Monday, July 27, 2009

Something I’ve noticed about the summer events I attend is that, if you sit on the edge of these, there’s a good chance you’ll see the same person several times during the evening. The other thing I’ve noticed is that it’s always a pretty woman. Odd that.

Anyway, the observant among you – when looking at yesterday’s foto of the band in the bar in Sta Lucía/Moraña – will have noticed that, despite the incredible noise being produced, there was still a TV blaring away in the background. As I wrote, it was a very ‘Spanish’ day.

Even the non-observant among you will have noticed I’ve moaned a lot about the three speeding fines I’ve picked up over the last year. And so will understand why I was interested in a report in our local press yesterday about an ex chief of the Vigo police being investigated for arranging the cancellation of a hundred euro fine handed out to one of our multi-millionaire local drug dealers. The latter obviously felt as aggrieved as I did at the abuse of the law. So, naturally, has my sympathy . . .

Talking of rules . . . Accustomed as I am to the relaxed Spanish approach to these, I rarely find myself shaking my head in wonder these days. Specifically, I’m no longer shocked to see mothers smoking as they lean over their babies’ buggies in the street. But I did find myself pursing my lips in reproof in my regular café-bar today, when two women ignored both the law and the sign on the door and took their toddlers into the dedicated smoking chamber. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so judgmental, today’s most heinous crime.

And still on rules . . . Am I wrong to think that Spain has a higher incidence than average of two particular motoring offences:- 1. Failing to put your lights on at night, and 2. Driving the wrong way down an autopista? The second, of course, is rather more fatal than the former. And is known as kamikaze driving here. Perhaps they’re just a Galician thing.

Finally . . . I leave you with the question posed by my Madrid-based daughter, as I drove along the coast road last weekend at the speed limit, with a huge queue of cars behind me:- “Dad, why on earth are you driving so slowly?”

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mr Davies, my suspicions about you being an agent of Spanish nationalism have been confirmed. You wrote: “despite the incredible noise being produced, there was still a TV blaring away in the background. As I wrote, it was a very ‘Spanish’ day”

Well, that’s the typical perception of the average "Brit", thinking that what they see in the country they have decided to visit, especially when it coincides with their previous (and rather trite if not vulgar) perceptions aboutit, is typical of that country. Very reassuring. You, Mr davies, had a clear-cut, ready-made idea of what “Spain” was (as if there was “one” Spain!) and are happy to confirm your duly previously consumed ideas, at the first occasion presented, and are so happy to make it public, being encouraged by an equally dull-witted readership, reassured in turn to have their own perceptions and prejudices confirmed. How sad is that!

Let me tell you something, Mr Davies, and I hope you show some of the best gentlemanship of a Englishman, to accept critics and let “everybody” read my bitter critique: that rowdiness and boisterous demeanour that you witnessed “is not Spanish”. I don’t know about Greeks or Turks or Albanians, etc, but as long as PORTUGUESE, ITALIANS (especially from the mezzogiorno”) and (Southern) FRENCH (Occitans) is concerned, THIS IS A COMMON TRACT TO THEM ALL. NOTHING DISTINCTIVELY “SPANISH”. Call it “Southern-European”, “Mediterrenean”, “Latin”, whatever, but that is a common tract to all these peoples, including the Atlantic and "Celtic" Galicians, which form part of the same broad culture.

Let’s see if you start to look at the big picture and drop those (very reassuring) prejudices. Not even George Borrow was that dummy.
Perhaps you should travel a bit more and question your own ideas, and start to see the world in terms other than the conventional ones (French-baguette under arm, German take away your towel, etc). Just a suggestion.

Midnight Golfer said...

Leaving the TV on, despite no one watching, or even being able to watch, just so that it increases the ambient noise levels, is both wasteful and annoying. My wife does it to make it more difficult for the neighbors (and me) to figure out what she's talking about on the phone. It's still mind-bending-ly difficult to carry on two simultaneous translations in my head.

I had no idea how multicultural it was, though, until Cade opened my eyes.

Saying that something is "very Spanish" does not keep it from being familiar to other cultures.

Just as saying that something is "local" does not preclude it from being national or regional, nor does it require that it is either.

Driving within the posted speed limits is putting me at risk of death, if looks could kill. I am trying, though.

Anonymous said...

perhpas i am wrong, midnightgolfer, and that practise is as wasteful and annoying as it is only Spanish. The same with the driving. Just Spanish.

So perhaps this blog should change its name (take no offense, mr davies, it's just a suggestion) to "Thoughts from Spain, Southern Europe", since in every comment the word "Spain" or "Spanish" turns up, and all perception is framed against the "Spanish" gauge.

However, let me tell you that I have had no problems driving "devagar" or "a modinho" (slowly) in the Galician roads. I just let people overtake me or bear with me, and had no problem with that. Well, at least in the Galician countryside.

Midnight Golfer said...

Sorry, it sounded like you were making the argument that one should not call the practice "Spanish," as leaving-the-TV-on-when-no-one-is-watching was not just a Spanish phenomenon. Unfortunately, I find it difficult to be sure what you really mean.

I will admit that I am not the most highly educated person, nor the most well spoken, nor very witty, but I am beginning to doubt that the reason your comments are so difficult to parse comes from my end of the deal.

The first time I observed people leaving the TV on was in the Canary Islands. It was the habit of a family that spoke English, at least to me. I had no preconceptions concerning this before I observed it, as hard as it is for you to believe it. I am sure that you have come across behaviors in the UK that you had never even considered, and that do not fall within any of your own preconceptions or paradigms that you had conceived prior to arriving. However, I have since observed the "TV thing" on many other occasions, never outside of Spain, and I have also come to discover that many other non-Spaniards have also experienced it, enough to mention it, and noticed that it IS something, if miniscule, that does set Spain apart from other cultures.

When you say,
"that practise is as wasteful and annoying as it is only Spanish. The same with the driving. Just Spanish."
- do you mean that you believe that driving and TV are wasteful and annoying, or the way that police in Spain choose to perform their enforcement, or that they are not annoying nor wasteful, since they are not exclusively Spanish?
It's just that I honestly don't know what you meant.

To be fair, my comments often don't makes sense, either. When I wrote the comment about driving the speed limit, and getting "looks that kill" from other drivers, instead of just going with the flow of traffic, I was thinking about a previous comment I had made a while back, saying that I was going to start trying to be more aware of the limits and regulations, now that the police are publicizing their more stringent enforcement, so that I can avoid paying any money in fees or tickets, as well as to save on gas.
And no, I don't think Spain has a monopoly on this type of enforcement, even if I do think they have a monopoly on used, overpriced, crappy, old French cars, had a corner on the market of drunk driving, and are more than competitive when it comes to people who think it's fun to drive the wrong way on the freeway. Even if these beliefs of mine could be demonstrated statistically, it doesn't mean that there is anything particularly "Spanish" about them, but it is fun to speculate, and to be a spectator to such speculation. Thus blogs like this.

For those of us reading this blog, we are getting the author's thoughts from his locale, whether or not they are thoughts about his locale. Sounds like it bears pointing out to you that Galicia is in Spain.
What color is your passport, anyways?

mike the trike said...

"being encouraged by an equally dull-witted readership, reassured in turn to have their own perceptions and prejudices confirmed." I wondered why I enjoy it so much.

Colin said...

Mike,

I must own up to being even more dim and dull-witted than Cade takes me for. I have lived in 6 countries/cultures and become proficient in 7 languages but still have only a fraction of his perceptive capabality. Possibly none at all.

so, I am now again contemplating suicide, such is the importance of his views to me . . .

What would we do without him?

And the best thing is that, people are so keen to read his latest gems, that traffic to my blog is up around 100% and so I'm now raking it in from the Google Ads program.

Please stay with us, Cade. You are priceless. And it must be a pleasant change for you having people prepared to at least listen to you. Regardless of what they actually think of your views.

Anonymous said...

@ midnightgolfer

I have experienced, being in a bar, the following simultaneous processes:

a) Most of punters shouting, laughing or even singing, rather than talking

b)The TV being at full blast, with nobody or perhaps the odd fellow (trying to) watching and listening, the rest oblivious to it

c) Not simultaneously, but some stage later or earlier, in the same bar, the TV on at great volume (it could be heard from the street, far away) and the bar empty, or with a few customers oblivious to the TV

This excruciating experience happened to me in different bars located in:
1) Different Castilian towns and villages
2) Different Galician towns and villages (including my own)
3) Different towns and villages in Suthern France
4) Several towns and villages in Southern Italy
5) Several towns and villages in Portugal (North and insular)

So, what is the rationale behind to describe this barbarous practise as "Spanish"?

Perhaps there is one, just let me know, please, I am extremely interested.

Colin said...

Are you really so thick you don't know the difference between

1. 'Spanish', and

2. 'Exclusively Spanish'

This is a rhetorical question, of course.

Keep it up, Chippy. As I say, you're making me rich.

Anonymous said...

@ my friend who likes to play golf at night, with no regrets about wasting electricity:

As a kid I remember we Galicians refering to how Portuguese use to drive as "mad". Heard comments in Madrid about us Galicians driving as "mad" (which could be explained as in Madird don't have as many bends, by far, as in Galiza). Seen the reckless way people drive in France and even more recklessly perhaps in Italy.

So, my point, dear golf poacher, is: what the hell has this got to do with being Spanish?

I know that people in, let's say, Leicestershire, like their fish & chips, but I wouldn't do a blog to write on it "ah, yeah, and this one is me and my friend doing a VERY LEICESTERIANISH THING: EATING FISH AND CHIPS"

Anonymous said...

@ Mr Davies

I want a cut from your profits, sir, it is only fair. But if I just could get people to think about their own prejudices and see the world as something more than the fief of the globalizingly stupid forces, then I'll consider myself as duly rewarded.

Your "Spanish" perhaps wasn't meant as "exclusively Spanish", but just to make it clear, it is worth making the point explicit, as I am doing here. Otherwise, your readers, who surely aren't as well travelled and poliglotic a as you are, will think that TV thing is "exclusively Spanish" as midnightgolfer does.

Just to make things clear.

Cheerio

ANA said...

Priceless. He's like a wasp at the window. Is it exclusively British/Anglo Saxon/American/Irish/Atlantic Island/outside the Iberian Peninsular to feel you have to justify/explain/deny yourself everytime you express an opinion to someone from France or Spain or Galicia? Please don't kill yourself Colin Davies. I am very selfish and enjoy this blog with or without the glib comments including mine.By the way, the Aragonese are a difficult bunch but not half as difficult as some chavs I once met in Hayes,Middlesex.

mike the trike said...

Be honest! You have never had so much attention in all your life since you came onto this site. You love every minute of it and it has now become a passion. So much so you have even registered a pseudonym so you can have your comments published to the world. This is one of the best blogs on the internet and the readership is world wide. Although not many readers comment they do enjoy the blog and fifty percent of the hits to this site are the same readers returning each day without fail. Go to another site and make a comment and you will get no reaction but come here and the author will entertain you and also the dumb readers. Your number of comments is building up and you are becoming a regular even though you are beginning to sound like a parrot with your input. So Leicesterman remember we the dumb readers are your audience and without us you are ---well--- just another Leicesterman.

Anonymous said...

@ mike the trike

don't underestimate the power of the human brain, anyone who commits himself to reflect and have an opinion of their own, rather that trusting in others', can achieve that very human condition of inteligence.
I understand that I may irritate you, and the rest, but it is my purpose to question prejudices and expose the falacy of what I call "global stupidity". I know it is not easy trying not to be stupid, but one must try. Or if submitting, be stupid your own way, don't let the others dictate the way your stupidity should be. Try to be yourself, that's the message.

Just one last advise, a practical one: imagine that what I write here it is you yourself who actually wrote it. Focus on the message, not in the messenger.

There is no answers, only questions. Nobody will teach nothing, not even colin, it is you that learn.

And for everybody: thank you for your support for colin, i am sure he appreciates it. I know I am too harsh on him. But he needs to learn too.

oidor said...

I agree with Mr. Cade in most of his points, including that of a share on benefits from this web page. It´s good to see for example how difficult is to understand for some people the term -prejudgement-or even -racism-.

May be changing "spanish" or "galician" by "nigger" or "jew"
or better yet "juden", on the original post, the view of Mr Cade appears more obvious for some people.

"And still on rules . . . Am I wrong to think that Israel has a higher incidence than average of two particular motoring offences:- 1. Failing to put your lights on at night, and 2. Driving the wrong way down an autopista? The second, of course, is rather more fatal than the former. And is known as kamikaze driving here. Perhaps they’re just a jewish thing."

¿And how about the prejudgement of the emigrated people from Galicia? Mr. Davies can give the right post where he said that emigrated people from Galicia had aquired his fortunes using "questionable" ways. Put "jews" on this post and let´s see.

Ah, e un saúdo a Mr.Davies.

mike the trike said...

Well Leicesterman you are just like me a nobody and only a statistic in the government files. However, you are living in an atmosphere that I managed to escape from. I am quite happy here in Galicia and enjoy life as best I can fitting in with my neighbours. I have no reason to dislike the Galician people. Yes they do have some annoying habits but one can find that anywhere. Since living here I have adapted my life to suit the local customs and do not expect any special favours. I'm in my 70s so I doubt if you can tell me more about life than what I have already seen and experienced in my years. You said, "it is my purpose to question prejudices and expose the falacy of what I call "global stupidity". Don't kid me please you are only on here to spout your propaganda and expect the world to sit up and listen. As I said before open up your own blog where you can control everything and sit back and wait for comments from people who are desperate to be informed.

Colin said...

@Oidor

Equally

"And still on rules . . . Am I wrong to think that Britain has a higher incidence than average of two particular motoring offences:- 1. Failing to put your lights on at night, and 2. Driving the wrong way down a motorway? The second, of course, is rather more fatal than the former. And is known as kamikaze driving here. Perhaps they’re just an English thing."

Sorry, but none of these versions or any other - is 'reacist'. Unless the person reading them is desperate to be offended.

What you are effectively saying is no one can comment on anything. What a world!

Anonymous said...

mr mike the trike

it's not me who does the propaganda here. On the contrary, I am here to question and scrutinize (direct or indirect)propaganda. Mr davies is free to expose his ideas, perceptions and prejudices, and so are you, but I am too entitled to question them.

As a Galician who doesn't feel necessary to ditch my own culture and language, despite of all that is against this my stance, I want to make clear that it is my right and choice, even though I (or we) "don't have the guns".

Mr davies, seems to ignore and disrespect this view, choosing to put all Galicians in the same box, which IS NOT AN "ASEPTIC" OR NEUTRAL STANCE". That stance has a clear name: SPANISH NATIONALISM. It is a political view, to which mr davies subscribe, actively or passively. (though i wonder if his Spanish Nationalism stops when it gets to Gibraltar, and if so why)

Obviously, when most Galicians subscribe to that stance too, i am not going to blame Mr davies more than any other of those Spanish Galicians. I would prefer though he had sympathy for a stance like mine, who am a Galician nationalist reluctantly, that is, to defend myself from Spanish nationalism.

I wish you a happy time in my original country, mike the trike, but sometimes it is better to be a bit unhappy and question, reflect, denounce any injustice. I don't think Spanish nationalism will bring any good to anyone, on the contrary: more neo-liberalism, what I call "stupid globalization". Spanish nationalism supported Georg W Bush, for example, and it is an active agent of the culture of the banal that invades us all, here and there. I understand you may not feel confortable about questioning" the system, but don't be annoyed if others, like me, do take that attitude. Let the younger folk keep on dreaming. Don't take that away from us.

mike the trike said...

@Cade
While you are lecturing me about Colin and his "propaganda" I am busy choosing what kind of casket I would like to be buried in. Spanish nationalism? Sorry, all that sort of stuff is alien to me and I am glad I am not involved in any of it. Meanwhile I have to find out if I want to be buried in a nicho or go for cremation. Such is life decisions, decisions when will it all end?

Anonymous said...

@ colin

mr davies, you are on the defensive now, after what mr oidor wrote, but it doesn't look good on you, believe me:

1)Remember when you wrote about that galician pensioner being racist for having said "they conned us as if we were Chinese", or something similar? Well, that was racist for you, remember? Your point being that in your view Spanish hold Chinese as stupid people, in some way or another. Well, in my view English people like you consider Spanish as unnecessary boisterous and loutish and wasteful when IN MY VIEW, that is not so, but warm, spontaneous and friendly and generous and insouciant. So you were being racist, mr davies. Mr oidor is right.

2) if you substitute the words "Britain" and "English" in your post above, where you answer to mr oidor, and write that in a blog called "Thoughts from Wales, Britain", i am sure many a welshmen wouldn't feel happy at that "English" reference. They would have accepted perhaps a "British" one. Now, I am not happy with the "Spanish" reference you used. If you had used "Galician", or "Souther-european", I would have had no problem at all.

So, why do I bother with "Spanish"? Because, mr Davies, in your opinion (as you left very clear in your Almeria buddy's blog) SPANISH IS THE LANGUAGE OF THE WHOLE OF SPAIN, AND ANYONE SHOULD'T BE COMPELLED TO SWITCH TO CATALAN, BASQUE OR GALICIAN. That is when your reference to "a very Spanish thing" is offensive for me, because behind it there lies a pro-Spanish nationalistic stance, which is the one that aims at destroying or assimilating my culture.

Colin said...

@Cade

For someone purporting to educate us in logic you seem remarkably deficient in it . .

I make a comment about Galicia which you don't like, so I must be a Spanish nationalist.

I go to Corsica and say I am unhappy with something there, so I must be a French nationalist

I go to Wales and say it's hard to understand the road signs in Welsh so I must be an english nationalist.

I go to California and say there's something I don't like about the water, so I must be . . what? . .A Mexican nationalist?

What a busy little multi-faceted nationalist I am.

I suppose it's the price I pay for senility and stupidity.

What's your excuse?

Of course, if I really were a Spanish nationalist, I'd say it was because you're a Gallego. But, thankfully, I'm well aware that you're not remotely representive of the people of this region/country/nation. Partly, of course, because you don't even live here.

Anonymous said...

no problem, mike the trike, I am sure there is nothing more important than thinking very careful and preparing ones's own funeral. Why worry about life and the problems of your people or even the world? Let's just make sure we get a proper funeral

Anonymous said...

mr davies, don't be a demagogue, if you are not happy with something in Corsica it doesn't necessarily mean you are a french jacobine, if you can't read Welsh signs it doesn't mean you are an English nationalist.

You are though taking sides with Frech or English nationalist if you criticise Corsican or the Welsh people to try to introduce their language in the school system, or if you expect to be addressed in french and English by the native of those countries. You may ask to be addressed in french or english, but not take it as granted.

However, your view is that in Galiza IT IS EXPECTED THAT YOU OR A MADRID PERSON BE ADDRESSED IN SPANISH AND NOT A GALICIAN CAN EXPECT TO BE ADDRESSED IN GALICIAN BUT IN SPANISH.

Your views are clearly exposed in that sad chap David Jackson's blog, I may go there and bring some excerpts.

You are taking sides with one of the "parts" involved, the "pro-Spanish", which yes, it is majority, for your own shameless rejoice. I am not representative? I wouldn't go that far, otherwise there wouldn't be so much votes for the galician nationalists.

You are a hypocrite that show a complet and shameless disregard for those who just want to make a stand against for their own culture.

No problem, we'll keep on talking

oidor said...

"And still on rules . . . Am I wrong to think that Britain has a higher incidence than average of two particular motoring offences:- 1. Failing to put your lights on at night, and 2. Driving the wrong way down a motorway? The second, of course, is rather more fatal than the former. And is known as kamikaze driving here. Perhaps they’re just an English thing."

It looks better, humble and autocritic...Just practice it more.
In fact in the traffic magazine of the RACE, an statistic show that UK was very close to Spain in the index of accidents on road. So this was prejudgement.

And, Mr. Davies, you have no way to offend me, at least by now. There is a sentence used in L.A. wich says it all: "No ofende quien quiere sino quien puede".

CafeMark said...

Cade - If you're in Leicester you really should avoid the fish n chips. Instead go for an Indian meal (cooked normally by Bangladeshis) down the Melton Road. Now that IS a true Leicester experience, me-duck!!

Anonymous said...

@ cafemark

no, I'm not in Leiscester, never even been there. All a conjucture of someone worrying more about the messenger than the message itself.

But where i live I have been to a Bangladeshi one, absolutely delicious.

Midnight Golfer said...

*Number of accidents-per-mile-driven is the only one that really counts, followed closely by fatalities-per-mile-driven, and total-value-of-insurance-payout-per-capita, otherwise you're comparing apples to oranges.

*MidnightGolfing uses no electricity, and produces no carbon emissions, nor does it have anything to do with being Spanish.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3nKVRPCgXs

*"I had no idea how multicultural it was, though, until Cade opened my eyes."

*I don't think I've made the claim, at least not on this blog, that bad driving is typically Spanish. Correct me if I'm wrong. Seriously, I mean it.

I do think, however, that there are some TYPES of bad driving more common to Spain, and others more common to other cultures.

Anonymous said...

@ the very green practiser of the very sustainable sport of midnight golf

First of all, thank you all anglosaxon golfers (and non- golfers too, though awaken still by midnight, but not to watch TV) for helping to make burgeon that so sustainable sport called golf, and for helping to exhaust the aquifers of Southern Europe (no, not only of Southern Spain). I appreciate very much your cultural values. And the thousands of jobs created for (only) "locals", who are too lazy to wish to make a proper living in their own "region" and keep their culture not to wait for the wise forces of globalization to come to their rescue. Hopefully with "your vision" all excesses of those nationalist who, like the Galician ones, denounce the much civilized concreting over of the galician coastline, will be exposed and this deranged people silenced for ever, as they learn better Spanish and worse Galician, language this one that serves only as a political weapon to destroy the most democratic and civil bourbon kingdom of Spain, very intent in spreading the message that all Spaniards, as citizens of the most glorious nation, must share the same (in)culture.

About the typically bad Spanish driving: I would be very interested, midnightgolfer, in knowing how "tipically different" it is to "typical Portuguese bad driving" and to "typical Italian bad driving".

Once you point to me this so nationlly-clear-cut types of bad driving, then I will point out to you how "typical galician bad driving" diverges from "typical Madrid bad driving". Just to show you things from another angle, beyond the most commonly used.

Midnight Golfer said...

Who are you calling, "anglosaxon?!"

Anonymous said...

Who am I calling "anglo-saxon"?, mr midnightgolfer?

It is not clear?: those who call me "Spanish".

Who has the best claim to feel offended, you or me? If I call you from now on "yankee", would you call me "galician", in reciprocity?

Midnight Golfer said...

I was born in Virginia, south of the Mason-Dixon, so no, you won't call me "yankee."