|The real Elise, the real Suzanne and the real Jeni, c1988,|
conquistadoras of the dreaded Maths exam.
I didn't either. Get a date after memorising pi. Might be an interesting conversation starter but begins to feel a little repetitive, a tad tedious after a while.
So, when pi failed me as the language of love, what I did do, however, was head in the LOTE direction. That's Languages Other Than English. And that's what this, almost entirely fictional, poem centres on. Suzanne is not fictional. We studied together the night before our year 12 maths exam. I think it was the only time we ever studied for maths. And she doesn't even remember it, so it's obviously too distressing a memory for her contemplation.
Now, for those of you desiring enlightement, a little Babelfish helped me out with the following translations for your reading pleasure:
1. Je voudrais les Pommes frites – I would like fries. (And, much to my chagrin, I can buy them at the golden arches on the Champs Elysees.)
2. Der Tiergarten – This is the largest garden in the centre of Berlin and my account of it in the poem is true.
3. Ich bin ein Berliner – infamously spoken by JFK in June 1963 to his Berlin audience as a gesture of solidarity, ‘I am a Berliner’ can also be translated as ‘I am a jam doughnut'.
4. Ichi ni – one, two in Japanese.
5. Chopsticks - knifu forku in Japanese.
6. Exploradora – Dora the Explorer. What a cutie. Loving the fact it's also the Spanish word for explorer
7. corazon – heart. No Spanish song is complete, no tune lyrically satiated without this linguistic staple.
8. mochila – backpack en Español.
9. Pi – 22/7 or
This poem is dedicated to you (because you're about to read it), to Suzanne, to my friend Jen whose mathematical prowess was rather more eloquent, my Maths teacher Neil who organised the most ripper school ski trips, our inspirational, organza draped English teacher, Lorrane, and the following good folk of Facebook who showed off about how good they are at French: Sarah, George, Sylvia, Cate and Phil.
By the way, I'm still willing to memorise pi it to a million places if it guarantees a lay.
Was sitting with Suzanne,
the dawn of our exam,
with little of a plan,
except the plan to cram.
The apple pie now eaten,
eight pieces fully beaten,
with icrecream too, to sweeten,
the morning we were greetin’.
We sighed, exhausted, stuffed
and thought we’d done enough
to call the marker’s bluff,
avoid producing guff
and in delirium,
I thought back with a grin
to all I had packed in
to make the year a win.
Six subjects I had chosen.
My mum had stood quite frozen
and once done recomposing
had challenged my proposin’
that I would choose my strengths,
go to whatever lengths
to climb up in the ranks,
avoiding teachers’ spanks.
So languages it was,
a LOTE star, just because
if I e’er did leave Oz,
I’d order ‘vichyssoise’
in France and I would say,
‘Monsier, errr…Je voudrais
les Pomme frites,’ at Maccas, hey,
on the Champs Elysees.
In Deustchland, what a winner,
nude folk in Berlin’s inner,
der Tiergarten, me - grinner
shouting, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’
And Japanese, yippee!
I’d have an ‘ichi ni’
at dawn now caused a stir
Santorini Windmill © Rob Whitehead 2010
©Elise Batchelor August 2010