Monday, September 23, 2013

Royal divorce?; Veils; Mega projects; Language utility; Celtic salsa; and Salt mines.

Rumour has it that the lovely Princess Letizia will soon be back on the marriage - or at least the boyfriend - market. Allegedly, things between her and the Crown Prince are less than hunky-dory and the Palace is planning for a divorce. Just what they need following the fall in royal family popularity caused primarily by the romantic shenanigans of the king.

The Public Prosecutor has told the investigating judge to lay off the 5 Adif directors being examined in respect of the Santiago rail crash. His rationale is that the offence of imprudencia(recklessness?) can only be levelled at "juridical persons"(companies?) and not at "physical/natural persons". Is it conspiracy thinking to see government interference with due process here?

During a discussion on British TV yesterday, one of the participants - a muslim - pointed out that neither the burka nor the niqab were demanded by the Quran and, indeed, were banned for the haj pilgrimage and for prayer sessions. So, for him at least, they shouldn't be allowed in public places either. I have to admit to severe discomfort at seeing them - e. g. at my doctor's surgery in the UK - and to viewing them as both a denial of the self and as an accusation of others. And I'm not at all persuaded by the statements of some women that they enjoy wearing them. Especially if they also have gloves on.

There are 2 huge leisure projects planned for Spain and both of them have a sword hanging over them. Barcelona World, it seems, is threatened by the aspiration for Catalan independence and Madrid's Eurovegas may fall foul of the government's refusal to make a specific exemption to its anti-smoking laws so as to allow the infernal practice in restaurants, bars and gambling dens there. My own guess is that Madrid will give way on this and that the project will be launched in due course. Unless it is stopped for some other reason, such as not having a planning licence.

I have a reader - presumably Galician - who clearly thinks it wrong of me not to learn Gallego. Especially as the language is a beautiful one which goes back 1,000 years and is the forerunner of Portuguese. Well, yes, but the value of a language lies not in its age or its beauty but in its utility. And Galego has little of this, even in my part of Galicia, where the language most in use is Castellano, or Spanish. The most useful language in the world - English - might well be less beautiful than Galego and is certainly less ancient but it's of vastly more utility. Which is why so many Spaniards (and Galegos) are striving to learn it. And I'm not striving to learn Galego.

If you've ever listened to Irish or Scottish (i. e. Gaelic) music and thought 'Hey, this would be improved by the addition of elements of Hispanic salsa", then this is the group for you. I happened upon it when I lingered on the BBC Alba station last night while zapping. And here's a bit more about them.

Finally . . . Years ago, I had the pleasure of descending a considerable number of feet to get to Cheshire's salt mines. Where there were vast chambers carved by almost-as-vast machines extracting the mineral. The wheels of these seemed as large as houses and it was astonishing to learn they'd had to be brought down in pieces and then assembled in the mine. Equally hard to believe was the comment that, if they broke down, they were simply abandoned as it would involve too much work and cost to disassemble them and take them back up. One such dead machine was pointed out to us, killed - we were told - by someone trying to drive it in first gear and reverse at the same time. It was interesting to contemplate what some future archeologist, many centuries from now, would conclude on finding the monster down there. My most abiding memory, though, is of our guide inviting us to take a piece of the (pink) rock salt but warning us to stay clear of the glistening pieces. "That's where they've been pissed on" he explained. I leave you with a short video of the place.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

The most useful language in the world would probably be Mandarin Chinese, especially the written version of it (which they tell me all dialects and derivations can simply read applying their own vocabulary).

As for the Spanish Public Prosecuters: did you ever notice how ever more often these behave not as a prosecutor at all, but as council for the defendants (when said defendants are buddies of the Powers That Be)? It recently happened in the Barcenas case, and in the Andalusian ERE case, en in Gurtel and... you fill in the rest. They fight the judges, take sides in the public debate, initiate appeals etc. A funny way to run a judiciary.

Spain, as they say, is different!


Sierra said...

A third "mega project" is, allegedly, about to commence in Murcia; namely, Paramount Park and Lifestyle Center(?). Building licences, etc., are nearly complete, and site clearance is due to commence "within a few days". Financing for the billion euros project is still a mystery.

Why Paramount Alhama should succeed whilst places like Disneyland Paris fail is another matter

Anonymous said...

Just for the record: I am the Galician one and I don't think you Colin should learn Galician, I only find quite pathetic and ridiculous people who live in Galicia and moan about not understanding whenever they are addressed in Galician rather than in Spanish. If you are so ignorant as not to being able to understand or Speak Galician after a decade or more living in the country then perhaps you should keep it quiet rather than making display of your ignorance. Otherwise you are fair play, entendiche? Just bear in mind that the only people who moan about being addressed in Galician do it because they are Spanish patriots and Franco nostalgics who consider Spain and Spanish highly, but they understand and can talk (even if poorly and with a strong Spanish accent) Galician.

Anonymous said...

Hola Colin,

Antes de ir a Galicia la proxima vez tomare clases de gallego en caso de que me encuentre con el caballero que te ha criticado. Me parece admirable que hayan tantos gallegos que quieran mantener y prolificar su idioma natal. Tambien pienso que, al igual de hablar el gallego, deberian aprender el ingles; porque definitivamente es el idioma mundial y el que mejor beneficio ofrece en este mundo moderno.

Fuerte abrazo y muchos saludos,

SF Bay Area

Perry said...


There is a country in NW Europe where its inhabitants converse with one another in their own language and they constantly bemoan the fact their culture is only held together by tourism & handouts from foreigners. If only they spoke English?

Colin said...

@Anonymous Galego: You really don't seem to understand.
1. I have, of course, picked up some Galego but I don't go out of my way to learn it as well as Spanish.
2. Why? Because it's not useful to me outside Galicia and, where i live, I don't need to speak it to get by. If I lived up in the hills near Lugo or Ourense, perhaps things would be different.
3. My only objection has been to the issue of official notices in ONLY Galego, when there are 2 co-official languages. This has stopped now.
4. I don't recall ever being addressed in Galego. Even the mayor of Pontevedra (of the BNG) talks to me in Spanish, even though he declines to use it usually.

If you wish to see this as me boasting of my ignorance, then go ahead. There's nothing I can do to change your prejudice and your superficiality born of your political views.

Your suggestion that the only people who object to being addressed in Galego are 'Spanish patriots' (whatever that means) and 'Franco nostalgics' strikes me as being highly dubious. You may not like it but the truth is some Galicians think Galego is an inferior language. Possibly for class reasons. Nothing to do with being 'Spanish patriots/nationalists'.

Enough already. Write what you like. This is my last contribution on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Sir, I just caught you on a low guard, so now you should take it in the chin. The fact is that you wrote a comment on the line that you wanted to get away with knowing as little Galician as you could ... after a comment admitting to your poor Galician language knowledge ... after having complaining long before (as you write now again) about receiving letters in only Galician. One thing led to another and you have fallen prey to the common perception between Galicians themselves that Galician is a lower-class / peasants language, and therefore not worthy of having to be learnt for some people (who live in the same country)

Anyway, I don't think that Galicia is your Spanish only speaking world of Pontevedra. But I suggest, why don't you title your blog "Thoughts from Pontevedra, Spain"? That would be more suitable with your views ... or even better, "Pensamientos desde Puenteviedra, España"

Search This Blog