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.