My thanks to reader John for proffering his view that ‘African hatreds’ implies “a combination of ‘heated’ and ‘primitive’”. My own [similar] take is that it was a reference to tribal differences. A not illogical view in the 1930s. Since then, of course, Spain has been totally transformed into a successful, stable democracy. And a happy place, given that 70% of the populace say they’re satisfied with family life, health and work. However, as one surveys the increasingly acrimonious exchanges between the President and the leader of the opposition, one might be forgiven for wondering whether Spain isn’t still rather tribal. Witness - in Tuesday’s parliamentary debate on the leniency shown to the ETA prisoner, the President was labelled a ‘hooligan’ by the leader of the opposition. President Z’s response was to threaten to expose to public gaze the dirty washing of both parties around secret negotiations with the terrorist group. Good knockabout stuff but hardly mature or statesmanlike. Then there’s the various Nationalist regions, of course. Ever more raucous in their demands for status and ‘independence’. But perhaps I’m just an old alarmist.
In his Iberian Notes blog – see link on the right – John in Barcelona [the same John?] reports the interesting observation that, although in live-and-let-live Spain the tolerance of [dare I say ‘individualist’] behaviour is almost limitless, the spectrum of educated thought is surprisingly narrow. I must ponder this but it’s certainly true people on both sides of the political divide seem to share certain core views. That the USA is irredeemably evil, for example. And that the Iraq war could only have been about oil. And that Spain will never win the World Cup.
Possibly not all my Spanish readers – and even fewer of my French readers – will be interested to know Lord Nelson’s mistress was born not far from my parents’ house on England’s Wirral peninsula, opposite Liverpool. Her birthplace is an area of beautiful red sandstone and her elegant obelisk tomb in Calais is topped by a ball of this material. Must see it one of these days.
Galicia Facts and Perspectives
The President of the Xunta has announced plans for 238 measures to foster gender equality here in Galicia. On the surface this might seem rather a lot but yesterday’s Faro de Vigo reported that female managerial salaries here are, on average, only a third of those of men. Which leaves some scope for change, I guess.
My younger daughter is struggling, back in the UK, with the 12 hour, stress-and-paper-filled days endured by teachers in the state system there. So I’ve been checking out her options here, against the backcloth of the Xunta saying it wants a high percentage of lessons to be given by native speakers of English. I wasn’t too surprised to learn that, before she takes the relevant exam all applicants have to take [the Oposición], she’ll have to pass exams in both Spanish and Gallego. She’s fluent in the former but not the latter and I rather doubt she’d opt for the year or so Xoan Carlos says it takes for a Spanish speaker to master Gallego but would prefer to go elsewhere. Which is a shame for me and, in my opinion, for Galicia. The irony is that, if she ever got to take the Oposición, she could choose both to have the questions in Spanish and to answer them in this. Though this may not last, of course, if the Galician Nationalist party retains its grip on the levers of power.
And if I have both of my daughters in Madrid, what would keep both me and my money in Galicia? Certainly not the bloody winter rain. Or the caldo, cocido and marisco. Madrid overflows with restaurants and tapas bars offering these. Anyway, I’m only partial to one of them.
I fear I must have got out of the wrong side of the bed today.