Saturday, July 31, 2010

Our annual fiesta in Pontevedra may be due to formally start this weekend but we’ve already had weeks of fun in the street. Including, of course, the wonderful Jazz & Blues Festival of last week. Last night there were three itinerant groups in the city centre, once again showing just how proficient the Spanish are at having fun. One of them was a troupe of grotesques (Calaveras y Diabalitos) who could have come straight out of The Lord of the Rings. All were horrifically be-masked and dressed in rags, with some on stilts and some waving flares which surely wouldn’t have been allowed in overly safety-conscious countries. Then there was a terrific group of musicians down in Vegetables Square, playing stuff which reminded me of Hungarian gypsy dancing. So I guess these were Folk Balcánico. Finally, there was a Mexican mariachi group on a float, accompanied by dancers on stilts. One of them a gorgeous young lady whom one could not help but notice. Or at least not this one.

Topically, we have our first corrida or bullfight tonight and the peñas were already out in force at lunchtime today. I’ve read this is the only one in Galicia – and it’s true we have a permanent ring in the centre of town - but I fancy I’ve heard of a temporary ring along the coast in Noia. One of the articles I’ve read this week quoted Hemingway as saying the Catalans were too commercial to be interested in the issue of death upon which the bullfight centred. As for the Galicians, I believe his reason for their lack of interest was that they had enough dealings with death from the sea and famine on the land to regard it as something to be celebrated. Truth to tell, there are probably very few knowledgeable aficionados here. The whole thing seems to be mainly an excuse to have fun and spray wine around. Even if senior Gallegos from the government and the opposition will be in town for the four corridas of the next week.

Still on this theme . . . Here’s a reference which should give you access to The Times article first cited a couple of days ago. Rupert Murdoch – of whom I am not a fan – will probably not be too happy to know you are reading this without paying. So please don’t tell him. I could have my subscription cut off.

Finally . . . My friend Alfie Mittington is someone no one but a fool could consider a supporter of bullfighting. In fact, he’s antipathetic to animal abuse of any kind and has today sent me an article about a New Zealand rabbit-hurling custom which he was influential (he claims) in bringing to an end. Click here to read this.

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