Skip to main content

Heads or Tails?



Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.


I was sitting in a bar in the Calle Moret having a midday caña (little beer) when I heard the news. One of the older regulars burst into the bar and said, 'Have you heard? The old elephant matador has gone on safari for good!' The volume on one the TVs that seem to be found in the corner of every bar in Spain was quickly turned up and sure enough, his royal highness Don Juan Carlos had abdicated. At this time of the day, the clientel varies between pensioners having a pitarra (young local wine) before lunch and civil servants who work nearby taking late coffee breaks; not a tattoo, rasta or perroflauta (hippy) in sight. Surprise quickly turned to irony as the conversation veered towards his sexual conquests and their amazment that his wife hadn't thrown him out long ago. Another pitarra was poured and they moved on to the amount of Vega Sicilias the ex-king had enjoyed on their tax dime. Thirty minutes passed by and I realized that not a word had been mentioned that could have been construed as positive, that is if you don't count some of the admiration expressed for his ability to dupe his wife. The next day and since then for that matter however, the newspapers have spoken of a different Spain. One that doesn't seem to coincide with the conversations I am overhearing in bars, at work, in the check out line or waiting to pick up my daughter at daycare. It seems that you have to turn to page twenty-six to find a line or two about the fact that no Spaniard under the age of fifty-six has been able to vote on their model of government. Keep reading and you get the impression that the dreaded r-word is only reserved for anti-establishment types and hoary bearded old Marxists. There's also almost a complete black out regarding those on the right of the political spectrum who share no love loss for the monarchy, in particular those on the farther right who still view the ex-king as a traitor who went back on his word with el generalissimo. The inability or perhaps unwillingness to state that a republic is not necessarily the Republic and that each and every citizen should be able to aspire to be head of state seemed so surreal to me until my wife flipped a Canadian coin at me and said, “Heads or tails?” As the coin landed in my hand, I looked down and saw the profile of England's Queen Elizabeth staring up at me and realized that yes, things could indeed get even more absurd.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The 10 Best Places to Swim...?

I read a post the other day listing the 10 best places to swim around the world. Reading through them I realized that I hadn't been to even one of them!

Poor me, but then I thought, wait...I've swum in some lovely places.

Let's narrow them down to 3 in no particular order.

Ginnie Springs, High Springs, Northern Florida


If northern Florida wasn't interesting enough in its own time travel way, these springs are perfect. It's a surreal place to swim among the Spanish moss while the alligators patrol out in the warmer river that the springs flow into (the big toothy grins don't like the cooler water).

Bir Ali, Yemen


Yemen never makes it onto the glossy Caribbean style travel brochures, but the emerald green of the Arabian Sea is a mighty match for hurricane alley. Just outside the town of Bir Ali you can camp on a deserted white sandy beach that seems to extend all the way down to Aden. Behind you the sands of the beach meet and mingle with those of the desert on the vol…

Thou Shalt All Think the Same

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

One of the first things that drew me to Spain back in the nineties was a feeling that people generally minded their own business. Sure, they might comment, criticize or even ridicule those who wore socks with sandals, ate in the street or simply did things differently, but at least they let them do it. While the hyper-entrenched norms of society exerted an enormous pressure on people to fit in, non-conformists were mostly looked down upon, but not necessarily punished. If someone wanted to transform a lovely nineteenth century house in their village into a three story apartment monstrosity, well, if the law somehow let them do it, it was their choice to do so. The homogeneity of streets and entire Spanish villages have suffered enormously due to this, but if that’s the look the owner wants, well? Taste is after all a …

Nothing to do with it

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Just as the bartender put down our cañas, my companion somewhat skeptically asked, “But how is it possible that you, a Canadian, are complaining about the cold here in Spain?” And he was right on two fronts, I am Canadian and indeed I had been complaining about the cold, but I persevered, “After having lived abroad so long, I’m not sure how much ‘Canadian’ is left in me but even that last little bit is sick and tired of winter, especially as it is technically now spring!” A temporary truce was called when our tapas was served and as I enjoyed my morcilla (blood sausage), I got ready for the next volley. “Really, down here we can’t complain. Look at how they getting punsished just north of here in the mountains and beyond.” And once again, he was right, the images on TV were terrible reminders of my frozen childhood bac…