Saturday, 22 September 2012

Spooky Stories for Switzerland

Walter Crane's 'Mr Fox'
          So, now I haven't got the Sterkarms to keep me occupied, what have I been doing?
          I should have tidied the house, but, of course, I haven't.
          I was at the CWIG conference on Sunday, and since then I've been doing admin. I also started my work as an RLF (Royal Literary Fund) Advisor, which so far has meant writing an email to the four new RLF Fellows that I have in my pastoral care, so to speak. The poor unfortunates. It was an email to wish them luck in the year ahead, but also passing on all the tips I picked up while doing the job. So it took a long time to write, and to sort out all the things I wanted to attach.
          And I've been revising the 'spooky' stories which I intend to tell to my cousin's classes in Switzerland, via webcam.
          Choosing the stories was fairly simple. I've decided on 'Mr. Fox' - usually a show-stopper - and 'The Haunted Room.'
          I've had to bear in mind that the children's first language is German - well, Platt-Deutsch, or Swiss German. So I've tried to keep the language quite simple without losing the story's power.
The famous rhyme gives me problems:

'Be Bold, Be Bold,,
 Yet not so Bold, 
Lest Thy Heart's Blood Should Run Cold.'
          It's a bit archaic - but will it work as well if modernised?
          'In case your heart's blood' sounds lame. But 'For fear your heart's blood' is still quite old-fashioned. I shall have to consult with my cousin, Alan Hess. He's the one who knows about teaching languages.
          The other story, 'The Haunted Room' I've given a modern setting, though it's an old story. The only problem with it is that I don't know if German children will understand a 'pub'. A pub in which you can 'put up' for the night, too.
          Besides revising the stories - which I've enjoyed - I've also been trying to learn to use my new web-cam, which isn't as straight forward as I thought it would be.
          The camera itself is fine, though I can see I'm going to have to go to some trouble to get the lighting right.
          The problem was the sound. Couldn't get it to record sound at all. There I was, mouthing 'Mr. Fox' like a goldfish that wants to make your flesh creep.
          I looked up 'help' - I searched on the internet and followed instructions. Still nothing but silent movies.
          While Davy watched the television beside me, I fiddled and fiddled with the webcam until I found yet another drop-down menu. The thing seems to have dozens of menus hidden in unexpected places - you can use some to put moustaches and silly hats on yourself, or make lighting flash behind you. Don't think I'll be using any of them.
          But I found this new menu, ticked an hitherto unsuspected box - and success! My bronchial, nasal, hoarse Black Country muttering could be heard.
          Davy read that over my shoulder, and said, "You don't sound at all like that, not at all, not at all." King o' De Nile. It's all right for him, with his purring Fife accent, which everybody loves. Nobody loves a Black Country accent, especially if it sounds like you need an inhaler.
          I suppose one advantage of telling stories to people who don't speak English very well, is that they won't understand, either, that 'as soon as an Englishman opens his mouth, another Englishman despises him,' as Shaw said.
          I spoke to a class of German children once, who were baffled that I hadn't met the Queen. They obviously thought that she dropped in on her subjects every few days.
           I don't know if the Swiss children think the same; but at least they'll learn that we don't all  talk like her.


Joan Lennon said...

But I LIKE your accent!

(I have often cursed my own since it so frequently elicits remarks like "What part of the States are you from?" - the Canadian part - and "Are you here on holiday?" - yes, since 1978 - grrrr ...)

Susan Price said...

Thank you, Joan - I like your accent too, but have to admit that, if I hadn't already known you were Canadian, I wouldn't have been able to tell! And because you're Canadian, you don't have the prejudices against the Brummie/Black Country accent that many British people have.
I like your answers to the FAQs!

madwippitt said...

I always find it fascinating listening to furrin folk speaking English: as well as the accent from their own language carried over, there is another imposed on top depending on who their English speaking model was eg English, American, Aussie ...

Anyway, we have the solution to all your problems!
Sound - subtitles.
Lighting - well obviously it has to be a torch held underneath yur chin, doesn't it?

Blott - maybe its time to going back to eating avocado.

Katherine Langrish said...

Yes, I have a French friend who is married to a British woman from Essex whom he met and began going out with when they were both 16. His English accent is vairee, vairrreee sexy, innit?