Saturday, January 19, 2013

By and large, Spaniards have one first name and two surnames. The latter are acquired one from your father and one from your mother. A Spanish woman normally retains her surnames on marriage. The result is that the parents have a set of surnames different from both each other and also the children. Example:-
Father: Antonio García Lino
Mother: Amparo Rodríguez Begoña
Son: Luis García Rodríguez
Daughter: María García Rodríguez.
All of these details – and many others – are contained in the 'Family Book', which is essential in Spain and which Spaniards find hard to believe isn't a legal requirement in every other country as well. Mind you, they also think their complicated system of surnames is universal too. All of this is a prelude to mentioning my discovery that the husband of my lovely neighbour, Ester, has the name Jacobo García-Durán García-Durán. This repetition arises from the fact that his parents were first cousins and both had the same two surnames. Or something like that. And the King is called Borbón y Borbón. To his face. And mujeriego behind his back. Inter alia.

Today I had the pleasure of lunching with Los Porcos Bravos, a group of Pontevedrans who compete twice a year for a 7-a-side trophy called the Anglo-Galician Cup. You may recall that the last game ended 14-1 in favour of my local friends. As you'd expect, the meal today was of wild boar stew and there was so much of it I might not eat again for a day or two. The venue was a bar called El Gato Cheshire, or The Cheshire Cat. I'm not sure why – as it had a different name last time I was there - but, as it's my home county, there's no complaint from me. After lunch, the Porcos Bravos got down to planning their next UK trip and it quickly became obvious that the driving force of the organisation – Fran – had visited more towns and cities in the UK than I either have or ever will. And he even knows more about the pubs of my hometown than I do.

I'm assuming these Spanish words will be as new to many readers as they are to me:-
  • Ups: 'Oops'
  • Escote: 'Cleavage'
  • Pagar a escote: 'To go Dutch'. [Why??]
Well, today's papers were full of what they're calling the biggest corruption scandal yet – the use of offshore funds by the Treasurer of the governing PP party to slip extra monthly payments to at least the top echelon of the party. Now, 22m euros goes a long way so it's reasonable to assume that the money was ending up in the pockets of non-politicians as well. The suggestion has been made today that some of these funds were used to finance the Hollywood-style wedding of the daughter of ex-President Aznar a few years ago. The Spanish, by the way, use the quaint term 'B money' for black money. Not sure why. A(blanco) and B(negro), perhaps. One question, of course, is where the money came from and, as yet, I've seen no comment or conjecture on this.

Anyway, here's a relevant article. I'm not sure I agree with the author that the scandal might bring down the government but it's certainly serious. People close to but below President Rajoy have all been protesting their innocence today, if not their penury. But the president himself is sticking to his normal policy of saying little. Which obviously can't continue. As of now, all he's said is that he thinks it unlikely that the party Treasurer was slipping envelopes of B money to his colleagues. Which doesn't quite fit with the report that he put an end to this in 2009. But an investigation has been launched and so we'll know the truth soon. Maybe.

Meanwhile, the president of a major accountancy firm in Spain has commented:- I believe that the level of corruption we’re now uncovering is well beyond anything that we've had, at least in living memory. This corruption is sending the message that anything goes in this country, which could also really hurt Spain’s image around the world. How very true. So it can't be this which is attracting the increasing foreign investment that was being trumpeted yesterday.

Spain is different. Do you think Brussels understands this yet?


Azra said...

I find the way the Spanish name their children quite fascinating.

Incidentally, one of my friends Julie is married to a Portuguese guy whose family came here from Madeira(because the Portuguese are the largest non-black/immigrant community in SA) and her married surname is Gathino. Apparently, his father's nickname was El Gato in Madeira and as a boy he was known as Gathino (little Gato), so when they came here, they got new identities and they put down Gathino as his surname instead!

Colin said...

Nice but I think they got the h in the wrong place- Fancy it should be Gatinho.

Azra said...

It is Gatinho. I just spelled it wrong, oops :D

Colin said...

What IS that :D sign?

Any different from -:) ??

Azra said...

It's a big smiley face - with teeth.

:) - smile
:P - sarcastic / foolish
:D - big smile
:/ - disappointed / disillusioned

It would be better to talk in person, then you'd see the expression on my actual face.

Colin said...

Many thanx, Azra. I see the nose has disappeared from all of them. :-D

Yep, must talk.

Anonymous said...


The largest non-black/immigrant community in SA are the British.
By far.


Azra said...


No one here thinks of the British as a group. At all. The irony is that we're all more British than we are African.

In any case, you're right they are. But I was thinking more in terms of cultural variation.

Anonymous said...


"No one here thinks of the British as a group." And why not? Perhaps, you don't, but surely others do, don't you think so?

"The irony is that we're all more British than we are African."

WHAT? Who, I beg your pardon, is ALL?

Lady, the vast majority of the population in SA is black African.
I think you are being unconsciously being betrayed by your subjective navel-gazing view of the world.

Perhaps, longing for them apartheid days.....

Azra said...

@Anonymous - Perhaps you have misunderstood me, which is my own fault because I haven't been eloquent enough.

Refering to: 1. "No one thinks of the British as a group"... I really mean NO ONE. The only "British" people here are people who have retired here. All the others are referred to as "White". And the reason being because the majority of them are inter-mixed with other "Whites". The Portuguese, Greeks, Turkish etc. stand out because culturally, they have not intermingled as much and marrying withing their communities is a norm and custom.

And 2. what I meant by "irony is we are all more British than African"... If you knew the South African culture AT ALL, you'd know how heavily influenced we are by the British/Colonial culture. Everything from the nursery rhymes children sing at school to the some of the very fundamentals we learn growing up has come from the Colonial Powers. This has nothing to do with racial statistics. And with all due respect, you do not have to remind me of how many black African people live in SA, because I actually LIVE here, and was born and bred here. I know too well the population statistics, AS WELL AS other cultural mitigating factors that most foreigners are oblivious to / uneducated about.

Colin said...

Muy bien dicho, Azra.

BTW, what do DX and DXXX mean.

Or do I mean XD and XDDD?

Yes, I think I do.

Azra said...

@Colin - Honestly, I have no idea. My research tells me that it means a big smile or a laugh. I'm afraid my knowledge on emoticons in limited. I know that :X means "my lips are sealed".

Oh and it's XD or XDDD by the way.

Anonymous said...


Let me get this straight. The 96% of SAcans who are not white when asked where are you from - say: I am British. Is that right? I don't mean British culture, which means nothing really because it is a very fuzzy term. It is a yes or no question with a yes or no answer.

Colin said...

Thanks, Azra. Bit more tonight.

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