Old folk at lunch

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A telegram

Mostly these memoirs concern what has happened in my life in the current year. I am getting old now, however, so the past occasionally comes back to me too. I have no idea what prompted it, but one rather fun memory that has just come back to me concerns a telegram. Who remembers telegrams? Only old-timers like me, I guess. They had their uses. Teasing telegrams on the occasion of a wedding were common. Reading the telegrams was a ritual at most wedding receptions in those far-off days.

I once sent a VERY romantic telegram to a wholly estimable lady in those long bygone days. And, as it was romantic, I sent it in the language of love -- Italian -- much to the puzzlement of the post-office worker who took it for transmission. I didn't look or sound at all like a "wog". I still remember the wording:

"Ogn anno divengono piu chiaro le fiamme inestinguabele di amore per te".

It's probably not very good Italian but anybody who can translate it might conclude that I have an otherwise unknown side to me. Only Italians say such things. If I were English, I would not be able to say it at all -- even in Italian.

The recipient was a student of French so she could work out what it meant. French and Italian are both modern versions of Latin, though Italian is closer to the original. Amusing that the usual paradigm word for the first conjugation in Latin is "amo" ("I love"): Amo, amas, amat, amamus amatis, amant. I am rather pleased that I still remember that conjugation. Can I ever forget it? Probably not. I learnt it over 50 years ago.

It's a few years now since I have heard from the lady concerned but I know where she is. She is a happily married lady these days.

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