Thursday, February 05, 2015

Politics; Affairs; Teaching; Steps to nowhere; & Some verses.

As in the UK, politics in Spain are confusing right now. Some polls give the new leftist party, Podemos, a clear lead over the PP and the fading PSOE. Others, however, don't. There's even talk of the PP and the PSOE, the traditional beneficiaries of Spain's two-party system, forging a coalition in the event of a hung parliament. They've recently got together to knock out a united policy on terrorism, though they've shown no ability to do this in respect of the corruption which is even more of a concern to the electorate. The good news is that the UK elections will be over in May. Here in Spain we have to wait until November, I think. Will Sr Rajoy debate with his peers in PSOE and Podemos? I doubt it, in view of his charisma bypass. Televisual he ain't, while the other 2 certainly are. Indeed, the PSOE leader appears to have been chosen specifically with this in mind, as other talents are yet to emerge.

I alluded to pseudo-Francoist utterings from the PP party the other day. Here's a good example from one of their parliamentary deputies:- 'If Podemos wins, they could be the last democratic elections in Spain'. Translation: 'Don't let in the Trotskyist Communists who'll slaughter the priests and rape the nuns.'

The word 'affair', to my knowledge, has always implied that at least one of the parties was married. But today I've seen it used of a couple in which both were single and merely 'dating'. So, is this a new usage? Or just a mistake? Perhaps it was felt appropriate because both of them are French - albeit one a gendarme and the other a suspected terrorist.

Talking to my cleaner the other evening about her daughter, I learned that the latter may just be in line for a job, if she does well in her Maestro oposición exams. If she's successful, she'll be sent off to a primary school anywhere in Galicia. She has no say in the matter. But the odds are not good. Because of cuts in recruitment, there've been no oposición exams for the last 4 or 5 years and it's not unknown for the results to be fiddled to favour candidates known to the examiners. So, can she work elsewhere in Spain? Sort of. She can't work in the Basque Country, Cataluña or Valencia regions because each of these has a local language requirement. By the same token, of course, no one from anywhere else in Spain can work here in Galicia unless they speak Gallego. Which is probably unlikely. Not much of a meritocracy.

Here's a foto of some steps I passed yesterday. They don't go anywhere and just stop in mid air. Presumably they used to go somewhere but are now seen as a waste of money to dismantle.


Finally . . . I cited a while ago the songs we used to sing in my primary school, at a time - they say - when at least one teacher in every school could play the piano. Now, alerted by reader Perry, I've recalled that we also used to learn poetry off by heart. Lines that spring to mind are:

knocking at the moonlit door, 
as his horse in silence chomped the grass 
of the forest's fearny floor. 

and 

close bosom friend to the maturing sun, 
conspiring with him how to load and bless with fruit 
the vines that round the thatched eaves run. 

But the one I recall with most affection is Chesterton's wonderful peon of praise to English drinking and eccentricity, beginning: 

Before the Roman came to Rye 
or out to Severn strode, 
the rolling English drunkard 
made the rolling English road. 

I've often quoted these lines to myself when driving over England's hills and dales. What I didn't know is that it was aimed - in 1913 - at preventing in the UK the sort of Prohibition laws recently enacted in the USA. But, anyway, here's the whole poem, with its tremendous last line. Best read out loud.

Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
A reeling road, a rolling road, that rambles round the shire,
And after him the parson ran, the sexton and the squire;
A merry road, a mazy road, and such as we did tread
The night we went to Birmingham by way of Beachy Head.

I knew no harm of Bonaparte and plenty of the Squire,
And for to fight the Frenchman I did not much desire;
But I did bash their baggonets because they came arrayed
To straighten out the crooked road an English drunkard made,
Where you and I went down the lane with ale-mugs in our hands,
The night we went to Glastonbury by way of Goodwin Sands.

His sins they were forgiven him; or why do flowers run
Behind him; and the hedges all strengthening in the sun?
The wild thing went from left to right and knew not which was which,
But the wild rose was above him when they found him in the ditch.
God pardon us, nor harden us; we did not see so clear
The night we went to Bannockburn by way of Brighton Pier.

My friends, we will not go again or ape an ancient rage,
Or stretch the folly of our youth to be the shame of age,
But walk with clearer eyes and ears this path that wandereth,
And see undrugged in evening light the decent inn of death;
For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen,
Before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green.

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