Pooey McPoo August 25, 2006Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
But I want to be Pooey McPoo, although I might change my name by deed poll if I do wake up as him tomorrow, or any other day. Of course he is risible, even by Gogol’s standards. He’s a horrible pen-pusher – nice expression for this in Russian: канцелярская крыса, or office rat – taking pride in copying out official documents. No job could be worse. He’s a nobody. He only briefly finds fame and fortune and popularity when he orders himself a new coat. It gets nicked and he dies of a broken heart. Such is the fate of Pooey Mc Poo.
But I think his job sounds like the best job in the world. I’d adore to be a copy-clerk. I am livid every time I read about any idiot in Russian literature. They always have the best jobs. The actual Idiot, in Dosters’s Idiot, beboasts his good handwriting early in the novel, and almost gets a job on the back of it. Instead, he just bees mad, nicely, and sits around drinking tea and trying to save the world. When he’s not raving and getting into trouble between Petersburg and… is it Pavlovsk? Can’t remember… he’s off being nutty in Switzerland somewhere. I haven’t been to Switzerland for years, but I’d be more than willing to go mad for the sake of a trip there. (Although it would be boring to have to become a revolutionary. Is it, in fact, because Switzerland is so boring that folk feel they have to turn revolutionary the second they get a bit of choc inside them?)
For – surprise, surprise, this is about to get anti-translation – I just CAN’T do my job. I just can’t. I have been staring at the computer screen for the last fifty years and just CANNOT translate the pus I’m currently meant to be translating. I mean, I can, obviously, and am lying when I say I can’t, but give me a bit of licence as I despair at what I am doing to earn a laughable living. And I will do this, no doubt, as I’m much the most slavish person on the planet and just will get this done by the time I’m meant to. But how I hate it. Oi, you, translation! Rot in hell.
And it would be so lovely to write instead. I mean, translating is writing of a sort. But what could possibly shrivel your cock more than slavishly translating someone else’s (often, FANTASTICALLY uninteresting) words? I feel like some gangster’s lackey. Not brave enough to do any of the dirty work myself, but hanging around on his coat-tails to feel as if I’m vaguely in on the action. (Which is not to say, of course, remembering to be diplomatic, that SOME translators don’t do an awfully good deed. Making Russian literature, per esempio, available to the rest of the world is a fantastically important thing to have done. And, no doubt, the plundering of nations would have been a lot more difficult if translators hadn’t busily, lapdoggishly been bobbing about amongst the main players. I’ve never understood how Pizarro and the Incas did their early ‘negotiating’.)
Yes, it’s got to be writing (or a job on the till at Lidl. I’d quite like to do that swipey thing). But don’t you think for a moment I mean writing writing. Well, that would be nice too, of course, but I couldn’t write any work longer than a postcard. No, I mean real writing. Pooey McPoo writing. Do you think there’s still much call for copy-clerks in the 21st century? Do I need to get me to some obscure bit of some obscure country? If I learn an Indian language, perhaps I could, in a variation on the theme, become one of those folks, like in Salaam Bombay, who sit on street corners and write up letters for illiterate types (before then throwing them away when their backs are turned. I’ve always hated that man).
If anyone wants me to handwrite their blog for them, just give me a sign. Payment: full-board (cabbage soup) and lodgings (breezy mansard).