Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Thoughts from Jávea, Valencia, Spain: 18.3.20

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain [A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant.]

The Coronavirus and its impact on Life in Spain
  • Where there's soap, there's hope. They say.
  • You might be interested in a (worrying) supplementary post I published yesterday on the global economic crisis.
  • Meanwhile, life goes on. Aerobics on rooftops, flat-block bingo, balcony concerts, etc. You can't keep a social Spaniard down. 
  • People have begun to do what my street-wise sister had immediately suggested when told of the exclusions to the draconian restrictions - offer their dogs for hire.
  • Not surprisingly, a chap was filmed in a Madrid(?) street employing the cheaper option of dragging a wheeled radiator which was disguised as a canine. Another was castigated for carrying a toy pooch.
  • Here in Jávea, my sister and I went out for an evening walk, under the (actually genuine) pretext of doing a bit of shopping and taking rubbish to the bins. I hailed a passing police car to ask them a pertinent question - just, I suspect - as they were about to talk to us. For we were immediately told that only one person was allowed out at a time for shopping. After I'd asked if my sister was allowed to come back in my car to Pontevedra, they both started to answer at the same time, in that inimitable Spanish fashion. Eventually, they agreed that she should be able to come to Galicia and possibly to fly from there - though not from Portugal - but she wouldn't be able to return to Spain. I noted that, though they kept their engine running, they hadn't switched on their irony meter.  . . the pair of them were telling us that 2 people were not allowed out in public together.  Alas, this was only the local police and I really do need to get confirmation from the Guardia Civil. I'll try again tomorrow.
  • I was reminded of a joke I heard many years ago in Bulgaria - don't ask - which runs:-
You know why the police here drive round in threes?
No, why?
One can read, one can write and the other one likes the company of intellectuals.

  • It's reported that Fart is furious at his son-in-law for giving him bad advice on the handling of the virus crisis. The management of which he himself put in the hands of Mike Pence, a man who rejects science, endorses creationism and thinks that the best approach to all challenges is to pray for God to take them away. If it wasn't so terribly serious, one would die quicker of laughing than from the virus.
Nutters Corner 
  • The USA is kind enough to give us an endless supply of material. Here's one -  another man of God - who has a truly novel take on the virus and the attempts to counter it.
  • Words of the day:- 
  1. Voluble:  Fickle; mercurial; voluble; volatile; changeable; flighty; skittish; inconstant. Seen yesterday in the Spanish subtitles of a La Traviata - Los hombres son volubles. The equivalent of  La donna e mobile, I guess. Verdi hedging his bets. Or maybe dealing with a feminist backlash.
  2. Dicha: Blessing. Could well be old-fashioned, as the said subtitles - I'm assured - were in 19th century Spanish. When respect demanded that individuals be addressed in the 2nd person plural - as Vos. Not in the 3rd person plural, as Usted. Bloody confusing.
Finally . . . 
  • I had big plans for 2-3 weeks in Valencia and its environs and brought all my notes on them with me. Reading one of these yesterday, I had to laugh at this opening sentence of the paragraph on Valencia city's surroundings: You are never far away from a lovely day out. Or, indeed, numerous days in.

  • Galicia Living is a new property development outfit here in Southern Galicia (As Rías Baixas), owned by a friend of mine. So, if you're looking for a house here, get in touch with them. And, if you're particularly interested in the lovely Miño area down on the border with Portugal, let me know on and I'll send you my write-up on it.


Lenox said... Saw this...

Anonymous said...

Dear mr. Colin:

In spanish from Spain: "Tú" means "Thou" and "Vos/Vosotros" means "You". The respectful form adressing to an old person is "Usted" (evolved from "vuestra merced"). "Vos" was the respectful form in Cervantes' times. Now that you have a lot of spare time, investigate over that delicacies of language at

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Yes, I know all about Usted but the question is Why was Vos used in an opera set in the 19th, not the 15th century? I originally thought it was Argentinean Spanish.


Anonymous said...

Vos was used also as a respectful for adressing a noble person. Argentinean Spanish has, in some aspects, fossilised uses (of personal pronouns, for instance) from the XVII century. The use of Vos in Argentine is similar as You in English; we in Spain "prefer" Tú ~ Thou (second singular person).

Colin Davies said...

Thanks. Yes, I wondered about the subtitle having been done by an Argentinean . . .