Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Hola, coño; The Congo &Conrad & Russell; Local Rules & Customs; Funny Nationalism; and Spanish leadership

I've got used to a good many odd things since I came to live in Spain 12 years ago but I suspect it'll take me at least as many years more to accept being called coño as a term of endearment. It's happened twice recently - once by a (female) neighbour and once by my doctor. And each time a shiver ran through me as I automatically translated the word into English. Which was wrong of me, I know, but it's hard to avoid. Perhaps, coño, if I threw myself into using the word several times a day it would lose all impact. Worth a try.

I say 'term of endearment' but it seems to South Americans un coño is 'a Spaniard' and I doubt this is out of affection. But, anyway, by coincidence I saw these topical garments advertised in Private Eye this week.

I wonder how many Spaniards know that the shock and shame of having to cede the Philippines to the USA in 1898 would have been avoided if King Leopold of Belgium had succeeded in his plan to buy the islands in the late 1860s. But he didn't and went on to procure and then devastate the (Belgian) Congo in consolation.

Which reminds me . . . Here's another of those belief-begging coincidences . . . The book I was looking for in town yesterday was Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"(El Corazón de las Tinieblas). Then last night, as I was finishing Bertrand Russell's autobiography, I read that "An event of importance to me in 1913 was the beginning of my friendship with Joseph Conrad." What are the odds?

Incidentally, humour doesn't loom large in Russell's book. Or, if it does, it's lost on me. Except for this passage about a woman he'd set his eyes on: Her husband was a psychoanalyst, and apparently professional etiquette required that he should not get on with his wife. Consequently, she was divorced. But, as soon as honour was satisfied, they re-married and lived happily ever after. Russell, though, was able to take advantage of her temporary status. Proving that, for the British, sex wasn't invented in the 60s.

Local rules: The Galician police have announced that they caught a fair number of drivers committing the usual offences on the region's secondary roads last week. I fancy they'd have caught a lot more if they hadn't announced the week before - as is the local custom - that they'd be carrying out this campaign. I guess it makes sense to someone.

Local customs: In their search for ever more fiestas, the good folk of Pontevedra a few years ago hit upon the Octubrofest. But I must have missed the publicity this year and only realised it had taken place when I came upon the debris in Plaza Teucro. Not liking beer much, I wasn't too put out.

Gadis is a supermarket which operates in Galicia and Castilla y León. It's famous for its amusing ads which are OTT in their emphasis on Galician 'nationalist' sentiment. Here's their latest 4 minute - yes, 4 minutes! - offering. It's in Gallego, of course, so much of it will be lost unless you're fluent in Spanish. And even then, perhaps. The visual humour comes towards the end so you might want to FF until minute 3.

Finally . . . Commendably, the Spanish are the EU leaders in organ donations. On the other hand, they're also the EU leaders in consumption of cocaine. Perhaps because much of Europe's cocaine enters via our Galician coastline. Nowt as queer as folk, as they say up North.

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