Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Liar, liar; EU justice; Spanish justice; Galician corruption; and Art or not Art?

The word mentiroso is chucked around an awful lot here in Spain. Some dictionaries say it means merely 'liar' but others add 'erroneous' or 'mistaken', making the range of meanings enormous. So I thought I'd see what Spanish words are used for 'fibber' and these are cuentisto (tale-teller), cuentero (ditto), embustero (liar), trapacero (cheat), mentiroso (see above) and mentirosillo/mentirosito (little liar). So, as you can see, this is not an area of exact science in Spain. As you'd expect. Incidentally, I just checked to see if the female form of mentiroso means 'whore/slut' and was pleasantly surprised to find it only means 'liar'. A small victory for womanhood there, I feel.

EU justice has been pretty even-handed this week. A couple of days ago came the verdict that Spain's controls at the border with Gibraltar were not, per se, illegal, although perhaps a little OTT. Yesterday, came the confirmation that The Rock complies with all EU laws and regulations on banking and finance. This was a blow to Spain, which has relentlessly portrayed the place as a den of thieves - pretty damn rich coming from Spanish politicians - running an illegal tax haven for money-laundering drug smugglers. Unlike Galicia. But, anyway, I wonder if the Spanish media will give equal prominence to these announcements from Brussels.

Talking of justice . . . I said only recently that I found the Spanish system endlessly confusing. And now comes another illustration of why. A senior politician who's been accused of corruption - is there any other? - was due to testify on Sunday - yes, Sunday - in the court which is trying the King's son-in-law and, quite possibly, his daughter - for corruption but he failed to turn up and no one knows where he is. Has he done a runner or his he just being picaresco?

And talking of corruption . . . We have a big case here in Galicia - Caso Pókemon - and this has spawned 3 smaller cases - Caso Campeón, Caso Carioca and Caso Bebé. Or possibly vice versa, I'm not sure. But, then, I'm never sure of anything in Spain. It's one of the (many) joys of living here. It keeps the mind as exercised as if you were doing several crosswords a day. Or learning 3 languages at the same time. Unless you just stick your head in the sand and stop wondering. Which would be understandable. Forgiveable even.

But to give Spain its due, ever since the EU introduced an international arrest system 10 years or so ago, there's been a constant stream of British criminals leaving their Spanish refuge for retirement at the pleasure of Her Majesty. It should have happened earlier, of course, but better late than never. The latest unwilling traveller has been a 75 year old paedophile, whose photograph - like those of dates you meet on the web, I guess - is at least 15 years old. Or, literally, out of date. Sorry.

I now know that times are really, really bad. I walked past a phone shop yesterday in which there were no queues of customers. In fact, there were no customers. Just the staff behind the counter. It was a Vodafone outlet but I'm not sure this is relevant.

Finally . . . As I took a vinito in Pontevedra's old quarter last night, I was struck by how much pleasure I was getting from the architecture all around me - the gracious curves of the arches, the beauty of the wrought-iron balconies and the symmetry of the elegantly proportioned stone buildings. And I wondered whether my own personal test of art wasn't the question of whether, consciously or subconsciously, I found something uplifting. Did it bring a smile of admiration to my face? And then I walked past the slabs of granite and glass which comprise our new museum and confirmed that Yes, this really was my test. 




In between, I went into our only baroque church and confirmed that an atheist - or at least this one - can still see art in religious artefacts. If only because the skill of human craftsmen always uplifts me. 

Though not the metal-strut sculpture outside the museum. Where there is neither craft nor art. Though some will disagree. Especially in an age when 'Art' is officially defined as "Whatever someone claiming to be an artist says it is'.

Nice to reflect on the symmetry of this post - both starting and ending with a definition. But is is art?

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