Monday, September 17, 2012

Bye-Bye Books ; Jiggery-Pokery; The P Palabra; Epiphenomenonal Excess ; Saluting Tooting; Feminist Fallacies; Prescriptive Paper-full Processes; Hairy Hyperbole; and the Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy from Company B.

One of the sadder retail closures of the town is that of the bookshop in the street down the side of the Alameda. Why? Because this is the second time it's closed in a year. The first was when it occupied a prime site in one of Pontevedra's main pedestrian streets. After that it moved to the Alameda site, which I thought at the time was crazy. The reason is that, unlike most Alamedas in Spain, ours doesn't see much pedestrian traffic. But I'm still sorry to see my prediction of closure come true.

On QI the other night, the host informed us that the word 'jigger' has 28 distinct meanings in English. The one I'm most familiar is the Scouse use of it to mean an entry or back passage to a house. And I certainly wasn't aware it means both 'penis' and 'vagina'. Depending on whom you're talking to, perhaps. Or where you are in the country.

Which reminds me . . . The other word I was able to make out during yesterday's football match was polla, or 'prick'. The relevant chant seemed to coincide with arrival of the touch judge at our end of the ground.

Someone sent me today an email including the word 'epiphenomenon'. Then, this afternoon, I heard it in a BBC podcast. Ignoring the question of whether or not I understand what it means - I don't – I wonder what the odds of this happening are.

A lovely Spanish vignette – As I was driving home across the bridge yesterday, the driver of the car in front tooted at the four young women walking towards town. Instantaneously – and without lifting their eyes from the phones they were reading - each of them raised an arm and waved it at someone none of them knew. Showing appreciation for something which would be taken rather differently in other countries.

Which reminds me . . . I heard an interesting dialogue between two clever woman on feminism today. When I was the young father of two girls, I vehemently believed that women were effectively the same as – and every bit as competent – as men. I no longer believe this and this podcast will go some way to explaining why I don't.

I wanted to get a prescription(script) today from the doctor I've been allocated down at my local Health Centre. This being my first time and me being ignorant of the process, I decided to take 10 minutes out to go there, rather than try to do anything on the phone. As before, the staff were very helpful and I was given an appointment for Wednesday, two days from now. But when I told the receptionist I wanted just to renew a prescription, she changed it to 3.15 this afternoon. I was writing this on my palm when she told me to take a piece of paper from the little printer on the counter. Ah, the Spanish love of paper! When I then asked if I could make future appointments by phone, there was a enough hesitation before she said Yes to leave me with some doubt. But, anyway, I asked if the right phone number was the one on the piece of paper, but she said not and wrote a new one on it. This process seems anything but efficient to me – at least compared with the ease and speed one can get repeat prescriptions in the UK without having to make an appointment with the doctor - but they seemed happy enough with it. Efficiency is not a god in Spain. Where one often feels a process has been designed – or just evolved? – to maximise the involvement of people, the production of paper and the longest possible duration. All of which have a natural bias in favour of error.

Postscript: My afternoon trip to get a prescription was successful. More than successful in fact, as I got four prescriptions – one for each product. The doctor filled in each of these by hand – inserting my name and social security number four times - and then signed and stamped each one of them. Watching him, I felt this would drive me mad if I were him. But perhaps it's because I'm new to the system. We will see!

Finally . . . Finding that my elder daughter had left behind her styling gel, I decided to use it to try to tame my over-long locks. Specifically, to comb the hair on the side of my head back rather than down. I only mention this because the effect has been startling. At least eight ladies have kindly volunteered how much they like the new style. And my – now even lovelier – neighbour, Ester, has said it takes years off me. Strangest of all, I'm being greeted by women whom I don't recognise from Adam. As I have been just now, prompting this paragraph. I wonder if it's because my gelled-down hair is now very much more Spanish than the Boris-esque unruly mop I normally sport. Not that anyone could ever take me for Spanish.

Apologies for the self-indulgence.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Efficiency is to Spain what Io was to Apollo.


Colin said...

I'm sure we're all on board with that, Alfie!

Sierra said...

I'm surprised at your comments regarding prescriptions - in Lugo we did away with hand-written ones about two years ago. Doctor sets them up electronically until your next medical is due. My current ones were for the year ahead.

Also appointments can be arranged on the internet via the Sergas website

Colin said...
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Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin said...

@ Sierra

Yes, I spoke to my lovely neighbour this morning and she told me both of these things. I guess it's because I'm new to the system. Perhaps he checked and found I didn't (yet) exist. Will be interesting to see what happens at the pharmacy. I would know this already if I hadn't left them at home.

My prescriptions are coloured red and I'm hoping this means the pharmacist shouldn't charge me.

Also, they haven't indicated how many tabs in each case. And I'm pondering adding something myself, to avoid the need to see the doctor again.

Anonymous said...


Totally off subject but I guess you can't remain oblivious to the storm that is gathering around Ryanair. It seems he has finally got up the noses of a lot of people in Spain and they are out to get him.

Personally, I have never flown with Ryanair and don't care much about O'Leary, but I am in favour of competition and generally I think Ryanair has been a god-sent for Spain. But you see, that is the use of the EU. If it wasn't for the EU he would never have been allowed to push Iberia to the brink.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

As a mater of fact, my dear Scouse, that phrase of mine is very true and tremendously poetic. But of course one should either a. know one's classics or b. look the names up on that abhorrent wikipedia site.

Can't do better than this. Not even Careme (look him up!) could cook gourmet dishes for people that wanted baby food!

Alfred 'Horacio' Mitt

Colin said...

I'm sure it is Alfie as you are not prone too lying. Or even fibbing. But what the hell does it mean?

Colin said...


Yes, it's quite a feud but I read one of O'Leary's letters to the Spanish government yesterday and it makes a decent case for analysis of the data. I see now they've followed up with a demand for dismissal of someone they claim has been falsifying data, to blacken their name.

I seriously dislike the Ryanair experience (and O'Leary) but I wonder whether the Spanish government realises how important they are to the tourism industry. Perhaps Espe can knock some heads together.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Oh Sh** Sh** Sh** Sh** Sh**, I F***** up. I meant to say: Daphne and Apollo.


Humble Alfred

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