The Viney Agency


Charlie CrokerSeveral years ago, someone told Charlie Croker about a Japanese car hire leaflet that read ‘When passenger of foot heave in sight, tootle the horn. Trumpet him melodiously at first, but if he still obstacles your passage then tootle him with vigor.’ A short while later Croker found himself on a ferry to the Spanish island of La Gomera, reading the instruction ‘Keep this ticket up the end of your trip’ and found himself thinking ‘there might be a book in this …’

Croker’s great love is for the telling detail – be it a mistake on a French menu (‘apple grumble’), or a statistic about his beloved Britain, such as the fact that over 2000 of its listed buildings are red telephone boxes.

His third magnificent compendium of international howlers, Utterly Lost in Translation was published by John Blake in June, 2015.

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The search for the globe's funniest language howler continues apace. As with his two previous volumes, Charlie Croker has trawled hotel foyers in Kazakhstan, South Korean supermarkets and Argentinian airports, plucking from the mistranslation tree only the very choicest of fruits for your delectation. There is the French hotel advising that 'pets are not allowed in the breakfast'. The bar in Rome requesting that you 'use the arse-tray for your fags'. And the bookshop in China boasting a section titled 'sports and hobbits'. Who can tell what the Japanese camera manufacturer had in mind when they included 'beware the weatherly swell' in their instructions? Who would brave the Barcelona hotel where the pillows have 'firmness to take care of your cervicals'? Who could resist the Austrian restaurant offering 'Saddle of Rabbit in a vortex sheet'? This delightful book is an affectionate trawl through the gems that arise when people all round the world graciously indulge English speakers' shunning of any language but their own. In fact, some of the gems are home-grown: a Hertfordshire restaurant warns that 'any person consumed in the restaurant without paying will be prospected'.

So eat some 'chicken soap' in Bulgaria, drink 'Jack Denials' in Italy, stay at the Budapest hotel offering 'non-sliding mates for the bathtubes' - and find yourself Utterly Lost in Translation.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Utterly Lost in Translation: Even More Misadventures in English Abroad, John Blake, 2015; Terms of Employment, History Press, 2010; 8 out of 10 Brits: Intriguing and Useless Statistics About the World’s 79th Largest Nation, Random House, 2009; Still Lost in Translation: More Misadventures in English Abroad, Random House, 2007; Lost in Translation: Misadventures in English Abroad, Michael O’Mara, 2006; A Game of Three Halves; Boxtree, 2002; Great Goal, Gorgeous Legs, Boxtree, 2002.