All around my hat

All around my hat, I will wear the green willow
All around my hat for a twelve-month and a day
And if anyone should ask me the reason why I’m wearing it
It’s all for my true love, who’s far, far away.
— Steeleye Span


Picture, if you will, a momentarily undignified translator at 5.00 am in her echo-filled hallway doing a bit of an Irish jig around her packed red suitcase on wheels singing the words above at the top her voice. Yes, that was me. And why not? This bit of the song I have sung often enough over the years, over hills and dales, on green, green grass under willow trees (funnily enough) near lazy streams, and in the many kitchens I shared in life with my true love.  My true love did not like it, since it implied that she was not the one, but hey, it did not last long (the singing, I mean), and she was very forgiving, and so I persisted.

This was, however, almost the first time I actually had a hat on while singing this chorus.  It was my true love’s hat. And now it is mine. It accompanied me to the recent Aptrad translators´conference where it served quite well as a hat, and as a prop from which to draw a few Golden Notes in an experimental, improvised presentation format prepared with Chris Durban for the occasion.

Such things need perfecting, and, I daresay, I shall try this out in group discussion on some future “different day” with fellow translators in the Algarve (possibly, at the much talked-about and anticipated picnic). One thing of which we can be certain is that each time we pull something out of the hat, it will be different – and yet, strangely the same as it always has been; and by that I mean an adventure.

Note: the packaging of a famous brand of chocolate was appropriated for convenience.

Speaking of adventure, that is exactly what my two translator colleagues and friends set ourselves up for when we used the aid of that wonderful communication device known as the Facebook chat box to simultaneously reserve online our  train tickets and seats numbered 62, 64, and 66, first class on the Alfa Pendular 182, the so-called high-speed train in Portugal, Faro to Porto return. We were conference-bound, and high-speed conversation bounced back and forth for almost the entire duration until we reached our destination – or at least, a determined point in time on the continuum which each of us has marked as significant in our own way.

my hat
Photo by Fátima Noronha, fellow translator, and fellow traveller, who rescued my discarded and momentarily forgotten hat when I disembarked without it..

You see, even if we are merely in search of the perfect ice cream, my excellent friends Ana Silva Dias and Fátima Noronha are, as translators, always in pursuit of excellence, as I am.

Nine months ago, while eating ice cream together one Friday night in Faro, I took a photograph of our footwear under the table. Not so strangely, it features as the image of a short blog on, you guessed it, translation excellence, called Sometimes battered hampers: read it, and find your own examples in your own work. It is a good exercise in itself, to document such things once in a while – and better, if done more often.


So, thank you to my friends and colleagues, and not just these two, for having taught me so much. I pay attention to and appreciate each golden note you offer me as we weave our journeys in and out of each others’ lives.


As they say in these parts, bom trabalho!

©2018 Allison Wright

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