Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Writing about his mother’s funeral, a British columnist today hazarded a guess that only a tiny minority of his fellow countrymen die within a mile of where they were born. Having listed the positive aspects of this, he then suggested there was a downside – “What happens to civic pride, neighbourliness and local camaraderie in a society where people are constantly on the go? There are a hundred sad answers to that. Pubs, corner shops, churches, clubs and other socially binding institutions die. People don't talk to each other in the street. Old people wither away unnoticed. Kids feel no pressure to respect their neighbourhoods, because they see that their elders don't care either. Thus do communities crumble - rural villages as well as inner-city housing estates. Social mobility is one thing; rootlessness and the erosion of local pride quite another. We need a renaissance of the “extended” family - once the greatest support-mechanism known to working parents; now often torn asunder by the frenzy of modern life.” Hard to argue with this, especially from the vantage point of a society in which things have gone nowhere near as awry.

The Spanish Royal Academy has ceded to pressure and announced that the next edition of its dictionary will not include the information that, in some parts of South America, the word gallego [Galician] is a synonym for ‘stutterer’ at best and ‘stupid’ at worst. Though it seems that it will compensate by adding the expression hacer gallego, meaning to take all your opponents’ money from the gaming table. Which seems a good deal to me.

There is money laundering and money laundering, it seems. The Spanish government is reported to have said it will ask no questions of funds coming from tax havens, so long as they’re invested in government securities. Desperate times.

There’s a new clothes shop in Pontevedra - or possibly one I’ve never noticed before. It goes by the name of dayaday[sic] which may or may not be English, of a sort. Like el dumpin, which seems to be Spanglish for 'dumping', as in selling goods below manufacturing cost.

As in other parts of Spain, many Galicians are sure the local cuisine is without peer in the rest of the world. This conviction usually goes hand-in-hand with a gastronomic conservatism that would make my mother – ‘Garlic is the food of the devil’ – seem quite adventurous. I’m reminded of this by a report in today’s Voz de Galicia about a Chinese restaurant in Vigo which yesterday offered a free takeaway lunch to anyone who established they were unemployed. The number of takers? Just two. But they’ll be trying again next week. By which time I should have been able to get hold of a forged card.

1 comment:

Ferolano said...

I wonder which way the columnist would argue for the migrants of the various European countries, who for many varied reasons left their towns and villages of origin to explore and build the “new world”. By comparison moving from north to south or country to city within a given country is small potatoes.
In my case, I knew from an early age that I wanted to explore and see the world and, that my parents were not wealthy enough to fund the trip. So, work was and has been the way to do it. But, don’t worry, I will return to Galicia as it somehow has the fatal attraction to be my last staging post. And well more than a mile from where I was born.

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