Sunday, 10 August 2014

Rain and such.

Running in the damp and the drizzle or even the fog, those I can cope with. Running in the driving rain is another kettle of fish altogether. All right, I exaggerate somewhat; maybe it's not really "driving" rain. It was certainly steady and persistent enough at 8.30 this morning to make me turn over in bed and go back to sleep for a while. 

I'll go for a brisk walk with my bright pink brolly later. That's the bright pink brolly bought when it rained quite hard the other day. The bright pink brolly that Phil will not be seen carrying. It's ok when it's up; then he's doing the gentlemanly thing and holding my umbrella to shelter me from the rain but when it's rolled, it's altogether too girly an umbrella for him. 

Should I have bought a pink umbrella? Especially such a girly pink umbrella? If you have any feminist leanings at all (and I suppose I do have quite a lot) should you buy such a thing as a girly pink umbrella? I have no idea. No doubt the staunch feminists would say not but I don't see why it has to go so far. 

Yesterday I carried my pink umbrella around in the sunshine by the huge Olympic sized pool up at the sports complex where Phil is playing chess. The day before I had taken my swimsuit, intending to make use of the aforementioned pool, and it had bucketed down with rain on me. So yesterday I took a look at the looming grey clouds, left my swimsuit behind and took my pink brolly instead. And I ended up sitting near the pool with my book, pink brolly hanging from the back of my seat. So it goes. I probably need to take everything with me: swimming gear, book, iPad, sudoku puzzles, sketchbook .... the list goes on and on. 

Sitting near the pool, I earwigged on a conversation between several smallish boys about Minecraft, the virtual reality, create-a-universe game that intrigues small boys and girls, and some not so small ones, in the UK. The small, wet Spanish boys were discussing the need to have "diamond" tools to complete certain tasks. Just like our grandchildren, I found myself thinking. 

I have yet to see children making bracelets out of loom bands, the big craze in the UK. However, it must exist here too because I have seen sets of these tiny rubber bands on sale in the Chinese bazaars. The world gets smaller by the day!!! 

Now, Lucy Siegle, writing in The Observer today, has been expressing environmental concern about loombands. She reckons that, from the amount she sees spilt on pavements and being washed down gutters into the drains, they will be causing problems for wildlife. Even if the bands break down, which they will do as they are supposed to be photosensitive, little bits of silicone are still going to be eaten by birds and animals. She suggests persuading our children that their loomband creations are very precious and should be kept hidden away in locked boxes. Not a very practical solution, I fear. 

In her article she also mentioned a scare some years ago about the rubber bands dropped by postmen and how they were causing environmental problems. I knew nothing about this although I have long been aware of the rubber bands on the pavements. When we are out and about it is a regular thing that Phil stops every so often to pick up rubber bands, which he then re-uses at home. This is so much a habit that even the grand children now stop and collect bands for him if they spot them in the street. We have trained them quite well, ecologically speaking. 

Also in this morning's papers, I came across a certain Lauren Laverne, writing about words. Even though English has an immense lexicon, we still lack words for certain things and borrow them from elsewhere. She mentions "shinrin-yoku", Japanese for "forest bathing", not the most useful expression since we don't tend to do a lot of forest bathing, although they use it to mean a "constitution-boosting walk in the woods". Then there is the German "kummerspeck" or "grief bacon", meaning the weight put on by comfort eating. She suggests a new one, "hiberbacon", for weight put on in winter. 

One of the delights of learning another language is finding those interesting expressions and seeing which are incorporated into your own. The Spanish, and the French for that matter, take incorporating words as to further, of course. I have watched the French "croissant" evolve into "croisán" in Spanish, although sometimes it has a t on the end. So the plural can be "croisanes" or "croisants". 

And then they invent "English words" for things. The French have a verb "relooker" , meaning to give something a new look, and the Spanish have "el footing" for jogging and "un lifting" for a facelift. I love it. They are always surprised when you point out that we don't say these things in English. 

Ms Laverne finishes her article: "I’m still looking for one more … a word for the mistaken belief that there is no English equivalent for a non-English word, such as Schadenfreude, which many people believe doesn’t translate, but which of course simply means epicaricacy. Suggestions welcome." (Epicaricacy???) 

And finally, I read about some research that says that one in 10 UK residents can't name a single one of their neighbours, while less than a fifth of people know the names of even their immediate neighbours. But they would like to: almost two-thirds (65%) of people say their neighbourhood would be a "stronger" and safer place if people were encouraged to get to know each other better. I have a theory that our climate has a lot to do with it. It's not that we are antisocial or even as reserved as some foreigners think we are. It's just that the weather is traditionally so bad that we don't live as much of our lives on the streets and in the corner cafe as other nations do. Yes, there is the pub but that is not for the whole community. It's not the same as the bars and cafe here in Spain where whole families can go together. But when you get a spell of good weather in the UK, suddenly people are in their back gardens organising barbecues and getting to know each other just like anywhere else in Europe. 

It's a theory anyway. 

Maybe if the rain continues here, the Galicians will become like the British in that respect. But somehow I doubt it.

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