Friday, July 07, 2006

After decades of nonsense over Gibraltar, it looks as if common sense has finally broken out between all parties. Agreement has been reached over the joint use of the airport in ‘no-man’s-land’ and now other developments around telecoms and border controls are expected to follow in its wake. It’s only been 20 years since the UK and Spain became co-members of the EU. Imagine if they were enemies.

I’m occasionally accused of being too negative/critical about Spain but my comments are nothing to those which emerge after a tragedy such as the recent Metro crash in Valencia. A group of journalists on the radio yesterday weighed into the topical subject of safety, claiming it was scandalously downplayed all over the country. Interestingly, they compared their own profession with that of Anglo-Saxon countries and accused it of not being investigative enough. They even went so far as to say it would be better for Spain if its media devoted more time to this issue than that of whether Spain is breaking up into its constituent parts, for example. So, journalist distraction to add to the political and judicial varieties I’ve already cited.

It’s Tour de France time again. This has a Spanish leg so there’s much TV coverage here. I can just about understand someone going into the street for a few seconds to see the two-wheeled circus fly past but I simply can’t get my head around people spending hours watching it on the TV. Perhaps they’re taking a break from watching paint dry.

There are lots of women called Maria in Spain. There are even more who disguise the fact by calling themselves the second half of something like Maria-Elena. Or ‘Chus’ instead of Maria-Jesus. I’m told this is because, if you born during Franco’s lifetime, it was compulsory to be called some form of Maria. Can this really be true of only 30 years ago? If it was, it was primarily for females, of course, though I do recall a Steinbeck character called Jesus and Mary. It quite confused me for the first few pages.


Anonymous said...

María was not a compulsory name under Franco's regime. Urban legend. My mother and her four sisters have a name other than María - and they were born just after the Civil War in rural northern Spain. It was a question of choice rather than law, or depended on the humour of your local priest. What is real is that many people had to change their names inmediately after the Civil War. For example, if your leftist parents had the great idea of naming you Libertad (for females) during the Republican period, you had to change it because it was forbiden for being un-Catholic. María was a good option then. If your name was Imanol, Gorka, Iker or any other Basque name, you had to change it as well. In same cases it was easy: Imanol for the full Spanish Manuel. But Iker was more problematic - literal translation: Visitación, that is a female name in Spanish. So you can chose the one you prefered or, most probably, somebody else (i.e., the local Franco delegate) do it for you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Colin
No, I can definitely say it was not compulsory. My mother and aunt (twins) were born in Galicia in 1944 and were named Paz Rosa and Celia Carmen. My gran (their mother) was actually a Franco supporter and used to proudly display his portrait on the wall next to the Pope's!

Matthew Bennett said...

Before I learnt Spanish properly, and the first time I came to Spain, I used to think there were hundreds of blokes called "Don"!! Don Angel, Don Manuel etc...Jejeje. Lots of girls called Maria makes mobile phone lists very complicated and remembering their names a lot easier.

Panharith said...

There are lots of women called Maria in Spain.