Monday, 22 November 2010

On weather, bills, paint sprays and the web.

My young friend Craig commented to me on Facebook that it was time I did another blogpost ¿no? Well, yes, I suppose it is. Apologies to any other disappointed readers. For the last week and a bit I have been nursing my second cold since returning to the UK. This one arrived about three days after my return from Figueira da Foz in Portugal and refuses to leave. Two years in Spain without so much as a sniffle (even through the sogginess of last winter in Galicia) but three months back in the UK and I’ve had two sessions of coughing and sneezing. Extremely tenacious these UK germs, that’s all I can say!

I can’t really complain about
the weather, however. Even though it has been cold, far colder than I have grown used to, we have had quite a lot of those bright, crisp autumn days when you can wrap up and go for long walks. I understand that a good deal of Galicia, by contrast, has been suffering from heavy rain and high winds. It sounds a little like last year at this time.

And th
en this morning I read about an unusual victim of the bad weather over there. A resident of Cangas, across the bay from where we used to live in Vigo, was putting his car in the garage when he saw in the headlights a large bird. This turned out to be a buzzard, known in Spain as an aguila ratonera – a mouse catching eagle - which seems to me to be a much more romantic sounding name than buzzard. Be that as it may, the car driver concerned sent for Protección Civil who came and collected the exhausted and rather frightened bird. They reckoned it was probably worn out by getting around in the bad weather and was simply too tired to fly and had taken refugein the garage. So they kept him overnight, fed him up and let him go. Another happy ending!

Another story bought to a conclusion is the one I mentioned rece
ntly of the crafty restaurant-bill-dodger in London. It appears that last Monday they arrested a certain Janis Londis, a Latvian, who was caught as he tried to dodge a £1000 bill at yet another posh nosh venue, this time in St James’s Street. His lawyer has said that he was trying to impress a girl. The journalist reporting the arrest seemed rather sceptical of this idea, suggesting that a girl would not be very impressed by having to wear her best trainers along with her posh frock in order to make a quick getaway. However, I have read about a condition called hybristophilia, also known as Bonnie and Clyde syndrome, where the person with the condition gets a kick out of being around someone who commits crimes – ok, usually violent as in the Bonnie and Clyde story but maybe this is a new version: gastronomic hybristophilia!!

I don't know what kind of kick people get out of daubing statues with pink paint, as happened recently to the statue of the writer Valle-Inclán in Pontevedra. Daubing politically significant statues is understandable but I’m not sure what is intended in this case. Of course, it may be that the perpetrator knows that a friend of mine uses a photo of this statue as his Facebook picture and is making a little protest at that.

Facebook leads me to Internet which leads me to the language of the net. This morning’s El País comments on the fact that the hold the English language has over the internet i
s slipping. It has gone from a 74% share to a 45% share in the last 10 years, although it’s still in pole position. Now, the headline to the article, “EL INGLÉS SE DESPEÑA EN INTERNET, EL ESPAÑOL SUBE”, implies that Spanish is perhaps replacing it. Not so; Spanish has gone up from a 3% to a 4% share, but still remains in third place, after French and Germany (= second) and ahead of Italy.

The “decline” of English is down to the increase of Chinese, Arabic and Russian on the web. All this has little to do with the number of speakers of a particular language but reflects the number of pages in the language which appear on the web. The report on which this article i
s based was compiled by the Fundación Telefónica and edited by the Instituto Cervantes. One of their conclusions is that if the Latin-American speaking countries had the same level of IT development as English speaking countries, then Castellano would have a 16% share of the web. It’s just taking time but they’ll get there eventually.

Finally the article was accompanied by a rather delightful picture of the headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes showered with sort of tickertape strings of words! I just wanted to share that with you.

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