Friday, August 29, 2014

Racism in the UK; Islam; Secret eating; Life in Spain. More new English; & A stylish departure.


All the reports on the appalling events in Rotherham in the UK stress they'd long been covered up because of a fear of being accused of racism. Well, up to a point. What people were really concerned about, I'm sure, was losing their jobs and their income after being accused of being racist. Like the brave headmaster of a school in Bradford 30 years ago.

Which reminds me . . . Islam was born out of tribal rivalries in the Middle East in the 7th century. One could be forgiven for believing this is what it's regressing to. But with rather better weapons to hand. Contrast things with the 14th century. As Justin Marozzi writes: "The Europe of Temur's time, in Muslim eyes at least, was little more than a barbaric backwater. Church and state were divided and weak. The age of imperial adventure had expired, not to be revived until the late 15th century. Edward the Black Prince might have cut a dashing figure on the battlefields of Europe but the Islamic world scarcely registered this sorry land of the infidel. The real treasures of conquest were not to be found in what the Koran referred to as the dar el harab (the abode of war), home of the unbelievers. They lay in the East. As Bernard Lewis wrote: 'For the medieval Muslim, from Andalucia to Persia, Christian Europe was still an outer world of darkness of barbarism and unbelief, from which the sunlit world of Islam had little to fear and less to learn.'" How things have changed.

There is, apparently, such a thing as a 'clandestine restaurant', also called a 'supper club' or a 'pop-up restaurant'. We even have at least one in Pontevedra, though - appropriately - I don't know where it is. Some of these are legal and some aren't. They're sited in unusual places - such as a flat - but may well be just another ruse for generating specious exclusivity and, so, higher prices. I'm told by the owner of of our local contender that I have to get 9 people together before I can book a table. So it may be some time before I can check it out.

Life in Spain: I had a doctor's appointment this evening, just to get my prescription renewed. It was for 18.56 (yes, 56) and I got to see him - for less than 3 minutes - at 19.25. Of the 8 people who went in before me, one was someone who arrived, asked everyone what time their appointments were, said he was a friend of the doctor and then proceeded to walk straight in without waiting for the latter to call a name. No one seemed either surprised or annoyed by this blatant queue-jumping. Así son las cosas. Given the chance, they'd all do the same. Me, I just read my book or listened to a podcast. Anyone who goes about without one or both of these in Spain is a fool.

Anyway, here's another English 'phrase du jour': 'To drill down'. This seems to mean to look at or to investigate. Essential in all business reports. Until the next phrase comes along.

Finally . . . I am now sadly bereft of visitors. But the last to depart did so in true British style - with the mother of all hangovers. I felt rather sorry for him as he boarded the train for Santiago, with an hour's journey ahead of him, plus more than 2 hours at the airport before his flight. And that was before take-off was delayed for a further 2 hours. But, hey, you reap what you sow. A lesson I finally learned when I was rather older than my young guest. So time and its wisdom are on his side. Meanwhile, he was surely able to get some hair of the dog at the airport.

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