Monday, December 30, 2013

Portly priests; Being incensed; Odd English; Sevilla' women; & Muntered meaning.

With half an hour to kill before meeting my daughters last night, I thought I'd make a final attempt to make a quick tour of Sevilla's famed cathedral. But no sooner had I entered than I was hustled out by a waddling priest whose girth suggested he'd suffered less than others during the recent 'thin cows' time. It reminded me of the old Spanish saying - "If you want to be happy for life, become a priest." The Chinese, of course, say - "Get yourself a garden". But I don't think Confucianism has priests. Even thin ones.

So, I went across the road to have glass of Rioja. The café I first chose had a prominent No Smoking sign was but was, ironically, engulfed in fumes from the incense seller's stall just outside. Having had enough of this as an (unmolested!) altar-boy, I repaired to another place.

Going round the Palacio de Pilatos, I was surprised that the guy doing the English guide hadn't been taught how to get his mouth round Mudéjar. And that his female companion had clearly never seen the word oligarchy before and also had a bizarre view of how media is pronounced. What made this particularly hard to understand is that, apart from these words, they both had immaculate BBC accents. And the script was perfect but for its use of 'ignore' in the following sentence:- "We ignore [meaning 'don't know] where the original palace was built." In my experience, only a few Dutchmen still use this archaic construction.

There are street performers and street performers and regular readers will know of my disdain for some of those who afflict us in Pontevedra. But last night I had the pleasure of listening to a violinist and cellist perform Bruch's violin concerto in the barrio of Triana, albeit in competition with some flamenco clapping down the road.

Sevilla is a beautiful city and I will return soon to do it more justice. No firm conclusion is yet possible but I remain unconvinced that its women are the prettiest in Spain. As for the oranges . . . well, I don't like marmalade.

Finally . . . . I do now have a definition for both 'muntered' and 'muntering'.

Muntered means: Inebriated, intoxicated or otherwise chemically inconvenienced. Often associated with the consumption of Ecstasy/MDMA, moreso in combination with other intoxicants.

And Muntering means something you probably don't want to know. So only read on if you're of a very strong disposition:- A sexual act involving a corpse. One puts one's penis in the mouth of a corpse while a friend stamps on its stomach so that the entrails rise up and massage your phallus. Quite how these words are connected, I can only speculate. Both of them are way beyond any experience of mine. I'm pleased to say.

Finally, finally . . . A letter in yesterday's El País on the subject of the retrogressive revision of the abortion law:

I write with a deep sense of outrage at the announcement of the new law to regulate abortion. Not only because of the real problems this future law may pose for thousands of women but because once again the Catholic Church in this country is trying to impose its moral rules on all Spaniards, this time courtesy of the once "centrist" Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón.

The new law is based on an argument that the constitutional rights of a fetus are equivalent to those of a child, which implies that the life of the fetus should be protected as much as that of child, above the the mother's right to decide. While it's hard for me think of a fetus of a few weeks as a human being with constitutional rights (that's why I believe in a law based on science and not morals), this could be a valid argument. But it's clearly false. I argue that what is behind this law is the imposition of Catholic moral standards, under which is sex is considered a sin if it is not for reproductive purposes.

Under Gallardón's law, one of the cases in which the mother may decide to terminate the pregnancy is if it is the result of rape. But have we not equated the rights of the fetus with a child ? Does this mean that a child which is the product of a rape has no right to life? Obviously, not. The reason that a raped woman is allowed to abort is because, unlike others, she has not committed "the sin of fornication" but has been the victim of a rape. That's to say she's not "at fault " and so is granted the "grace" of being able to decide about her pregnancy.

Mr. Gallardón and fellow defenders of Catholic morals, I deeply respect your moral standards. Don't have abortions; don't fornicate. But please, leave the rest of us alone.

Ramón Fernández Sestelo. Ponteareas, Pontevedra.

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