Friday, October 30, 2009

I read today that “Decentralisation is the demand of opposition that governments forget.” Meaning, of course, that once power is gained, it continues to accrue to the centre. It got me wondering whether all those bits of current European states which want to be EU nations in their own right really believe that, when they jump from the frying pan it will be onto firm ground, and not into the fire. I guess they must, relying on the Brussels bureaucratic elite transforming themselves into helmsmen who are happy to keep just a light hand on the tiller. Well, maybe.

Another sobering comment I heard this week was that a mere 200 years ago, you could climb to the top of the cathedral in any city in the world and be able to see all of it beneath you. Without binoculars, I mean.

But back to today and current developments in Spain. I think there must be a recession on. The company that services my existing boiler not only answered my request for an engineer within 24 hours but also called after he’d been to see if things were OK. And then sent the engineer straight back, when I said they weren’t. And it didn’t prove at all difficult getting immediate doctor and dentist appointments this week. But I should add that these were in the private sector, as the Spanish government won’t allow me to use the public sector services for a few years yet. This is despite the fact it’s just hiked up the tax rate on the interest on my savings.

As few people in Spain seem to be concerned about their private conversations being overheard, I guess bars and cafés would be a good place to eavesdrop, if one were that way inclined. But I was still taken aback yesterday to find myself sitting next to a table of six young people in what was clearly some sort of product briefing or training session. Something similar happened in another café this morning. Is this a new cost-saving trend? Can I now expect even higher levels of ambient noise? With none of the usual peaks and troughs? Perhaps even queuing for tables?

Talking of bars, cafés and restaurants, reader Richard has kindly sent me this article, in which the question is raised of whether service here is what is used to be. For me, the answer is a resounding Yes. But, then, I tend to stick to a small number of haunts, in a town which doesn’t thrive on tourism. Maybe things will be different when I’m in Madrid next month, visiting my daughter.

The Galician government (the Xunta) has said it’s relaxed about whatever steps our two large savings banks take - including merger – provided there’s no diminution in their ‘Galician-ness’. Which rather confirms that there are more important things than efficiency and commercial success. Especially to the politicians who control them.

Finally . . . Inspired by my reading of the literature from the exhibition on Gallego I mentioned the other day (Cronicas da Represión Lingüistica) I did some research in the back pages of the Faro de Vigo this morning. To my surprise, I couldn’t find a single word of Gallego in any of the hundreds of small ads there. Even in those specifically advertising the attractions of “mature Gallegan women” with singular endowments. Surely something should be done about this.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Colin,

On the issue of "Cade" and his being moderated out, his parallel blog and all the rest...

I've read his opinions and, however reprehensible his offensive language might be, I think he has a point. Whether you like it or not,deep inside, you know it: what goes round comes round, and rightly so. However hard you may try to rationalise it, you are consciously aware that you come across as offensive and xenophobic, and that it is not casual. It is difficult to believe that yours is just innocent mockery... Yet, you persist, irrationally, I would say that even compulsively.

Now, I'm no psychologist, but I take pride in being a rather good observer of people and, take my word for it, you urgengly need the catharsis of facing yourself and your motives.

One final observation: having a mouth bigger than one's brain (however big that brain may be), is the perfect recipe not only for making yourself hideous to the eyes of others, but for spreading misperceptions (as if the world wasn`t difficult enough to understand as it is), which is a responsibility you must confront once and for all.

Colin said...

I've allowed this comment, even though I suspect it comes from the man himself.

But, just in case it isn't . . .

For the record, I may be all sorts of things but that is for others to judge. And none of them is compelled to keep reading a blog they don't enjoy.

I am not, of course, 'consciously aware' that I 'come across as offensive and xenophobic'.

I am very consciously aware that I am certainly not the latter and very much doubt that I am the former. Except, of course, to those anxious to be offended.

If, Mr/Ms Anonymous, you are one of these then I respectfully suggest you employ your time better by reading something else.

Because I'm certainly not going to change anything.

PS If you really are Mr Cade, it's hilarious that you talk about personality defects, irrationality and compulsion. Find something else to do, for God's sake.

PPS This is the last time I reply to anonymous comments.

Anonymous said...

Colin,

I'm not Cade. I used to occasionally read your blog about two years ago, amongst other things to practice my English; but I ceased to do so as I found some of your tenets and attitudes objectionable to say the least.

Last night, though, while googling for something else, I bumped into it and decided to take a look in... Perhaps to see if you were still depicting Galicians as "umbrella-thieves", or owing to the guilty conscience of not having kept my promise of explaining what I know about "ser" and "estar": just in case I found anything redeeming in it that would make it more palatable to finally honour my word -as they say "better late than never"-

You must understand that a lot goes in a nation's reputation: (1)the status of her nationals abroad, the way they are perceived and treated. (2) the capacity of that nation and her products to "sell well", in the concrete and figurative senses. In other words: its success.

You very often contribute to that negative image, and that is why us Galicians/Spaniards have the moral right to contest your opinions and defend ourselves. That is the only reason that would ever make me want to read you again...

mike the trike said...

To Mr/Miss/Mrs/Ms anonymous. What you see here on this blog is the written word. There is no way you can observe a person just from reading what they write. Some people just put down words as they come to mind and others spend hours thinking carefully what they want to say. One has to be able to talk to a person face to face before making any comments about xenophobia. I don't know exactly what you want me to interpret from your written word but it comes across to me that you are a person who thinks him/herself above anyone else. Now as I pointed out above how on earth can I judge you just by what you have written. I cannot be certain in any way till I meet you face to face and we actually speak so I can see your eyes and your facial expressions and hear your tone of voice. As Colin says if you don't like what you read don't read it. I see you have given some advice to Colin so I too would like to have the same priviledge of giving advice to strangers. I think you would be better off on that other blog trying to sort out that character who has three personalities and sends rubbish to cade.

Anonymous said...

Mike:

You are "dead-on" about how tricky written language is: lacking the "paralinguistic" elements of oral communication that you have rightly pointed out. However, this is precisely why anyone engaged in the task of elaborating a written message must be ten times as careful. And all the more so if this message is published on an electronic support accesible from anywhere in the world, to people who, having no first-hand knowledge of the realities commented on, may get the wrong impression. Not realising this is irresponsible.

I wish you had addressed the issue of "responsibility" and "right to contest" that I touched upon on my last comment, then we could start a truly interesting repartee.

And congratulations on your psychological insight: I do certainly consider myself above a lot of "things" (being above other "people", is a lot more complex)including irresponsibility, flipancy and easy stereotypes.

MR. ANONYMOUS

mike the trike said...

Well anonymous looks like you have boxed yourself into a corner because with your knowledge about responsibility why are you reading this irresponsible blog? Are you part of the cade crusade? There is nothing on this blog that can change my mind about Galicia or Galegos because I am biased towards everything Galego. I don't see anything that is damaging to the people or Galicia written on this blog. If two people from Spain apply for a job in the UK and one is from Galicia I am afraid the Galego gets the job first. Shows you how biased the Brits are towards Galegos.

Jorge said...

To be honest "anonymous" sounds very different from Cade.

I'm none of them (you can check my IP), and I think in his first post anonymous maks a valid point

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