Sunday, May 20, 2007

Some wag once described Spanish TV as ‘radio with pictures’. Nowhere is this more true than with football commentaries. Here, a love of words means there’s not a second of silence and no action is left undescribed, even if it’s perfectly obvious to anyone who isn’t blind. So we get an endless stream of ‘A passes the ball to B. Who kicks it to C. Who clears it upfield to D’, etc, etc. OK, this is just about legitimate if you want to be constantly reminded of the name of each and every player. But these are often omitted, as in ‘The ball goes out of play and is thrown back in’. Exhausting, until you’ve reached the point – normally about the age of 4 if you’re born here – when your ears have grown filters.

In immediate response to the demand of El Pais that something be done to ‘stop local loyalties transcending the importance of the music[!] those in charge of the Eurovision Song Contest say they’re looking at having both a West Europe and an East Europe semi-final. Maybe I’m slow but I can’t quite see how this would stop all the East European countries voting only for the finalists emerging from their semi. Mind you, things could be worse; if Catalunia were a nation and gave 12 points to, say, the Ukraine, then El Pais really would have something to moan about. For now, though, it’s enough to repeat the quote I cited last year at this time - “Eurovision makes one long for war”.

A UK survey found that, while 89% of British women love to receive compliments, 67% feel very uncomfortable if it comes from anybody other than their partner. The Spanish percentages are 110 and 1, respectively. When praised by strangers, British women respond with, at best, a glacial stare or, at worst, a cutting remark. Spanish women smile. Unsurprisingly, then, British women are starved of compliments, whereas Spanish women do quite well. The underlying reason, of course, is that the latter don’t assume a compliment is a prelude to a sexual proposition. Any more than it is when they touch you on the arm as they talk to you. Sadly.

I felt very jealous of the 90,000 spectators at the FA Cup Final from Wembley yesterday. As the stadium is brand spanking new, at least they had the prospect of watching both paint dry and grass grow somewhere nearby. If nothing else, the direness of the game proved the impotence of prayer. There must have been many millions around the world praying there wouldn’t be extra time. And possibly even more during the first 45 minutes praying there wouldn’t even be a second half. But at least God finally woke up and saved us from the final misery of a penalty saga of 10 misses.

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