Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A title will come

Apologies for posting this unformed and mis-typed. Some corrections and modification made today, Sunday, 18 June, 2006.

Although writers of all kinds reflect the cutlures they live in, pointing out the behaviour and attitudes exhibited by individuals and groups, a short break away in Andalucia has pointed me in an anthropological sense to the commonness of the common folk. It is the tendancy to express comments about one sotto voce, which most intrigues me: both the Spaniards and those compatriots living in Spain ( who my friend said 'could hardly speak English', which I conjoined with "Living in a country whose language they do not understand or wish to learn, whose food they do not which to eat, or whose culture they do which to learn") seemed to have the habit of airing thoughts about complete strangers they were approaching or passing as loud as they were able.

I tried hard to find a succinct and easily memorised phrase which could be used in reply to this what I consider to be objectification - the wonderful Collins English- Spanish dictionary had a few gems - but never got a chance to remove the scap of paper (epoched?) they were written on to throw back a retort.

My friend seemed to have a deaf ear for all this, while I soak it all up: grist for the mill. Waling in the summeriest of summer evenings, very late, starting out at 9.30, to do the traditional evening paseo, we came to the Plaza which abuts the sea. Groups of self-satisfied Eastenders were sitting en family in an outdoor cafe. As we we approached, one said, in the traditional full-volume, "They don't know where they're going", as in 'poor sods + not like us hard-nut expats who know our way about'. My friend had lived nearby for nearly nine years and I had visited the place three times. I felt a lesson was due, so sauntered up the the table, stood stock still and fixed my beadly eye on the fat and bald object from whom I thought the remark had come: up very close to the back of the chair of the person opposite him, from a very still (and I hope calm looking) body which would give any intention of what I proposed to do. After what seemed like an age, but was probably only 5-10 seconds, when everyone at the table looked up at me in silence, I then uttered low oath about his birth and whether his genital arrangments were indeed male, then moved on.

The combination of the remark from them and my response has been recorded here, to my detriment or otherwise, but I feel sure (with the actual words in full expletive glory: ommitted here not to offend the susceptible) it will come into the lastest,lagging, effort loosely based on some aspects of my friend and I in a new found association after a gap of nearly forty years.

The lesser Spaniards do the sotto voce thing because they don't have the imagination to grasp we understand what they are saying. As you pass, a group of three women chatting amiably on a corner might remark, equally sotto voce, that you had a certain type of scent on. My friend would not notice, looking and listening for other things. while I would be flexing unvoiced scenarios involving retorts in deep voiced, oratund Castillian that I am indeed wearing the scent described and do the ladies like it? It is from my farm in England. My friend, with the look, bearing and language proficiency to pull off such a noble interlocution, has neither the desire to do such a thing or the imagination to pull it off. Well, on a rare occasion perhaps.

The world would be such a dull place if we did not 'extend the phenotypes' of our lives by such wishes and imaginings. Or indeed to sometimes pull off a corker now and then. But then this would not be the 'objectification' insult from the safety of the in-group, but a genuine theatre.


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