On the 5th and 6th of January, there'll another two large meals in Spanish households, making a total of six since Xmas Eve. The remarkable thing about the four I've attended so far is that not a single vegetable has been consumed. Not counting the roast potatoes. This is something that Spanish restaurants are renowned for but I rather thought things were different at home. Somebody has to patronise the fruit and veg shops which crop up every 50 metres or so on Spanish high streets.
If you're new to Spanish ways, you may need to know what an enchufe is. Literally, it's a 'plug' but it's frequently used to mean a job or position you get because you know someone, and not because you (or they) are qualified for the job. If you're related, then it's nepotism. If not, it's croneyism. And its rife in Hispanic cultures. Some cases are so brazen and outlandish it's hard to believe they've happened in a western democracy. Take that of the guy who was until recently the PP party 'baron' up in Ourense province, here in Galicia. As El País put it this morning “The accusation presented by the PSOE party affirmed that he placed at least 115 people in the days prior to the last congress of the PP in Ourense, where [Wait for it!] his son was promoted to take over his position.” It'll be interesting to see what reckoning, if any, he now faces. And how many of the 116 (including his son) stay in place.
Talking of cultures . . . I heard the following phrase on a BBC podcast this morning and thought it would make a great book title - British culture – its complexities, its hypocrisies and its paradoxes. I'd certainly buy it. Is there a social scientist out there with time on their hands?
The latest cannonade from the Catholic Church in the defence of its concept of marriage comes from the Archbishop of Córdoba, who avers that “The ideology of gender is destroying families.” I admit to not knowing what this really means, though I can hazard a guess from the claim that “A feminism is spreading implacably, even in schools.” Which is bad as this “feminism breaks with God and with proper nature, as God has made it.” “In the original family” explains the archbishop, “there is a father and mother, because there is a man and a woman, equal in dignity, different and complementary.” Best of all – “God wants the best for man and for this reason he invented the family.” But not, of course, for those (increasingly rare) men who opt for celibacy and for telling people how to behave in areas they'll never have any experience in themselves. Unless they can find a convenient choirboy. The words “swimming”, “against” and “tide” spring to mind. Not to mention “desperately”.
Spain, of course, has never experienced real feminism, just as it never experienced a real Reformation. I can't help feeling it rather lost out.
But, anyway, I didn't think things could get worse than a snail on my car dashboard but how about an 8cm spider, doing a good impression of a tarantula?
Finally . . . Here's a fascinating list of things left behind by guests of the Travelodge chain in the UK last year:-
- 20,000 books (of which 7,000 were 50 Shades of Grey).
- A winning Euro-Millions ticket (left under the mattress).
- A bucket of live crabs.
- Harry Potter's original wand.
- A diamond-encrusted iPhone (It's a budget chain!)
- A pet python (naturally called 'Monty').
- The keys to a Bugatti.
- A pair of breast implants.
- A pantomime horse.
- An 2.4m pop-up spray tanning booth - left behind by a group of girls nursing hangovers. Presumably after a wedding.
- A micro pig, and last and least:-
- A script from a well-known TV soap opera.