I love it when someone makes an even bigger cock up with Spanish than I ever did, even if it goes back a few years. And yes, my friends, there are worse things to say than ‘Quiero burro con mi pan’ (‘I want a donkey with my bread’ – Why can’t the Spanish say butter, or buerre like the French? Why does it have to be mantequilla to confuse the living daylights out of everyone?) Then of course, there was the infamous case of the ‘cojones rojos.’ (‘Red testicles.’ – I actually wanted red cushions, but they confused me by changing just one letter. After the stallholder stopped laughing, he graciously informed me that cushions was ‘cojines’ in Spanish.) But enough of my troubles. Today, loyal readers, I bring you a linguistic cock up of truly gigantic proportions.
Picture the scene – it’s 1999, and a young blonde Yorkshire lass has just moved into Algorfa. She’s not the only gay in the village – having a husband and three children in tow – but she is the only English madre in the village, and she is touchingly determined to learn to speak Spanish as soon as possible. She puts Post It notes everywhere, and works out her shopping list before heading to Antonio’s carniceria, so that she’s word perfect when she steps through the door.
Back then, there weren’t many local restaurants to choose from, unless you headed for the bright lights of Quesada, so every Friday, she would sashay into the carniceria and ask for ‘Dos pollas grandes, por favor.’ Antonio was a bit bemused at first, and not just because he didn’t often get asked for whole chickens – usually the madres of Algorfa bought everything except the cluck – neck, feet, innards, carcase, chopped up bits for paella or cocido – but they didn’t get it in one piece. Still, being the obliging kind of guy he was, he served her with a big smile, and two even bigger chickens every Friday.
After a few weeks, our naturaly gregarious Yorkshire lass had made quite a few friends, and one of them offered to accompany her on the regular Friday trip to the carniceria. And collapsed as she uttered those immortal words, ‘Dos pollas grandes, por favor.’ Those of a sensitive disposition may wish to avert their eyes now, because what our heroine had been asking for – and was very fortunate not to get, or unfortunate, depending on your point of view – was two large male appendages. And we’re not talking arms and legs here, boys and girls.
Once again, there was proof of the veracity of that old adage, ‘What a difference a letter makes.’ Because, as all good students of Spanish know, and our heroine found out the hard way – pun very much intended – ‘chicken’ in Spanish is ‘pollo.’ And I can’t help feeling a little smug, because asking for two – well, you know – is a much bigger cock up – or even two – than asking for red testicles, don’t you think? So, who is our unfortunate heroine? My lips are sealed, because I promised my friend Samantha Biddles her secret would be safe with me.