Wordpretzels, this is a tale of how easy it is to assume that everybody knows what you’re talking about and the nature of global humour.
It happened on our holiday in Portugal with Lady Barton St Mary’s extended family, including all three of her brothers, heirs to the Marquess of Prestberries, their spouses and children.
DaveJohnDaveJohnDave, Lady Barton St Mary’s youngest brother, married a beautiful French lady called Mathilde, who is an intelligent, independent woman. Being French with Moroccan ancestry, she is very direct, passionate and demonstrative.
So, picture the scene one evening in the kitchen of the Portuguese house that we’d rented for the week. Mathilde, the mother of 9 month old twins, appears in the doorway, ready for bed. Running her hand through her dark black hair, she sighed.
“There are lots of moths tonight, don’t you think?” she asked me.
Of course, because of her wonderful French accent, moths sounded like ‘merths’.
“What is so funny?” she asked.
“Merths,” I explained, “ like The Pink Panther. It eez a merth,” I continued.
She stared at me, straight faced.
“You know,” I continued, “ like in The Pink Panther. A merth.”
I considered the situation for a moment.
“Erm.. well, what about the scene in the film where Clouseau is holding an explosive and calls it a bermb…”
“What?” she exclaimed, brown eyes widening.
“A bermb… a bermb…,” I repeated.
Her eyes stopped widening and rapidly narrowed.
“We don’t have this in France,” she explained.
I quickly realised that jokes making fun of the French accent probably wouldn’t translate well in a French version of The Pink Panther. In fact, it may appear slightly rude.
“Oh. So you don’t have this in French versions of The Pink Panther?” was the only stupid question I could think of asking.
Mathilde shook her head.
I wondered where to go next.
Mathilde put a glass in my hand and filled it with red wine.
“This is good,” she explained, “old country,” she said, pointing to the French label.
We both took a sip and stood looking at each other in silence for a moment.
“Pink Panther films are funny,” she said, touching my wine glass with hers, “Salute. Now shutzer ferkup…”