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Monday, 27 June 2011

MUCHA ENVIDIA

I'm told that this small town is the biggest user of Facebook in Spain and I can believe it. Most folk here are quite happy to not block access to their page as that is the whole point, they want the whole world to see their wedding, communion, parties and other shindigs as this town is famous for being full of 'fatos', fatuous folk who think they are sophisticated and who need to be the best but are really quite the opposite. So now not only are they feeling inadequate on the street when their friends comment on their clothes and holiday choices they can top it up while they bitch about one another in the so-called privacy of their home. Being a foreigner somehow excludes me from a lot of this maybe because they are not sure how things are done outside their microscopic world, but anthropologically it is fascinating because it is so condensed. It is a beastlike thing this envidia, existing in all parts of the world but H tells me he has never encountered it like this before. I do think this has something to do with forty years of fascism and therefore isolation and the feeling of inadequacy that this brings and the sense of 'missing out', but also the last twenty years of folk lining their pockets and neglecting their duties has led people to care even less about the important things that make urban life bearable. However, I am told that the fatos reigned long before Franco could take some of the blame, with several interesting stories, my favourite being the big lottery win here sometime before the civil war. I need to investigate this story to get to the truth but it seems this lotto win led to the construction of mansions alongside the park. I have often wondered while wandering past these lovely buildings how they got to be and it seems the lottery winners blew it on building the biggest and finest houses in what was and still is a humble, agricultural village with delusions of grandeur. There are about ten of these mansions and are now either crumbling or being renewed and one is a residencia for old folk, another the offices of the CCOO, a union here and one that I have been in on several occasions, the Institute of Aragonese Studies.

It's that time of year when we are needed at the summer camps. The parents and children arrive from all over Spain and that is when you realise that fatos are indeed from round 'ere. It reminds me of Basil Fawlty and his 'better class' of guest. I suppose it is a choice then of being a fato or a pijo. I've been told that because Spain never really had a middle class as we know it there will always be this gulf between folk but the class thing is an English obsession and too long to go into now. Fato, pijo or 'normal' at least the Spanish eat sitting down and with a napkin and knife and fork. I have August to look forward to, the annual return to the motherland and all it entails and as insufferable as they are, the fatos know how to do food. They may promenade as if they are permanently dressed for a wedding but I am not looking forward to the sights that await me back in Britain. The two girls tucking into a bucket of tiramisu and profiteroles at the pub that does two meals for a tenner will haunt me for some time.

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