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In response to the Daily Prompt: ‘Ha ha ha’ I have a piece of flash fiction. Flash fiction is a great way to record anecdote. I can’t remember where I first heard the key phrase of this text, but it was undoubtedly passed on to me via the oral tradition. As a writer I have merely framed it, giving it the pace and rhythm necessary where the performance element is missing.

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Babel fish

A lovely, old Chinese couple took over the fish & chip shop a couple of months ago. The first time I was in there the man was about to wrap up my chips when he stopped and looked at me keenly, like he was eyeing up an opponent he thought he could take.

Jabbing his index finger forward he said,  ‘you wan’ sore finger?!’

‘Excuse me?’

He repeated the motion – ‘you wan’ sore finger?!’

Perplexed and slightly perturbed I replied,  ‘er, no.’

He continued to wrap my chips, but I stopped him. ‘Could I just…?’ I picked up the condiments and he allowed me to sprinkle them on my meal.

‘Arsehole!’ He chuckled, ‘You wan’ sore finger!’

I scooped up the package hastily and left in a state of confusion. Four steps down the pavement the old man’s words echoed through my mind, their meaning suddenly unveiled to me: ‘Ah so, you want salt and vinegar!’

That was just one of the many times I’ve felt like an idiot. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At the risk of marring the piece, I’m going to pre-emptively defend it. For anyone out there feeling piously that this joke is ‘racist’, don’t be silly. No aspersions are cast upon the Chinese here. Any intelligent person could tell the difference. I counter-charge you with one-upmanship.

Humour arises from chaos, and one great, classic form of chaos is the misunderstanding. We could say that we’re mocking the English gentleman’s (making the assumption about his origins) ability to cope in his new-found multi-cultural society – that’s if we wanted to analyse a joke that deeply. Let’s just say it’s funny instead and let go of the power trip.

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7 thoughts on “Babel Fish – Daily Prompt ‘Ha Ha Ha’

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