Tuesday, February 24, 2015

La Crisis; Rajoy's award; Bread; Be happy; Iglesias & Galicia; Que aproveche; Cremations; & A mug.

The Spanish president, Sr Rajoy, keeps on telling us that Spain is well over the worst and is soaring towards the bright uplands, the envy of Europe. But I'm not so sure. It seems I can't turn round in Pontevedra without finding another shop or café closed. Even healthfood places. One curious feature is that, in the centre, every closing shop seems to be immediately replaced by a flashy new high-street dental surgery. I confirmed this with my own dentist last week, who told me the number of practitioners here had more than doubled in recent years. Since all these are financed by private payments or health insurance schemes, it does rather suggest that some people are still doing OK. But ain't that always the way?

A propos this claim of Rajoy's, I saw a nice cartoon in a local paper yesterday: He is pictured saying there's light at the end of the tunnel and then receiving an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Lovely.

I'm very aware of the Spanish need for bread. If you invite Spanish friends round for, say, a curry, they get twitchy if there's no bread on the table. Even if they're never going to eat it. So I wan't too surprised to see yesterday that the word bollo (bread roll) can mean 'gorgeous' or 'fit'. English, of course, uses 'crusty', though not with the same meaning. Or affection.

If you're looking to be happy - and who isn't - here are definitions of this state from 40 famous authors. After reading them, you'll be halfway there.

Enrique Iglesias has a new song out, inevitably promoted via a video featuring him and a host of scantily-dressed women. It's of particular interest to us up here in Galicia as the Xunta paid him €300,000 to use the video to promote the region. This he does for all of 40-50 seconds at the start, leaving many Galicians feeling they got poor value for their taxes. Anyway, here it is. And here's a parody. By the way - 35 seconds into the real one you can see (briefly) our humungus white elephant - the City of Culture outside Santiago. Which was an even bigger waste of money. By a long, long way.

As I was tucking into my Sunday lunch in a regular bar, a friend came up to me, smartphone in hand. "Seize!" he said. And when I looked nonplussed, he said it again. It turned out he'd put the phrase Que aproveche into his translation app and, instead of giving him 'Bon Appetit!', the phone had offered 'Seize'. This being one of the several translations of the verb aprovechar. As in Carpe diem, Seize the day. At least, that's my guess.

I suppose it's logical but, apart from the sardine, the chicken and the parrot, the other creature to be immolated along this coast at the end of the first week of lent is the mussel. This might be the case in Vigo, which you can't approach without seeing the mussel rafts (bateas) which adorn (and take advantage of) the plankton-rich waters of the harbour and, particularly, of the Rande straits. 

Finally . . . In the last few weeks, I've been buying the Sunday edition of the Voz de Galica so I could avail myself of their offer of mugs displaying Galician traits. The kiosk lady has been absolutely charming, recognising me each Sunday - I must look like a guiri - and selling me extra mugs that I'd asked about the first Sunday. I really only wanted 2 for my daughters but now I've got 12. So, does anyone want a Galician mug? Altogether too bloody charming!


Alfred B. Mittington said...

What is your problem with immolated sardines, mussels, parrots and whatnots?? If you had read Sir James Frazer's 'Golden Bough' - which you might well have done in your long and rather misspent life instead of lurching on café terraces, driving in limousines, or walking dirt roads to Santiago - you would know that these are ceremonies which go back many millennia, to the neolithic to be exact, and were original fertility sacrifices performed on Sacred Kings. Only in later ages all sorts of animals, or puppets, were substituted for the human victim. Finding mussels and sardines and mackerels and hakes on the coast is not so very surprising. The parrot, however, begs for explanation. Do some research, my boy, and enlighten us!


Anthea said...

In English we say that someone is as good as gold. In Spanish? Bueno como el pan. As good as bread! there you go.

Perry said...


I suppose "Lo mejor desde el pan rebanado" is a phrase that is misunderstood in Spain.

That girl is like a roll. Spherical & squashy. Some cross cultural paradigms don't work. Like donut & don't.

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