Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In 1956, the UK's Grand National horserace witnessed something of a surprise in the very final stages of this gruelling steeplechase. One of the nags running was the Queen Mother's Devon Loch. With 50 metres to go, the horse was in the lead and the commentator excitedly pronounced that it couldn't possibly lose. Click here to see what happened next. By the way, if you read Dick Francis novels, yes it is him in the saddle.

For me this race was memorable for something else. I'd bet on Royal Tan, which came in third. But my alcoholic, horse-betting, pub-licensee grandmother somehow managed to avoid paying me my winnings. I think she told me Royal Tan came in fourth. Which, in other circumstances, it would have done, of course. I still pine for the shilling I felt I was robbed of. It's the sort of thing you never get over.

I've arrived at a new theory as to why the Spanish are so noisy. It wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say that children here are allowed to do pretty much what they like. This includes staying up late with the adults. So it was that on Monday kids of 2 to 16 were a constant presence at a dinner which started at 10pm and went on until past 2am. And, of course, they didn't comport themselves as deaf mutes. Meaning that the adults' conversation had to be shouted over the base level of noise from the younger diners, fighting and shouting in the sitting area. I guess that, after a year or two of this, the default mode of parents will be to converse at 70 decibels. Simultaneously, usually.

Finally . . . A bit of Spanish culture. I've known for some time that it's an Xmas tradition in Cataluña (and neighbouring areas) to put defecating figurines (caganers) in the family crib. However, I hadn't heard of the tradition – also Catalán - of the defecating log, or caga tío. In someone else's words . . . This involves creating a character out of a small log - often complete with a grinning face and hat – which sits on the dining room table during the fortnight leading up to Christmas. It has to be fed every day with fruit, nuts and sweets, and then – on Christmas Eve – the entire family beats the log with sticks, while singing traditional songs, forcing the log to excrete its treats. And why not? Anything to put more smiles on the face of the world. But origins . . . .'???


Azra said...

So I guess Spanish kids and SA kids really are the same? Children here are given the same amount of freedom, hence some of them think they're adults - however, they don't have the same regard or comprehension of a little thing called "consequences of actions". Frustrating things, they can be.

Colin said...

But if SA adults aren't as noisy as ours, this blows a hole in my theory!

I'm sure yours will be a lot better behaved. Or 'buen educados', as they say here.

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