Prospect magazine recently asked 30-plus notables what they thought were the Best and the Worst features of British society. Five of these cited humour as one of the former, along the following lines:-
- The good old British sense of humour, not appearing to take anything too seriously (while actually doing so).
- The thread of humour that runs through nearly every exchange and conversation. It's not the quality of our humour that is notable but the quantity. We use humour to protect us from that ultimate foreign sin, earnestness.
- The central role of the joke in all public activities.
- Our sense of humour: gentle but always present, like the rain - what I miss most whenever I am abroad.
I'd go along with this, as I do so miss the humour that's an inescapable part of life in the UK. In the north of England, at least. According to Drew Launay in "The Xenophobe's Guide to the Spanish" – The Spanish love the English sense of humour, and their ability to laugh at themselves without losing face. They appreciate sarcasm, though seldom practise it. Which is nice to know.
My younger daughter has a mania about light. I should say about electric lights, which she switches on whether the sun is shining or the rain is raining. This is bad enough in her own place but annoying in mine. So I'm resolved to get her a head-lamp, with a powerful light shining forth from above her face, illuminating her personal world. A miner's lamp would do the job, I guess.
And now something not too damning about Spanish bureaucracy:- Since I came to Spain 12 years ago, the state has denied me access to the health service and obliged me to take out private medical insurance. But, now I'm in my very late 40s, I'm entitled to join the Spanish health service and today I set out to achieve this. Having got the necessary documents from the British government (easy, peasy), I went to my local town hall to get one of the two demanded by its Spanish counterpart. My official certificate of Residencia was rejected, as having no foto of me. But I'd wisely brought my passport along and this did the trick. The next stop was at the Pontevedra Social Services office, to find out where the INSS office was located. Once there, things got a little tougher. Again, my certificate of Residencia was declared insufficient proof of my existence and, again, my passport came to the rescue. But then I was asked for my baja consular, something which meant nothing to me and which hadn't cropped up in my pre-reading. So I told the young woman they didn't exist in the UK and that, as far as I knew, one wasn't necessary. So, off she went to talk to somebody else and came back to tell me all the papers would be sent to the Vigo INSS and they'd contact me. I asked whether she could give me a temporary Tarjeta de Afiliación, but she just repeated that I'd hear from Vigo. All in all, quite successful. Now, I can but wait for the wheels to turn.
Which reminds me, one of my Economists is now two weeks late and the other is a week late. Will these – and others – all arrive at the same time, in September? Very probably, yes.
Finally . . . There were some ads down the side of a web page yesterday which purported to be – in English – about people in Pontevedra. For example, a mother of 53 who, “to the annoyance of doctors”, had discovered a new facial treatment. Needless to say, she had nothing to do with the city. Or Spain, for that matter. The latest example of 'clever' computers, I guess – tailoring ads for the gullible.