When Poles get mad, they go into a cobbler’s fury (doprowadzać do szewskiej pasjil). Cobblers, according to national lore, drink quite a bit. The drinking connection follows through to France. You know that a native is going through a delicate emotional phase when he groans ça me saoule. Literally, it means "it’s making me drunk", which has its equivalent in the English expression of I’ve had it up to here: you've had the full dose – but not of alcohol. You can also be accused of getting on a Frenchman's nerves by hitting on his system (taper sur le système), or simply swelling someone up (ça me gonfle).

However, our other European friends aren’t much more laid back. Some, like the Germans, do it with a touch of humour: if you hear the expression jemanden zutexten, stop talking right away. They’ve had enough of you blathering on – your "over-lyricising" is too much for their ears. You can also chew on ears (jemanden das Ohr abkauen), which in English is modestly reverted to you being able to talk the hind legs off a donkey. The German verb volllabern refers to soaking the bored listener with your words, which in English is described as bending the ear. The Poles suffer from a rush of blood (szlag mnie trafia), and worse still, anger makes them ill. If a Pole goes pale, you’ve really screwed up: thanks to you they could be suffering from a stroke (szlag mnie trafia) or a white fever (doprowadzać do białej gorączki). In Iberia, it’s the colourful opposite: an irritated Spaniard turns black (estar negro) and you’re probably playing with his balls (tocar las pelotas). But if you really want to live dangerously, go ahead – just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Jane Mery (Translation – nisimasian)