Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Pope was in Santiago de Compostela yesterday. But President Zapatero and quite a few of his leading not-very-Catholic colleagues weren’t. It seems they all had urgent things to do in places as important to Spain as Afghanistan. In the event, the residents of Santiago were underwhelmed by the pontiff’s visit and stayed indoors in their droves. A total of 200,000 of them had been expected to line the streets but, in fact, there might have been fewer spectators behind the barriers than the 6,000 police on duty. Meaning the TV cameras had to stop using wide angle shots that revealed the embarrassingly empty pavements. Worst of all, there weren’t even 5,000 in the city’s main square. So the running order had to be changed on stage and the loaves and fishes had to be given away to the Romanian beggars that favour the city. Of course, they didn’t quite go round.

The pontiff  naturally said a few words in Gallego but I was more impressed by a cartoon in the Voz de Galicia today. This had him flying out of Santiago for Barcelona and saying “Teño morriña”, or “I’m homesick”. This plays to the (in)famous nostalgia for their patria chica among all those Gallegos who’ve left the region for one reason or another over the centuries. And the cartoon is possibly a good example of the Galician humour called retranca. Doubtless someone will tell me if it isn’t.

Talking of flying . . . Way back in 1972, I was on a jumbo plane out of Calcutta when the engine outside my window caught fire. After a few rather worrying manoeuvres, we returned to chaos at the airport and then spent two days there, waiting for a new engine to be brought from wherever. After hours of waiting for something to happen about accommodation, my spirits rose when I found on my way to the Hilton hotel. Or the Hilltop, as it turned out to be. I mention this only because I don’t recall this incident receiving any of the attention given to the problem with the Airbus 380 engine this week. Perhaps this is because there were only 300 odd passengers back then, whereas the 380 holds well over 400. Actually, the main reason for differential treatment of the incidents quite possibly results from that modern curse – rolling TV news channels. With which, as yet, Spain has not been afflicted. Anyway, after two days stuck in Calcutta, I was one of the few people prepared got back on the same plane for its delayed flight to London. In fact, as I recall, we brave (foolhardy?) souls outnumbered the cabin crew.

Finally . . . I enjoyed my visit to the new fosa museum at 10 this morning. Or 10.10 , to be precise. I was pleasantly surprised to be told that entry was free this week but less so to find the chap hadn’t been joking when he’d warned me the commentary would be all in (astonishingly fast) Spanish. That said, I was touched that, knowing my nationality, he referred only to ‘foreigners’ who’d set fire to the Archbishop’s Palace above the fosa in 1719. The 3-D film, however, left us in no doubt it had been the English. This detail was, in fact, imparted in the very last, memory-enforcing sentence of the commentary. But they meant ‘the British’, of course. Who, like Wellington’s troops a hundred years later, were probably mostly Irish. But, give a dog a bad name . . .


Sierra said...

Thanks for the update on the Pope's visit. The convoys of police vans on the way back to Madrid on the A6 yesterday are explained. No doubt the overtime/travel allowance, etc., were enjoyed by all

Bus driver said...

Colin you said "Actually, the main reason for differential treatment of the incidents quite possibly results from that modern curse – rolling TV news channels. With which, as yet, Spain has not been afflicted."
So what about CCN and Canal 24horas. Both are Spanish 24 hour TV channels.

moscow said...

The foreign press struggles to convey the reality - mainly because it isn't easy to do it with the number of words allowed by a gnat's attention span. The Germans still refer to Spain as "Erzkatholisch".....In Britain it is deep-rooted or other similar wordings. According to latest stats only 14% go to mass regularly (10% among those under 35). 74% still assert they are catholics, but (here is another teutonic word which describes this particular state of mind) they are mostly "Scheinkatholiken".

Colin said...

@Bus Driver.

Oh, I clearly live in a dream world . . . Never watch those channels. Mostly because there's no signal from the aerial in my community.

A Moscow.

Yes, I gave the "Catholic" numbers in a post last week.

But even in Protestant Britain politicians don't go out of their way to avoid the Pope.

And how can you blame people for sticking to old perceptions when they see the Semana Santa processions, inter mucha alia, in their media. Not to mention all the bloody saints' day fiestas. And all the "Catholic" names.

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