THE UNION IS FAR FROM FLAWLESS BUT EVERYONE IS AT THE TABLE I MUCH PREFER HEARING SOMEONE HAVE A STAB AT THE LINGO
I need to lighten up. My articles of late have been pretty grim. Apologies.
First of all, though, we need to honour a crowning moment.... In case you missed it.... Europe Day, May 9th. The continent’s economic and social collaboration in an unstable world and, fundamentally, the enduring peace among members, are worth commemorating. The union is far from flawless but everyone is at the table. Talking never works, until it does. Diplomacy is to never stop trying. It is bonkers to get up, throw a wobbly and storm out.
As for the new king of Britons, with his deflating commonwealth, fractious realm and critical mass of ambivalent islanders, I will leave you to decide whether his coronation was glorious pageantry and a timely flag-waving boost for a flagging nation, or gross and further evidence that the country of my birth is so obsessed with the past to be increasingly divorced from reality (to the lamentable detriment of all, especially the poorest and the younger generation). John of Gaunt’s dying speech in Shakespeare’s Richard III springs to mind.
Anyway, I want to talk about my Mum. She loved Catalonia. With an Iberian ancestor’s genes prominent in her complexion, she felt at home. She was no linguist, but at least she tried. “Grassy arse” summed up her gratitude as well as bludgeoning of the language, but on she went and the effort was always appreciated.
I much prefer hearing someone have a stab at the lingo instead of ploughing on with English as if it is universal, while applying the tried, tested and utterly useless tactic of shouting.
Lluís the carpenter had an expression of constipation. He was desperately trying to fathom what the loud and incredulous Englishman wanted. “I WANT A DOOR! A DOOR!”. At this point he opened an imaginary door, stepped through and closed it behind him. Lluís was by this point straining so hard to grasp what was going on he was turning purple.
The Englishman turned and looked at me with an expression that said this bloke is a berk. I enjoyed advising him he had got the wrong man. There was a berk in the workshop, but it wasn’t Lluís.
In April Maggie and I celebrated 30 years together. We took the high speed train to Madrid and Maggie and I rooted ourselves in the Lavapiés district, where we met gorgeous people from the city and Central and South America and, yes, we sought to freshen up our Spanish.
Tapas bars featured, naturally, and in one we were paying when an English couple settled by the window.
The waiter, who we had fathomed was Carlos, was whizzing in all directions. The couple summoned him.
“We want a beer and -”
At which point the woman made an effort. She spoke English, but in a Spanish accent.
“I am Carlos.”
“JUAN” She held up one finger emphatically. “JUAN!”
Carlos retreated. As did we.