Reader Moscow recently said – quite correctly - that the British have to live with the reputation of being hypocrites. To my mind, this is less troublesome than the obligation to suffer the universal perception that the UK is overrun by ooliganes. So deep rooted is this belief in Europe that I read this morning of a Austrian women being concerned her beautiful city of Vienna would be invaded by rampaging English fans. Which is odd, considering the national team didn’t qualify for the European championships. [On this subject – Can anyone explain why the scorer of the first German goal last night wasn’t offside when he received the ball as 1. there was only the goalkeeper in front of him when the pass to him was made, and 2. the ball went forwards and not backwards?].
Waking into town this morning, it dawned on me that the best way to avoid ‘individualistic’ Spaniards who exit buildings without a care for those already on the pavement [sidewalk] is to walk one metre or so in from the building line. The amazing thing is that it’s taken me eight years to arrive at this solution to a regular irritation. A Spanish child, on the other hand, imbibes this sort of pragmatic commonsense in its mother’s milk.
One reason why this stratagem is easily effected in Pontevedra is that the mayor has spent the last decade narrowing the roads and widening the pavements. This means you could walk even two or more metres away from the building line and still be on the pavement. Though you might have to negotiate the delivery vans whose drivers believe these were widened simply to give them a place to unload deliveries. They should, of course, use the designated bays but you can probably guess why this is rarely possible.
Which reminds me . . . The other thing I saw walking into town was an example of the sort of taking-normal-Spanish-attitudes-to- extremes which makes the gypsies so unpopular here. Stuck behind five or six cars at the roundabout at my end of the bridge into town, the driver of a van simply crossed over the solid white line, overtook the cars by driving down the wrong side of the road and then forced himself across the oncoming traffic once at the junction. Having then negotiated the bridge at no greater speed than me on foot, he parked up on the other side by simply driving onto the pavement and occupying it entirely. My guess, though, is that he wouldn’t be prepared to thank the mayor for providing him with this free parking facility.
Reader Luis commented yesterday that the Galician Xunta would increase the payment to €500 if you called your child Anxel or Anxela. I guess this is because the President is so named but I’ve told Luis that I suspect his comment is either a trap for me or an example of the Galician humour called retranca. Or both, of course. Anyway, here’s a list of the most common Galician names for your edification. I can’t help noticing that Xoan doesn’t figure, presumably because Xan and Xian are the true authorised versions. Maybe you’d only get 250 for Xoan. By the way, the X is pronounced as ‘sh’:-
NOMES PROPIOS PARA NENAS [girls]: Antía, Ánxela, Branca, Carme, Catuxa, Dores, Erea, Icia, Iria, Ione, Ledicia, Mariña, Olalla, Sabela, Tareixa, Tegra, Uxía, Virxinia, Xema, Xiana, Xonxa e Xosefa.
NOMES PROPIOS PARA NENOS [boys]: Aleixo, Antón, Anxo, Bieito, Brais, Breixo, Breogán, Cibrán, Flavio, Fuco, Lois, Martiño, Nicolau, Paio, Roi, Telmo, Uxío, Xabier, Xacobe, Xan, Xesús, Xian, Xoel, Xosé e Xurxo.
As promised, here are the web pages of the other cities in Galicia. All of these offer Gallego, Spanish and English versions. And Santiago even has some pages in German and French. So this leaves only Pontevedra with a web page only in Gallego. Maybe they haven’t had time to do the translations yet:-
Finally - Every country in the world has things that are odd. Or to put this more accurately – things that folk from other countries find peculiar. Click here to have a butcher’s at a new site by John Chappell, of Iberian Notes, which features bizarre developments that intrigue him. A welcome addition to the blogosphere.