Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Cheating; Teaching; Fishing; and Driving

Yesterday evening I tackled the five teachers to whom I give a conversation class on the morality of helping a colleague with ideas for an essay she was getting in an exam later that night. None of them accepted it was cheating. Or even laziness. And the preferred analogy – glossing over the fact she was not supposed to know the subject of the essay – was that of doing some research on the internet prior to the exam. In the end we agreed to differ but I had no problem with their assertion that, in the Spanish context, it would have been discourteous not to respond to a friend’s request for help. And we moved on to the subject of John Terry and his extra-marital adventures. Which did produce some interesting differences of opinion between them. The basic one being between those who felt even a one-night fling was unacceptable and those who felt the line should be drawn somewhere else. But then, of course, the latter group fell out over where that line should be. An interesting hour.

Talking of teachers . . . The wi-fi café I now use most mornings is close to a secondary college. Around 11.30 each weekday, it’s invaded by a large number of teachers taking their morning coffee break. Which lasts at least half an hour. Try as I might, I can’t imagine my teacher-daughter back in the UK being able to snatch more than for minutes for a coffee from a machine in the staff room. Let alone leaving the school to repair en masse to a nearby café. Different worlds.

The local papers this week have made much of the fact there’ll be 3.2 billion euros worth of work put out to tender in Galicia this year for the AVE high speed train link with Madrid. More than in any other region, ever. But, truth to tell, with the Ministry of Development having its 2010 budget significantly reduced, I’d be more than astonished if this actually happened. I’ve already shelved my forecast of 2018 as the earliest date we’ll have the line that was promised for 2012, even as recently as – you’ve guessed it – the last general election in 2008.

Spanish fishing fleets favour an area called Gran Sol. As sol means ‘sun’, I’ve always assumed this was somewhere down Africa way. But no, it turns out to be west of the British Isles. And the suggestion is that this sol is a corruption of the English word for a type of fish – the sole. I’m a tad sceptical, so can anyone verify this?

Finally . . . Reader Ferrolano wrote to say that the phantom crossing I showed the other day seemed to him to be rather dangerously located. Well, here are two more examples of how the admirable Spanish avoidance of excessive concern for safety sometimes leaves you wondering whether this doesn’t go a bit too far.

The first is of the approach to the crossing where I gave up producing statistics on the average number of drivers who stopped for me as I waited at the side of the road. I decided that, as the crossing was round a blind bend, this was almost certainly not a fair test of driver responses.

And here’s the same crossing from the other direction. True, if your eyes are sharp enough, you can see the sign on the right hand sign. But the crossing itself is below the brow of the hill and, so, hidden from your line of sight.

Talking of line of sight, it 's nice to know that the people who block it on both sides of this crossing will be the same ones prosecuting you for hitting any pedestrian who suddenly emerges from behind the rubbish bins on either side.


Mike said...


In the shipping weather forecast, at least, sea-area "Sole" is to the south of Ireland and to the west of Land's End.

Mike said...

Also see: Sole Bank


The Sole Bank is a sand bank in the Atlantic Ocean, south-west of Cornwall. It is best known for giving its name to a sea area in the Shipping Forecast. Conventionally it is divided between the Great Sole Bank and Little Sole Bank.

Anonymous said...

And I always thought the "intelligent" placement of street furniture was a feature only of the warm Andaluz south. What a surprise...

Colin said...

Many thanks, Mike. I now see that lenguado is 'sole' in both English and French.

Mike said...

My pleasure.

Doing a Google search on "sole bank" and "gran sol" together seems to confirm that the Gran Sol is the Great Sole Bank. However, Gran Sol is also used as the name of a sea area in the Spanish shipping weather forecasts. It is, effectively, a large sea area comprising Plymouth, Lundy, Fastnet and E Sole.

As far as etymology goes, Wikipedia says (though no source is cited): "The name 'sole' comes from its resemblance to a sandal, Latin solea. In other languages, it is named for the tongue, e.g. German Zunge, Spanish lenguado."

I'll stop now before I make myself look like a chronic case of "anorakism".