Friday, August 07, 2009

Well, August continues to be like September – or even October – up here in Galicia, while the rest of Spain swelters. Putting it another way, it’s like a good English summer month. Though with temperatures in the high 20s and more sun of an evening. The local papers surveyed some (Spanish) tourists the other day and one Madrileña assured us that folk didn’t all come to Galicia for the sun and the beaches. Just as well, then. But at least our weather forecasters are not so desperate to avoid mention of the rain that they cite it as a positive that the grass pollen season is over and will be now be replaced by the weed pollen season.

I recently rescued a grass snake from the track near my house in the hills. Or, rather, I thought it was a grass snake but diligent research has revealed it’s actually a legless lizard. It’s usually called a ‘slow worm’ in the UK. But, then, you’d be slow if evolution had deprived you of the use of your pins. In Galicia it’s called the escáncer común or liscanzo. Anyway, I mention it because, passing the anglers’ shop today, I decided to see if they stocked its favourite food. Ironically, this is worms. The woman in the shop duly produced a box, took off the lid and revealed a pile of algae. Rather my astonishment, she then turned it over and tipped a writhing mass onto her palm. When I commented that she didn’t seem to have the standard female fear of worms, she laughed and said that maybe up in the interior things would be like that but, down here on the coast, they were used to digging them up and handling them. Be that as it may, the ex-snake has so far refused to touch them. Fussy bloody eater. One-fifty down the drain.

You’ll all be aware of the so-called greengrocers’ apostrophe, as in “Apple’s 80p a kilo”. Well, here are a few examples of an approach that goes way beyond this in a web page I stumbled on today - thes'e document's; it speed's up the process; three occasion's; speeding fine's; citie's ring road's; 6 point's; and village's and town's. Ironically, it was a well-written and informative article.

I’ve mentioned a couple of times that George Barrow wasn’t too keen on Galicia and Galicians. But he didn’t reserve his disdain just for this region. Here he is not mincing his words on Andalucians:-

The higher class of the Andalusians are probably upon the whole the most vain and foolish of human beings, with a taste for nothing but sensual amusements, foppery in dress, and ribald discourse. Their insolence is only equalled by their meanness, and their prodigality by their avarice. The lower classes are a shade or two better than their superiors in station: little, it is true, can be said for the tone of their morality; they are overreaching, quarrelsome, and revengeful, but they are upon the whole more courteous, and certainly not more ignorant.

The Andalusians are in general held in the lowest estimation by the rest of the Spaniards, even those in opulent circumstances finding some difficulty at Madrid in procuring admission into respectable society, where, if they find their way, they are invariably the objects of ridicule, from the absurd airs and grimaces in which they indulge,--their tendency to boasting and exaggeration, their curious accent, and the incorrect manner in which they speak and pronounce the Castilian language. In a word, the Andalusians, in all estimable traits of character, are as far below the other Spaniards as the country which they inhabit is superior in beauty and fertility to the other provinces of Spain.

Yet let it not for a moment be supposed that I have any intention of asserting, that excellent and estimable individuals are not to be found amongst the Andalusians.

In truth, it’s becoming clear that old George wasn’t just a Spanish nationalist but was actually a narrow Castilian nationalist. Contrary to what the Basque, Catalan and Galician nationalists would have us believe, there are other regions in Spain apart from Castile:-

Tomorrow - the Catalans!

And Sunday - Spanish women.


Anthea said...

Colin, I suspect you have gone a little native as regards your attitude to summer. That or there really is a serious difference between Pontevedra and Vigo. Today it was positively sweltering walking round the streets of Vigo. Mind you, at least three Spaniards apologised to us for the bad summer. They seem to feel personally responsible.

Midnight Golfer said...

@ Anthea, that is so funny. I have also gotten the apologetic explanations, especially on days down here when it gets insufferably humid. They assure me it isn't normally like this, and I've been living in the area for over a year.
Back when we lived in California, whenever we had company over from out of state, we always blamed any bad weather (if there was any) on them. We would tell them that they "brought it with them" from which ever state they came from.

I don't know when it began, not with Cervantes, but perhaps with Mozart, Bizet, Hugo and Dumas, or Lola Flores, or even Disney, but the outside world's idea of what Spain is like most closely matches the way that Andalusia still happens to present itself, even more so than that of Castille.
Maybe I'm wrong, but it has always seemed to me that Andalusia "won" the 'honor' of what people think about when they think "Spain."

Maybe I'm just biased, having chosen to live down here. Maybe I'm just a royal jerk, like Mr. Barrow.

Juan said...

I, for one, am glad that Galicia is not experiencing the same temperatures as the rest of Spain (though, I must say that Ourense is certainly a bit hotter than Santiago). I like the sun but I'm not a fan of 40+ temperatures on the daily (which I hear is quite common in Ourense). Anything above 30 and I'm uncomfortable, to say the least.

I have to agree and disagree with Mr. Barrow's ideas on Andalucians. There are a lot of Andalucians that really are like that (especially in the upper classes) and a lot of Spaniards really feel that way towards them. Still, this does not describe all Andalucians and I find that most of them are sweet and genuine. At least it has been that way with all the ones I've met.

Colin Davies said...

!. Totally agree with XW that temperatures over 30 are insufferable

2. Agree with Anthea that it's not too bad [por cierto, there's oftena differnece of up to 3 or more degrees betwee V and P`] but I don't like the dull grey mornings. We get quite enough of them during up to 8 months. I need to wake up to sun in the summer, especially when I don't have guests to cheer me up.

3. Here's a secret. Please don't tell anyone. Before I came to Galicia, I too thought all Spain was much like Andalucia, at least as regards the weather.

4. Of course, most foreigners only know Spain from summer tourism and they tend to go where it's hot and so (relatively) arid. In my case, I had been visiting the south (La Herradura) for more than 20 years. This is not quite the fishing village it was in 84. And nor is Aluñecar the nice unspoilt town next door to visit . . .

Colin Davies said...


You can work out the other typos for yourselves.