Sunday, January 06, 2008

Today is the feast of the Epiphany. Or Reyes as it’s called in Spain. Traditionally, it was the day kids here got their Christmas presents, rather than on 24th or 25th December. Actually, it still is, though most of them get an earlier bite at the cherry on one of the previous dates as well. There’s usually a cavalcade through town on the evening of the 5th – led, of course, by horsemen dressed as Arabs – but I suspect this year’s was smothered out of existence by the Atlantic Blanket which dropped on us yesterday morning. Poor kids. Not to mention the adults who fight for the sweets thrown from the floats. Which can be particularly dangerous if everyone is toting a traditional early January umbrella.

In my house Reyes is known as The Day the Kids Next Door Get up Even Earlier and are Even Noisier than on Other Days of the Year. But the good news is Tony is still at sea and won’t be back for another two weeks. Plus this is the final day of the Christmas-New Year food-fest involving five huge, noisy family meals. I’m praying that whoever got the saxophone for Christmas doesn’t bring it to this one.

I see a Portuguese member of the Valencia football team has been released from the prison cell to which he was taken after a street brawl and shipped off to play for Everton. As this is Liverpool’s ‘other’ Premier League team, it’s possible he’ll have plenty of scope for indulging his passion in the streets of his new home. But he might find the opposition a bit tougher than in Valencia. As an Everton supporter, though, I just hope he keeps his extracurricular activities extracurricular. We have a good chance of doing better than Liverpool this year – though obviously not in the FA Cup after yesterday’s debacle – and we need all the help we can get. Even from a Portuguese street-fighter.

In my daughter’s Madrid flat just before Christmas, I found an artificial ants’ nest, given to her by her boyfriend. As I’ve long wanted to watch these industrious creatures in action, I ‘borrowed’ this. The makers are an American company but I probably didn’t need to tell you this. Their helpful instructions include advice on the best kind of ants to order either via the internet or from your local pet shop. Strange to relate, if you go into a Spanish pet shop and ask about their range of ants, they laugh you out of the door. Strange country.

Finally, here’s the most egregious example I’ve seen in a while of an ever-more common error in English. It’s taken from a British newspaper:- As a top lawyer says, "There are women who join companies with large amounts of male employees with the sole intention of looking for a partner." Personally, I would never employ a lawyer whose command of language is so bad he can’t distinguish between ‘amount’ and ‘number’. But I suspect I’m a member of a dying breed. Of out-of-touch pedants. I haven’t even mastered text-speak. Of which here are two examples – tributes on one of the social networks from the parents of a child killed by their own Rottweiler:-

RIP my lil angel mummy knows your still here love u always and foreva.

And

Never gona 4get ya lil man, RIP 4eva n always, miss ya so much.

And on that bilious note . . .

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