Monday, March 09, 2015

Evictions; Francoist emblems; English teaching; Driving offences;

In sharp contrast with their treatment of themselves and their friends, Spain's banks are brutal with those who default on mortgages they were persuaded to take out in the good times. As I mentioned recently, the law on their protection is weaker than anywhere else in Europe except Bulgaria and Greece. The net result, last year, was a total of 119, 450 foreclosures and evictions. Of these, 35,000 were of homes. Or almost a hundred a day. They don't have much of a voice, though things might just improve if Podemos manages to at least form part of the next government.

The difference between the 20th century dictators of Spain, Germany and Italy is that the latter two didn't form governments after World War 2. And neither Germany nor Italy, I believe, is much influenced these days by folk who are sympathetic to the old heroes. Not so here in Spain, where there are still many emblems of Franco around the country, despite the fact that, legally, there shouldn't be. But now a case has been initiated against the mayors of some 38 municipalities in which these are to be found. It'll be interesting to see how much feet-dragging takes place. In Melilla, they've simply refused to take down a statue of Franco in African gear. A lot more on this here.

Spain is Changing: When I first came to Spain, I was astonished to find that the university entrance exam (La selectividad) didn't include any sort of oral exam for English. So, imagine my delight to read this week that, only 14 years later, the government is thinking of including one.

You'd think that, if you were driving a taxi without a licence and an up-to-date test certificate, you'd try to keep your nose clean. Yes? Well, not the Pontevedra chap who was pulled over last week for talking on his mobile phone while driving. One of the unlucky few, in my perception.

Talking of driving offences - and I can't believe I'm writing this - the local police last week fined a guy €200 for overtaking a dog on the road that he hadn't even seen. This was under a new law that says you must leave 1.5m between your car and, I thought, a cyclist. But, no, it also covers 'animals'. One assumes this was meant to be horses, cows and the occasional ox but the police have decided to take wider view. Is there no depth to which they won't sink now?

An old friend used the expression 'Way back when' yesterday in an email. It reminded that one of today's in phrases is 'in the day'. I've vowed that, if I find myself using it, I'll throw myself off one of our several bridges.

Reader paideleo has kindly advised me that a la bordelesa actually means (as I first suspected) 'Bordeaux Style'. Here's one recipe for this. 

Finally . . . Here's 2 lists of words from Arnold Bennett's 'Anna of the Five Towns', set in the English Potteries, near Stoke and Hanley. in the late 19th century. Might just be of interest to someone:-

1. Words no longer used (I think).
  • Plesaunce/pleasance: A pleasure ground laid out with shady walks, trees and shrubs, statuary, and ornamental water; a secluded part of a garden.
  • Shardrucks: A pottery waste area.
  • Bumbailiff A corruption of 'bound bailiff'. A sheriff's officer who serves writs, makes arrests, etc.
  • A gilliflower/gillyflower: The carnation or a similar plant of the genus Dianthus. Also known as 'stock'.
  • Frou-frou: A rustling sound, as of silk fabric.
  • Higgling: Haggling (Dialect?)
  • Pattens: Any of various types of footwear with thick soles, especially wooden clogs.
  • To fettle: To sort out, to fix, to mend, to repair.
  • Necessitous: Needy
  • Tut-ball: Rounders. (Dialect. Considered by some to be the real origin of baseball).
  • At the behoof of: At the request of.
  • Prison-bars: Also called prisoner’s base, base, bars: A children’s game in which players of one team seek to tag and imprison players of the other team who venture out of their home territory, or base. Under the name of barres, this game is mentioned in 14th-century French writings and may have been one of the most popular games in medieval Europe. The game continues to be played, although less frequently in the 21st century than in previous centuries.
  • Speckless: Spotless
  • As right as a trivet: A trivet is an object placed between a serving dish or bowl, and a dining table, usually to protect the table from heat or water damage.

2. Words which have changed their meaning.
  • Divers motives
  • Second personal singular
  • Devious lanes: Winding lanes
  • A fidget: A worrier
  • Marketing: Shopping

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