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October 23, 2017 Samantha

When Prince Charles stood me up…

Diary of a translator and transcriptionist…Transcription Services, subtitling services, captioning services, SDH subtitling services, our translation services and transcription services, Translation Services

Working freelance providing both translation services and transcription services brings a lot of advantages. In my case this is the freedom of running my own business alongside translation and transcription (jobs) that come along as freelance. I can adjust my time according to which side of things has the greater need each day, without having to ask anyone for permission. And of course, I have two little ones that I look after in the afternoons, so I have the time to spend the afternoons with them and work again in the evening. Or I can be there when they get ill.

But while it sounds perfect, it doesn’t always work like this. Doing this brings also a great juggling act which, sometimes, becomes very stressful. At other times it is the timings that work against me. Like the day I was offered the job of transcribing an interview with HRH The Prince of Wales. By Alan Titchmarsh, an added bonus. The file will come in at 11 o’clock. Yes, I said. Yes, please. I felt honoured. After all, this was the heir to the throne! You see, transcribing audio files is a very intimate affair, because you are transcribing with headphones on. You often rewind parts of a sentence, using a foot pedal, and therefore you hear the voices intensely and loud for prolonged time. It very much feels like spending close-up time with a person, although they will never meet you, in fact they are very unaware that you exist.

The file had not arrived by 12 o’clock, which is not unusual; it is just how it works. But this was Prince Charles! I really wanted to add him to my list of ‘celebrities’, a mental list of which well-known people I have come across in my work. It is what makes this job very exciting. By 1 o’clock I got nervous and the nerves kicked in. When you agree to a job, then you agree to the deadline. However, you don’t hear the file before, so you don’t really know how many people are talking, whether they are talking fast, which means that the job will take longer. Now I cannot just work 10 or 15 minutes longer and finish the job, I have to be there for picking up the little ones, I can’t turn up late. At nearly 2 o’clock I emailed saying that I would now not be able to take the job, because I couldn’t get it finished in time. Heavy hearted I was. My rendezvous with the Royals was not going to happen.

When I pulled the front door shut at 2.30pm my phone pinged. Prince Charles had appeared after all, but now I could not meet him, in my head that is of course. I was heartbroken. I went off for school pick up, the only consolation being that Jacob Rees-Mogg, Sam Smith and Jamie Foxx had not done this to me. They came and visited me at my little desk and spend some time in my ears. Maybe another time. Maybe Prince Harry instead. Curtsy.

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