The Monster (Hebrew: Mifletzet) sculpted in 1971 by French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, is a well-known landmark in Jerusalem and one that is enjoyed by children, who love to slide down its three-pronged tongue.

The Monster

The Monster

Usually.

When I walked past it, yesterday evening, it looked different – a bit sad and funny.

MonsterClosedReducedI posted the picture on Instagram with the caption: What have they done to the monster? And to the English language?

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Women? No.

Writers? No.

British? No.

Nice people? I think so.

There’s only one thing I can say about all my readers. You can all read English. You can probably also write it and speak it. And that makes you very lucky.

This fact was brought home to me on my recent short trip to Prague (which was fascinating).

On two occasions I witnessed the problem of being Japanese. In our hotel, we waited patiently while the hotel staff tried to explain to a Japanese couple that they had nothing to pay because their stay had been paid for. I felt like clapping when the penny finally dropped.

In an art shop, where I waited patiently for my artist husband to choose a painting, I decided to help the conversation along:

Japanese Man: Can I pay yen?
Shopkeeper: Can you pay what?
Me: Yens. He wants to pay in yens.
SK: Japanese money?
JM: Japan money.
SK: Oh, I don’t even know … err….
M: The exchange rate?
SK: I don’t even know exchange rate.
JM: Ah. I pay yen?
SK: No. No yen.
JM: Ah. What pay?
SK: Krone or Euro.
JM: Ah.

Aren’t you glad you know English?

Of course, there’s at least one country where it’s hard to get around knowing just English. It’s called Japan.