surinenglish

Forward is forearmed

A man walking backwards bumped into me yesterday. I don't know why he was walking backwards - he wasn't taking a photo or looking at a pretty girl (if that's still allowed) or anything - but it's certainly what he was doing and at some considerable speed, let me tell you. He didn't say sorry or offer any kind of recognition, though; in fact, he looked at me slightly askance as if maybe I ought to apologise for my outrageously forward-facing walking style.

This was a somewhat extreme example of what Spanish people say is 'El mundo al revés' (The world is the wrong way round/in reverse). The expression is usually employed when events seem to happen in exactly the opposite way to how they should, eg. England getting to the World Cup semi final and Spain whimpering out of the competition early doors.

Only a few hours after my encounter with Johnny Backward Walker, I was in the pub (well before opening time) practising a bit of music with our neighbour and professional flamenco guitarist, Juan. A salesman came in - I'd forgotten to put the shutter down - and, without missing a beat, launched into his well-rehearsed patter.

Now, I always try to give salesmen the time of day, for theirs is a difficult job and the least we can do is be polite, even if we don't want their wares. On this occasion, though, I felt compelled to interrupt the poor chap mid flow.

"Sorry, it's just that we're rehearsing and..."

"Don't worry. Now, if we look at this more expensive option you can see..."

He was unstoppable by this point though I wasn't listening any more - I just let him run out of steam and depart whence he came.

It was the "don't worry" bit of the interaction that was completely baffling. This was a perfect example of 'el mundo al revés' : "Don't worry" was quite clearly my line but he simply took it and made it his own. The conversation should really have gone something like this:

"Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you were open. I can see you're rehearsing, I'll come back later."

"Don't worry, Juan's playing is making me feel really small and inadequate anyway - let's have a quick butchers at your catalogue, then. Juan! Put the kettle on, mate."

These examples got me thinking about the many and varied ways people act in a manner that's diametrically opposed to the natural order of things. Unfortunately, there's no room for a list here, but it's a fun game to play at home.

Week Next You See.