The Language Barrier: Cinema

“I like English people. I really do. I like talking about the weather. And getting pissed off at how small tapas is. And talking about poo without it being weird.”


My Spanish is improving. It now takes a whole minute before a colleague reverts to talking to me in English. This is no thanks, however, to me committing the number one year-abroad sin. Being friends with English people.

I know it’s bad. It riddles me with the sort of guilt you get after eating a Donner Kebab. And I shouldn’t do it. But I like English people. I really do. I like talking about the weather. And getting pissed off at how small tapas is. And talking about poo without it being weird.

So the other night me and one of my English friends, Emily, decided to meet up with another one of my English friends, Hetty, to go and see a film.

"I like English people"

“I like English people”

Being someone who finds it hard to concentrate on anything for longer than about 17 seconds, 132 minutes of ‘El Mayordomo’ was a dauntingly incomprehensible prospect. Not least because I watched the trailer on YouTube and after 38 seconds got distracted by a video entitled “Goodbye Cesc, Goodbye Capitán” that had kindly been “Recommended For Me”.

The film was going to start at 8 so we would meet Hetty there at 7:50. Just to be safe. During the ‘5 minute walk’ Emily and I made an educated guess (because we had both forgotten our watches and phones, all four of them) that we were massively early and had time to pre-buy some pic ‘n’ mix.

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Very cultural

We soon made it to the cinema, and although the walk was around 20 minutes longer than expected, we were almost definitely early. About to enter the cinema, I saw something that I had to share with Emily.

“Ok, don’t be obvious but have a look who’s behind you?”

“Why, who is it?”

“Just look”

“No, tell me”

“Ok. It´s Al from Toy Story”

“Who’s Al?”

“You know the guy who owns the toy shop and dresses up like a chicken and steals Woody”

(Does a slow, 360° turn) “Oh my word. It’s Al!”

Who knew Al lived in Spain?

Who knew Al lived in Spain?

Ambling into the cinema on the back of this remarkable celebrity spot, I casually glanced at the clock. Huh? That can’t be right. Although I haven’t checked the time in over an hour I’m pretty sure it definitely is not 8:20. It must be broken.

One ticket to “El Mayodormo” please, I asked as Hetty joined us in the queue. The woman responded into her tiny microphone. I didn’t understand. She repeated herself. I still didn’t understand.

She began to serve the next customer. I understood. Tickets for the 8 o’clock showing of “El Mayodormo” were sold out. This is because it was indeed 8:20.

El Mayordomo

El Mayordomo

I turned around and broke the news to the other two. Hetty’s face dropped. And this is why. Unlike us, Hetty had arrived on time. She had already bought her ticket. She even had time to pop to McDonalds’ and back.

And now she was going to have to go to the cinema, alone. And so, erratically gnawing on the last of our pic ‘n’ mix, we slowly waved Hetty off into the distance, riddled with the guilt of a thousand Donner Kebabs.

Make sure you check out Josh’s other columns in the ‘Columnists’ section at the top of the page.