The readers of the Voz de Galicia were asked whether, in voting in the upcoming elections, they’d pay more attention to the exhortations of the Catholic archbishops [Don’t vote for the Socialist pagans] than to those of the Clintonesqe array of artists assembled by the government [Vote for our lovely friend Mr Zapatero and his colleagues]. Those who could be bothered to vote on-line registered 45% in favour of the prelates but 55% in favour of the luvvies. This is astonishing. In how many other countries would there be such respect for the views of religious luminaries?
I often commend the serious Spanish press for its refusal to dumb down and sensationalise to anything like the extent of its British brethren. But, truth to tell, ahead of elections the papers are not so much heavy as suffocating - possibly because they’re effectively mouthpieces for the various parties. The result is pages after page of political pap and a shortage of real news. So, until mid March, this blog will feature even more trivia than usual. Especially as I have a self-imposed ban on commenting on the worsening economic picture. This, for example, prevents me from reporting that the government’s forecast for 2008 growth has reduced yet again, to just below 3%. Which is still high, of course.
So . . .
Virtually every afternoon I get a call from some telemarketer or other asking if they can talk to the ‘woman of the house’. I’ve tried a variety of responses over the years but may now have hit on the best – She just died this morning. Which tends to bring the patter to a quick halt.
If the question What on earth is the point of salad? Appeals to you, try this. There’s even a tenuous [and tendentious] Spanish connection . . . Salad leaves drenched in chlorine, imported from the hideous poly-tunnel cities of southern Spain, where migrant African workers survive virtually enslaved . .
Galicians are very proud of their primary produce – their fish, shellfish, meat and vegetables. Frankly, this is a lot more justifiable than their belief Galician cuisine is one of the great wonders of the world. [A common Spanish regional attitude, I’m told]. For me, our local cooking is bland and low in sauces. So I was pleased to see in my local supermarket an array of cooked meats that had been ‘spiced up’ in one way or another. And - clearly lacking any local appeal - they were being sold off at 50 centimos each. I put this down to the culinary conservatism of the populace and bought 5 or 6 packs. But, having now eaten all of them, I tend towards the alternative explanation that everyone but me knew they’d all taste exactly the same as your basic pre-packed York ham. Que decepción. Or, in Gallego, Que decepción. I think.
Across the river in Pontevedra, the BNG gypsy imbroglio gets worse. You’ll recall that the Nationalist mayors of Poio and Pontevedra are at each other’s necks over the issue of re-housing families displaced when some illegal houses were knocked down after years of non-action. Well, it now appears the attempts to place them in an outlying district of Pontevedra were carried out by the regional government – the Xunta – without the courtesy of informing the mayor beforehand. The regional government is a coalition of Socialists and Nationalists but the minister responsible for this issue is a Nationalist. Nice to know they all talk to each other. Or perhaps ‘shout at’ would be a better phrase. Perhaps it’s just as well there are no local or regional elections in March.
Gallego corner: Reader Jorge, who is a Cuban living in California, tells me that back on the island of his birth the word paragüero means bad driver. Why am I not surprised? I hope they don’t have a lot of roundabouts [circles] there.
I see the PP party has billboards along the side of our roads featuring its leader telling us he has As Ideas Claras. His name is spelt Rajoy. Which is a tad ironic, firstly, as Gallego has no letter Y and converts the J into X and, secondly, he is from Pontevedra. So here his name would be Raxoi. I feel like complaining but don’t know whether he’d prefer my letter to be in Spanish or Gallego. Probably both, as our local councils used to do. But not any more. I’ll leave you to guess which option they now prefer.
Finally - An update on how the voting is going among Spanish friends on the issue of how long it will be before Spain has una presidenta. The 4-year progression matches the electoral process:-
4 years – 6
8 years – 3
12 years – 6
16 years – 2
20 years – 1
There should be 19 responses but the head barman’s answer was that Hell should freeze over first as the only thing worse than the current machista society would be one dominated by women. In taking this view, he is apparently influenced by the fact he’s working his cojones off just so his first wife can take half his salary to finance a life of leisure. Or that, at least, was my conclusion from his ten-minute dissertation.