Waiting for Superman


We all have our fantasies. Mine is about bureaucrats. I find the austere exterior alluring, convinced that a superman hides beneath. So far I’veSuperman.Image by Greenog always been disappointed. But I haven’t stopped dreaming.

Once a year the European Union offers a funding opportunity for European publishers involved in the translation of literature. The deadline for the last submission was Thursday 3rd of February at 12 midday MET. This date is now engraved in my memory till eternity.

As with most funding opportunities, the terms and conditions are strict and precise. The application form is long and laborious. In this case, 20 pages and most questions to be answered in paragraphs of 2000 characters. Furthermore you have to describe your publishing programme not just for this year but the year after too. No problem. With some fancy footwork I managed to line up all the 2012 titles a few days before the deadline.

But then things became complicated. I attempted to fill in the e-form. Only I didn’t have the right Adobe version on my computer. I downloaded the latest version. Still no luck. I spoke to the London EU office, I tried my daughter’s computer. I rang Maddy. She ran a tester on her laptop. It worked. I wrote the answers into a word doc – two night’s work until midnight. Maddy rescheduled her other job to work for Peirene on Thursday morning to submit the e-form on time.

On Thursday morning we pasted and copied one page after the other. We were doing well. But it was not meant to be. At 10.45 (11.45 MET) the computer erased everything before we could submit. I had a little cry while Maddy kept her cool and send an SOS email with our application attached as a Word doc to the London EU office.

They rejected it. Over the following days, we pleaded our case. They rejected it again. We hadn’t sent the email to Brussels – as requested deep in the small print of the application guidelines. And we had sent it at exactly 11am – noon MET, so strictly speaking a minute too late. Rules are rules. We had cut it too fine. Sadly no Brussels bureaucrat ripped his white shirt off for us revealing a superman outfit underneath.

Have I learnt my lesson and decided to give up on the fantasy? No way. I will submit a new application for the 2013 books on a new computer with all the latest system updates next year. If there isn’t a superman lurking in the bureaucrat, then there needs to be a superwoman hidden behind the publisher.

Image by Gwydion M. Williams.

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