Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Down came the rain.

On Sunday I woke up to rain. Well, of course we know it rains in Galicia. We’ve lived here after all. And everyone’s been telling us how much rain there has been over the last few months. But since we arrived on Wednesday we’d not seen any. Thursday, Friday and Saturday were bright and sunny. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to sunshine, even rather watery winter sunshine. Since Sunday, however, there has been rain and that low cloud that gives the impression that someone has stolen the city, with the occasional rainbow thrown in for good measure. 

We met friends on Friday for lunch at El Puerto, just about our favourite restaurant here in Vigo. The fish was as fresh and tasty as ever. When we went to book a table and found we could do so with ease we were a little concerned that they might be suffering from the recession but in the end we decided that it was just that we were booking for an early lunch as one of our party had to go back to work. By the time we were half way through our meal the place was packed to the gills, quite appropriate for a fish restaurant! 

On our way to the restaurant we were approached by a smartly dressed gentleman: nicely tailored overcoat, woollen scarf, leather gloves. We assumed he was asking for a light for a cigarette or wanting directions to someplace. But no, he was asking for money so that he could pay his rent and buy food. Is this the new phenomenon: the middleclass beggar?

 Galicia is trying to address its youth unemployment – 45% last year and not looking any better this year so far – by re-introducing apprenticeships for unemployed under-30s with few qualifications. Firms taking them on will get various benefits. Let’s hope it does some good. It won’t, of course, be much use to the young people leaving university and finding that their qualifications are little use to them. There are times when I’m glad not to be a young person. 

In another part of Spain, according to an odd little story I read, a British woman is celebrating her birthday and funeral at the same time. 80 year old Eileen Bush, resident in Cómpeta, Alemería, for the last 10 years, has decided that she wants to know what people will say about her when she’s gone so she is combining birthday party with funeral baked meats. I’ve been to Cómpeta. It’s a small place where 25% of the population at British ex-pats. By all accounts they spend a lot of time having cocktail parties and so on. Maybe it was at one of these that the idea came up. 

The horsemeat scandal continues in the UK and beyond. Aldi is reportedly furious to find that some of their beefburgers contain 100% horse. Meanwhile Findus has withdrawn a number of its readymeals in France because of the horsemeat. That’s odd; I was always given to understand that the French ate horsemeat! 

Here in Vigo I keep running into small people in fancy dress. This is, of course, because it’s been carnaval, or “entroido” as the Galicians insist on calling it. When we went to Pontevedra on Monday all the decorations were up there as well. Our friend Colin told us about revellers who were still in fancy dress (and probably still rather drunk) at midday on Sunday, still not having been home from Saturday night’s fun and games. Today they will have been burying the sardine in Vigo and I’m afraid they’ve had a rather soggy sardine to bury this year, unlike the first time I saw it in sunshine.  

Finally a linguistic note. The Spanish word “actualmente” does not mean “actually” but “at present”. There is a related verb: “actualizar” = to bring up to date. When we went to the Vodafone shop to “actualizar” our dongle so that we can access internet, I noticed an advert for smart phones. This told you that you, “APPtualízate”, in other words, get the latest APPs for your phone. Isn’t language wonderful?

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