Eurodan in English

January 28, 2004

I know that they're just a "manufactured" band, put together by a bunch of record executives to a particular format.

I also know that the members have probably been hand-picked to all add a certain something - there's the wide-boy-ish one, the boy-next-door one, etc etc.

I'm also aware that their songs have a certain Mills & Boon formula, designed to press pre-set emotional buttons, all carefully mixed with all the unpredictability of an airline salad. (The heart-felt plea for affection, climaxing with a yearning descant by the one who does the high notes towards the end).

But I have to admit to a sneaking regard for the UK pop group Blue, and in particular it's the one who sings all those high notes who sells it, as far as I'm concerned. On their latest track (not that I'm an expert or anything) he sings with Stevie Wonder, and while Mr Wonder is in a class of his own, our boy from Blue is none too shabby either, showing that he actually has - get this - real singing talent in spades.

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Right. Just wanted to get that off my chest.

Posted by Eurodan at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

The invitation to my "test de passage" has arrived. On Tuesday March 16 I'll sit the short interpreting test which will determine whether I gain the status of an accredited freelance interpreter for the European Commission.

It's the test which rounds off the 100 days' work of the "insertion" programme which I'm currently following, and it's also one I'd very, very much like to pass.

So far, at about two-thirds of the way through the programme, I can safely say that I've never been so excited about a job. Sure, at times it's uniquely terrifying and when you make a bad mistake you can feel pretty rotten, but the rewarding feeling you get when it goes well is fantastic, and it's completely fascinating.

Anyway, I promise not to obsess about March 16 - honest!

Posted by Eurodan at 9:33 PM | Comments (2)

It had been a long, stressful day at work. The meeting had been quite demanding, and something had been wrong with the heating in the booth, and despite the technicians coming to visit it was still stiflingly hot.

All in all, I was relieved to be walking home through the dark evening, and looking forward to taking the Metro to the Zuidstation to meet Richard and Leigh, my visitors for the weekend.

And then, I noticed a rather strange, multicoloured jagged "W" in my field of vision. Looking like a primitive computer graphic, or one of those burned-in images you get when you've looked at something bright for too long, it was slowly growing, turning into a horseshoe, and within five minutes a circle, right in the centre of my field of vision.

By this time I was seriously alarmed, and was quickening my pace so that I could be at home before my retinas detached completely. But luckily, by the time I got home the light show in my eyes was already starting to drift off to the right, first into my peripheral vision and then seemingly off into space.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it seems I've just suffered an ophthalmic migraine. Caused by a spasm in the optic nerve, they can be completely painless (as mine was), and don't require treatment, often never recurring. Thank heavens for that!

Posted by Eurodan at 11:59 AM | Comments (3)

January 17, 2004

It doesn't seem possible, but Eurosong season is once again upon us. This weekend sees the start of the (Flemish) Belgian pre-selections, culminating in a national final in February. The same is true of our northern neighbours, the Dutch, who are also gearing up for a series of heats followed by a stadium-sized final later on in the winter. And then of course there's Sweden's annual Melodifestivalen to look forward to, which will, no doubt, be watched by around half the country's television audience as usual.

One of the great things about working with languages for a living is that I can watch these programmes and have a nice, warm feeling that I'm actually fulfilling my duty to improve my passive language skills. Which is, of course, the main reason for doing so, you understand...

Posted by Eurodan at 12:27 PM | Comments (3)

January 10, 2004

You can take trains a very long way on the mainland of Europe, you know... and that's just what I did on Monday, in an 18-hour marathon taking me from Brussels to Cologne, then onto Berlin, then Angermünde, Szczecin and finally Gdynia. My passport was checked (and stamped) only once, by the way, at the German/Polish border.

I've always loved long train journeys, which is just as well really. The sense of freedom is unparalleled, as well a sort of protected contact with the environment. You're not quite so much in a bubble as when you travel by car, as there are people around you getting on and off who are generally more connected to the landscape that's being travelled through than you are.

It's also fabulously non-committal as well, somehow. You're in the country, passing through it at ground-level, but you're not *really* there until you step off the train at the station and really start to interact with the place. And that's so much more work, isn't it? Sometimes it's nice to sit back in your seat and let the country just come to you...

And as for Poland, well what a country! Even for an enthusiastic Eurotraveller like myself, arriving at Szczecin station after dark in January was a bit of a challenge, but then not really all that different than arriving in somewhere like Bradford. But then, once the following day dawned I was dazzled, not just by the snow lying on the ground, but by the natural beauty of the Baltic coast, and the architectural beauty of places like Gdansk's Ulica Długa.

Poland is really a very good example of the dilemmas faced Europe right now. How do you turn a poor country into a wealthy one? Do you allow McDonalds to renovate the railway station, accepting their condition that they can be the only restaurant on the station? How do you protect institutions like the excellent 'milk bars' set up under communist times, and serving hot, tasty nutritious food at a fraction of the price of McDonalds and their ilk? How can you ensure that EU structural funds are spent wisely? How do you convince the young and talented to stay, when all you can offer them are rather nebulous optimistic visions?

Anyway, I had a great time, and my hosts were just lovely.

Posted by Eurodan at 3:43 PM | Comments (1)

January 9, 2004

Hello there! Happy New Year. I'm sorry for the break in transmission... I've just come back from a marathon train journey to Poland and back, to visit my friend Michał.

More to follow very soon...

Posted by Eurodan at 6:35 PM | Comments (0)

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