There are now 6 Spanish regions demanding to be called ‘nationalities’ – Catalunia, the Balearic Islands, Andalucia, Aragon, Valencia and, of course, Galicia. Surveying the scene in Iraq, the editor of Prospect magazine recently commented that “85 years after the British first tried to create one, Iraq still lacks the basis of a European nation state.” I wonder what he’d make of Spain, more than 500 years after Ferdinand and Isabella’s ‘unification’. Cue for some nationalist or other to write to me with the true but irrelevant claim that his bit of Spain had its own king long before Los Reyes Catolicos happened along.
I recently praised the Pontevedra town council for the beauty of its new roundabouts but now for a brickbat. After 9 months of slow work, they’ve just inaugurated a large new feature that appears to be an attempt to prove you actually can displease all the people all the time. The nearby residents are up in arms because they’ve lost their trees; parents are protesting about greater danger to the kids of an adjacent school; bus drivers are moaning because they can’t navigate the roundabout without going up on the pavement; and car drivers are complaining it’s impossible to tell which direction they’re allowed to drive out once they’re on the bloody thing. And they’re not too happy it’s easy to scrape the side of your car against the granite bollards when trying to find an exit. All in all, something of a mess. Though, as you can see, the aesthetics are not bad.
A local newspaper is running a competition to find the most beautiful word in Galician. For my exiled Gallego readers, the leaning contenders are:- vagalume; bolboreton; bréteman ; morriña [of course]; saudade; and lóstrego. More details on:- www.lavozdegalicia.es/se_cultura/opina.jsp