Monday, 31 October 2016

Civilised goings-on!

What a civilised place this (Figueira da Foz, Portugal) is! Not only do they have bins in which to place your doggy poo at regular intervals along the promenade but the bins also dispense poo bags. Now that is what I call thoughtful!

Less thoughtful are the small birds which go crazy in the trees opposite the hotel at dawn and dusk. It was 6.45 am when I became aware of them today. That is altogether too early. In the early morning and the late afternoon the trees fill with small birds which flit from tree to tree at high speed, clearly telling all the other small birds all the news about what they have been up to. The din is immense! In no way could you call it birdsong. It is mass tweeting and twittering.

There are only two things I could possibly compare this to. One is a primary school playground full of small children who have not seen each other for the duration of the long summer holidays and are now talking all at the same time and with barely a pause for breath. The other is a square we came across in Seville years ago. As we strolled through the warm evening streets of that fair city (it was this time of year and the weather was very much like what we have here at the moment, perhaps even hotter) we could hear a sound that we had difficulty identifying. Then we turned a corner into a square where all the cafes had spilled out into the available space and all the tables were full of Spaniards, maybe a few other nationalities in there as well but mostly Spaniards, all talking at once nineteen to the dozen. Astounding!

Today is the 31st of October, Hallowe'en. All sorts of normally sensible people are wishing all their Facebook friends "Happy Hallowe'en". When did that start to happen? Cards are now sold with that greeting on. Total commercialisation! And I read somewhere that in Mexico City, in a country where the Day of the Dead / el Día de los Muertos is an important holiday (if that is the right word), they are planning a Day of the Dead Parade March. I even saw that it was to be James Bond themed. Now what does James Bond have to do with it?

Also I wonder what the pope thinks about it. It's one thing to go and clean up family graves and even have a bit of a celebration, but a full-blown march in fancy dress is something else. After all, the pope has recently said that the dead should be respected as well as remembered. He even went so far as to say that cremation is not really a good thing and we shouldn't go scattering our loved ones' ashes around the world! They might have had favourite places when alive but, no, their ashes should not be sprinkled anywhere!

At least one person has been ignoring that. In New York the City’s Metropolitan Opera was forced to cancel its Saturday afternoon performance of Guillaume Tell after an audience member sprinkled an unidentified powder, which police believe was cremated ashes, into the orchestra pit. New York City Police officials said witnesses had heard a man say he was at the opera to spread the ashes of his mentor. “An individual from out of town ... indicated that he was here to sprinkle ashes of a friend, his mentor in opera, during the performance,” John Miller, deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism told reporters.

There were no bad reactions to the substance. The person whose ashes they were was clearly not a toxic personality.

The perpetrator fled the scene so nobody knows who was scattered there.

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