Monday, July 22, 2013

Royal nonsense, Spain's languages, Rajoy's defiance, BBC paternalism, Pontevedra's architecture, More owls, and British yobs.

With Duchess Kate about to give birth, I was forced this morning to quit the baby-obsessed Sky News, in search of something more relevant to my life. So, as the sole viewer of EuroNews, what did I get? Would you believe an item on the British royal birth, followed by news of the installation of the new Belgian monarchs? Fortunately, republican France24 had arrived in the 21st century and were covering the Japanese elections. OK, not really relevant to my life but not bloody royal trivia either.

I see that said Belgian king was sworn in in each of the country's 3 official languages. Which would be a nice gesture here in Spain, I believe. Both for monarchs and for ministers. It would certainly help to counter allegations of Spanish linguistic imperialism. And, obviously, it wouldn't mean everybody having to be fluent in Euskera, Galego and Catalán. But too sensible to be adopted, I suspect. Too much for the extreme (and powerful) right wing of the governing PP party.

President Rajoy's latest response to demands he resign because of widespread illegal funding of said PP party is to assert that:- A government is legitimated by elections. In other words:- Bugger off until the next elections. If you vote for crooks, you get crooks. Ahead of said elections - when the country might just chuck him out - it's reported that even 90% of Rajoy's own PP party believe he's guilty of receiving illegal bungs. But politics are tribal here and it's impossible to see many PP voters changing allegiance to some other party, least of all the socialist PSOE. No wonder historian Paul Preston sees the Spanish Civil War still having implications for modern Spain.

Talking of Rajoy, I saw destructora de papeles being used for 'shredder' yesterday. Though the dictionary also gives the shorter trituradora. Which reminds me that I heard the phrase weed-whacker used in a Family Guy cartoon for what I'd call a strimmer. It seems the (American) inventor also called it a weed-eater. Then there's weed-whip and the prosaic weed-cutter. Take your pick. I'm sticking with strimmer. Or desbrozadora in Spanish. And possibly estrimer. Which has a mere 3 syllables.

Lightening the tone . . . In the early years of the BBC, it went off the air for an hour after the evening News every night. This was to allow parents to put their kids to bed. As someone has written - It’s now almost impossible to imagine a corporation, or a society, where that sort of paternalism and cosy collective assumption would seem normal, or desirable.

Last night I got some petrol on my credit card, providing ID and signing the seller's chit. Nothing unusual in that, you might say wearily. True, but this morning I noticed that on my copy was written:- Operation with PIN. Signature not necessary. That'll be the day.

There are very few two-story houses left in Pontevedra, thanks in part to the construction boom that now seems like a bad dream. This one (and the one next door) escaped destruction as the plan to replace them with a 7-storey flat block came too late in the day. Though I doubt they'll ever be restored as single-family dwellings. 

It's interesting to reflect on the fact that all of the city's streets were once flanked by buildings of this design. And that, when cleaned, the granite walls are a mellow yellow that glisten when it rains.

And here - to please Alfie Mittington - is another of Pontevedra's café owls, the result - I like to think - of my pioneering efforts.

Finally . . . The British Foreign Office has a map of where around the world Brits have been arrested for one thing and another. Mostly being drunk and violent, I imagine. Anyway, here it is. One thing of interest is that the numbers are lower in Portugal than Spain. But, then, they are absolute, not relative, numbers and far more Brits go to Spain than to Portugal. Nice to know we don't cause trouble in bits of central Africa. And in Greenland. Though we still managed it in North Korea.

Publisher's Note: If you're a regular reader of this blog, you may find the easiest way to access it is via an RSS reader. I used to use Google Reader for the blogs I read but Google killed this a month or so ago. There are several alternatives, all free, but I've gone with Old Reader as it pretty accurately replicates Google Reader.

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