Miles Kington: The team may be defeated, but the flags still flutter

Albanian proverbs are more lyrical and suggestive than ours; look one straight in the eye and it tends to melt away
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The Independent Online

I think it's time for another helping of Albanian proverbs. If you have not come across these before, these are different from our proverbs, which tend to be rather blunt and practical, where theirs are more lyrical and suggestive.

An example of a British proverb would be: "Rome wasn't built in a day." The Albanian version would be: "Rome wasn't built in a day - it just looks that way." If you look an Albanian proverb straight in the eye, it tends to avoid your gaze and melt away. But if you look at it out of the corner of your eye, it suddenly looks much better.

Don't take my word for it. Try this selection, all taken from The Bumper Book of Albanian Proverbs, out in time for next Christmas.

Tins of catfood come in many flavours, yet never in mouse.

Three things that nobody likes but everybody uses: barbed wire, after-shave and national anthems.

Never bribe a bad boxer to throw a fight. Not only is it unnecessary, but if he is that bad, he might win.

Whenever a man does the washing up, he feels he has finally defeated the enemy. When a woman does, it, she knows it is just another skirmish in the Hundred Years War.

Scratch a goth and find a vicar.

A young man with a suntan is a handsome young man, but an old man with a tan is just a brown old man. (There is, typically, another Albanian proverb that says the opposite: A tan only makes a young man look handsome, but it makes an old man look wise.)

We all think we are about to fart soundlessly.

A fart is the perfect joke. It is brief, unexpected, and sums up what we all feel about the Government.

The country's team is defeated, but the flags on the cars still flutter.

Does a curtain shut out the darkness, or does it keep in the light?

Does a college for the deaf and dumb have a Speech Day?

Actually, it is the Portuguese Inquisition nobody ever expects.

A warm handshake leaves no fingerprints.

You are never more than 10 days away from forgetting someone's birthday.

In the land of the hedgehog the motorist goes on foot.

Three unpleasant personal habits: sniffing, humming inaudibly and using torture as an instrument of repression.

Never trust a woman who keeps her wedding dress for possible re-use.

You can put up a marquee without getting married.

Everyone claps a raffle winner, not through admiration, but envy.

Q. How many Albanians does it take to change a light bulb?

A. What light bulb?

Out of the frying pan on to the floor, and back into the frying pan again before someone sees.

Do you wish to make friends with strangers? Put up balloons on your gate.

A message to all those who have to shave every day. We think your chin may be trying to tell you something.

Pigtail - a pony-tail with image problems.

Jumble room. The name given to the room in which we keep all the stuff that we never remember to give to the jumble sale.

Take away the orchestra, and all you can hear is the conductor, humming slightly out of tune.

God only knows. That's it. That's all he does. He does nothing else. God only knows.

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