Sunday, 4 March 2018

Sunday thoughts!

Another Sunday.

The nasty weather appears to have calmed down. Friends and family in more northern parts of Europe (ie. NW England), and friends and family in the South of Spain have vied with each other to prove that they have suffered more from the inclement stuff - snow and wind bringing drifts on the one hand and wind, rain and huge waves on the other. And I have had to explain to both that in Vigo we have been protected from the extremes because of the particular geographical situation, on the ría with the Islas Cîes protexting the bay from the worst of the storms off the Atlantic.

We had a bit of an electric storm in the wee, small hours Friday-Saturday but, apart from a fair amount of wind and rain, that was all. I was half convinced I had made the whole thing up but it seems I just incorporated the flashing and banging into a dream in which the whole building shook. Dreams are odd: last night’s involved waiting for a train that was stuck in a tunnel. Where that came from I have no idea.

 Ian Jack, writing in the Guardian about “Who do I blame? Eight reasons we ended up in this Brexit mess”, gives a nice description of three products of the playing fields of Eton, David Cameron, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg as, in turn, a too-confident incompetent, an opportunist and a cartoon version of the ruling class. The damaging effect of the first of these, he says is especially hard to forgive.

His comments on the immigration question, something many give as a big reason for their voting to leave the EU, are interesting. “Immigration”, he wrote, “had begun to die as a political issue until, in 2004, Tony Blair’s government decided to open the UK labour market to the eight eastern and central European countries that had joined the EU. Only two other member states, Sweden and Ireland, did so as freely. Between 5,000 and 13,000 migrants were expected; within the first year, 129,000 turned up.”

Even Tony Blair and co agreed later that it had been a mistake.

And the rest is history!

Yesterday we went off to Pontevedra for lunch and to meet some people for chess related matters. Walking back to the station later we went past a furniture store with a piece of furniture on display described as a “cheslon”. It looked rather like a sofa but we decided thatbit was really a “chaise longue” and that this intriguing new (to us anyway; others may be quite familiar with it) word was a Hispanicised version of the French term.

Sitting in the station cafe as we waited for a train back to Vigo (maybe that sparked the train dream!) I skim-read a local paper and came across another one: “gurmé” for “gourmet”. In context it read: “Vendemos las conservas en tiendas gurmé y ‘on-line’ en varios países de Europa”. I find it interesting that in that sentence “gurmé”, which seems to be an adjective, does not agree grammatically with the word it describes.

I love the Spanish habit of making foreign words into Spanish ones by altering the spelling. The oddest one, for me at least, is “croissant” morphing into “curasán”. This is the kind of thing you get excited about when you are a language geek!

As our train made it’s speedy way through the final long tunnel (another dream provoker perhaps?) into Vigo Urzáiz station, the public address system told us in Castilian Spanish, Galician Spanish and Mexican accented English that we were approaching the station, the end of our trip, thanked us for travelling with them, reminded us to be sure to take all our possessions with us and warned us to mind the gap - or rather, to be careful about the distance between the train and platform! A rather wordy warning, delivered with the accent that always sounds as though the speaker has a big fixed smile on his face.

Are there no native English speakers around?

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