Friday, 26 February 2016


Since we arrived here in Vigo, just over a week ago, I have not seen hide nor hair of "Soy-muy-pobre", the young woman who was our regular supermarket beggar for the first few years of our having the flat at this end of town. The last time I saw her she was complaining that fewer people come to our Mercadona supermarket since they opened the new, bigger, shiner one at the revamped old "bodega" at the far end of the street. So maybe she has gone elsewhere in search of richer pickings. She is not the regular supermarket beggar at that new Mercadona, at least not when I go past it. That store has an older, equally gipsy-looking beggar woman. 

Conceivably "Soy-muy-pobre" might have decided to speak in straight Castilian all the time (instead of sliding into the dialect which I can only call "beggar's whine" and which annoys me intensely!) and has somehow found herself employment. However, given the employment situation, I think that is unlikely. 

Yesterday we had a new supermarket beggar, an old man. As I left the supermarket I gave him some small change and only managed to get away from him with great difficulty as he tried to give me his life story. It seems he is younger than I am, although he looks about 80. He is living on the street despite suffering from prostate cancer. Surely there must be some kind of shelter for people like him but he told me he has been to the municipality in Teis and in central Vigo and they have no help for him. The local church just offers sympathy. As, I must confess, so did I. It can't be much fun getting into old age and illness and living on the street, especially with the rain that keeps on falling. For he told me, as if I were unaware of it, that it had rained in the night! 

It was raining again this morning. The weather witch bread shop lady told me gloomily that it is set for the day. Not only that but there will be storms tomorrow! In fact, she said, if it were not for her son being in school, she would emigrate. Where would she go? Oh, the Canaries or Cadiz! I refrained from asking do they not have schools in the Canaries and Cadiz, both part of the same Spanish system! After a week of her daily doses of gloom, I have decided to rename her Eeyore! 

A decidedly un-Eeyore like character is Paul Daniel, conductor of the Real Filharmonía de Galicia, the orchestra whose concert we went to last night. A bit of Mendelssohn and a bit of Schubert. Very nice! Paul Daniel, an Englishman in charge of the Galician orchestra, is more of a Tigger than an Eeyore, although Phil has decided he is really a BFG lookalike. Tall and unbelievably skinny, he positively bounces in front of the orchestra. No baton. He uses his long-fingered hands to coax the musical effects he wants from the musicians. Presumably they understand the different hand gestures perfectly. Even in quiet sections of the music, you can see him mouthing the rhythm softly to himself, all the while putting his finger to his lips to indicate a gentle approach to the music. At times, he leans over and seems to be listening to specific musicians or sections of the orchestra. At others, he sways to one side or the other. And then he even leaves the floor in enthusiastic jumps! 

 It is not just his skinny height that makes him a perfect candidate to play Roald Dahl's Big Friendly Giant, although that is the first thing. He has a longish face with a quite high-domed forehead, which enhances the BFG effect. Pointed toes on his shoes make his feet seem longer and thinner but his hands need no help; I swear his fingers are quite preternaturally long and expressive! But mostly it is his odd mobility, sometimes fluid, sometimes jerky but almost always as if his limbs are not quite joined together as they should be. And he really appears to enjoy his work. 

 Forget about the music; just watching him conduct is enough entertainment!

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