Thursday, September 05, 2013

Spanglish; Beggars; Cyclists; Gib; and Bank nonsense.

Spanglish: Who'd have thought it? Un gag carries both meanings of the English word - 'a joke' and 'a silencer'. And the phrase 'memorable gag' means the same thing in both English and Spanish, though with a change in word order in the latter case.

Whether it's because of La Crisis or whether it's because Pontevedra is a relatively prosperous city, we've been overrun by beggars this summer. In which category I include the irritating recorder players who tinkle out 5 notes and then ponce around in front of you displaying a phoney obsequiousness while demanding payment. But there are many other categories and one day I'll list them all. 

Meanwhile, here's a picture of one guy who's occupied the same spot for at least 12 years. During which time he doesn't appear to have changed either his shirt or his trousers. His modus operandi is to stand at the mouth of a small street going from the main square down to Veggie Square and to jangle coins in one hand while holding out the other. It must work as he's been able to accumulate a vast pile of belongings, which he keeps nearby in plastic bags and large plastic coverings. I have to admit I've yet to give him even 10 cents.

Whatever their shtick, the beggars are not quite as annoying as the adult male cyclists who treat the pavement(sidewalk) as a velodrome. Twice in the last week, one of these has sped between me and a companion apparently unaware (or uncaring) of the risk of injury to us if we should unwittingly close the gap for some reason. My solution to this is that all cyclists be legally allowed to ride on the pavement and I should be allowed to shoot those I think are dangerous, in a season stretching from August 1 until July 31. The first date, at least, I would share with the rest of the country's hunters.

Spain's clownish Foreign Affairs Minister, Sr Margallo, has been shooting his mouth off on Gibraltar again. This time in parliament, where even politicians from all other parties suggested he approach things with rather more tact and diplomacy. Sr Margallo has clearly backed off on the issue of sovereignty but, having invited them in in the first place, is now telling the EU officials sent to investigate contentious issues, that, if they aren't going to address all of them (e. g. Gib's fiscal activities), then they shouldn't come at all. Which looks like the classic face-saving gesture of a loser to me. Admitting that the rest of the world doesn't see Gib as a fiscal paradise, he insisted it still had an 'offshore economy'. Whatever that is. Ironically, there was a program on the BBC last night in which the inhabitants of The Rock stressed that whatever economy they now had was a result of Franco stupidly and cruelly closing the border in 1965, forcing them to seek other ways of staying viable. Especially after the UK ran down subsidies and reduced military forces there. Sr Margallo insisted that the €50 border charge (to be imposed largely on Spaniards) is still being considered and disclosed that he's still well disposed to a British suggestion that issues be discussed on an ad hoc basis by different teams comprising folk from both Gibraltar and Andalucia as well as both governments. Apart from that, no olive branch. Expect the affair to run out of steam during September.

Finally . . . Spanish bureaucracy: My friends Anthea and Phil tried to open a bank account in Vigo this week. With the same bank they have in the UK - Santander. They wanted to move money into it from the UK and foolishly felt they'd be welcomed. To keep it short, for one reason and another, the bank said they couldn't comply with their wish - see here for more details - but as Anthea and Phil got up to go, the clerk asked for a copy of their identity documents. "Why?", they not unreasonably asked. "Because we have to record every conversation we have, with relevant documents." I like to think Anthea and Phil turned on their heels and walked out at this point but I haven't checked this specific yet. Truly was the photocopier invented with Spain in mind.

Spanish readers in the UK are invited to tell us whether they have similar problems there. I do hope not.


Perry said...


If you have some form of apparatus that would enable you to play the following in competition with the beggars, then your sojourn at the cafe will improve.

Are there any gitanos in Pontevedra who can tolerably perform Flamenco Pur?

Flamenco music was influenced by Hindu and Arabic music from the beginning, and the melodic song forms known as Arabesques and Melismas are fine examples of Arabic influence upon Flamenco. Important characteristics shared among all these two types of music include the extension of vowels, extended vocalizations of several notes to a single syllable, expression of profound feelings, and priority of emotions over lyrics. Several sound fillers such as ay, layli, layla, lolailo, lereli, and lerele were common among traditional flamenco songs, which may have rooted from the Arabic Layali, a term for improvisation, or from the similar-sounding Arabic expression la illaha illa’llah, translating as “There is no God but Allah.”

Ruiz, Ana (2007). Vibrant Andalusia: The Spice of Life in Southern Spain. New York: Algora. p. 75.



James Atkinson said...

As a cyclist myself, and a regular one at that, I deplore the behaviour of the kind you have described. They are a you say always males and usually well under the age of 40. It would appear to be an unfortunate side effect of excess testosterone. For myself I would consider a walking stick, this could be slyly inserted between the spokes as they pass,(you will need to be quick) remembering of course to let it go! This should work every time, and you could claim it was an accident, with profuse apologies of course.