Friday, 30 June 2017

Memories of things past, improving the future, teachers!

Walking into town yesterday, we followed a route that took us past the block of flats where we lived some seven or eight years ago. This is a route we have not walked for some time and we noticed places where the project commonly known as "mellorando o futuro", Gallego for "making the future better", had been going on: improved pavements, parks tidied up and the like. Covered walkways leading to bridge over the motorway was still covered in graffiti, although as it was fresh graffiti, I suppose you could say that some renovation had taken place.

When we first visited that flat, the landlady, a lady of Basque extraction with the (to us anyway) odd name of Garbiñe, walked us through an approach to the area which she assured us was scheduled for improvement. A one track road, barely made up, with holes in the tarmac all over the place, it had a rough brick wall on one side beyond which was a wilderness of bracken and convolvulus, mostly the purple kind that abounds here. The wall, she told us, was due to be pulled down, the road widened and resurfaced, and what remained of the wilderness after that was to be tamed and civilised.

Nothing had changed! If there ever were such plans either someone ran out of development money or someone ran off with the development money. Both are plausible explanations!

We tutted and went on our way. As we strolled along Arenal, a wild woman stopped and stared at me. Well, I suspect we all looked a little wild as the wind was tugging our hair in all directions. She looked extra wild perhaps because of her long hair and her weatherbeaten look. "¡Tanto tiempo sin verte!" she cried. The standard expression when you haven't seen someone for ages. Who was this woman who claimed to know me?

And then light dawned. This was Loli, who ran yoga classes at one of the Asociaciones de Vecinos, the Community Groups that work so well here. For two years, while we lived in Vigo, I had gone along to her classes twice a week. Very good value; €8 for a year's membership of the Asociación de Vecinos, and then €20 a month for which you got a two hour session of yoga twice a week. And the membership fee for the Asociación entitled you to sign up for other activities. Far better value than community education in the UK.

In the yoga classes, when we reached the point where we all did a final relaxation, stretched out on mats on the floor, I used to overhear the English class going on in the room next door. What I heard explained the awful pronunciation of some supposed English speakers here. The teacher was clearly not a native speaker of English. Well, I am not a native speaker of Spanish and I taught Spanish in the UK, so I should not criticise on that score. However, I like to flatter myself that my Spanish pronunciation is better than that teacher's English pronunciation. Much of the time it was just plain wrong!

And one day I heard someone ask her, in Spanish, in which part of England they speak the best English. After all, Salamanca is held up as a model of good speaking here I believe. The teacher barely hesitated before declaring London to be undoubtedly the best! Really? I don't think so! So for the most part, I would follow yoga practice and shut my ears to external noise and concentrate on my inner calm!

On the subject of teachers, I hear that George Osborne has a new job: honorary professor of economics at the University of Manchester. Rather than a new job, I should say another job. That makes six jobs, apparently. How many jobs does one man need? And how much does an honorary professor get paid? How much actual teaching must an honorary professor do? Will he commute daily between his newspaper editing job in London and his teaching job in Manchester?

And one more important question springs to mind: if he really needs so many jobs to to earn so much money, does he really have a grasp of economic reality?

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