Wednesday, June 06, 2007

There was a bit of a clue when they bombed Madrid airport last December but ETA’s psychopaths have now declared their latest ‘permanent ceasefire’ to be at an end. Naturally, the fault is ascribed to the treacherous Spanish government, for declining to accept all their demands. Strangely – given things have been clear for months – the terrorist group waited until the week after the elections before going official. Can it be they wanted to avoid damage to the socialist government because they see it as a softer touch than the opposition?

Proving Steinbeck’s contention that life is a cosmic joke, on the same day we heard of this depressing development, the media was full of the news the government accepts the Spanish national anthem should be given some words. Adding to the hilarity, the far left ERC party in Barcelona insisted these mustn’t insult the Catalans. Given their thin-skinned determination to be affronted by anything said or done in Madrid, this ranks as an impossible task, of course.

Compared with fellow Europeans, the Spanish are not great users of the internet. I suspect one major factor is a widespread lack of trust. But I also believe things won’t improve much until Spanish web sites stop being showcases for the ingenuity of their designers [if that’s the word] and bow in the direction of ease of use by customers. This may take some time, I fear.

Talking of the Spanish - Ben Curtis over at Notes from Spain admitted recently a few people had accused him of going easy on them on the subject of manners. But I’m sympathetic to Ben’s dilemma. For the Spanish can be somewhat inconsistent. Generally ‘individualistic’ and inconsiderate towards others, at times they’re astonishingly polite and even noble. The latest example of the latter came yesterday when a shopkeeper who’s normally pretty offhand insisted on spending at least five minutes wrapping in cardboard a large knife she’d seen I was taking to be sharpened. And all done with far more humour and pleasantness than she normally bothers with. As regular readers will know, my explanation of this is that, when stimulated by something appearing on their personal radar, the Spanish will go to greater lengths to be helpful than any other people on earth. Like the guy the other day who wouldn’t think of putting the newspaper back on the central rack but who, as he passed, bent down to pick up a pen I’d dropped below my table. And this despite the fact he was old enough to suffer for his kindness. Moral – If you want consideration here, don’t be a self-effacing Brit. You will just fade into the wallpaper.

I wasn’t entirely serious when I said yesterday the palleiro was a Celtic breed but, of course, there’s a site which claims it is. Or, as they put it – They would have been bred by the Galician Celts as an all-purpose farm dog. They were used for herding, watching livestock, and hunting. They are intelligent, calm and reserved towards strangers. Gentle and loyal, they get along well with children and sometimes with other animals. I love that ‘sometimes’ bit. Anyway, as I’ve said more than once, I’ve no problem with the obsession some Galicians have with proving everything here is Celtic in origin but, really, it’s quite preposterous to imagine this breed can’t have been developed before the Celts reached Spain or by the Romans or Visigoths who came after them. Or, most likely, by ‘Galicians’ of more recent times. Thus does selectivity stretch credulity to breaking point.

That’s enough insults for today.


Anonymous said...

My friends boss says he only wants native Galician plants in his garden . When my friend asked him if he ate potatoes he said of course, Galician potatoes natively from this soil. When my friend pointed out potatoes aren't native to Europe his boss went mad, "of course they are".

Ignorance is dangerous in some hands.

Asturchale y Chulo said...

There is one thing I love in the English: you really hate ETA. You wouldn`b believe how many times I heard about the French government, police or just common people showing some degree of simpathy for the "Basque guerrilla". And that goes for many Americans, too, before 9/11

Colin Davies said...

Yes, many east coast Americans were equally sympathetic to the IRA terrorists. Until terrorism landed on their own shores. Easy to be tolerant when you have nothing to tolerate.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Galician girl from Pontevedra, currently living in Alicante after spending 6 years in the UK and married to an English man from the Midlands. I've been reading Collins for the last two months or so and I have to say that I feel a bit offended by the way the English, including my dear husband, treat to the Spanish people in general. I acept criticisons but not constant moaning about our way of being. I recognise that in many ways "us we" are more laid back than you English but I much prefer to be this way than think that the rest of the people in the world are from the planet Mars just because we are not like you. I had to suffer listening to the very educated English, in shops and supermarkets, how they laugh at the shop keepers because "they can understand what they are requiring",as if we all have to speak your language. I could go for ever, and ever further if I spoke about my sperience during my stay in the lovely Cheltenham. We wellcome you here and offer you our hospitality. A sicologist friend of mine said one day, "some people can only fulfil their lives if they spend most of it mouning and criticisim the others" "that's the only way they find to reach hapines".

Colin Davies said...


Naturally, I'm sorry you feel offended. But, if you go to my page on Galicia - - and check out the Spain links, I hope you'll find a more balanced view than is encapsulated in my daily mini-rants.

So, yes I accept my blog is unbalanced. It's biased to towards the negative because it's not a travelogue on Spain and because I write about what amuses and irritates me personally. In the hope that this interests and, above all, amuses others. If people don't like it, they are not compelled to read it, of course. When I started out I was happy to have 5 readers a day and now there are between 150 and 200. I don't know the composition of my readership but I do know some of them are Spanish/Galician because they are good enough to tolerate my mix of sense and nonsense and to write to me. And I very much enjoy and appreciate [most of!] their contributions. Especially those who know I’m wrong from time to time but who forgive me because they know I am merely giving a personal view and not claiming any objectivity at all. Whether it amounts to constant moaning and criticism is for you - and others - to judge. I like to think my love of life in Spain does shine through, if perhaps not often enough.

To be honest, I don't think it's very relevant that I am 'welcomed' here since I am a tax-paying resident, not a visitor/guest. Plus some of my neighbours are not very welcoming at all! And actually, as you must know, the Spanish don't go in for a lot of hospitality, despite being amongst the most friendly and sociable people you can meet in bars, cafes, restaurants etc. What you appear to be saying – though you might not mean to – is that because we are foreign we have no right to comment/criticise and must leave this to the Spanish themselves. Which cannot be right.

By the way, you must not run away with the idea that I feel there is nothing to criticise in British society. I regularly say that Spanish society is superior, whatever the pinpricks I moan about.

Once again, I’m sorry you feel offended but hope that you continue reading.

Colin Davies said...


I forgot to say my condolences on marrying a man from the Midlands. You should have gone further north . . . .