Bit of an interesting story to tell you.
And I must confess I found it when egostistically googling my name. Come on admit it, we all do it. Googling ourselves, I mean, not finding ourselves in Albanian newspapers… unless you’re Norman Wisdom.
Let me take you back a few weeks in time, to just after my Canadian trip, when I had an out-of-the-blue email from a very nice man called Steve. He was, he explained, retired from the US armed forces, and living in Albania following a posting to Tirana. He told me a bit more about Mullet, the Albanian village I accidentally didn’t visit in 2001, and offered help should he still be in the country when I tick finally it off the list.
It was a lovely gesture, and has been one of a number of bizarre coincidences about the mullet mission in recent months – more on which another time. I have, as you’d imagine, kept in touch with Steve, and sent him the link to the article to ask for help.
From the handful of Albanian words I remember, the numerous non-Albanian words in the text, and a bit of common sense, I’ve been able to deduce what the article is roughly getting at – it’s summarising my story up to and including my Canadian trip. But the comments at the end of the article intrigued me… what did ordinary Albanians make of the mission?
Thankfully, Steve was able to offer some explanation by email:
“The first two comments are along the lines of ‘don’t you have something more important to report than the Scot who is seeking mullets?‘ Neither of them find fault with you, rather they think the paper has more weighty issues to cover. The first guy ends with ‘Enough with this Scotsman with full pockets who is having an adventure. We know where we have Mullet. I wish him bon voyage.’
The next two are comments on the origin of the word mullet in Albanian. There is discussion of which fish is actually a mullet, qefull or barbun. I think they both are with the barbun being a red mullet.
The second to last commenter says: ‘This boy may be strange, but you must agree he’s not uncommon. Lots of us loiter around in the world with no reason while he has created one, so much we are blinded to the out of the way places.’
Finally, the last commenter Tani says: ‘This article melted me with laughter. In English ‘mullet’ means ‘hair with bed’, and as far as i know he isn’t the only person attentive to the phenomenon of Mullet.'”
Interesting. Not least because I would dispute that I am “strange” or that I have full pockets – having just bought my New Zealand tickets, my bank balance can urgently contradict the latter statement, if not the former.
Also, I rather like the idea of “melting” someone with laughter. It makes me imagine a stand-up performance to a crowd of snowmen.
But what I love most of all is knowing, thanks to Steve, the Albanian words for “mullet” (both the fish and the haircut). I can’t help wondering if, in a parallel universe, there’s an Albanian guy travelling the world looking for places that have the words qefull, barbun or floke me shtrat in their names…
…surely there can’t be many.