Monday, October 05, 2009

A friend in England has asked me whether my younger daughter is still teaching there. His query arises from the fact that two of his friends in the profession there are on the verge of quitting, so unhappy are they in their jobs. Here in Spain a good deal of emphasis is being put at the moment on the restoration of authority in schools. And, as I’ve said a couple of times, there’s a lot of talk here among teachers about how much more difficult things are than only a few years ago. My impression, though, is that they have a very cushy life compared with that of their British colleagues.

Said daughter was telling me this weekend that her young cat had been savaged by the new dog of her drug-taking neighbour. Need I say that it’s a Staffordshire bull terrier? And can it be much longer before Hannah decides that Spain is a better bet for a decent life? Especially for a teacher. I certainly hope not.

But nowhere is perfect. I hinted once again yesterday that Spain is a very noisy place. So I was naturally interested to see a letter in today’s El Mundo complaining that, while steps are being taken to reduce the noise from bars and binge drinking in the street, nothing at all is being done to stop inconsiderate residents from making their neighbours’ lives a misery with loud parties and incessantly blaring TVs. The writer called for the stricter regulations of other European countries but I fancy the Spanish government will have higher priorities for quite some time yet. For example, introducing and then imposing a blanket ban on smoking in all public places. Currently threatened but possibly only a chimera.

And here in Pontevedra the mayor’s most important objective is to get cars off the streets. My prediction is that his next ploy will be to introduce the no-parking stretches before and after zebra crossings that are the norm in other countries. Not that, as a pedestrian, I would necessarily complain about that.

After walking around Ponte de Lima yesterday, my visitor commented on the impressive cohesion and harmony about the folk thronging the town’s streets. Which I took to be a reference to the absence of the discordant notes one senses in a British city centre. The same thing can be said, I believe, of most Spanish towns. Even if the noise levels are appreciably higher. Which is as positive a note as any on which to end. At least if you live in Spain.


Alberto MdH said...

Dear Colin,

Forgive me for giving you work but Could yo clarify the "discordant notes" concept? As a Spaniard I have never seen Spanish cities as specially harmonious (and less than any other my hometown, Vigo)


Eamon said...

Colin. Nice new photo of you sitting back enjoying life.

Colin Davies said...

Alberto, Quick response, off the top of my head.


More conformity of street architecture. Every town centre now looks the same.

Fewer small shops. All the same large chains or franchises.

More latent aggression on the part of (hooded) youths

So, more latent/actual fear

Fewer family duos/groups.

Fewer kids and none that say hello to adult strangers (all parents are terrified of paedophiles)

More haste, stress, etc.

Hope this helps.

Alberto MdH said...


Now the concept is clear to me, but perhaps what you call discordant, I would call impersonal (Or soulless?) But I see all these trends also in the Spanish cities (maybe not so much in Pontevedra as in Vigo ) Perhaps we ought to write it down on the negative side of globalization (which, moreover, has provided us english blogs about Galicia, so too has its good things)

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Alberto. Yes, I agree about the impersonal aspect.