Talking of Spanish customs . . . When I was sitting at the table next to this tableau, a group of four women came in and gravitated to my side of the room. There are five tables there and I was sitting at one at the far end. So, faced with a choice of four tables, guess which one they chose. The one next to me, of course. This is because – in the exact opposite of what Brits would do – Spaniards always instinctively 'aggregate'. Ironically, though, they don't like to 'associate', whereas the Brits love to do this. Odd folk. Both the Spaniards and the Brits, of course.
Anyway, the upshot was that I was immediately deluged in aged-female noise and had to up sticks and move to the next room so that I could talk to my mother on Skype.
Correction: The 74 year old killed by a bull this week was not engaged in the ancient rite of bull-baiting but was sitting in his house. The creature had escaped from a fiesta, broken down his front door and gored him where he sat. For obvious reasons, there's no video footage of this but, if you look hard enough, you'll find plenty of the 50 year old being slaughtered. Actually, you won't have to look hard; another cultural aspect of Spain is that they like their gore.
A week or so ago I mentioned a new roundabout being constructed in Pontevedra. I approached it this morning to find that a masterstroke had been executed – they'd closed all four access/egress roads, so they could lay tarmac. This involved me in a four-mile detour to get to somewhere 300 metres on the other side of the thing. It would have been only two miles but, against my better judgement, I listened to the advice of my passenger who, despite not being a driver, insisted she knew the back roads. She did; like the soles of her feet!
All of which reminds me that, passing this roundabout many times during its long construction, I noted that the guys cutting the granite slabs were never wearing any sort of lung protection. The dust created was a nuisance for us pedestrians but it was possibly fatal for them. Bugger Health and Safety.
Flitting through the Diario de Pontevedra later this morning I noticed – you could hardly miss it – that it was full of despondency and grief. In fact, there was only one positive headline. Which was that the above roundabout had been constructed “without any interference with traffic flow”. In the light of my experience, I put this down as an example of the famous Galician sarcastic humour, retranca. About which Wikipedia says nothing in either English or Spanish. Or, indeed, Gallego.
The economic situation in Spain and Europe could hardly look worse. Here is EH on the former and AEP on the latter. If you're an ostrich, you might want to jump to the next paragraph.
If you've read these, you'll need some cheering up. So, for at least half my readers, here's an example of a young Pontevedra lady wearing a dress that's longer than her shorts.
Sorry about the poor quality. I stress it's not because my hand was shaking.
And here, for everyone, in an introduction to one of my favourite soul singers of the 60s. He wrote – and performed better – several songs later covered by the Beatles and the Stones, among others. Including “Anna”. You can hear this, and one or two others, on Spotify. Happy listening. . . . During the early Sixties, Arthur Alexander wrote a famous clutch of compact, well-crafted country-soul songs. Stories of inconstant love and private gloom, they were covered by The Beatles - 'Anna', The Rolling Stones -'You Better Move On', and more recently, Ry Cooder-'Go Home Girl'. Alexander introduced the word "girl" to common lyric parlance, greatly to the convenience of John Lennon and others thereafter. Other artists who have covered Arthur's songs include The Bee Gees, Dusty Springfield, Tina Turner and a host of black vocal groups including The Tams, The Fiestas and The Drifters. In addition, a generation of British R & B bands were raised on Alexander's original versions of' ‘Where Have You Been' and 'A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues' The Beatles also recorded 'Where Have You Been' and 'Soldier Of Love'. Arthur sang his precise, geometric songs with a dark and wholly individual intensity; his languorous understatement, that sense of emotion only barely concealed, has always defied accurate attempts at imitation. In short, his sadly underrated singing is as memorable as his uncommonly interesting songs.
I hope at least a few of you become fans.
I hope at least a few of you become fans.