Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I rarely go down to the pool in the communal garden of my community. And I jump in it even less. But it’s been very hot of late and, besides, with my daughters and their friends about to descend on me, I felt it’d be good if I could swap my winter whiteness for at least a nice shade of summer pink. So I took myself down there at 4 this afternoon, expecting to be the only person there. But there were three teenage girls in their bikinis there and these were soon joined by two of their friends. Feeling a little self-conscious, I buried myself in my book and did my utmost to ensure there could be no accusations of prurience. But it’s one of the great things about Spain that young women are not taught to assume all men are perverts and, in truth, I doubt this even crossed their minds. In due course, another three young women arrived but – fortunately or unfortunately – my self-allotted hour was up and I made my way back to the house. Having had my day considerably brightened. Not to mention my skin.

If you want to tell a driver his/her lights aren’t on in Spain – or at least here in Galicia – you use a quacking-duck’s-beak gesture with one of your hands. The one used in the UK to tell someone they’re talking too much. Merely pointing at the headlights seems to have no effect at all. As I know from frequent failed attempts at helpfulness.

Finally . . . I read today that the band which played at the recent bullfights here in Pontevedra has threatened to forego the honour next year. It seems they’re fed up with all the insults directed at them during the proceedings. I suspected the audiences here were not out of the taurino top drawer and were basically there for the fun. But I never realised things were this bad. The bulls will be pulling out next.


moscow said...


I know you think I critizise the UK too much. It's the EU and Spain that worry me. Not Britain. Britain was just a phase in my life. And certainly not a bad one.

I said many times in your blog (over the years) that there are a lot of positive things about the UK. But one of the aspects that I found decidely off-putting was this perturbed attitude to sex, accompanied with an odd believe that women in Britain are somehow better off than in other European countries. I am not referring here to the likes of Albania, but places like Germany or France, where to me the opposite is more obvious - but perhaps I am wrong...this is a very subjective mental area and I am not a woman after all. I am under the impression that America is even worse than Britain. But then again many Americans themselves admit to an dysfunctionally tense relation to matters to do with sex.

Men are not perverts. They are what they are - and if they weren't that way, women would really have something to worry about. Countries that have in my view a healthy(ier) attitude about sex-women-and-the-lot: France, Germany, Scandinavia, most of central and Eastern Europe, Brazil, Argentina, I hear even the Aussies are more relaxed&even-keeled than their cousins accross the Pacific.

America and the UK share the same puritanic/prudish streak. Maybe in this also - as in many other things - Britain would benefit from becoming "more European".

Colin said...

Well, I agree with you that British society is sick/insane in numerous ways and have said so frequently over the years. As a father of two daughters, I'm pleased they didn't inherit the ultra-feminist their mother eventually arrived at. But, then, they'd seen the consequences by the time they were adults.

I can only add that, in the USA, I've never found it difficult to chat to women of any age on planes and trains. If you try this in the UK, of course, you're looked at as if you're planning rape.

I think one of the saddest developments of the last few decades in the UK has been women feeling that achieving equality meant giving up femininity and demanding that men give up masculinity. Though this seems much less prevalent in my daughters' generation than in the previous one. Feminism 3.0 perhaps.

I've always tried to tell my daughters (who fortunately both have their mother's looks) that men are powerless in the face of their combination of intelligence and femininity and that they should not forego the latter for anything.

But all this is between me and you. Don't tell anyone else. There might be some British women who would disagree with me.

moscow said...

If I were to be pedantic about it, I'd say history follows a Hegelian pattern. Thus, the radical femenism of the early 70s has given away to more moderate times.

Giles Tremlett in his book about Spain wrote that spanish women reject radical femenism but still enjoy the fruits inherited from that earlier wave. This is not entirely correct and is a contradiction in terms, but I see where he is coming from.

The wave of femenism blitzed through Spain in the late 70s, and was over before many realised it had started. And yes, it never took hold in the same way as in other countries, but happen it did.

You see, in Britain you had Germaine Greer, who nobody outside the UK - probably not even in Oz where she is from - has ever heard of. The German equivalent is someone called Alice Schwartzer. Now ask anyone above 40 who is AS in Germany and they will know. But nobody knows her outside Germany.
The Spanish equivalent - or the nearest thing - is someone called Lidia Falcon. Nobody knows her outside Spain, and I guess you'd have to be above 40 to have heard about her.

But my issue before was not with femenism but with puritanism, more specifically, prudishness. You seemed over-conscious of the fact that the girls were in bikini. I would say most Germans, Russians, and perhaps even Spaniards are used to seeing a lot more female flesh in public than the average Briton - during the summer I mean.

Here in Russia, particularly now during the summer, I would have to wear a blindfold not see what I (have) to see. But Russian men would never pshycologically punish themselves the way you (or British men) do. They'd think you have some sort of mental disorder (or something worse).

To be honest, Russian men often almost seem totally indifferent - perhaps a glass of vodka being more enticing.

When I came to Russia I had first to cleanse myself of the mental hang-ups acquired over years of living in Britain. I reckon it took me at least 2-3 years.