Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I’ve suggested that immigration is on the cusp of becoming the issue in Spanish politics. There’s now evidence that the government has twigged this as well. Aside from having several of its ministers issue unhelpfully tendentious statements about developments in Italy, the PSOE party has now assured us it will "guarantee respect for social norms that, before the arrival of immigrants, our society had never seen broken - in such important areas as housing, quality of life, commerce, opening hours and the use of public space, which have suffered evident tensions because of the arrival of foreigners coming from different cultures." I wonder how this code translates among the various groups at whom it’s aimed. Those incorrigible Chinese, for example, who insist on opening their bazaars at hours convenient to customers. Stand by for some regimentation in the name of cultural preservation. It will be fascinating to see whether the Spanish government has learned from mistakes in the UK and France. Unless, of course, you’re an unemployed immigrant foreigner whose way of doing things is now seen as a threat to the fabric of Spanish society. I guess we’ve all got to learn to hate real foreigners now, instead of those dreadful phoney-foreigners, the Catalans. Whom we can now laugh at because their team only came third in the League and will now have to play in the early rounds of next year’s Champions League.

Talking of cultural constructs and football competitions [and how often can one say that?], I wrote the other day that Spaniards tend to see Brits as either gentleman toffs or ooliganes. Ahead of tonight’s all-British Champions League final, this article suggests the poor Russians are still stuck with only the former stereotype. Oh dear. In for a shock.

I say ‘all-British’ final but this, of course, only applies to the [many] fans and the [few] ooliganes. There are precious few Brits in either team. And we can be pretty sure it will be the ooliganes who’ll garner all the media attention. Unless the game is a brilliant demonstration of English-style football and the fans all go home sober and happy. Some hope.

Over at Notes from Spain, Ben and Marina recently commented how un-Spanish it is to wear shorts on the streets. When I did this years ago during May temperatures in the 30s, a friend greeted me with something like “Que veraniego estás!” [How summery you are!]. Which I foolishly took to be a compliment, rather than the indirecta it was - on a par with any snobbish British put-down. But then I live in Pijolandia outside Pontevedra and don’t much care what the repressed urbanites think of me. Which is why I’ve never worn shorts in town since.

A little more seriously, this reference to sartorial norms has reminded me of earlier observations that the Spanish are the most informal people in the world, except when they’re being formal. And that they’re the most individualistic folk on earth, except when they’re behaving like sheep. Which should get me a few more fans.

A few metres from where I park my car before walking into town each morning, there’s a Stop sign which is only about 4 feet high. Two days ago I walked right into this while reading a book. Not the upright but the sign itself. If you think this is stupid, wait ‘til I tell you I managed it again yesterday, this time while fumbling for my keys. And I had thought I was the only man in the world who could do two things at the same time. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Finally, for those who were thrilled to see the photos of the collared doves raising a brace of chicks in the bougainvillea a foot or so from my bedroom window, you’ll be pleased to hear they’ve moved in again. Which means I won’t be able to raise or lower my blinds for at least a fortnight. Ah well. I have bigger things to moan about. As you probably know.

The Anglo Galician Association – open to all who speak English – now has a Forum on the web. If you have a query about Galicia, why not register and post it.


moscow said...

It seems I've become adicted to your blog. Whatever, could be worse....Actually the word hooligan (pronounced Khooligann) has entered the Russian language, and it means 'to behave unproperly', fool around a bit. There is even a verb -khooligannit. I have seen some englishmen in the 'metro' today, obviously trying to find their way to the stadium. They didn't struck me as representatives of the wilder sections of (British) society. Men in their forties, almost middle-class. I have a feeling that the crowd will be rather behaved. And if they are not, they'll become acquainted with the Russian police. But I can assure that even the most savage oikos from the UK are nothing but mild-mannered gentlemen compared to what lurks around here. If ever the 'boyos' from Oldham or the West London meet their Eastern European counterparts, they will have the fright of their lives.

John said...

I dunno, Colin. Men don't wear shorts to work, but if the weather's warm, plenty of men wear shorts when going about their non-working life here in Barcelona. True, it's generally men under about 40.