Thursday, January 17, 2008

Well, I did say that it was only possibly the winner of the competition . . . After a fire-storm of protest from all quarters, the proposed lyrics for Spain’s wordless national anthem have been withdrawn from circulation and the gala event at which they were to be sung by Plácido Dominguez has been summarily cancelled. Too many mentions of Fatherland [Patria], apparently. But then, such is the antipathy to the concept of Spain from its constituent nations and nation-ettes, just one would surely suffice for this to be achieved. I am now working on my own anodyne composition. And wondering whether I should mention tortilla. And prostitution and corruption. Only joking . . .

If you read the Comment columns of the UK Daily Telegraph, you’ll see there’s a reader who regularly beats everyone to the punch, sending in his thoughts to several writers early each morning. He’s called Graham King and yesterday he complained that some of his views were being blue-lined by the paper’s moderator. He should be so lucky! My own comment of Monday never even saw the light of day. And I was merely asking if this Graham King was the same chap as a man with the same name serving a murder sentence down on the Costa del Sol. My reasoning was that he clearly got up very early in the morning and had quite a lot of time on his hands. Not so much a blue pencil as a pair of scissors in my case.

The big news in Spanish politics at the moment is that the popular PP mayor of Madrid will not be given a position in any future PP government. In UK terms, this means the Drys [the Thatcherites, perhaps] have bested the Wets and confirmed their control of the party. Whether this a good thing as regards election prospects will shortly be demonstrated. Meanwhile, the Spanish media – using the same terminology as on its Sports pages – has headlined the ‘signing up’ of a major industrialist by the leader of the Opposition, to serve as the Minister of Finance or something similar. I guess this happens in the USA as well but in Britain it would be strange for a non-politician to achieve this prominence in a government. Well, it used to be but in Mr Brown’s ‘government of all the talents’ it may soon cease to be. If it hasn’t already.

Returning again to the dreadful accident in Vigo at the weekend . . . One of the reckless imbeciles involved was driving a 2.8L BMW and the other an Audi A3. Neither of these would normally be associated with the earnings potential of 20 year olds and, when you ask how this can be, the answer you’re always given is that the [often powerful] cars are financed directly or indirectly by parents and grandparents. When you persist and ask why on earth they would do this, the answer is they want to show the world they’re no longer poor Galician peasants. If this is true, I guess the phenomenon of kids effectively being killed by their own family is more prevalent along the coast than up in the poorer hills.

I had two examples of non-poncey driving within the space of a few seconds yesterday morning. Firstly, the local bus decided to pull out from a junction right in front of me, forcing me to brake and then follow it as it wound at a snail’s pace down the hill towards town. As I did so, I was overtaken by a Porsche Carrera which crossed a solid white line so as to pass both me and the slow-moving bus. Right on a Zebra crossing in the latter case. I didn’t see whether the driver of the latter had a mobile phone to his ear but he usually does.

I have to admit I don’t watch much Spanish TV. Even less Galician TV. One reason for eschewing the latter is that, being funded by the Xunta, it goes in for a lot of what you might call ‘nation building’. Yesterday this featured Maria Pita, a heroine of La Coruña who helped to fight off some marauding British horde in 1589. This may be a bit unfair but, at times like this, I feel this is what it must have been like to live under a Communist regime. Or in, say, Iran in 1975 and Indonesia in 1983. Things will change when I’m President of the Xunta in 2018. We’ll have no more ant-Brit propaganda, for a start.


mike the trike said...

The expedition of Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake to Spain and Portugal in 1589 is the equivalent of the Spanish Armada of 1588. The 1589 expedition was a complete disaster and cost Queen Elizabeth I and her backers in the City of London a lot of money. It makes good reading especially as at that time the English knew the difference between a Galego and a Spaniard.

Xoan-Carlos said...

The Galician nationalists would not be best pleased at the Spanish appropriation of the tortilla de pataca as being Spanish seeing as it's a Galician invention:

see following link:

Colin said...

Well, at least there wouldn't be any argument about patacas a la gallega/galega. Bring on the paprika!
Unless there's an Hungarian dish . . .
PS How do you say 'a la' in Gallego?

Colin said...

Mike, Any particular book?

Xoan-Carlos said...

"á" as in "Polbo á feira" (pulpo a la feria)

Xoan-Carlos said...

By the way, on the subject of nation building on television, on a recent visit to Spain with my toddler, I had to turn over while "Los Lunis" (like the Tweenies but for Spanish kids) burst out into a rabidly chauvinistic song supporting some Spanish motorbike racer with much repetition of “viva España”, “España cañi vamos a ganar” and red and yellow flag waving – and then politicians have a nerve to say that Galescolas a centres for nationalist indoctrination? Just goes to show that this nation-building works both ways, only difference being that it’s better funded and more aggressive when it’s the Spanish doing it.

Colin said...


1. A la Gallega. Ta. I should have realised.

2. Nationalisms. Yes, but . .

Galician nation-building is not really the same as Spanish nation-building. Any more than a Galician government is the equal of a Spanish government. The objective of Spanish nation-building is to endorse the status quo, whereas the real objective of Basque, Catalan and Galician nationalists [or Nationalists, in my terminology] is to destroy. The latter, of course, compels the former.

Contrast the nation building of the two Scots, Mr Brown and Mr Salmond. Is the former really a cupboard colonialist/imperialist/fascist because he is trying to strengthen the concept of Britishness?

moskvawhich said...

Didn't publish your letter? Well, serves you right for reading the despicable Torygraph.
On the 9th of March Spaniards will have an unedifying choice between an unelectable party of rabidly screaming ranters (who nevertheless have the right policies concerning the economy) and a social-democrat party bent on fighting largely irrelevant cultural wars instead of doing necessary economic reforms. You sure you want to stay in Spain?

mike the trike said...

Sending this info again Colin as not sure if first one went through.
The Expedition of Sir John Norris and Sir Francis Drake to Spain and Portugal, 1589.
Edited by R.B.Werham
ISBN 0 566 05578 3
Gower Publishing Group
Gower House
Croft Road,
Hants. GU11 3HR

Colin said...

Many thanks, Mike.

mike the trike said...

Hi Colin the book was printed in 1988 so might be out of print now but try and key in the isbn 0566055783 and author R B Wernham and you will see some results.