Thursday, November 27, 2008

Like most foreigners – but very few Spaniards – I have two first names [David and Colin] and one surname. As all resident extranjeros will know, what this means is that every telemarketer who interrupts my day assumes my second name is the first of the minimum of two surnames which each Spaniard has. The happy result is that I’m usually politely addressed as Señor Colin, just before I impolitely slam the phone down. Or, if I’m in a good mood, I advise that Señor Colin passed away earlier in the week. It’s small things like this that keep me sane.

As I’ve said more than once over the years, the Spanish seem to revel in blood and gore. Just as I was starting on my midday tapa today, I glanced at the front page of the ABC newspaper, to be met by a picture of body parts strewn across the floor of a shopping centre in India. Just what I needed.

Thanks to the end of the construction boom, there’s an awful lot of property for sale throughout Spain, much of it new and empty. One of the few positives about this is that it’s not the custom here to stick one to five estate agent placards on poles at the front of the garden. As happens in the UK and, I think, the USA. So, things could be aesthetically worse; I could be driving past forests of these things every day.


Some of life’s ironies are less significant than others. Walking this morning past one of Pontevedra’s numerous clothes boutiques for wealthy ladies, I noticed virtually every item displayed was black. And yet the name of the shop was ‘Penelope Blanco’. Maybe blanco is the new negro.

The classical concert we attended the other night was, at best, two thirds full. And the average age probably the wrong side of 55 or 60. This got me wondering as to whether ballet, opera, theatre and classical music have a lesser following here in Galicia than elsewhere. I do know there’s a Galician Royal Philharmonic Orchestra but that still leaves the other three with a question mark over them. Anyone know? And is there a Catalan National Theatre or an Andalucian Opera Company, for example. Or even a Spanish National Ballet? Not that I’d ever attend it, of course.

Pontevedra has a new watering hole, an ex-restaurant which now likes to regard itself an English pub. Or paff, as they say in Spain. But it isn’t really. It’s a pastiche of a place, furnished with end-of-the-19th century kitsch purporting to be from, would you believe, South Africa. But I guess it’s as close as we’ll ever get to the real thing. Which is important when you read the latter might soon be only a folk memory back in Britain.

I’m actually typing this in the above paff and the pix below show two of its four rooms, only one of which doesn’t have a TV blaring from the wall. I’m pleased to see it has wi-fi but I suppose it was too much to ask it would have a no-smoking area. And so the search goes on for a quiet, smoke-free place in which to relax, read, take a coffee or wine and perhaps even to access the internet. Though without too much optimism. Perhaps I should import one of Britain’s dying pubs and make a fortune.

Anyway, this is as good as link as I can manage into this plug for a beer which I’ve never actually drunk but which my blogger colleague, Trevor of Kalebeul, says is his favourite tipple.


Alfonso el Idiota said...

One small village of indomitables still holds out against the Treasury...

Colin said...

Which one?

Alberto said...

Two first names are not so rare in Spain, you only have to look at the last two prime ministers (José María Aznar & José Luís Rodriguez Zapatero) or to king Juan Carlos. The problem with the telemarketers (and almost everyone else) is that you have only one surname so the assume that your second name is the first surname (a common error in Spain)
In compensation, we spaniards have the reverse problem with dealing with foreigners (the assume that our first surname is our last first name) In my case it is even worse since my first surname is composite. So I have problems with both spaniards and non-spaniards.

David Jackson said...

We have exactly the same pub in Turre, Almeria. Owned by a chap whose pappy made a killing selling dodgy flats to guiris. No doubt this was his way of making amends.

Keefieboy said...

Bowman Ales seems to have a bit of attitude: I shal make a point of trying to find some next time I deign to visit Blightylandia.