Sunday, February 10, 2008

A reader has written to offer a house valued at €300,000 for only 100,000. This is because it’s close to a gypsy camp. As the writer is anonymous, I don’t know if he/she is Spanish but I guess the purpose of the exercise is to prove that, as no one will seize the opportunity, we are all no different from the Spanish - racists at heart. In fact, what the writer has done – unwittingly I suspect – is to clearly display the difficulty many [most?] Spaniards have in differentiating between an understandable aversion to anti-social behaviour and an unacceptable antipathy to people based merely on the colour of their skin. As I’ve said, the real risk here is that it will take a few race riots in Barcelona or Madrid to force them to review this stance and to accept that the rest of the world is never going to sympathise with the Spanish view that there’s no harm in insults of any stamp, provided only that the insultor didn’t really mean to upset the insultee, whatever words were used. Or because the Spanish just love to dress up as negros and don’t mean to suggest all black people are monkeys. None of this would matter if Spain were a self-sufficient island for which the views of others in the world didn’t matter. But it isn’t. All that said, it’s for the Spaniards to decide where they go on this. No one else. And they’re right that no one can dictate to them. I doubt that anyone really wants to but, unfortunately, this is how things are seen here. And riled Spaniards tend to be obstreperous Spaniards.

Talking of gypsies – My local council of Poio knew what it was doing when it dragged its feet for years over the demolition of several illegal houses in a camp not far from me. For they knew they’d have real difficulties re-housing the occupants. I’ve touched on this a couple of times but the latest developments are:- 1. The tenants of a council flat block 200 metres from me are refusing to pay their rent because a gypsy family has been moved in. And 2: The mayor of Pontevedra has cut off the water from a flat block on his patch into which the mayor of Poio had moved several displaced families. In this case, the irony is that the barrio is famous for being a harmonious mix of gitanos [gypsies] and payos [non-gypsies]. But the former are the good ones who work as traders and send their kids to school. The displaced gypsies are all seen – with some justification - as drug dealers. There’s actually a bigger irony in that both mayors are from the Galician Nationalist Party, which sees itself as more socialist than the PSOE party of the left. But both have a lot of concerned middle class voters to worry about. Of course, this problem would never have arisen if the Poio council had not turned a blind eye to the establishment of a camp and the construction of more than 20 illegal houses but perhaps this was always too much to ask. Seems very short-sighted now.

If you’re coming to live in Spain, you need to know there’s little recognition here that smoking is injurious to non-smokers. Or, to put this another way, the right of a non-smoker not to be injured is at best equal to the right of a smoker to do whatever he or she likes. I write this because I had lunch with three Spanish friends on Friday, all in their 30’s and all heavy smokers. The restaurant was booked from the car and a smoking table requested. Although they all knew I’m a non-smoker, into no-one’s head did the thought enter that my view was worth consideration. Of course, if I’d been less stupidly British and more devil-take-the-hindmost Spanish, I’d have upset them by insisting we ate away from the swirling fumes that gave my jacket the stench of nicotine. But I chickened out and so have no one to blame but myself. It’s their society and I choose to live here.

In the UK, the head of the Church of England has suggested bits of the Islamic Sharia law be incorporated into the British judicial system. For a good response to this astonishingly unhelpful [to everybody] notion, see here. As someone as commented, the proposal may well be mad but at least the making of it has ensured it will never happen.

Nearer home in Portugal, it’s reported the police are about to admit they have no evidence against the McCanns and that their agudo label will soon be removed. This should put an end to the preposterous theories by which we’ve been assailed for the last year but I don’t suppose it will. For many in Portugal and here in Spain – and not a few in the UK - they will always be guilty because ‘She didn’t cry enough’.

What a world.

End of Sunday sermon.


Anonimo said...

What's going on?
I wrote "lot of gipsies around" and you read "close to a gypsy camp". I wrote "they are lovely and cheerful people" and you read "understandable aversion to anti-social behaviour".

Is your racist subconscious playing tricks on you, just because I said they are gipsies?

Colin said...

Maybe you didn't understand because you are as unintelligent as your [disingenuous]comments imply.

Anonimo said...

Maybe. Maybe I am the kind of ignorant, rude and immature Spaniard that el casareƱo described in his comment.