I mentioned the other day our savings banks are big on cultural sponsorship. Attending a couple of exhibitions in the magnificent Pontevedra HQ of the Caixa Nova at the weekend, I was surprised – nay, astonished – to find the brochures and the wall plaques were all in both Gallego and Spanish. Which is not at all common these days. My suspicion is the banks are more wary of upsetting their incorrigible Spanish-speaking customers than, say, the Xunta or the Pontevedra town council.
On the subject of language . . . There was a demonstration in Oviedo at the weekend in favour of official status for Asturian, the ‘original’ tongue of our regional neighbours. One factor behind this movement is dissatisfaction on the part of civil servants there, who are effectively barred by language barriers from getting jobs in Galicia, Cataluña and the Basque Country but must compete with Spanish-speaking colleagues [i. e. everyone] from these regions/nations. Needless to say, there is both an official protest/lobbying body and an Academy of the Asturian Language. Plus a useful dictionary. From which I’ve learned that payares is Asturian for November. And for August. Which must be a tad confusing. I guess it will be the turn of Leonese next. Though there might not be much difference between this and Asturian. Not that the same situation vis-à-vis Catalan gets in the way of Valencian or Balearic ambitions. Did I ever mention that Spain is a fissiparous place? Has anyone calculated the odds on the Spanish state surviving the 21st century?
Sad to say, there are a couple of lists in which both Spain and the UK head the European field. These relate to the use of drugs among 15-24 year olds. Spain, I guess, can point to a rebound from the era of Francoist repression but I wonder what Britain’s excuse would be. The fruits of 60s permissiveness among the offspring of the me-me Baby Boomer generation?
The ABC newspaper yesterday had a front-page photo of the Deputy Prime Minister, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega dining with Cardinals in the Vatican. She looks very stern. But, then, she nearly always does, reminding me of a spinster headmistress. Or ‘indomitable old trout’, as they used to be called in England. Just what a nanny state needs, if this is the way Spain is to go.
Finally . . . After a review of the evidence, the Portuguese police are said to be ‘close to abandoning the theory that Kate and Gerry McCann were responsible for their daughter's disappearance’. I wonder if this will cause others to question their early comments and accusations but suspect not. If you think a mother must be capable of infanticide simply because she doesn’t cry in public, you’re hardly likely to be much influenced by evidence or expert opinion, are you.