Monday, June 16, 2008

Regular readers will know that one of my tropes – I’ve long wanted an excuse to get this fashionable word into my blog – is that, at the macro level, the Spanish are amongst the loveliest people on the planet but, at the micro level, they can come across as astonishingly rude. They’ll also know my explanation for this paradox is that the Spanish owe no duty of consideration to strangers but a huge duty towards anyone with a personal connection. I was reminded of this listening to a Notes from Spain podcast in which Ben and Marina were talking about the smoking that goes on here where people are eating. Marina’s most pertinent comment was that – putting aside the possibility he was just one of the world’s rude people - the guy who was breathing his fumes over their tapas would certainly have asked permission to smoke if he’d been there among a group of friends. But not of them, as strangers. For anyone new to this challenge, I confirm my advice that you establish the essential personal connection by simply asking annoying people to stop doing whatever’s irritating you. At which point you’ll almost certainly find that no one apologises for the sin of inconsideration quite like the individualistic Spanish. C’est la vie. Así son las cosas.

Now that I’ve finally done trope, I wonder how I can get narrative into a post. Oh . . .

As I know well both from reading and talking to my daughter, the teaching profession in the UK has seen saner times. If you’re a teacher in Spain and want to peer into your unsavoury future, click here. If you’re not a teacher but just want another glimpse of the madness of modern Britain, you may still be interested in reading it. And, as a bonus, you can click here for an article by the superb Simon Jenkins on what the Age of the Bureaucrat has meant for education in the UK. How my daughter sticks it out, I cannot comprehend.

If you’re a fan of YouTube’s offerings, you might like to know that much of its content now comprises phoney stuff that is really a sneaky way to get advertising messages to you. Not least of all by the same politicians who are asking for your trust. As someone has written:- The fight for the [US] Democratic nomination was largely conducted on the internet, where rooms full of clever young graduates laboured to produce apparently spontaneous expressions of support for their candidate which they could release, virus-like, into the public domain. Then, of course, there’s the recent Wii Fit hoax.

Talking of politicians and trust – the Conservative MEP, Daniel Hannan, predicts that ‘Two years from now, we will have 99 per cent of the EU Constitution. But there won’t be any more of the planned referendums. The people have forfeited their leaders' confidence’. And he provides me with this Quote of the Week from Bertolt Brecht:- Wouldn't it be easier to dissolve the people and elect another in their place? Which is a Teutonic echo of the Anglo comment I quoted on Saturday - The people have given their opinion. The bastards.

Finally, some more Tapas Trivia – For those who’ve kindly asked about my daily struggle to eat the way I used to before we were hit by the crisis the government says is an illusion:-

1. There are no seats outside my regular café-bar. But there is [thank God] a large no-smoking area inside, including the bar counter,

2. I don’t chose garlic dishes from a menu; the items all come free with my wine, and

3. I’d eat meat done in garlic every day, if only they’d offer it in place of all the healthy vegetable stuff they’re now dumping on me. Fish and shellfish would also be welcome.

As I say, life is tough sometimes.

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. BTW – There’s a big cash prize for whoever is the 30th person to register. Honest.

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