Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The DSK affair: After watching a good bit of France24, I've been pondering why the French feel such a sense of shame over this. Is it because they maintain the Mediterranean (Arabic?) concept of honour, so one dishonourable member besmirches all the family? Or is it because DSK is such an exemplar (negatively as well as positively) of the French political class that they realise their entire way of doing things is under the unsympathetic global microscope? Or both, perhaps. Of course, they're also angry at the US treatment of DSK (the perp walk especially) and see the Anglo accusatorial legal approach as less sophisticated and humane than their own judge-driven way of doing things. And of covering such things up. None of it will help France's view of itself, given how they've lost control of the EU in the last decade or so and their language has to take second or even third place to the bastard tongue of English. On this, did you know that France was the only country to refuse to give its Eurovision results in English? Understandable but rather pathetic and petty really. To use a word stolen from French . . . Or possibly two.

French Culture: From a Times columnist . . . "I am intrigued to learn that the traditional cinq à sept, the two-hour window when the whole of France comes to a standstill to pursue the national sport of adultery, has recently migrated to deux à quatre instead. This shift represents one of the few French concessions to the hectic pace of modern life. It used to be you could knock off work shortly before five in order to knock off another chap’s wife shortly afterwards, then home for tea with your own wife, who had, of course, been busy entertaining another woman’s husband in the meantime. Longer working hours, however, mean that the late afternoon adultery slot has had to be moved to earlier in the day. The knock-on effect of that has been the truncation of the traditionally long lazy Gallic lunch. To summarise, the typical French working day has now shifted from the pattern of “work — five-course lunch — work — adultery — home” to the more streamlined model “work — three-course lunch — adultery — back to work — then home”. Thus does today’s cut-throat globalised economy erode sacred national rituals."

Another ten conspiracy theories: Click here.

Spanish consumer service - I called Línea Directa yesterday to ask a couple of things. And to complain that two letters of last year about the write-off value of my car hadn't been answered. The matter-of-fact response was that they didn't have this data, as if this excused bad manners. No hint of an apology or a recognition that this wasn't the right way to treat a (long-standing) customer. In contrast, I got a letter from my water company last week suggesting I check for a leak, as my consumption in the last quarter was three times what it usually is. With a corresponding bill. You could've knocked me down with a feather at this example of helpful service. Though perhaps it might have been better (and quicker) if they'd phoned me. Which reminds me, the Línea Directa call was naturally a premium rate number. But, then, almost everything is these days here in Spain. Rare is the company which offers its customers a freephone number. Once you're a (tied-in) customer, the treatment of you invariably changes. That said, Orange keep offering me a discount for the next year if I tie myself up for another 12 or 24 months. As if.

The Spanish property market: See here and here, for statistics that may or may not be totally accurate.

The revolting Spanish: See here for a report on recent cross-party demonstrations in Spain's major cities.

The disinclination to use native speakers: See here for the latest superb example of this antediluvian (antediluviano) attitude.

Blatant obscenity: The football player who scored Manchester City's winning goal last Saturday is reportedly paid 220,000 pounds a week. Or 11.4 million pounds a year. Who does he think he is - a bloody banker?

Word of the Day: Apisonadora - Steamroller

Unkind and Kind Neighbours: I see someone broke one of my tail-lights during my absence. And then sealed the cracks with sellotape. I suspect Nice-but Noisy-Tony but he insists, with a logic that escapes me, that it can't have been him because my car was facing the wrong way.

Finally . . . Own Trumpet blowing: I've waited a long time to say this . . . . Google Reader has now reached 130 kind folk who read my blog. Whether these are different from the 65 who are Followers (dread word), I haven't the faintest. But I hope not.


kalebeul said...

I fear you will find that your cross-party demos are the communists trying to redirect apathetic PSOE voters in their favour. Not quite as charismatic as the British SWP, but who knows where the new old will go.

moscow said...

Just a comment: the whole culture of Europe, including, of course, that of Britain, is Mediterranean, i.e. stems from the Mediterranean.

Ferrolano said...

Colin, perhaps the deux à quatre is being established to adjust to the reduced number of working hours per week in France. And maybe as part of national heritage, it is required and included in the weekly tally…!!

Colin said...

Moscow, On this basis you might as well say we are all African.

Some of us have evolved more than others from our African, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean origins. Swedes, for example.

45N93W said...

Come on, Colin! What's the point of calling the French sense-of-honor Arabic, even with a question mark, unless you want to offend them? The "adultery" suggestion doesn't sound fair either. How is the adultery business in England? Were you trying to be funny? I find you post offensive and I'm not even French. Maybe you should put smileys everywhere. At least we'll know you were trying to be witty.

Colin said...

So you think being Arabic is inferior, do you?

If not, why should the French be insulted? I suggest you examine your own thinking before you take offence at what you think is mine. And, if you don't like my stuff, may I respectfully suggest you just don't read it. Me da igual.

As for adultery in the UK, how should I know? Who's talking about it? We're addressing the French (political) situation, not making comparisons.

moscow said...

Why African? You mean the genes? I was writing about culture. Europeans share a common Greco-latin Judeo-Christian fusion. Any preceding cultural elements were wiped out long ago (with the exception of language, i.e. Swedish). From this basis different countries have evolved differently, but we have not really wandered off that far from our common basis, and have anyway kept pretty much a close watch on each other through out the ages. I am not sure the Swedes are that more advanced. In some aspects they are (maybe).

45N93W said...

If you can't take the comments don't keep a blog or disable them. I suggest this expression as an exercise for your students: "The revolting Spanish". And this from a guy who leaves in Spain...!? Pensamiento del día: "no muerdas la mano que te da de comer".

Colin said...


You haven't answered my question, I note.

You are free to read or not read, comment or not comment. I have never yet deleted a comment.

The 'revolting' Spanish. Can you really believe that I meant the Spanish were revolting (nauseous) as opposed to being in revolt (revolting). MY God.

Do you know what a pun is?

Have you had a sense of humour (humor) bypass?

Would you be happier reading something you actually understand?

Colin said...


No, I meant we all come out of Africa.

I take your points but I doubt that anyone Swedish has been criticised for having a Latin temperament. And I'd guess the Swedes are shocked by the 'Latin' treatment of women by French politicians. See the various articles in the world's newspapers.

moscow said...

Temperament does not equal culture. There can be different temperaments within one same culture. And anyway it is all a bit of a myth (to an extent).

moscow said...

'Latin' treatment? According to stats wife beating and rape and so on is worse in anglo countries.......

Eugenia said...

I blame Google translate

moscow said...

I am on a roll. And how would you categorise Kenneth Clark's comments: "There are serious rapes and other categories of rape", as Latin? Anglo? Swedish? European? Or simply revolting???

Colin said...


Not much of a roll.

Clarke has said all rapes are serious.

Statistis are of reported crimes. Only 10% of rapes in France are reported, I read this morning.

'Droit de seigneur' is not an Anglo concept. I first came across it in the Seychelles (an ex French possession) when I was 18. Very much still alive. Hopefully dead now.

Temperament is a function of culture. Hence the stiff upper lid of the English.

moscow said...

Oh well, since you mentioned the Seychelles I guess I am allowed to ramble off beam a bit myself.

Again: temperament does not equal culture. The stiff upper lip is not an English trait, but that of a certain class - of a sub-culture if you want. I have never met a stiff upper lipped Geordie, Scouser or Welsh. Texans are anglo, they share the same culture with the Irish, the English and the Kiwis. They are not SUL.

If you regard the Seychellian as having a "French" culture, then you won't be able to object me saying the Jamaicans are Anglo. They are not notoriously stiff upper lipped either.

In Sierra Leon armies of violent youth go on rampant raping sprees. Sierra Leon was a British colony. An English or Scottish cultural trait then? Zimbabwe is stratospherically corrupt and brutal. It is also an ex-British colony. A leftover of the old habits, no doubt. Nigeria...should I go on?

Colin said...

No, please don't. I haven't the faintest idea what point you are trying to make with all your disparate examples.

I didn't say the Seychelles had a French culture. I said the powerful there retained the French concept of droit de seigneur. Which is where I first learned of it.

Nor did I say temperament equals culture.

Of course there are scousers with stiff upper lip. You just haven't met them. Permit me to say I have.

And I have met quiet Spaniards. But, on the whole, they're a noisy bunch.

You'll be telling me next there is no de jure nor de facto bar to reporting on the horizontal activities of French politicians. Which is where we came in.

moscow said...

Certainly a master at contradicting your self- as always.

ANA said...

Thanks for the Mojacar link.

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