Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Bearing arms, violent language, parking etiquette.

Here's an odd title for a book that I came across in the paper this morning:" My Parents Open Carry". 

To "open carry" is an American expression meaning to openly carry a gun, to go around with a pistol stuck in your belt. Why they can't say "openly carry", which is more grammatically correct, escapes me but then lots of things baffle me about the way people use language at times. Anyway, getting back to the book, it is a picture book, intended for parents to use with their children to explain why they carry weapons around with them. 

The book has been written and, I think, privately published by Brian Jeffs and Nathan Nephew, co-founders of the pro-gun Michigan Open Carry, presumably a branch of the USA's pro-gun lobby. The picture-book follows a "typical Saturday running errands and having fun together" for 13-year-old Brenna Strong and her parents, say the authors. "What's not so typical is that Brenna's parents lawfully open carry handguns for self-defence." 

Apparently they were "moved" to write the book because they had looked for such a book and not found one anywhere. There's a surprise. They hope to provide "a basic overview of the right to keep and bear arms as well as the growing practice of the open carry of a handgun". (There's that wonky grammar again - what kind of noun is "the open carry"?) 

The writers state, "Our goal was to provide a wholesome family book that reflects the views of the majority of the American people, ie, that self-defence is a basic natural right and that firearms provide the most efficient means for that defence." 

 Personally, I would have thought that being brought up around people who carry guns would not be the most wholesome way of living but there you go. And I hate sweeping generalisations about the views of the majority of people. Have they got the statistics to go with that? 

The book has had some unfavourable and occasionally ironic reviews, such as : "After saying our prayers to Jesus and Charlton Heston, I sat on the edge of my kids' bed to read them this book, when I shifted my position and accidentally set off my 9mil that was strapped to my hip, shooting myself in the thigh." 

 One reviewer described it as portraying a "day in the life of 'typical' gun nut family", and "a primer for the children of gun nuts who'll be lucky to see their 10th birthday". 

 "As a prologue to the kids … I'd like point out that – no matter what mommy and daddy say – over 10,000 kids are shot each year in the United States and having a gun in the home makes you less, not more safe," wrote another. 

Right, I've got that off my chest now. 

We are camping out in a hotel in Pontevedra, having seen some of Phil's young chess players settled into a summer chess training camp here. They, and Phil, will take part in a tournament which starts on Thursday. I will just do the tourist things and watch the goings-on in Pontevedra, as this is the time of the year when the town has its two weeks of festivities and fun. 

Last night we took our friends Steve and Jackie to meet our other friend Colin at El Pitillo, probably the best tapas restaurant in Pontevedra town, if not Pontevedra region. We decided to dub this an elastic restaurant because they just keep adding more and more tables down the little side street where they are situated. This quite regardless of whether they own that bit of street or not. And the queues go on extending as well, waiting or tables to empty so they can be installed in turn. 

Our table was opposite a garage door. Colin, who lives here and therefore knows a lot about the place, warned us that the owner, or possibly tenant, of the house and garage, might well come back and need us to move so that she could back her car into the garage. Even without an restaurant spreading down her street this would be quite a feat as the street is so narrow. 

As we were coming towards the dessert stage of our meal, the lady driver did indeed return home. Tables next to ours were lifted completely and moved down the street out of the way. It was thought that ours might be ok but it soon became clear that ours would have to go too. 

In the midst of all this, with loads of people milling around watching what was going on and generally getting in the way, the lady driver suddenly lost her temper completely and stepped out of her car, ranting about how she had had enough of the "rude Spanish expletives" who ran the restaurant and having to deal with it on a regular basis. The air was blue with wonderful Spanish swearing, involving mother's milk and intimate body parts for the most part. It was the best bit of street theatre imaginable. 

Someone said they thought she had been so angry because a woman in the crown was trying to "help" by giving her directions on how to manoeuvre her car into the tight space. If so, I can sympathise. There is nothing more annoying than having someone advise you on parking in a tight spot. In any case, the lady driver's parking skills were astoundingly good. 

Our ever so charming waitress apologised to us, declaring that usually she finds out in advance whether the car is in the garage. If she knows it's not, she can ensure that the tables are more easily moveable than they were last night and she can prepare people in advance. Last night she was just too busy and it slipped her mind. We were not troubled by it, in fact we quite enjoyed the spectacle. 

I feel moved to comment that despite all the violent language and the aggressive pipping of the car horn, no-one was hurt and no-one appeared to feel the lack of a weapon at their hip to be a problem. 

 Peace was resumed without a shot being fired.

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