Monday, November 06, 2006

Well, the Catalan government to emerge from Barcelona’s smoke-filled rooms is exactly the same as that which ruled before the election – a tripartite of the left, leavened with a large dose of ‘nationalism’. None of the parties which gained votes is included in it, lending weight to the opposition’s critique that it’s a ’government of losers’. But this is the sort of thing that can happen when proportional representation is used to give greater democratic legitimacy to an election. And I guess it makes some sort of sense, at least on the surface.

I have yet to visit one but I’m certainly looking forward to greater acquaintance with Spain’s tanatorios. My dictionary defines these as ‘official buildings for funerals containing chapels of rest’. This surely doesn’t do justice to what a Spanish friend has described as something akin to a packed airport departure lounge for the dead. The best of them feature, I’m told, TV screens and a PA system to tell you which door your hearse is departing from, drink machines, plenty of seating, a café/bar and even a restaurant. The biggest place in Vigo is so well equipped it’s apparently favoured by the city’s night-lifers as el afterhours of choice. More than anything, though, they are the means by which the Spanish turn a funeral into what they endlessly crave – an opportunity for social interchange with relatives and close friends. A bit of a relief, perhaps, from the semi-silence of the preceding Requiem Mass.

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