Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Beggars and passports!

Today I went running again, even though I was taking the risk that the threatened temporary water cut-off might have come into force, making showering difficult. Yesterday I did not run as the water was supposedly being cut off at 8.30, meaning I would have had to go out to run at 7.30 or even earlier in order to have time to shower afterwards. There are limits to my devotion to fitness!

Today, however, I chose to refuse to be ruled by arbitrary workmen's decisions and followed my normal routine. No problems at all. No water restrictions. Perhaps they underestimated the length of time it would take them to reach our stretch of the street.

As I turned left by the lighthouse roundabout and started to pound my way up the San Joan do Monte hill I realised that someone was waving to me. It looked like a couple of children. Then I realised that it was Soy-Muy-Pobre, who used to be our regular supermarket beggar, and her son. She looks about 16 but I know for a fact that her child is at least 7. So she must be in her twenties, even assuming she was very young when the child was born. Being small, of course, makes her look younger. Her son is almost as tall as she is.

After she had got over the delight of seeing me again - she is always pleased to see me - she told me how she had been outside our Mercadona on Saturday and had wondered if she would see "la seƱora" (me) again. She went on to have a little moan about her son's school being closed this morning, for no apparent reason and without prior notice. (Maybe there water has been cut off instead of ours!) She had walked her son up the hill to the school despite his having a bad cold and being unable to breathe well. The child obligingly sniffed impressively to prove that his mother was telling the truth. All of this she told me in a perfectly normal voice, speaking perfectly comprehensible Spanish. Then, as if remembering that I was a possible source of income, she slipped into her I'm-only-a-poor-little-beggar-girl whine to tell me that she can't afford to take him to the doctor or to buy medicine for him. Did I not have a little something to give her? To which I had to say no. I was out for a run and had no money with me. Maybe next time. I have to say though that and the child looked better dressed than the last time I saw them. Maybe things are looking up for them!

In the cafe yesterday evening, a table near ours was full once again of women talking, not so loudly this time, about everything under the sun. At one point Phil leaned across to me and commented: "I am amazed that the world champion fpr speed chess is not a Spanish woman because these women speak faster than I can think". And he is not wrong; there are some Spanish women who speak at a hundred miles an hour. Maybe they feel the need to say everything before they are interrupted by another member of their group. Which is something that quite often happens. If you pause for breath in such a conversational situation it is generally assumed that you have had your say and someone else can take over. What I want to know is how they speak so fast without tripping over their tongues!!

Nobody here has mentioned Gibraltar to me so far but I see that the nonsense is continuing. Here is a link to an article about it.

One theory is that it is all about national identity. Which is a matter which has some people yearning for the old blue passports that we British folk used to have before our maroon ones stamped with EU at the top of the front cover. According to the Independent newspaper some pro-Brexit MPs have been calling for a return to the dark blue passports and now the Home Office has confirmed that some £500 million will be spent redesigning the passport. They say that this is not because of our leaving the EU but because the current contract for passport design is coming to an end in 2019. What is wrong with just renewing the old contract and simply changing the colour? And why does it have to cost so much? Don't we have schools and hospitals and social services in need of money?

Personally, I couldn't care less what colour my passport is but some people think it is important. Here is a bit of information about our very British passports:

"The blue booklet passport was not introduced until 1920, and it was only issued for 68 years. We’ve had the burgundy version for 29 years – about a third of the time the UK has been issuing passports in book form. Around 24 million people iin the UK under the age of 29 have never held a blue British passport."

The journalist Emma Brockes is quite attached to her burgundy Uk passport. Maybe she is one of those who never had a blue one! Here is her opinion:

"I’ve been lucky enough to have freely lived and worked in both Greece and Austria in the last decade, thanks to that little burgundy document and what it represented. In their quest to restore this visual symbol of British identity, leave voters have diminished what you can achieve with it.

 Nothing says home quite like a red passport."

 She has two children who were born in the USA and would like them to benefit from dual nationality and have a UK as well as a USA passport. But it's not quite so straightforward as she expected it to be: "What, HM Passport Office wants to know, is the depth of the child’s claim to be British? Were the maternal grandparents married? When were they married? Where were they born? Before now, I have taken my nationality entirely for granted and in the face of these questions find myself fighting the urge to ask: what’s it to you?"

Somehow I find that quite disturbing. It smacks of ensuring the "purity of the nation", which is a dangerous concept!

1 comment:

  1. If you were born before 1983 then things are really straight forward but after that it gets complicated and you need to check out "being a British citizen". I remember there was a big shake up and caused a lot of concern.