Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Criminal princess; Gag protests; El Gordo; George Galloway; Sprouting; Judith Durham; And the Guide for Yanks.

Bad Xmas week news for Princess Cristina - the instructing judge has finally decided she'll face criminal charges of tax fraud. The trial is scheduled for the 2nd half of 2015, so there's plenty of time for the Spanish establishment (La casta) to find some legal reason why it shouldn't. Or just to sack the judge for some manufactured offence. Or both, probably. After all - What's the point of power if you can't abuse it?

Which reminds me . . . Unhappy Spaniards demonstrated in more than 30 cities yesterday, against the Gag Law, which, inter alia, will ban protest meetings anywhere near places selected by the government. There'll also be fines for folk who film or photograph police officers or who' disrespect' members of Spain's security forces. It seems to be a Latin thing to demand respect for numerous people in authority. And for the Catholic Church and its adherents, of course. A vestige of recent dictatorships, I guess.

For both the religious and the irreligious, the Xmas lottery, El Gordo (The Fat One), dished out €2.5 BILLION yesterday. Sadly, none of it came my way. Not even a duro nor a penique.

George Galloway is a British MP who's infamous for a number of egregious actions. Perhaps the worst was his cosying up to Saddam Hussein and lauding him to the skies - "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability." "Gorgeous George" has since become a standard-bearer for Muslims in the UK, married a 4th (young and pretty) wife and appeared on both Al Jazeera and Iranian TV, slagging off the West. So you won't be surprised to hear he's now on the Russian propaganda TV channel, RT. For some reason, George does all his interviews wearing a trilby. It can't be because he's bald as he's had little hair for a long time. Theories welcome.

Demonstrating just how insane tradition can be . . . 65 MILLION brussels sprouts will be sold in the UK tomorrow, ahead of the Xmas Day dinner. For the Spanish, this will take place around 10pm on Xmas Eve. Followed by another huge meal at 3pm on Xmas Day. Followed by the same performance at both New Year and Los Reyes (Jan 5-6). Given the noise levels next door, I really should go away every year. Except I'm invited for the NYE shindig - which normally goes on until 5am.

Penultimately . . . Judith Durham was the singer of the 60s group, The New Seekers. Before that, she'd actually been a performer of jazz and blues and, in the 70's, she recorded a double LP/album - The Hottest Band in Town. This is now available as a pair of CDs. So, how does she shape up singing numbers made famous by the likes of Bettie Smith? Well, pretty well, in my view; her unique (vibrato) voice, her immaculate phrasing and perfect pitch do justice to the songs. But others will surely disagree (Denis?). Needless to say, you can get some tracks on youtube and sample them all here, if you're tempted. And here she is singing with Woody Allen. BTW - She also gives a decent rendition of The Entertainer on the joanna.

Finally . . .


British Reserved, Not Unfriendly.

You defeat enemy propaganda not by denying that these differences exist, but by admitting them openly and then trying to understand them. For instance: The British are often more reserved in conduct than we. On a small crowded island where forty-five million people live, each man learns to guard his privacy carefully – and is equally careful not to invade another man's privacy.

So if Britons sit in trains or buses without striking up conversation with you, it doesn't mean they are being haughty and unfriendly. Probably they are paying more attention than you think. But they don't speak to you because they don't want to appear intrusive or rude.

Another difference. The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own that may sound funny to you. You can make just as many boners in their eyes. It isn't a good idea, for instance to say "bloody" in mixed company in Britain – it is one of their worst swear words. To say "I look like a bum" is offensive to their ears, for to the British this means that you look like your own backside. It isn't important – just a tip if you are trying to shine in polite society. Near the end of this guide you will find more of these differences of speech.

British money is in pound, shillings, and pence (this is also explained more fully later on.) The British are used to this system and they like it, and all your arguments that the American decimal system is better won't convince them. They won't be pleased to hear you call it "funny money," either. They sweat hard to get it (wages are much lower in Britain than America) and they won't think you smart or funny for mocking it.

Editor's Note: A 'boner' was clearly something different back then. In the (US) text I am copying from, some automatic censor had replaced the word with asterisks. For 'dickie seat' it had substituted '****ie seat'. My thanks to reader Perry for explaining this to me.

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