Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ponters Pensées 25.5.16

The Spanish are So Rude: Well, no. They're not really. And they can be extremely polite. 'Noble' even. The trouble is that 3 factors combine to make Spaniards do things that other people don't do – like virtually walk into you in the street – and this certainly makes them seem rude. With apologies to long-term readers who've heard all this before, these are those factors:-
  • Spaniards have no concept of personal space. They have no problem with people being 'in their face'. Or with strangers only making a (reciprocal) half-attempt to move out of the way at the very last moment. That's just life here. Irritating as it can be.
  • Spaniards don't have a good radar system. Nor antennae. Until you're introduced to them and things get 'personal', you really don't exist. So no consideration is owed to you. Once things are personal, they are extremely polite and gracious. So, rather black and white.
  • Spaniards can be very thought-less. By which I mean they don't think much about the interests of others. This, I believe, stems from their upbringing. One rarely hears Spanish kids being told to be quiet because there are, say, adults in the place trying to read. Or listen to the music. Or even watch one of the ubiquitous bloody café/bar TVs. Nor do you see kids being reprimanded for kicking a ball into your shins. Or for cycling across your path, within a foot(30cm) of your legs. And even in school corridors you don't see the teachers telling the little rug-rats to be quiet. Or at least less noisy.

That's my take anyway. Feel completely free to disagree.

Not only in Andalucia: No, not corruption this time, but house demolitions. HT to reader Siera for the news that 154 buildings have recently been knocked down here in Galicia because they were illegal. Or because the owners weren't powerful enough. I don't see any mention of the house of an ex-Minister built and expanded illegally close to the sea along our coast.

Driving Licence Points: Another HT to Sierra, I think, for the rider that one's 12 points can increase to 15, if you keep your nose clean for a few years. So, a mixture of losses and gains. How do you achieve this? – with apologies again for repetition – You never take your hands off the steering wheel nor your eyes off the road; you never switch on anything that might distract you; you never move your head; and, most importantly of all, you never, ever drive above 50km outside a town or above 30 in a town. Possibly 25 in some. That should keep you safe from blood-sucking. Of course, the alternative is just to get on with life and regard the fines you'll surely accumulate as a part of your total income tax.

Spanish Banks: Still in trouble. Well, the BBVA anyway. Here's Don Quijones on their latest woes and moans.

English, Spanglish: I was, anyway, going to provide this list of words that the Spanish Royal Academy is very unhappy about. But now I read that it has initiated an ad campaign against the 'invasion' of English words. Which will surely be a glorious (vainglorious?) failure. You can see it -and laugh at it? - here. And these are the detested words. Or some of them, at least. Since the acronym of the academy is RAE, I call this RAEling against English. Geddit? . . . ecofriendly, light, influence, founder, cool, vintage(meaning 2nd hand), spot, after, after-work, hipsters, streaming, running, casting, selfie, and underground.

Spanish English: Not to be outdone, The Local has come up with 10 words that were originally English but have now been taken into Spanish and re-invented. See here

Finally . . . Daft English Words: Advertising is, of course, rife with nonsensical words and phrases. The most recent I've heard is your hair-cleaning ritual. Or 'shampooing' as we used to call it.


RoiBê said...

Hello there

well, I’m quite amused about this thing about that occasionally noble folk, that is, the Spaniards. Are you sure they don’t have a personal space? None at all? I mean, have you ever tried to stand, let’s say, 3 or 5 cm off one of them you don’t know (supposing you were brave enough)? Couldn’t it be that they do have, after all, a personal space, if only smaller? Just a thought.

Anyway, I guess it all depends on the point of view; for example, according to certain Indian tribes the British colonizers didn’t have a personal space either, and they used to go about asking people “how are you?” (as if pretending they did care) and tapping them in the back. Very touchy and personal. They were also quite noise, by the way. Curiously, the French would agree with that.

And about recognizing the others’ existence, I’m not really sure the British are any different … I mean, I travel regularly on public transport here in the UK, and while I don’t feel confortable at all sitting so close together to my “fellow passengers” (and at times I wonder, do they really have a personal space?!) I am not sure they recognize my existence … maybe internally underneath that blank stare, they do … I don’t know … I never dared to ask …

Spanish kids … are they really different to Italian ones … or to Muslim British ones, for example? I doubt it very much. However, you will rarely see one of them jumping and barking madly at you from nowhere in a public park and not being disciplined by their parents or having them apologizing to you for the fright …

… as I say, dog walkers, always give them a wide berth …

Colin Davies said...

Hello there, Roibé

Thanks for this.

Yes, the Spanish do occupy a private space for themselves but they lack a concept of the same in respect of others. Most people around the world – especially those who live in crowded islands – eg. Japan and Britain – have an exaggerated sense of this. To the Spanish, this completely OTT. And amusing. They are happy to tolerate others being very close to them and to do the same in respect of others. See what happens in a restaurant here when there is only one couple there already. A second couple will sit at the adjacent table. Brits will sit at the one furthest away. Same on empty beaches.

The French would agree that Brits are touchy-feely and noisy?? I find this odd, against the Spanish view that the only people quieter and duller than the Brits are the Portuguese. We're not talking here, of course, about football supporters or British idiots who shout at foreigners so they can better understand their English. Just your average Brit. But I assume you're French and would have a better handle on this than me.

British buses – Yes, I take your point about being close together but check on how people react if you are moving towards them in the aisle. Most Brits will take evasive measures when they are still some way away from you. Spaniards will leave this until the final second and almost always brush against you.Touching is not at all British. Unless things have changed a lot since I left the UK 16 years ago.

And, yes, Brits don't talk to each other, however close they are. Again, utterly different from the Spanish. And the French???

Spanish kids … "are they really different to Italian ones?" Probably not. But they are VERY different from their fellow Iberian Portuguese opposite numbers. Kids will always do what they're allowed to get away with.

I carry a shotgun and kill dogs that jump out at me. Honest. But fortunately most of the Spanish dogs who do this are at the end of their tether/chain.

claude said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
claude said...

Hi Colin,

I'm a fellow Brit who's tallied 9 years in Spain (in 3 different communidades autonomas) and I'm so glad I found your post as I've been thinking along very similar lines for quite a while.

Mostly about the personal space and the fact that you don't exist, virtually, until a member of the "clan" has a reason to establish connections. And there woul dbe so much to say about the bubble a lot of the Spaniards live in, a bubble made of direct family, members of "the clan", la comunión, el bautismo, la feria, los patios, las cruzes, las nenas, los nenos, los enchufes, "I've-got-more-connections-than-you", "Why-didn't-you-tell-me-I-could-ve-got-it-cheaper-for-you", etc...

And, also, about kids who get away with, literally, everything. And are allowed/forced to stay up until 1am, looking knackered, so that their folks can enjoy their cañita and a never-ending chinwag session with their "clan". I've lived in 4 different countries, and nowhere else have I seen the dynamics that I've seen in Spain regarding kids, the bubble they're encouraged to live in, and lack of boundaries.

That said, I have a scene sculpted in my brain. A town I won't mention, in 2008. Two primary-age kids playing football in the packed main square on a Friday evening. An old man using a walking stick gets hit in the stomach, by accident of course, by the ball. He falls over. No-one says anything, the old man fetches his walking stick, picks himself up and clears off. The kids don't get told off, get the ball back and start playing again. Now, it's only an anecdote, probably an extreme one, but it baffled both me and my missus and stayed with me.

Mind you, I've now been in Andalusia for 4 years and, compared to what I saw when i visited Galicia, I thought that the North-West of Spain carried wasn't as extreme in terms of personal space/awareness of the other/perceived selfishness etc...

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Claude. Much appreciate you taking the time to write. I formed a group called Victims of Gallegas, for foreign (and Spanish) men who've divorced their Galician wives. In fact, as a group of us agreed the other day, we don't actually know of a successful cross-cultural marriage. Had bi-lingual 2 kids here yesterday of an Antipodean mother. Lovely. Very well brought up. But so are the kids of my Spanish neighbours . . . .

I've seen quite a few local kids unreprimanded! As someone wrote . . . It's amazing that Spanish kids grow up to be decent adults!