Thursday, July 16, 2009

I have a Spanish friend who's had two English boyfriends and who, as a lawyer, has worked a good deal with British house buyers. As a result, she's pretty cross-cultural and, indeed, her Spanish friends are wont to call her La Britanica. Especially when she advises them their preconceptions are wrong. But I had to tell her on Sunday that she has as much chance of being truly British as I have of being truly Spanish. This was after she’d told me that another Brit’s accent was “worse than yours.” Nobody British, I told her, would ever say something as blunt as that but would opt for an alternative such as “not as good as yours”. If this is the hypocrisy that we Brits are regularly accused of, then I have to say I prefer it!.

And speaking of Spanishness . . . I was wrong last week to say that Tony had gone back to sea – the result of a mistake on my wall chart. Yes, I do track his movements. Anyway, he turned up at my gate this afternoon, asking for a favour. As the woman (“chica”) who looks after the kids is on holiday, the younger boy, Pablo, couldn’t be taken every day to the grandparents’ house so he could practice the piano. So, as I had a piano, they were wondering if he could use it. Well, I tried a few shafts of British humour designed to demonstrate I wasn’t totally enchanted with the thought of Pablo doing this every day for two months but, as these clearly went right over Tony’s head, I had little choice but to agree. And so they came at 5. And left at 5.05. Happily, a couple of scales with one hand seems to be young Pablo’s limit right now. And the other bit of good news is that Tony flies to Singapore tonight, to pick up his oil tanker. As it were. One door closes and another opens.

Pontevedra City now has a new tourist organisation and this is its HQ.

They say it will be functioning by September – when all the tourists have gone – but, as little is going on right now and nothing at all will happen in August, I find this a little hard to believe.

The rest of the city is equally ready for the summer tourist season, which began a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few fotos of the mess in front of the town hall and on the Alameda, where our Peregrina Fiesta events will take place in a couple of weeks. I will let you know how things go.

Which reminds me – I’ve now had a full look at the program for July and August and found that far more than two events had taken place before it hit the streets. But does anyone care? Or, as most of our tourists are Spanish, is it just assumed they’ll be unaffected by the lack of information and the mess in the streets? And only too happy to return for a second bite at the mouldy cherry.

To be more positive . . . We had a lovely exhibition of Galician musical instruments in the main square this week. I found the harps particularly attractive but this might just have been because the woman manning the stall was stunning. Frankly, I think she soon saw through my questions about design, wood used, strings material, etc. Or she would have done if I’d had the courage to ask them.

English Showers: The Sky woman went straight to the point this morning. “The showers will be heavy, slow-moving and thunderous. But also the least of our problems. Two to four inches of rain will fall on many places today.” What fun.

Finally, if you have any understanding of the Blair-Brown feud that has disfigured British politics over the last 12 years, this video of yesterday’s proceedings in the House of Commons may bring as many tears to your eyes as it did to mine. Enjoy.


Midnight Golfer said...

Being "blunt" reminds me of my wife, a Spaniard, who after having lived long enough in the States to become aware that she didn't come across as quite as nice of a person as she thought her self to be, she let me know that she didn't care for all the "fake" ways we had of saying things to each other, and she wasn't about to change the WAY she speaks, just because she's speaking a different language.

I still feel a little guilty for having unknowingly started it all by simply answering "fatter" when she asked me how to say "más gorda" ...not realizing she was about to tell one of her (now ex) American friends that she was looking más gorda, when they greeted each other at a party.

If only it had ended there.
It didn't. Her realization of the lack of frankness in my cultures' speech dragged out over many moons, and as I have few social graces myself, and am often just barely aware of what is considered acceptable in the social contract, I wasn't of much help.

I have decided to give up and adopt her liberating attitude, now that I'm living in Spain. It is so much easier to no try to "change the way I speak" despite trying to speak a different language. I don't care if I'm understood in context anymore. It's not like I'm very well understood anyhow, even when I do try.

Colin said...

Thanks, MG. Made me smile. But are you seco or tactful when you are talking in Spain?

vinceinlondon said...

Hi Colin

How are you?
I was just wondering if you could provide me with an email to get in touch with you privately

My name is Enzo and wanted to offer you something as part of a campaign I am running here in the UK for british expats

Would be great if you contact me on for further details

Thanks a bunch

Anonymous said...

@ Midnight Golfer:

If your wife was a Galician (reared properly in that culture free from some “Spanish” cultural influences) she wouldn’t never dare say that. She would have asked you how to say in English “you look healthier”, “I see you’ve got a good face”, for example.
That directness of saying “you look fatter” is very much Castilian Spanish (hint: “caballero, en Castilla no hay curvas”), and it is alien to the Galician spirit.

Recognising and acknowledging the existence of this type of nuances, that are very common in colonized peoples (especially when the colonized absorve many of the tracts of the coloniser, even if they go against their own “spirit”) is very important in order to be able to understand what is native and what alien.

But someone here hasn't even understand this, nor does he want to.

Anonymous said...

Mike the trike wrote:

“Colin is taking on the world to write this blog and I admire his courage in doing so. I think a lot of people would not be able to suffer the abuse Colin has received on this blog and would quietly make an exit.”

Wellllllll … I don’t seem to agree with you, especially regarding the courage bit, when the poor arrogant chap hosting this rather dull (other than by the display of misconceptions and disrespect for human culture, especially that Galician) blog is systematically deleting my postings. I have answered your questions, mike the trike, but that sad geezer colin (after asking me himself to do so!) is just deleting them. It seems that in this blog any discordance with the main line of thought (a quite trite one, no need to go to Spain to elaborate on it) will not be tolerated. Or that any comment that can lead to uncover his chauvinistic ignorance (which is just what I am trying to do) will be duly removed.

Talk about Spanish inquisition …

But I won’t give up, yet. I am sure that mr colin davies will come to sense and dispel any trace of chauvinistic behaviour and will apologise (for disrespect towards my culture and past insults in that david jackson’s Almeria blog) to this Galician that is taking the bother to write here in English

Midnight Golfer said...

Am I seco or tactful?
My wife, raised by her family, that goes back for a couple dozen generations in Aranjuez, used to tell me I say, "Thank-you" way too much.
Now she just gives me "the look" when she hears me being "too polite"

Now THAT was an interesting and insightful comment.
I'll just assume that your previous manners on this blog, (and I can't imagine how bad the comment you made that DIDN'T make it here,) I'll just assume that I can blame the Castilian colonizers, and their bad influence on your manners.
Darn Castilian bluntness.

Anonymous said...

You can blame the Castilian colonisers, yes, Midnight Golfer, for my spurts of rudeness ... We Galician are very deferencial people, as opposed to Castilian (I am talking in general terms, of course)which can lead some of us to "take in" more that we can actually digest, and then unexpectedly "fly the handle".

This is a common Galician trend, we pass as fools or wretches (check here: especially the meanings 5 & 6) and this strategy has pay off (at an individual level, not collectively) but also have a rebellious / streak ... you will easily find a Galician scheming behind many a uprising, and in a quite uproarious manner)

I guess this trend is quite common in colonised peoples ...