Monday, February 23, 2004

I’ll be in the UK for an indefinite period from tomorrow. So observations on life in Spain might well be in short supply for a while. I am not looking forward to returning to a place where it was recently reported that The annual pancake race in Okehampton, Devon, has been cancelled because the cost of insuring it rose from £75 to £280 and 25 marshals would be needed for the 80-metre dash.

And I will take my [temporary] leave on a decidedly positive note….

I love the fact that Sunday in Spain is still very different from the rest of the week. I never thought I would miss the traditional day of rest but, now that I have got it back again, I realise that I do. Or would have if.... Perhaps this is just another hark back to childhood, increasingly inescapable as one ages.

I give an hour or so’s conversation to a few teachers of English every week. This is great fun. Last week I listed for them the sort of things which are considered bad manners in Britain and which might not be in Spain. There was a certain overlap, of course – elbows on the table being a case in point – but, truth to tell, most of the British restrictions have no echo in Spain. And some of them had my friends in pleats of laughter. ‘Peas off the back of the fork!’… ‘A different shaped spoon for soup and the dish tipped forward!!’… ‘Knife and fork parallel in a perpendicular position!!!’... ‘Waiting for the host to offer you another drink!!!’ ….. And who can blame them? I made no attempt to defend these ridiculous ‘rules’. Nor several others. But I did point out that it was quite reasonable to regard shouting and smoking while others are eating as reprehensible behaviour. This was met by Hispanic shrugs, which I rather took to be acceptance of my point.

The waiter in my favourite café has now got my free pieces of cake up to three, the norm being just one. As I am trying to keep my weight down, I am tempted to leave at least one offering on the plate. But not very.

And now … this week’s crop of Anglicisms from my Sunday paper……

Wordwatch
Un mitin – Political rally/meeting
Un best-seller – Harry Potter, for example
Un thriller de serie – A crime series
Un drag – A drag queen. Note the masculine gender.
Una conejita de Play Boy – A Playboy bunny. Or worse.
Un outsider – A misfit, I think.
Una top-model – A supermodel
Una supermodelo – Ditto
El top-ten – The top ten.
Un magazines – An armoury. As in ‘This constituted a powerful argument in his armoury.’
Un killer format – A highly successful TV show such as Who Wants to be a Millionaire? The
helpful equivalent – formato asesino – was given in brackets so this must be a new one.

I guess there will be no surprise that none of these appears in my Spanish dictionary.

Finally, there was an ad at the back of my local paper yesterday – amidst the hundreds promoting the charms of various Houses of Relaxation – which read:-
We are looking for gigolos
Not professionals
To look after ladies
High earnings

So, all you amateurs out there in need of a penny, contact me at my email [colindavies@terra.es] and I will put you in touch. Literally.

Hasta la vista!

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