Friday, September 12, 2014

Singing nuns?; Scotland; Text books; Bloody cyclists; & Rear-endings.

Religions have been responsible for a lot of nonsense (and some good) down the centuries but perhaps this one takes the biscuit - In the 19th century, such was the antipathy to women participating in music that an order of nuns was compelled to sing in silence, merely mouthing the words of the hymns. Minute 4.20 here. Must have been peaceful to hear.

So narrow will be the result of the Scottish independence referendum next week, there's bound to be bitterness on the part of the losing side. One wonders, therefore, why a two thirds majority in favour of constitutional reform wasn't demanded. This seems to be the norm elsewhere for far-reaching changes. As it is, this was just one of the critical issues ignored when the whole thing kicked off years ago. When London thought it could rely on the sensible Scots to reject independence by a large margin. And, to be fair, so it seemed for quite a while. Anyway, the political commentator Matthew Parris of The Times feels that, whoever wins, the Union is dead. And I agree with him. Damaged beyond repair. The fascinating questions are - What will replace it and how much pain will be caused along the way?

Life in Spain
It costs a lot to send a kid back to school at the start of the academic year here, largely because parents have to fork out for text books in each of maybe 12 subjects. And these are changed every year, making the previous books obsolete and unsaleable. Some say this is a deliberate strategy, aimed at keeping Spain's publishers solvent. But now the EU says it's illegal to charge for books as it's a basic right of children to have a free education. Just another Brussels dictate to be ignored for as long as possible.

Life in Pontevedra
  • Over the last couple of years, at least 6 of the roads I regularly use in town have been converted to one-way or have had their single direction reversed. I can't say I understand why but, then, I'm not a professional town planner. Here's a foto of one of these.
  • The road on the right used to go from L to R but now comes R to L, from behind the wall. The upshot is you can't see the oncoming traffic as you edge forward. Brilliant.
  • I continue to be astonished at how tolerant pedestrians are of cyclists on the pavement here. Today I saw a group of 4 twenty-somethings nonchalantly part in the middle, while still talking, as a cyclist bore down on them at 20kph. If my experience in Hamburg is anything to go by, things are the opposite in Germany. There, if you wander into the cycle lane at the edge of the pavement, you'll be mown down by a very angry and vociferous cyclist. I suspect this is compulsory.
Finally . . . The Spanish word alcance means 'scope', 'range' or 'reach'. Hence, the phrase un accidente por alcance means 'a rear-end collision'.


Perry said...

My term for a rear end collision is a shunt up the rsole, by an cnut. If one vehicle is stationary it's an allision, the act of striking a fixed object. A maritime term.

RU keepin' up up with Bárðarbunga?

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Perry. No, I'm not keeping up. Not much in the Spanish press about this, I think. So thanks for the ref.

Diego said...

Textbook prices gave me a surprise this year, my daughter age 6, goes to an English school here in Asturias, total price for the English subjects 27€ for the Spanish ones it came to to 67€. the difference as far as i can tell is that the English books are all printed on plain paper and using one color, the Spanish books are all on glossy heavy paper printed with all colors, even the workbooks. At least she´s on her way to be a better writer than me.