Roger Minus X=Humor?

September 20, 2019


During my youthful stint at Oxford, there was a fellow student whom I liked very much who was from Montreal. In those days, early in the prime ministry of the first Trudeau, it was still possible for an educated québequoise from the professional classes to be uncomfortable in English, and she was a self-conscious example of that. She said that, in Canada, she always refused to speak English to an English-speaking Canadian. (I gather that the atmosphere has changed in this regard in ensuing years.)

In my current situation of having close friends who don’t know me in English, I often think of her lament: “The problem is that I’m a very funny person, but only in French. People who know me only in English don’t know me.” I think I’m funny only in English, if then.

But this morning it occurred to me that there can be small compensations, when I was paying my therapeutic masseur and putting my shirt back on. He complimented me on how prim (slim) he thought I was looking. I replied, “Cada dia una mica menys de Roger.” And he laughed heartily. In English, it would never occur to me to say, “Every day a little less of Roger,” but the comparative restraint of reduced powers of expression does make me unintentionally funny sometimes.

Maybe that and my being of uncharacteristically few words in voluble Catalan company, letting others talk instead, give me unmerited popularity!


On the other hand, I hope the laughs at my Catalan are not of the same species as my own reaction to this e-mail that I got from my bank this morning:

Hello Roger,

As we come to speak, thank-you for yuor time and following subjects there are three items:

1st. We need please that you update your passport at our database, you can do this online or send me a nice copy. 

2nd. Tell me please the monthly amount of your income and I will check which fees can apply as best for you.

3rd. I attch information in case you would like a home insurance with us. You can contract this by phone. We will need the exactly door of your address.

I have calculated for 115 square meters 25.000 euros for the content.

Let me know please anything that we can do for you.


Montserrat [surname1  surname2]

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