'IKEA Penthouse'

13 August 2010
'IKEA Penthouse'
Nice. Day off.

My abstinence plan left me feeling pretty good this morning, which was just as well as I actually needed my brain this afternoon to work on show material.  In addition to the touch-type translator, there are five elements of the show which contain either written or spoken text.  In a weak moment we decided that it would be a good idea to translate all of these into each of the languages that our travelling circus will be visiting.  Some of these elements are pretty straightforward to translate, but some of them also require aesthetic choices to be made, so being the control freak that I am, I felt the need to oversee these myself.

Smasher and Dec came to my room (dubbed 'the IKEA penthouse') with their machines and we got stuck into a day of editing.  It's a dramatic yardstick of the continuous advance of technology that we can now do this kind of work on laptops in hotel rooms.  Even a couple of years ago you'd really have needed desktop machines and it's not that long since we'd have been hiring Flame suites in Soho to achieve what we got through today.

There are a total of eleven languages required for the tour, which is a tad mind-boggling.  The bulk of the written text we managed to have translated by our promoter contacts in each country, so much of the day's work was of the 'cut and paste' variety.  Some of it isn't quite so straightforward though, as some countries have more than one official language, opening up a potential minefield of political correctness.   For Zurich we've decided to go with German, as it's in a staunchly German area.  Brussels however is trickier as theoretically this is a 'neutral' city in a country with three official languages.  The 'questions' piece is easy enough, as we can put in some of each language, but god only knows what we're going to do about elements requiring subtitles.  To run Flemish, French and German subtitiles simultaneously smacks of trying way too hard (not to mention that there wouldn't be any room for pictures left on the screen) so we'll probably just go with English.  At least that way we'll insult everybody equally, which seems democratic if nothing else.
The afternoon wore on and we did pretty well but clearly there's a few days work here.  I started with the languages of which I have at least a remote grasp and that wasn't too difficult but when it came to Russian, Greek and Turkish I realised that the potential for disaster or hilarity was increasing steadily.  (Remind me to tell you some time about the night I nearly had U2 performing on the Grammys in front of the word 'arse' in Hebrew).  If I've made any mistakes, I hope at least that the native viewers will at least appreciate the gesture and give us a few points for effort.

By dusk we were all square-eyed with screen burn, so put out the word that the IKEA penthouse was opening its terrace.  A few of our touring party showed up and we opened a couple of bottles of fine French red.  It's a little cooler tonight, which is not unpleasant, but the air feels wet so we may be in for 'a bit of weather'.

Had dinner with Joe for the first time in ages.  We all get so focussed and wrapped up in our individual task-mountains that sometimes weeks seem to go by without social connection to half the people we spend every day with.  Concierge recommendations can really go either way but tonight we got a very good steer to a surprisingly good local place and had a good catch up.  He's fine.

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