of times, but even more so with foriegn people who can't even manage the most basic of boring conversation.


Young Miss Williams said...


Why don't you just get a key cut Jo?

x mwah x

opit said...

I had the lovely experience of trying to get directions on a cellphone from a Filipino - while trying to navigate a road tractor with dual trailers covering 60 feet of deck - total vehicle length about 90 feet - say 27 meters or thereabouts. This is a city where I don't usually go much. Good fun?


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