Thursday, May 26, 2011

Omar Khayyam is the author of one of my favourite poetic works, the Rubaiyat. As my Persian is - to say the least - rather rusty, these days, I have to make do with Edward Fitzgerald's (rather creatively free) translation. But, as this is magnificent, this doesn't rank as much of a problem. What I didn't know until today is that Omar - who was a polymath - is responsible for the X used in algebra. Or, as it says here, "To represent the unknown in his treatise on algebra, Khayyam used the Arabic term shay, which means 'thing'. This word - spelt xay in Spanish scientific works - was gradually replaced by its first letter, X, which became the universal symbol for the unknown." So now you know as well.

I occasionally take a look at how people arrive at this blog. The most frequent search uses the words throwing, donkey and church tower. But last night someone got my blog when they searched for big cocks in Galicia. Intrigued, I clicked on the URL. And was then disappointed to find the results were nowhere near as agricultural as I'd expected.

Productivity again . . . This morning I went to a quiet wi-fi cafe to make a couple of calls and to check whether they really had a space dedicated to smokers (see below). After 20 minutes, the waiter still hadn't brought my coffee, so I left for a place with prettier waitresses. There I ordered my coffee and then discovered - not by any means for the first time - that the wi-fi wasn't working. All attempts to get them to fix it failed, so I quickly downed my coffee and left for Vegetables Square. Where the wi-fi was working but where, as ever, it switched itself off every half an hour or so. So, again, a lot of wasted effort. But I'm inured to this as I've taken my own advice and learned to manage my expectations. If I didn't have the entire day at my disposal, I might just be rather more irritated. But, as our basic existential challenge is to fill the time between birth and death, the malfunctioning of things can sometimes be useful. Especially when the sun is shining.

My friend and fellow blogger, Anthea, yesterday advised that there's a web page which tells you which places in your town have a smoking facility. Finding this odd, I checked at one of the (many) cited Pontevedra cafés this morning and decided that all this means is that they have chairs outside in the street. Or perhaps a terrace. There's absolutely no question of a smoking area indoors.

To my disbelief, the weather woman(person?) on Sky yesterday  said "If it's rain you want, you're going to be disappointed." Presumably she was addressing gardeners. Or idiots.

I have long been a customer of First Direct bank, mainly because they're superbly efficient and always charming. The one time in 15 years they made an error, they immediately gave me 20 quid as compensation. Anyway, I called them this morning and the lady (Lee) greeted me in Spanish. Having done what I needed to do, we chatted a bit and she told me she'd learnt her Spanish in Mexico and that one night she'd been taken to a crowded pub. There she was asked if she liked Mexico, to which she replied "Si. Soy muy facil". Instead, of course, of "Soy muy feliz". My, how they laughed. Just before they gang-banged her.

No, I made that bit up, of course. But it does remind me that one of the placards I saw at the camp last night said - We are the future. So why do they screw us up the backside. Or words to that effect.

But the really good news today is that Tony was noiseless this morning. Actually, that's not quite true. He certainly didn't shout at his kids between 8 and 8.45. But, at 7.45, I could certainly hear him through our shared (bedroom) wall. But I think this was just him 'talking' to his wife.

The really bad news is that, according to the OECD, Spain won't return to the pre-Crisis employment levels until 2026. Or for 15 long years. Certainly not añitos.

Finally . . . I've given up Danish bacon in retaliation for them banning Marmite. Not that I've ever eaten the stuff or have the faintest idea what it tastes like. Probably dreadful. But sometimes one just has to rebel in whatever way one can. I'm thinking of calling this the 26-M Movement.


Mike the Traditionalist said...

Many of the local bars in my area have put out a small table or barrel along with an ashtray for smokers. In a few cases several tables and chairs which take up space on the pavement (sidewalk) are now part of the scene. Some of the pavements are very narrow so it is a case of giving way to an oncoming person or step into the road if you are in a hurry. I wonder how long this situation will last before the authorities step in. There is a bar in my street where the clients stand outside smoking and chatting. Across the road from the bar lives the local gossip who is always heckling them from her upstairs apartment.

Colin said...

Yes, much the same has happened in Pontevedra. Pavement space is now at a premium for pedestrians.

I wonder if all the cafes will have outdoor heaters in winter. If they are all allowed to get away with unlicensed facilities.

Lucy Watson said...

I left my chic central Madrid cocktail district Chueca for this very reason. I love Spain, the Spanish and intend to die here but dear God why must they engage in la tertulia every time they light up? What's wrong with enjoying your addiction quietly a solas?

Oh and I was a pack a day gal for 14 years!