Don's Diary

August 6, 1999


Lunch with participants in the summer school to prepare for tomorrow's simulated conference. Estonians delighted that their countryman, Jaan Kirsipuu, is leading the Tour de France, but warn "wait until they get to the hills".


Chair the simulated conference on post-cold war "knowledge transfer". All goes well. Interpreters are excellent and I avoid upsetting delegates either by calling them all East Europeans or by patronising them with suggestions that this transfer might be merely one-way. Delegates enjoy an evening of "Yorkshire culture" - a screening of Brassed Off followed by a curry.


The school takes a day out to visit York, Castle Howard and Benningbrough Hall. Course director Brian Griffiths asks whether we have the human and technical resources to run such training on a permanent basis. Reassure him that we have, adding that "the vice-chancellor is supportive". Make mental note to check this with the vc.


Just as I am leaving work for dental check-up, a Slovenian interpreter asks me to explain lines from Friends: "Toe the line, thread the needle, think outside the box." Interpreter's reflex: suggest, with feigned conviction, that it could be corporate gobbledegook. Arrive at dentist's with thoughts finally freed from Eastern, oops, Central Europe to find waiting room full of Kosovar Albanians from local hostel. Keep mouth firmly shut. Estonian still leading the tour: are there no hills in the north of France?


Drive to Ilkley to open conference on "Televisual Construction of the 20th century", organised by colleague, Ulrike Meinhof. Sit among West and Central European intellectuals, sipping chilled white wine in the shade as the sun beats down on the incomparable vista of Wharfedale. Later, crash in front of TV, watch Friends and am jolted awake as Monica quotes those lines to Rachel.


Drive back from graduation

day. Bradford these days is

buzzing; the festival is in full swing, last week's Mela followed by street theatre, literary and punk fests, attracting top-flight Asian dub, Afrobeat and hardcore bands alongside the likes

of Alan Bennett and Brian Patten. The sun seems to bring out the true sounds, smells and vibrant colours of this diverse community.


Harrogate. Walk barefoot across the magnificent Stray. One week of the summer school to go and just two weeks, 29 or so meetings, to my vacation. The riders in the tour finally catch that elusive Estonian as they too head for the hills ... bonnes vacances. John Russell is senior lecturer in

Russian studies and head of modern languages at the University of

Bradford, which hosted a summer school in English enhancement for conference interpreters from Eastern and Central Europe.

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