Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Some good news from Pontevedra . . . A court has decided that the council must return a parking fine because the sign about loading and unloading was only in Gallego, the Galician language. A small victory for those of us trying to master the national language. By which I mean 'national' and not 'regional'.

Spain's most famous, fatal and expensive bull has popped his hooves. He'll now be stuffed and mounted, for the families of his victims to admire, I guess. More here.

Someone else who's effectively died in Spain recently is the King, Juan Carlos. Click here for why he's very much out of favour. So much so, in fact, that some are calling for abdication, for fear he'll bring the Borbon-Borbon House down.

Finishing Lewis's Voices of the Sea today, I was left wondering just how much of his riveting tale was fact and how much fiction - as with that other great traveller in Spain, George Borrow, of The Bible in Spain fame. In Lewis's case, the suspicions are endorsed by the fact that, while he spent the summers of 1948, 1949 and 1950 in the (misnamed) Spanish village of Farol, he didn't publish his account until 1984. Here's a comment from someone reviewing a biography of Lewis:- Lewis's visits, we learn from the biography, were made in a large Buick, in the holidaying company of his partner of the the time and their children. You wouldn't guess this from 'Voices of the Old Sea'. Lewis was a secretive, contradictory man who nursed his inconsistencies because they fitted his understanding of how the world worked. And here's a reasonably brief synopsis of the book:- 'Voices' conjures the elemental traditional life of the village Lewis called Farol, on the eve of its destruction by the tourist industry. This conquest was decades old by the time he wrote the book. Farol's residents were adamantly attached to a hardscrabble subsistence economy and a culture of atavistic paganism still not yielding completely to Catholicism, much less to anything called "Spain." Their cosmology was dualistic: one world was Farol, the seaside, cat-infested village whose authority figures were fishermen. Its eternal Other was Sort, an inland, dog-riddled hamlet of cork farmers and other peasant landlubbers who wore shoes rather than rope sandals (chief among Farol's superstitions was an abhorrence of leather). As land and houses are bought up to build a hotel, a kind of suspense builds slowly, even though the final outcome seems obvious. And in fact it is shocking when suddenly the villagers, once dismissive of the possibility of change, cheerfully exterminate any private habit of life once the price became irresistible, to be replaced with something palatable to visitors' expectations of Spain. It's a sobering read for anyone historically minded who has been to the Costa Brava, or any other part of Europe extensively developed for tourism, and is tempted to think they have an eye for what is "authentic" to the place. I recommend it wholeheartedly. As to whether it's all true or not, I leave you with a quotation from Barros, cited by – of all people – the parish priest:- “Why speak of truth or lies? It all depends on the colour of the glass we look through.” Personally, I prefer the glass as Lewis painted it.


El Organillero said...

If I had a car, I'd park it in Barcelona - here you don't have to pay any parking fines because the council prefers insolvency to Spanish.

Azra said...

Hahaha @ El Organillero

I wonder what Lewis would have thought of Spain today.

Colin said...

@Azra. Well, I think he might still be able to find places which hadn't been entirely sacrificed to tourism, especially up here in Galicia,

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