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Saturday, 28 April 2012

CHARACTER BUILDING BOOM

According to Pedro Cobo, researcher for CSIS ( Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas), Spain is no noisier than any other European country and it's was a 'hoax'  started in the 70s which suggested otherwise when some international organisation asked Spain to study some data on the subject and on getting no response Spain was placed high on the list of countries that have the highest noise levels. Mr Cobo's argument is the only difference with Spain's noise levels and those of other European countries is that the traffic noise continues longer into the night. He argues that any other noises are due to 'cultural characteristics' often found in Mediterranean countries. For all I know Mr Cobo may have been taken out of context but the comments that followed in the newspaper article all seem to reflect a bunch of pissed off Spaniards complaining about the general disregard for others when it comes to making noise. Major gripes seemed to be the ability to let everyone know what you are saying every time you have a chat on your mobile ( a universal problem I think) and not being able to hold a conversation without shouting at one another. The latter has always been a problem for me till recently when something happened and I found myself bellowing and butting in as much as the next man. I interrupted someone a few weeks back and on apologising once I'd grasped what I had done she replied sincerely 'that's OK, I often talk too much myself, so it doesn't matter, go on, what were you saying?'. That's when I knew I had cracked it. A word of advice though, never start a sentence with the words todo el mundo  (everybody) as most people will immediately interrupt and say 'everybody? NOT me..' before you've even told them what verb everybody should, mustn't, wants or likes to.

Not long ago I heard that the British were spending their cash on I-Pads and chicken and chips washed down with stout but were not into buying leather which sounds about right, or maybe I dreamt it. Judging from recent trips and excursions here in Spain I'd say the Spanish and I are hell bent on eating and drinking our way out of the recession. This town boasts at least two Michelin restaurants and the number one restaurant in Aragon 2011 and the past two months have seen numerous gastronomical promotions which have brought the locals out in droves. 

One of our excursions found us in Riglos which is a beautiful part of Aragon famous for climbers. The day we went it was being frequented by many young and some old people who cultivate a look which might be described back in the UK as 'crusty' but here is often referred to as 'hippy'. These people don't really bother me as anyone who makes themselves look so unattractive must be a dying breed but they seem to bother Henderson  who makes it a hobby judging people on what they look like.  I was more bothered by the price of our two peach juices. 3 euros eighty if you please. There's something really uncomfortable about being overcharged as you are never sure if that's the price, or if the owners think you are a gullible foreigner but it was my own fault for not questioning it so I had to let the resentful feeling brewing in my bones lie. 


Lastly, on the subject of judging people on their looks,  we had to go to the Dutch Consulate in Barcelona the other day and on entering a photographic shop to get H's passport photos done, the owner took one look at him and said  'don't tell me, you are here because you need a photo for your Dutch passport!' 

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