Friday, 30 April 2010

Another week comes to an end.

Here we are at the end of another week, the usual round of book clubs, yoga, painting class and so on. This week though we gave ourselves the extra treat of a classical concert at the Caixanova cultural centre. Mind you, the musicians were British: the Academy of Saint Martin in the Fields but with an international touch as the conductor was Swedish, I believe. Whatever his nationality he was a very excitable gentleman with fairly flowing silvery locks, clearly enjoying his work. They gave good value, giving us a couple of encores and sending us all home happy.

On the way home we had the good fortune to find an empty table outside the excellent bar La Porchaba on Rosalía de Castro. They have been quite late this year in putting tables outside, hardly surprising considering how long winter has gone on and on and on. Last night though, it was a delightfully mild evening so we were surprised to find a table free. So we took advantage and stopped for a glass of rioja, accompanied by a free tapa, a splendid way to round off a pleasant evening.

It has seemed this week as though we have gone straight from winter to summer, by-passing spring completely. Temperatures have been up to 25° and the sun has shone nicely on us. This evening it has had a go at bringing us the threatened rain but we are hoping it will perk up again for the weekend.

This weekend is, of course, another fiesta: la fiesta del trabajador here in Spain, la fête du travail in France, just another bank holiday in the UK. Whatever you call it and despite the demonstrations that will undoubtedly take place in many European countries it’s still another fiesta, almost certainly involving a lot of people moving about on the roads. Bank holiday queues seem to be international.

Also international, it seems, are children’s story books. Somehow in the Italian book club the topic of children’s stories cropped up. Alice in Wonderland, Pippi Longstocking and Heidi seemed to be everyone’s favourites, although some people knew them only as children’s films or TV series. I was amused at a little argument that occurred about the pronunciation of Heidi, Angelo, our Italian teacher, insisted that the Spanish are wrong to turn the initial “h” into a Spanish “jota”, that lovely sound like clearing phlegm from the back of your throat. They are also, it seems incorrect to pronounce the “ei” Spanish style, like the “a” of English “hay”. This gives you a version of the name rather like “Haydee” with that good strong “jota”. No, said Angelo, the vowel sound should be an “i” sound (English style), like the Spanish “ay” that you say when you drop a brick on your foot. The initial “h” disappears. This gives you her name as “Idee”. I kept quiet about how I thought the name should be pronounced but I do know how my friend Heidy says HER name.

We won’t even get into the argument that took place about Heidi’s nationality! Suffice it to say that everyone thought they knew best.

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