Friday, 1 March 2019

Speaking at speed! Recycling ... or not! Cuts!

There is a Spanish singer called Rosa Leon. She sings nursery rhymes for children and also poignant songs about love and loss, songs with social commentary, in a pure, clear voice. She probably no longer records as I first heard of her about thirty years ago. Mind you, that could be a completely erroneous supposition. Joan Baez was performing in the 1960s and has only now decided that her current tour will be her last.

Be that as it may, I have a CD of a Rosa Leon concert in which she is joined at one point by a cackling old crone, a female comedian whose name escapes me and whose Spanish usually escapes me as well. She talks at about a hundred kilometres an hour in a kind of high-pitched whine. Now, this style of talking is not uncommon amongst Spanish women. When I hear it directly, rather than on a recording, I can usually get most of it.

Last night we sat in MarĂ­a’s Midcentury cafe, having a beer and checking our email and stuff, and at the table directly behind me was just such a woman. For well over an hour she kept up a stream of babble. Very occasionally a male voice would interrupt and then she would set off again, straight into top gear. How do they do it? I could not speak so fast in any language without tripping over my tongue. The only person I know who comes close to it in English is my number two granddaughter. We frequently have to ask her to repeat. She has, however, been simultaneously slowed down and made even less clear by the fitting of braces to her teeth.

When first we came to Vigo, just over ten years ago, we purchased cheap Spanish mobiles, largely for the convenience of having a Spanish phone number. We’ve kept them ever since, topping up the credit at a Movistar shop. Since we were last here in November, the credit on our phones went out of date.

This happens; you have a certain length of time to use up the credit and then it tells you that your credit has “caducado”. You can recover it by topping up some more. Plots to get more money from you!

So yesterday I went to a nearby Movistar shop and put five euros on both our phones. I then waited several long minutes while the shop assistant fed info into the computer and eventually produced an A4 sheet of paper by way of a receipt. The chap before me had done a much more complicated transaction and was rewarded with several sheets of printed paper, a positive tome!, all neatly folded into an envelope!

This country is prodigiously wasteful of resources in that way. Our letterbox is regularly crammed with advertising propaganda, pages and pages of printed materials. I have to make a point of showing the women serving in the greengrocer’s that I already have a bag and do not need any more plastic. The same applies in the supermarket. To be fair, the same is true when I buy fruit and veg at the market in Oldham. And I am happy to say I saw a shopper in the Eroski supermarket the other day using handy-sized cloth bags which she used to purchase onions and tomatoes, instead of the small plastic bags provided by the supermarket. All is not lost! Or wasted!

Every so often I am alerted to silly names people give their children. A friend of mine has a relatively new granddaughter called Arabella Primrose, a nice enough name although it makes me think of the rather snobbish, would-be posh Sackville-Bagginses in “The Lord of the Rings”.

Here are a few more that a friend of mine made me aware of recently:-

  •  Wolf Joachim Mauleverer. Really! Would you actually call your son Wolf? And is Mauleverer a forename or a surname?
  •  Zebedee Ebenezer Jay - a brother for Clementine, Florence and Badger. The new child has a ridiculous name but what about his older sibling, Badger! 
  •  Twins Lockie James Ian Hope and Victoria Flora Hope, a brother and sister for Farleigh and Phoenix. Maybe they will be known as Lockie and Vicky - quite a nice collective noun. 
  •  Electra Amalia Bartholomea. In fact, I quite like Amalia but the other two elements of her name are a bit over the top. Of course, the children given such names will probably go to private schools with similarly-named classmates and will almost certainly not suffer for it. And should they decide to become artists of one kind or another in later life they will have no need to seek around for an arty-farty label. 

Which brings me to news of a state school in Stockport, Greater Manchester, which is planning to close early on Fridays from next September as they cannot afford to keep the school open for the whole week. Apparently there are at least 25 schools in England planning to take such steps to cut costs. They are putting a positive spin on it in Stockport: “With such busy lives, we are sure many families will want to take advantage of their children finishing earlier one day a week; a great opportunity to catch up, tackle homework or just have some quality family time,” went a letter to parents from the chair of governors.

They might even make a little cash out it as parents who cannot manage to collect their offspring at 12.45 will be charged £3.50 for the after school club.

 “Extras” such as Art Therapy and Language Therapy are disappearing or being cut. But I wonder how they will manage to fit everything else into their shorter week.

The world has gone a little crazy!

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