Sunday, January 04, 2015

Corruption trials; Maids; Cyclists; Eating & Chefs; Sugar; RT TV; Selfies & Relfies; & The Guide for Yanks.

There are reported to be more than 150 corruption cases meandering their way through the Spanish courts. It's hard to believe the number will be lower by the end of the year. In one huge case down in Andalucia, the regional government is trying to stop the judge investigating the role of public companies in a vast scandal of phoney redundancy payments. One wonders why.

My neighbours, Nice but Noisy Tony and the lovely Amparo, employ a woman who cleans the house, drives the kids to and from school and cooks meals. She lives nearby during the week but at weekends goes home to her village and takes part in such activities as pig-killing and slicing. It's impossible to imagine British families being able to get such help, except by employing legal or illegal 'au pairs' from abroad. But such an arrangement is common among middle class families here and helps to explain why their quality of life is superior to that elsewhere. How long it will last is anyon'e guess.

Deaths of car drivers may well have been down last year but those of cyclists rose from 37 to 46, an increase of 31%. This may explain why, as of very soon, the law will oblige drivers to leave a gap of at least 2.5m when overtaking a cyclist. Nothing about lights, though.

If you're a Brit in Spain missing your curry, nip along to Lidl, where you might find a few items of interest in the freezers.

Talking about eating . . . Poor old Gordon Ramsay is incandescent about a low-quality restaurant in Tenerife calling itself Gordon Ransay in identical calligraphy to that of his own places. In the UK, this would be dealt with quickly via an action for 'passing off' but I'm not sure any equivalent exists here in Spain. But he is, of course, suing them for something.

Talking of (in)famous chefs . . . I see Jamie Oliver has joined my campaign against 'the Devil's grain'. "Sugary foods", he says, "risk causing a public health crisis similar to smoking and should be taxed in the same way as tobacco. It's definitely the next evil”, he added, "and should be targeted because of the burden it places on the NHS". Hear, hear say I.

Today's quote from Moscow's RT TV channel: The West has not yet come to terms with the loss of its supremacy. Apparently, the US empire is in its death throes, as evidenced by the fact that there are lots of distracting TV programs. And sports stars, like gladiators, make millions.

Penultimately . . . . You couldn't make it up department: A London college is offering students a course in selfie-taking. The month-long programme of lectures and seminars, it says, will “improve critical understanding of the photographic self-portrait”. Even better - "As well as critiquing their own efforts, students will also “critique visual work from a variety of practitioners”.

Which reminds me . . . Possibly in my sleep last night, I've invented the 'relfie'. Maybe. This is the rear-selfie and here's mine. Aprés moi, le deluge?

Finally . . . Another extract from the 1942 Guide for Yanks in Limeyland: BTW - You may be amused to read that the English will be speaking English that is 'wrong' and 'funny'.


ALMOST before you meet the people you will hear them speaking "English." At first you may not understand what they are talking about and they may not understand what you say. The accent will be different from what you are used to, and many of the words will be strange, or apparently wrongly used. But you will get used to it. Remember that back in Washington stenographers from the South are having a hard time to understand dictation given by business executives from New England and the other way around.

In England the "upper crust" speak pretty much alike. You will hear the news broadcaster for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). He is a good example, because he has been trained to talk with the "cultured" accent. He will drop the letter "r" (as people do in some sections of our own country) and will say "hyah" instead of "here." He will use the broad 'a' pronouncing all the a's in "banana" like the 'a' in "father". However funny you may think this is, you will be able to understand people who talk this way and they will be able to understand you. And you will soon get over thinking it is funny.

You will have more difficulty with some of the local dialects. It may comfort you to know that a farmer or villager from Cornwall very often can't understand a farmer or villager in Yorkshire or Lancashire. But you will – and they will learn – to understand you.

Some Hints on British Words. British slang is something you will have to pick up for yourself. But even apart from slang there are many words which have different meanings from the way we use them and many common objects have different names. For instance, instead of railroads, automobiles and radios, the British will talk about railways, motorcars, and wireless sets. A railroad tie is a sleeper. A freight car is a goods wagon. A man who works on the roadbed is a navvy. A streetcar is a tram. Automobile lingo is just as different. A light truck is a lorry. The top of the car is the hood. What we call the hood (of the engine) is a bonnet. The fenders are wings. A wrench is a spanner. Gas is petrol – if there is any.

Your first furlough may find you in some small difficulties because of language difficulties. You will have to ask for sock suspenders to get garters and for braces instead of suspenders – if you need any. If you are standing in line to book (buy) a railroad ticket or a seat at the movies (cinema) you will be queuing (pronounced "cueing") up before the booking office. If you want a beer quickly, you had better ask for the nearest pub. You will get your drugs at a chemist's and your tobacco at a tobacconist, hardware at an ironmonger's. If you are asked to visit somebody's apartment, he or she will call it a flat.

A coin which you will sometimes see advertised in the better stores is the guinea (pronounced "ginny" with the "g" hard as in "go"). It is worth 21 shillings, or one pound plus one shilling.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The measures of length and weight are almost the same as those used in America. The British have inches, feet and yards, pints, quarts, gallons and so forth. You should remember, however, that the English (or "Imperial") gallon contains about one fifth more liquid than the American gallon.

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