Monday, 19 June 2017

Very Galician problems! Still in my bubble!

Yesterday there seemed to be a prodigious amount of noise around the town, small explosions, cannons being fired, perhaps, or fireworks being let off. What on earth was going on? Is there no such thing as a noise abatement society around here? Did they really have to provoke all the local dogs in that fashion?

Then, at some point in the evening I discovered that yesterday was Corpus Christi, a Roman Catholic feast which "emphasizes the joy of the Eucharist being the body and blood of Jesus Christ". Having been brought up in a Church of England and Methodist mix, I did not consciously know about this. There will have been flower patterns on the street leading to the church. I did not get to see them.

I read that back in 1972 there was a big kerfuffle about trade guilds taking part in Corpus Christi processions and carrying their trades' banners and symbols with them. The bishop of Pontevedra had to intervene. However I have no idea what he decided as I lost the will to carry on reading the article, which had very small print.

One of the delights of coming to the Sanxenxo chess event is meeting groups of people who over the year have become friends in a way. Not the kind of friends you send Christmas cards to necessarily or would invite to your retirement party. Just people it's nice to see once again and catch up with what they have been doing since this time last year.

And so I found myself talking to the parents of a young chess player. We first met this young man a few years back when we got involved with organising a kind of chess exchange for youngsters from their chess club here and from the one that Phil helps run in the UK. This year that young man has just done "selectividad", the end of secondary schooling exam which decides what level of university course you qualify for. How did he get to be so old? Mind you, most of the young English chess players who came here on that exchange are now studying at university or in the process of taking A Level exams. Time has been flying past once again!

Anyway, this particular young man has done quite well in his selectividad exams and will undoubtedly qualify for the optometry course or whatever else he decides to do - there not being a truly viable option for a university course in chess, unfortunately. However he is asking for a re-mark on the paper testing his Gallego, ie knowledge and use of the regional language, on which he scored an extremely disappointing 3. (The paper he was really worried about, Maths, got a high score!) All his friends and their parents agree that the marking on Gallego is extremely harsh. They sense a hidden agenda in there! Quite what knowledge and use of the local regional language has to do with one's suitability to study something like optometry remains a mystery.

I have known large numbers of students who were very good at sciences, technology and all things mathematical but quite hopeless at learning languages. I do, however, feel that a good, all round bright and clever candidate should be able to deal with a bit of foreign language but that is a different matter. And I have helped candidates applying for Oxford or Cambridge to achieve the required GCSE pass in a foreign language but there we are talking about applying to the top universities. And I am a little out of touch and could not really say if that restriction still applies. So it goes.

I have just been reminded that Brexit negotiations start today. And there has been another terrorist incident in London, another kind of terrorist! And so I shall have to come put of my escapist bubble again soon.

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