Thursday, 20 January 2011

Going up in smoke.

It’s been fairly quiet around here lately. Well, not necessarily in my house which is regularly invade by grandchildren but in our village/small township. We had our moment of media glory (or infamy depending on your point of view) when we had a by-election recently. Our local MP was defrocked or whatever it is they do to MPs who are discovered to have included slanderous lies about their opponents in their election leaflets. Whatever the correct term is he was out of a job and we were unrepresented in parliament.

As the by-election day drew closer we were bombarded with electioneering pamphlets, newspapers, newsletter, personalised letters implying that the candidates knew us intimate
ly, even Christmas cards signed by the candidates. It was serious overkill and resulted in our not even looking at the mountain of stuff that came through the letter box but putting it straight in the paper and cardboard recycling bin. Another consequence was my losing my temper slightly with and being rather rude to telephone callers and canvassers who, on voting day itself, one after another, wanted to know had I voted yet and who was I voting for. None of their business, as far as I was concerned, so I just told them so and asked them to leave.

Anyway, the election took place, the Labour candidate won and her party has claimed it as the start of a great come-back. We shall see. But since then it has all been rather quiet.

Meanwhile, in the Spanish parliament I understand that there has been, and probably still is ongoing, a bit of a kerfuffle about languages. This business of the official minority languages keeps on popping up. Apparently members of parliament who choose to make their speeches and contribution to debates in their own regional language – Basque, Catalan, Gallego or Valenciano (I thought that one was a var
iation on Catalan; I do remember being told many years ago that it was Catalan in its “purest” form!) – have a perfect right to do so and interpreters are employed to turn it into Castilian Spanish for the rest of the parliament. All this at an estimated cost of €12,000 (£10,000) per day. As Spain is going through a rather bad recession this is coming in for accusations of profligacy to say the least, especially as they can all communicate perfectly well with each other in Castellano. Yes, yes, I know all the arguments about regional identity and freedom of speech and so on but this seems a rather expensive way of expressing those things. Money going up in smoke!!

Smoke has been going up in the centre of Vigo as well. Around 200 people gathered in the Plaza de la Constitución the other day to have a mass cannabis smoke-in, organised by the Asociación de Estudios de la Marihuana, demanding the right to smoke marihuana for therapeutic and leisure purposes. They think that being fined is an injustice.

Other smokers wishing to put right what they regard as an unjustice are the group of people who dressed themselves up as cigarettes and suceeded in closing the Avenida de Castrelos with their protest against the Ley Antibaco. Only in Spain!! I rather wish I was there to see it happening.

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