Friday, August 31, 2012

I went to a funeral tonight, the second since I came here to live. Strangely enough – given how many churches and chapels there are in Pontevedra – it was in the same church. Perhaps it specialises. My friend Jon and I were not sure of the dress code, so put on decent trousers and jackets, though no tie. But we needn't have bothered as the tone was pretty informal. Including shorts in the case of one guy. And jeans in the case of several others. But, anyway, how odd seem the words, gestures and rituals of a faith which no longer has sway over you. Not to say amusing, even. And there was far too much stress on the future in paradise rather than on the achievements of the deceased. So, I took to wondering how a humanist funeral would deal with the need for music and comforting words while eschewing the role of a church or religion. Essentially, I'd like my own funeral to be a celebration of nothing more or less that whatever I've given to people who've known me. Which might make it pretty short.

A little Spanish vignette this evening . . . I was walking to the church at 6.15 when I saw a little girl of about five offering something to a chap about thirty metres in front of me. He declined to take it and walked on. When I reached her, I noticed she was outside a florists and assumed she was handing out some sort of flier. But, no, after I'd taken it from her, I realised it was a guide to the local fiestas and cultural events of the next week. As I walked on myself, I wondered whether I should've given her something for it. But, anyway, walking back to my car just before 10, the little girl was standing in the doorway of the florists. So, I smiled and she smiled back. And then a gust of wind blew off my Panama hat and we both laughed. I picked it up and waved it at her, at which she smiled again. I went on to cross the bridge, feeling rather warm inside.

After yesterday's negative shock of a fine for wearing ear-phones, today I got a positive shock in the mail; less than a week after my making an application here in Pontevedra, the Vigo office of the Social Security has sent me confirmation of my right to use the national health service. Some cynic has suggested they'd do it quickly as they can send the bills on to the British Government, probably at a profit. Who knows? More importantly, will it work when I present myself at the pharmacy with a prescription? More anon.

Talking about the motoring fine . . . I read the ticket today and saw that my names had been entered as:- Surnames: David Colin. Forename: Davies. Which is probably the daftest combination I've yet been given. I wonder if I can appeal on the basis that no such person exists.

A second Spanish vignette today . . . I was talking to the salesman at the Honda showroom today when a couple came in - a man in his forties and a woman of indeterminate age who'd possibly just won a competition for the world's shortest skirt. The salesman continued talking to me for ten minutes or more, by which time the couple had sat down. Then he suddenly asked me if he could deal with them, as he only needed to give them a piece of paper. This he duly did, leaving me wondering why on earth he hadn't done so when they first came in.

It's official – It's been the wettest summer in the UK for a hundred years. Actually, it hasn't been a great one here in the Rias Baixas. But the next two weeks are forecast to be superb. This rather endorses my view that September is the best month to come here – great weather but no tourists. But please keep this to yourselves and tell no one.

Finally . . . Here's someone complaining about high noise levels in the UK. He should live here!


Geoff said...

The two humanist funerals I have attended have been by far and away the most inspiring ever.
I loved the story comparing life to water from a small spring to spreading out in the estuary :-)

Colin said...

Thanks, Geoff. Lovely image. ""We are not here to please ourselves but to give pleasure to others."

none said...

You can absolutely appeal the fine on the basis of their cocking up of your name. Although I'm not sure how you would go about it, there will be some information on the back of the ticket, no doubt.

A couple of years ago I was contacted by an agency that specialises in reducing your fines and liabilities for a cut of the savings. It turned out our car was still registered at an old address and a series of auto-generated speeding tickets had accumulated. Sooner or later these unanswered fines were published in the "Bulletin Oficial Provincial" or some such publication. The aforementioned agency scans these Official Bulletins for unpaid fines and, for a fee is usually able to get you off the bulk of the fine; either by finding a spelling mistake or some such technicality. They reduced our outstanding fines and fees by several hundreds of Euros.

Colin said...

@none: Many thanks for this. I will follow up and try to find the agency on the web. First, I will now read the back of the ticket!

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