Have you been to Oban? Really worth visiting, especially if you like whisky. But even if you don't, it is really worth visiting. Years ago I dreamt of retiring to Oban. What a nice place to be!
As I was saying, I was in Oban on holiday. The car broke down on one of the roads in, or out, of the town. Rather deserted place. I looked under the bonnet. I don't know why. I can't tell one bit of the engine from another.
Now here's an idea! Why don't car manufacturers name all the pieces under the bonnet? It would make life easier.
"This is a RADIATOR. This is a SPARKLING PLUG. FAN BELT. WINDSCREEN WASHER BOTTLE" and so on.
Not that it would have helped me. I didn't know which one was not working and what to do to make it work again.
Moments later two cyclists passed by. A young man and a young woman. I stopped them and asked, "do you know where the nearest emergency garage is, and how to get help out here?"
Silly me. Expecting people in Scotland to speak English.
They replied in a not understandable language. What is the word for not understandable? Un-understandable?
Anyway, it sounded Spanish. Or possibly Portuguese. Or South American perhaps. Argentina, Brazil, Peru ... anywhere in the world really. Except English. It definitely did not sound English. It could have been Scandinavian ... Danish, Dutch, Swedish perhaps?
They did not understand my English and I did not understand their language.
I got an idea ... I had a dictionary in the car. Unfortunately, it was an English to Greek dictionary.
I looked up in English every word of "do you know where the nearest emergency garage is?" It took me over ten minutes whilst the two cyclists waited patiently.
I wrote the translation from English to Greek on a piece of paper. I hope the Greeks use the same order of words like we do in English. Here is what I wrote, "ξέρετε πού είναι το πλησιέστερο γκαράζ έκτακτης ανάγκης"
As I can't read or pronounce Greek, I showed them the paper. They shrugged their shoulders.
I searched in the car. I did not have a Greek to Spanish, Portuguese, Argentinian, Dutch or whatever, dictionary.
I pointed to the car engine and kept saying, "Kaput", which as I recall, means broken.
The man was confused. The woman pointed at some electrical leads that had come un-done. She put them back where they're supposed to be and the car started first time.
As a thank you, I gave her a bottle of whisky I'd just bought from Oban.
Why can't someone invent a device like they have on Star Trek where everyone speaks in English? Whether you're a Klingon, or an artichoke eating alien from the planet Vegan, wherever they go throughout the universe the Star Trek people always find someone speak in English.
I wonder whether their spaceship ever broke down in Oban!
I have now bought an electronic tablet. You type what you want to say in English and it translates it for you in any language. Here are some helpful phrases I used when on holiday abroad.
Do you sell underpants?
You look like a penguin.
These frogs have no legs.
Is garlic an aphrodisiac over here?
Can I take a photo of you? They'll never believe this back home!
One phone call and a solicitor.