Monday, 29 February 2016

Weather, wonky drivers and words.

Blue sky and sunshine all day today! Lovely! Eeyore, the bread shop weather witch, told me it would be so when I bought bread this morning. And she was not misinformed. This afternoon it was mild enough to stroll out without a coat. Of course, there were still plenty of fur coats and thick scarves in evidence but there were also a lot of sunglasses. 

Eeyore told me it will be fine and sunny again tomorrow (which perhaps means a rather cool night tonight) but by Wednesday the rain will be back. She had a little moan: "¡Qué poco nos dura el buen tiempo!" How short a time the good weather lasts! You can see why I call her Eeyore. Even when summer comes she will not be satisfied unless the temperatures soar to 30+ degrees for weeks at a time! 

But she is right about the inordinate amount of rain there has been. On Saturday I met a young friend at Pontevedra station and we walked into town along the path that runs beside the river. I don't think I have ever seen the river Lérez bouncing along like that before. My young friend is working in La Coruña and told me that she didn't think they had had an awful lot of rain there over the winter months. Now, I know that October and November were unusually delightful all over Galicia but I saw pictures of floods in parts of Vigo in December or January. And I had the impression that most of Galicia had caught some of the storms that hit the UK recently. 

Maybe, as Sarah herself agreed, she is influenced in her view of what constitutes a lot of rain by the fact that she comes from Greater Manchester (well, Salford) and also lived for two years in Santiago de Compostela. And that city is the rain capital of Spain! You can tell when you are approaching it on the train as the cloud cover grows thicker! This is a well known fact. 

Returning from the bread shop this morning, I witnessed one of those bits of silly, stubborn driving you sometimes see around here. My attention was drawn by the honking of horns. And there it was: a car trying to execute an almost certainly illegal u-turn through a pedestrian crossing. The lights were green in favour of the traffic but he had stopped anyway, sort of half-turned into the gap in the central reservation, waiting for a pause in the traffic on the other side of the road. Despite the fact that there are two lanes on each side of the road he was managing to block both lanes on his bit of the carriageway. 

 Eventually he managed to make his u-turn, followed by a string of insults (the usual stuff about doing disgusting things to the milk of the mother who bore him - standard Spanish swearing!) from the driver of the car that had had to wait behind him. The irony of it all is that in the time he had waited for a suitable gap, he could have driven maybe half a mile to the next roundabout and done a perfectly legal turn! 

One of the fruits if my recent trip to Vigo central library is a book by Isabel Allende, "El Cuaderno de Maya" (Maya's notebook). The Maya of the title, a young girl from California, ends up spending time in Chiloé, an island in an archipelago off Chile. Despite the fact that her father and grandmother are originally from Chile, Maya has only limited Spanish when she arrives there. She grew up in California, after all. As her Spanish improves she discovers that the people of Chiloé use vocabulary and grammatical structures that are not to found in any handbook for learning Castilian Spanish. Even people from mainland Chile (if such a long, thin country can be described as having a mainland) would have difficulty with some of it. This is because Chiloé has long been somewhat isolated and still uses structures from ancient Spanish. 

That brings me back to a recent conversation with my friend Colin about some oddities in American and Canadian English that can only be explained by their being old English usage that has been maintained on the other side of the ocean. Language is a funny thing and cannot be bullied into conformity. 

Rather like Spanish drivers and Galician weather!

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