Friday, December 14, 2012


My Dutch friend Peter, has confirmed that patients are allocated doctor appointments at only two minute intervals. The logic is that this senseless system will be rendered at least partially sensible by the high percentage of no-shows. In the UK, each patient is given closer to 10 or even 15 minutes, so I guess there are fewer no-shows there. I'm left wondering whether the Spanish system bothers to identify people who fail to turn up on more than one (or possibly 2) occasions and then punishes them in some way. Or whether it's just treated as an immutable aspect of Spanish life.

Talking about respective cultures, I'm learned from the blog of my colleague Trevor the Baldie that there's a science around the “cultural, behavioural, and sociological aspects of spatial distances between individuals”. Its name? Proxemics. From the same root as proximity, I guess. Reading a bit about the way they go about this science I was put in mind of one particular aspect of Spanish behaviour which always amused me and my French partner. We would go early to a crepe restaurant in town and take a table in one of the two alcoves off the main dining area. Then we would wait to see where the first Spanish diners of the night would sit. Inevitably, this wouldn't be in the other alcove, nor in the main dining area but at the table right next to ours. 

There are other examples of this (innate?) Spanish habit of aggregating but I'll leave them for another day. And I'll finish this brief dissertation with the proxemics statements that:-
Every culture has a set of hidden cultural rules concerning the physical space between people when communicating. Breaking any of these rules could be interpreted as impolite or even threatening.
And:-
Cross-cultural training programs will give you a better understanding of the concept of proxemics and of the reasons why someone from Spain might perceive their North American counterparts as being rude when they recoil from close physical proximity.

Or vice-versa, when Anglos have their personal space invaded. Which happens a lot if you live in Spain.

Talking of cultures . . . I learned today that Pontevedra has a place where divorced parents can hand over kids without having to face each other. It's called a 'Meeting Point' but this, of course, should be 'Anything-but-meeting Point'. Is this exclusive to Pontevedra? Spain? It is essential, as suggested, to avoid violence?

The winter rains have been slow in arriving this year but have certainly hit us in the last two days. Giving me the chance to note that not just leather boots but also green wellies are considered fashionable this year. Possibly every year; I'm not very observant when rain is lashing my face. Boots I can understand. But wellies, in the middle of a town?

Next year's Tour de France is to begin in England. Specifically in Leeds. Somebody big in cycling there was quoted as saying how proud he was that this honour had been given to the county of Yorkshire. And the question occurred to me – Has Britain avoided much of the nationalistic nonsense one sees in Spain simply because county and country are virtually the same word? Possibly not. But it had to be asked.

Just going back to my attempts to get tablets from two pharmacies the other evening – I guess it was a nice example of that tag line from one of the sketches in the Little Britain comedy series – The computer says No.

Finally . . . Today I watched a cat in Toni's garden stalking a football in the middle of the lawn. As the ball was black and white, I can only assume the cat mistook it for a plump magpie.

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