Keith the Bull Terrier from the Creature Comforts animated series. Picture courtesy of Aardman Animation Ltd.

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Cow: "Well, a country fair is a great social occasion where..."

"Can you replay that last bit, after 'social occasion' please?", I repeated searching for syntactical possibilities.

Cow: "...people can parade their cows, parade their..."

"People can parade their cows...", I informed my friend, not entirely sure if this was what the cow said.

"Is it an animation called Creature Comforts?" I enquired, prompted by the strong English, west-country accent I heard while my friend held her end of the phone to the TV speaker. I'd only been told that it was a British cartoon of sorts and by the documentary style answer I heard over the receiver, it had had to be Creature Comforts. As the thick jawy-chews of a Devon farmer grinded a list of fun and frolics to had at a country fair, it dawned on me as to why I was asked for help.

For those that don't... Nick Park's award-winning Creature Comforts is an animated series melding hand-modeled animals, anthropomorphised with unsuspecting, topical Q&A from various quirky sorts, dug up from the fertile grounds of Great Britain. This package of in-house jokes, regional-pokery and industrial-strength dialect laced with compounded-slang, is strictly a British affair and not for export. My friend and I had grossly underestimated the help I would need to provide in transcribing the series for latter translation and eventual airtime for the Iranian viewing-public. My casual arrangement of telephone-help would not be suffice, the 10-minutes of phone-to-speaker, phone-to-ear then hand-to-paper seemed nearly as labourious as probably was for Mr. Park to thumb the mouths at his avatar-zoo.

Stop, write, play, rewind, play and listen. Stop, play, rewind, play. I cursed LG for creating a video player without pause

Stop, write, play, rewind, play and listen. Stop, play, rewind, play. I cursed LG for creating a video player without pause and not to mention the irritating 2-second silence after hitting play. Stop, write, play, rewind, play and listen. "Daveed, what are they saying?", interrupted my cousin, speaking over the Scouse mouse. Stop, play, rewind, play. "How much are they paying you for this?", my cousin asked, interrupting the Scouse mouse again. Having only one night to do the series, I'd made arrangements for the video cassette to be taxied to me at my uncle's in Tehran where my long overdue visit was to be rudely shoved to the side. Upon arrival of the cassette, I was surprised to find that my friend had even gone to the effort of sending a video player also – it all seemed rather convenient and might have been more so if we'd had a DVD with subtitles.

Seagull one: "Somebody is trying to send me signals..."
Seagull two: "Yes, yes..."
Seagull three: "We haven't heard it for a while"
Seagull one: "I like the sound"
Seagull two: "The one you were listening to... to the pigeon"
Seagull one: "No that's not..."

Three Geordie seagulls, all speaking over one another – I struggled to understand the words, let alone the topic. "This stuff barely makes sense in English and is partly where the humour derives from", I remarked to my friend, concerned about my accuracy. "Don't worry about it, most of it will be taken out and new scripts made", she laughed – "Bits where they mention girlfriends for example". The repeated casual blasphemy that padded exclamations, the references to alcohol and the mockery of the establishment were things I noted. On top of these necessary edits, the cultural references, slang and subtle word-play were also not going to survive. What is to remain? What is to replace this? And, why therefore, is a transcript needed at all? Good-old family entertainment back home is just not wholesome enough for this new audience.

Crow one: "Frank Spencer"
Crow two: [Frank Spencer impression attempt] "Benny I have a trouble, the cat's just done a whoopsy in my beret"
Crow three: "We can all do a Frank Spencer"
Crow one: "I can do a Victor Meldrew as well"
Crow three: "Go on then"
Crow one: "But I haven't done him for a while, [Victor Meldrew impression attempt] 'I don't believe it, what in the bloody hell do you think you're doing, for god's sake I don't bloody believe it'"
Crow two: "Well thats... Victor Meldrew, no"
Crow one: "Yes"
Crow two: "No"
Crow one: "Yes"
Crow two: [Victor Meldrew impression attempt] "I don't believe it" [laughter]

Both the translation and transcript earns one 500-tomans (around £0.30) for each minute of footage. My transcript alone was taking me, at best, 1-hour for 5-minutes of footage mostly due to the speech overlap, heavy dialogue and those bloody Geordie female muscle characters. I was offered 100-minutes of transcription per week meaning 20-hours of work for what should turn out as 50,000-toman (around £30.00) assuming I translated it also. I was doing this as a favour to a friend – thanks, but no thanks, my career in transcription is officially over.

Bull Terrier one: "And what do you mean by that kind sir?"
Bull Terrier two: "What do you mean substance, substance, what is a substance?"
Bull Terrier one: "Subsidence"
Bull Terrier two: "Subsidence"
Bull Terrier one: "Subsidence" [emphasis on change of pronunciation]
Bull Terrier two: "You lean"
Bull Terrier one: "Yeah, I'm lean, I got a leaning problem, yeah"
Bull Terrier two: "No, no he mean, we mean"



The set up for the England vs Trinidad Tobago game.

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"What does ''ave it' mean?", asked my neighbour who had suspiciously timed his visit to drop off a phone bill during the England vs Trinidad and Tobago game. No doubt he was fascinated to witness how the English support their team as both myself and the remaining English engineer knocked-off early to gear-up for the second game of the opening round. Following my explanation I felt it best to tone down the colourful language exiting my mouth as frustration befell us during the usual nail-biting England game. But, however, my fellow English representative only seem to go the other way, leaping up from the chair as many attempts failed to see the back of the net - "Err, 'twat' means... err, Crouch you lanky sod, what are you playing at?!" I partly explained as the neighbour chose to listen to us over the Iranian commentator.

Iran's qualification for this event has given me the opportunity to curse two teams legitimately, yet on this occasion, from the chair of the lesser experienced nation. Although there are no supermarkets forecasting beer-profits per leg and a considerably fewer flags attached to cars, the excitement is present here nevertheless. Before the first Iran game I sat in a pizza takeaway, impatiently waiting while the staff glared at the TV, waiting for the ten-minutes of adverts to end before the game while failing to attend to my order. As I waited, the streets emptied, as did the sport's complex I work at, houses played host to gathering families and friends and, where possible, TVs were brought to offices, shops and restaurants.

Sitting side-by-side, slouched in single armchairs the junior ranking engineer and I swigged – topless in probably 38-degrees heat – on some 0.0% lemon-flavoured while picking out watermelon pips. Most nights since the beginning of the tournament have been not too dissimilar, give or take a water-melon and the recently installed AC-system. The usual nightly entertainment of the music-player has dropped in favour of channel three, bad language and speculation. Yet sadly the Iran games have fallen during work-hours, but however, creative excuses have not been needed, the place has been vacant of customers and thus more 0.0% have been filling the mouth between bad bilingual language.

I would like to believe this rumour though, that this is something we own, something we can enjoy and that it would be our Iran as we want it to be seen

Rumours have been circulating purporting that Iran were instructed to throw the Mexico game, apparently a mass street-celebration would be too problematic. Although this makes me feel more comfortable about the contrasting poor second-half performance – literally giving the ball away at times – I think this indicate more a bitter lack of appreciation for Iran's limited international experience. Yet, from what I've heard of the much repeated '98 win against America, I can see why such successes might prove problematic, providing a rare moment for public celebration in a country saturated with ceremonies achieving the opposite. I would like to believe this rumour though, that this is something we own, something we can enjoy and that it would be our Iran as we want it to be seen. An unorganised critical-mass, screaming with a joy that cannot be marred by sectarian-sway and yet more interestingly, an outnumbering presence that is not so willing to have the moment stolen.

It was the Portuguese that stole the moment – most certainly – during the second game for Iran. Another surprising first-half performance by an aggressive Iran put us once again at a draw by half-time. Like England before them they seemed unable to realise a goal from the many attempts, yet it was slip-ups that let us down again during the second-half. To lose this game was to mean not going any further in tournament, Portugal denied us more than they may realise and although England shall continue to the next round, keeping supermarkets dizzy from higher percentages – I'll still be left sober with the thought of what possibly could have been.



My father and the steel worker relaxing in the orchid to a hubble-bubble pipe.

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We've inhaled resin fumes, fiberglass debris, varying forms of dust and erected two watersides in the process. We've lifted, connected and fastened. We've mimed, mispronounced and waved hands around simulating tools, scaffolding and even people. The English engineers – currently occupying my flat-come-hotel and entirety of each day during this construction period – were impressed with the staff provided, a mix of mostly Afghani labourers. Their enthusiasm and energy seemed to counterbalance their skill and commonsense. The three so called, 'Oompa Loompas', (referring to their size and odd looks more than a being a racist sleight), seemed to let the side down by feeling the need to work in close proximity – one doing and two watching. Yet, 'Oompa Loompas' are surely far more efficient, I might suggest that they resemble characters in a historical war strategy game, standing static until selected and instructed, "Baleh", they would reply as I ask them to cut some scaffolding or move boards from here to there.

One evening during the English occupation we escaped for a barbecue at the family orchid, where we sat around the hubble-bubble pipe and blending the conversation between work and play. After arriving I lay motionless, feeling less than 100%, with my body aching from the ten-days of mothering. Having tucked my hands in my sleeves and trousers into my socks to protect from mosquitos, I waited impatiently for the event to end, wishing simply to get back and get to bed. To help pass the time I propped my head up on an uncomfortably high log, angled to fit my cranium and aimed so my eyes can witness the path of the moon as it passed the spider's web neighboring the lamp above. As I looked on at the battered web collecting a feast, my uncle fanned the coals for the kebabs that I was sadly unable to stomach.

Music, I noted, had been our catalyst, had invited some privacy and kept us from feeling too distant

The junior ranking engineer – without mention – passed me the right ear piece of his portable music-player. We shared 'Hotel California' mixed with the blend of work and play entering the other ear. Although this is one of the more frequently played western tunes in Iran, I appreciated the timely symbolism (with my flat-cum-hotel) and certainly the kind gesture. Music, I noted, had been our catalyst, had invited some privacy and kept us from feeling too distant.

"Stanford Road?" I inquired, "Yes, I lived round the Seven Dials area...", replied the junior ranking guest. These words arrived like a spoon of medicine, the perfect fix to ease the pain from an nondescript illness that befell me that day. We continued to reel out lists of locations, starting with regions, then roads and eventually pubs. I could taste the Sunday roast as I finally remembered the name the local that also coincidentally was his at one point too. The finer the detail the more I escaped as we shared stories from our former residence. "In between the launderette and gallery, past the Curry Inn, keep going to the crossroads then opposite the church", I informed him, overjoyed that this meant something, even if he was the only one in the country.



The lower ranking engineer listens to his iPod while fixing tubes together.

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"Take some more film", my father instructed me, "Did you get a picture of this?", he irritatingly repeated, "Make sure I'm in the photo" he went on, making certain that his presence would be known just in case anyone was to doubt his involvement with the construction of two water-slides at the sports complex I work just outside of Tehran. The recent invasion and subsequent occupation by two English engineers constructing these new features has been bringing many similarly odd requests ever since my father collaborated and offered my residence and near 24-hour attention.

These recent days have been spent erroneously translating instructions for the Afghani-hands, "Tighten the bolt", the engineers request, "Close the bolt", I instruct. As time passes, both parties have been learning the common instructions and found some combined understanding, allowing me to resume my usual nondescript activity around the complex. The Afghani-minds are often curious to the English-minds, asking many questions between the, "Tell them to lift" - "lift it up for the love of god!". "How much do they get paid?", ask the Afghani-mouths, yet I avoided informing them that my mind has worked out that at least 100-Afghani-hands are equal to that of each English-hand.

The project-creep has lead me to new territory or maybe a combined new definition, my role might better be described as 'mother'

My role as chef, maid, cleaner, travel guide and translator have been expanding during this occupation. The project-creep has lead me to new territory or maybe a combined new definition, my role might better be described as 'mother' to these guests my father had forced on me. This became clear to me while I was attending to the daily washing up with one eye on the simmering, yet less than balanced evening meal requested and the other on the washing-machine bouncing to the 40-degree darks. "Do you have a coat hanger?", asked the lower ranking guest, holding olive-oil in one hand and tissue in the other. Our base was in need of repair, with a creaky door and a blocked toilet. Like the non-existent AC system, window mesh and broken plug sockets, these things had evaded me – that I might need or even fix these feature had not occurred to me. I unwired a coat hanger and realised that my fussing was only towards transient matters, and it was then that I considered whether my efforts fulfilled that of a traditional and cliched role of a mother. Swinging the door back and forth with a smile I was informed that harmony was restored. I'd never noticed the creaky door before, probably in the same way that they seemed to not notice the seasoning with my meals.

Nightly entertainment still centres around the music player on my laptop, "Do you want to play guess that tune?", I was asked, yet my repeated success was inevitable considering the playlists are mine and I've only imported a hand full of tracks in last eight months. "I can't believe you have no Dire Straits", one of them discovers, "Yes, and no Carpenters", adds the other. Aside from these slip-ups on my part I was disturbed to find how well I catered with the other 2000-plus tracks.

On one occasion the lower ranking guest was in need of nursing after getting what the senior ranking guest called, "Tehran Tummy", following a dodgy take away the night before. These two nations were showing signs of rejection with a shit-awful mess as evidence. With this, my parental responsibilities continue to hang over me, from the 15-minutes preparation time before the guests wake and the hour or so remaining after I put them to bed. I remember the days of 8-hours sleep, the days when I wasn't searching for indications of discomfort, when plans involved less opinions and when I didn't consider I had maternal instincts.