As I sat under a huge sunshade outside the Hotel Cemar in Mondariz late yesterday morning waiting for various people to finish playing chess or talking chess so that we could go for lunch, I watched one of the chess mums feeding her non-chess-playing offspring a range of snacks. The almost constant drip feeding of crisps and pumpkin seeds and snack biscuits perhaps explained why the child, quite a pretty twelve year old, was in danger of gaining more puppy fat than she would really want to have.
Her mother tried to persuade her to have fruit but she wasn't being successful. When she eventually managed to get her to accept an apple, which she had to peel before the child would even consider it, her daughter took a few desultory bites, declared she had eaten it and asked if she could throw it away. She practically had to have her arm twisted up he back to eat a bit more of it.
So much for the healthy southern European diet. I hesitate to call it Mediterranean as we are a long way from the Med. Later, over lunch, someone commented that Galician cuisine mainly consists of potatoes with something, be it fish or meat. Well, he is Galician so I suppose he has the right to criticise it in that way. And I suppose that if you count Spanish omelette and croquettes in the potato category he is probably correct. Apart from the last two potato items, I can usually manage without the spuds, even if Galician potatoes are the best world!
Getting back to the lady with the snacks, when she was trying to persuade her daughter to eat fruit she took out of her fruit bag a large and rather lethal-looking kitchen knife. Obviously she needed a knife to peel the fruit. One of the other chess mums looked at her in horror and asked if she really carried that around with her on a regular basis. Did she not know that if the police found such a knife on her person, in her bag or in her car, she could be find upwards of €300 on the spot. Who knew? And is it true?
The twelve year old was curious as to why this should be so. Well, explanations went like this: you might drop it on your foot and injure yourself; you might fall with it in your hand and, once again, injure yourself. just about all the explanations centred on the possibility of accidentally self harming. This was why, said the second chess mum, she always carried a penknife for peeling fruit. She took it out and showed it to us. You don't get fined for carrying one of these.
Not a word was said about a big knife maybe being a threat to others. Terrorism was not mentioned once. Maybe they did not want to frighten the twelve year old. Maybe it's possible self harm really was the only reason. I kept quiet about it all.
Besides, apples should just be washed and eaten. None of this namby-pamby peeling! My mother always maintained there are masses of vitamins in the apple skin. Mind you, she also ate tangerine peel. So she really wasn't the best person to consult.
Talking about terrorist threats, the ban on the burkini continues to cause a furore in France. I read yesterday that the whole hoo-hah began back in 2004. In and around Paris, maybe in other inland cities in France, they have the habit of making urban beaches. Tons of sand are brought in and a beach is created next to a suitable bit of river. The most famous is next to the Seine, right in the centre of the capital. The municipality of Wissou, in Essone near Paris, organised an urban beach. Then they banned the wearing of burkinis at their urban beach. The Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) challenged the ban in court, and won. When Wissou reinstated the ban, the CCIF successfully challenged it a second time.
Clearly there is nothing new under the sun.
Maybe the only way to fight it is for non-Muslim feminists to start wearing burkinis on all the beaches of France.
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