Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bureaucracy; Remembering Cervantes; The Brits in Spain; Ponters' beggars; Hitler on Franco; & Facebook.

We resident foreigners often rail against Spanish bureaucracy but this Guardian article suggests we're lucky compared with the poor souls who have to get things done in Russia. I'll never criticise things here again. Honest.

The supposed bones of Spain's greatest writer - Miguel Cervantes - have been interred, with due ceremony, in a Madrid convent. The inscription on the monument includes a quotation from Cervantes’ final novel, Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda. Or, rather, it doesn't, as the final word has been spelt Segismunda. Although a tad embarrassing, it's no one's fault, apparently, and "the mistake can be easily remedied". Which is surely the right attitude.

I doubt any reader will be surprised to hear that the British have an image here born of football hooligans and, more recently, the revellers of Magaluf and similar lo-cost-hi-booze venues. Rod Liddle picked up on this theme in yesterday's Sunday Times: More than 5,000 British people were arrested for behaving like feral dogs on holiday last year, and the number of countries in which they were arrested grows by the year. It’s one of the many benefits of globalisation: our genitals get everywhere, they zip around, hither and thither, demanding to be photographed wherever they land. They crave recognition, our gonads. They want to be seen in exciting, happening places. . . What is it with us and this obsessive, infantile narcissism of flashing our privates all over the place? No sooner do people get a phone than the trousers are around the ankles and the snap posted on the internet. “Look! It’s my cock!” Can we regress any further? Is it because we no longer feel repressed? If so, let’s have a bit more repression, quickly. Maybe state repression, with electrodes. . . . We have been brought up with a liberal ideology that will not be gainsaid. Other countries have no right to be appalled by our nudity, our voracious sexual appetites or anything else we care to foist upon them, be it urinating in the street or vomiting in a bodega. Such monumental arrogance. You wonder why the rest of the world hates us? A bit OTT but he surely has a point.

The 2 beggars of Pontevedra I've known the longest have both come up in the world. The first is a hirsute bag-man who stands in exactly the same spot, day in day out, rattling coins in his left hand while he holds out the right. Until last week, he'd worn the same greasy black T-shirt for more than 15 years. But he's now got a bright orange one. The second longtime beggar is a woman who spends all day circulating the old quarter chattily panhandling for money at every table and in every bar. Over the years, the quality of her clothing has got better and better and I fully expect her one day to be sporting the same outfit as Queen Leticia. As of a few weeks ago, she's taken to dragging along with her a little dog, which presumably also lives on the proceeds of her begging. Happily, both of these old-timers recognise me as much as I recognise them and neither of them wastes time in asking me for contributions. Professionals, the pair of them.

I enjoyed this paragraph in Raymond Carr's The Spanish Tragedy: "For Hitler, Franco's Spain - with its priests, landowners and businessmen - was a disillusionment. He prophesied that Falangists and 'reds' might 'make a common cause to rid themselves of the clerico-monarchical scum that floated to the top.'" And I've always had Hitler down as a madman. 

Finally . . . Every time I try to put a blog post on Facebook, I get the message it can't be published as it contains something that someone finds offensive. This is hard to believe but I guess the culprit might be one of the foul-mouthed Spanish readers I've upset. Which would be ironic.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

Hitler ought to know, as he came from Austria, which is, of course, the Alpine equivalent of a clerico-monarchical backwater.

Incidentally, one other saying of his deserves to be remembered. After his meeting with Franco on Hendaye train station in October 1940, where the F├╝hrer was treated to a perfectly Gallego barrage of Njets to every request and proposal, he is supposed to have said that he'd rather have two teeth drawn without anesthesia than ever to have a conference with Franco again...

What the Caudillo thought of his Nazi sponsor is unrecorded. But given his most ungrateful attitude, one suspects it was nothing near complimentary.

Welcome to Galicia, Uncle Adolf!


Colin Davies said...

But was there scum on topo of the Austrian backwater? Or had it all emigrated to Germany?

Alfred B. Mittington said...

You have obviously never been to Austria or met Austrians…

Let me put it this way: Belgians are absolutely charming, normal, intelligent people in comparison.

Not to mention that the South African Boers look down upon them, and that the Visigoths decided not to ransack the place, but settle in Spain instead.


Colin Davies said...

So, your intimate knowledge is born of having relatives there, I guess.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear fellow, where does Alfred B Mittington NOT have relatives?

Colin Davies said...