Thursday, June 10, 2010

Times may well be tough but my local council still sees fit to publish a 34 page glossy brochure, giving details of all the fun events it’ll be funding between now and the end of September. I see this includes a Columbus Day, in honour of our most illustrious son. And we’re getting a concert from what was Spain’s biggest group when I first came here - La Oreja de Van Goch - but which has since given way to a series of Pop-Idol-type “stars”.

Talking of recession . . . I was wondering yesterday whether it had brought us any new examples of that strangely persistent feature of modern Spanish cities – the beggar. As far as I can see, we still have the long-standing mix of:-
- The panhandlers at every church door
- The drug addicts who wander the town at lunchtime and whom I later see coming from the retail outlet in the local gypsy settlement
- The ‘gorilas’ who demand coins for showing you an available public parking space you’ve already seen
- The old gypsy crone demanding money for reading your palm and cursing you if you refuse
- The young Rumanian women claiming to be deaf and dumb and to be collecting for an appropriate charity
- The older Rumanian gypsy women who stand outside various supermarkets all day, shouting “Ayúdame!” at everyone entering or leaving. To be more accurate, it’s “Ajúdame”. (By the way, from their girth, all of these appear to eat better than me).
And, finally, the oddest of all . .
- The well-dressed men (and the occasional woman) who sit silently on a doorstep in the shopping precinct in front of a cardboard placard on the pavement saying they have no job and no resources.

Which reminds me . . . A Spanish reader tells me my comments are prejudiced, naïve and plain wrong. And that I should substitute either ‘Galician’ or even ‘Pontevedran’ for the word ‘Spanish’, as this is Europe’s most culturally diverse nation. Making my observations nationally invalid, I guess. Well, I don’t aim for prejudice, naivety or error so, if they’re there, there’s not much I can do about it. And I think I’ll go on using “Spain” and “Spanish” and allow readers to decide whether my comments have any claim to universality.


Victor B. said...

Gorrillas, not gorilas

Colin said...

Thanks, Victor. I did wonder about this but found 'gorilas' to be the Spanish for the English 'gorillas'. I couldn't see the connection with apes but I now suspect the term comes from 'gorra'. Yes?

Alberto said...

Correct. Gorrilla is the diminutive of gorra.

Also, a Gorila is an ape, but it also is slang for a thug or bodyguard(not very evolved from apes) so, in the context of your entry looks that in your town there are guys claiming money from parking and beating those who refuse.

Anonymous said...

Talking of Apes.

I knew you pure-bred Anglophones were unable to pronounce Van Gogh.

Now I see that you're even unable to spell it!

And folks of thatsort dare to edit my writings at times! Bah!


Affable Alfie

Colin said...

Well, I'd like to say it was a deliberate attempt to irritate any passing thin-skinned Dutchman but, in reality, 'twas a slip of the finger. Even Atlas nods.

It reminds me of the time I arranged to meet someone in the Van Gogh cafe in Vigo but couldn't find it. Or not until I happened upon the Bangkok cafe . . . Or perhaps it was the other way round.

And no-one outside the (very) Low Countries can properly pronounce Van Gogh. Or any other Dutch word, it oftens seems to me . . .

Unless by accident, when they are hawking before spitting . . . . :-)

Good job you're not Dutch, Alfie.

Or affable, for that matter . . .

Lucy Watson said...

In the Plaza Mayor & El Retiro there are individuals with accents dressed in scruffy Mickey/Minnie Mouse costumes who gleefully hand balloons tied into sausage dogs (guarenteed to pop in under an hour) to passers by with children then curse the parents when we don't cough up a euro. I have trained my 5 yr old to holler NO GRACIAS MICKEY but sympathise with other tourists. I shan't even start on the gypsy women with sprigs of rosemary who seem to think I am in need in luck...

Anonymous said...

Nah… How difficult can it be to pronounce Dutch? Creative Gurgling is the secret. I’ll show you how to do it!

Go to your wardrobe, dig into the back of it, and don the Scottish Kilt which that funny friend of yours once gave you for your birthday as a joke… (we all have such a friend, left-over from our carefree student days).

Then move over to the liquor cabinet, and pour yourself a triple Scotch of the roughest, throat-burning sort.

Next, poise yourself in front of a window with a view. Find a lake somewhere in the landscape (or if in Pontevedra, a Ria will do). Point at emphatically, and say: “Loch”.

Point at it twice, and say, in quick succession: “Loch-loch”. Now swallow the middle L and say “Lochoch”. Finally: empty the glassin one gulp, drop the “Lo”, and add the first name of that Irish Morrison fellow, and hence pronounce, in impeccable Dutch: “Van Choch”. And there: you’ve done it!

Meanwhile, make sure not to do this within sight or earshot of your local mosque, for a chap in a skirt, who is wearing no veil, but is drinking whiskey and saying something which may be misconstrued as an homage to the murdered film-maker, may not go down well with your Islamic neighbours!

Affable Alfie

Colin said...

Well, that's all well and good, AA. But I recently saw (twice) an episode of QI in which all the panel tried and failed to say 'Van Gogh' correctly. In the end, Stephen Fry brought in his opposite number from the Dutch version of the show and he demonstrated the correct pronunciation - to an audience stunned into silent disbelief. I suspect it would take years of practice with your excellent methodology to come anywhere near it! More like Kho-ook than khok, as I recall.

But I will give it a go. Whilst heeding your warnings. Especially as my Catalan neighbours have sold their house next to mine and departed. And I have no idea of the affiliations of my future new neighbours . . . I'm hoping for a beautiful rich widow of a reasonably tolerant religion (devil worship?) but who knows.