Lorca_(1934)

F is for Federico Garcia Lorca

Yesterday was definitely a Twitter day. I spent all day tweeting about Federico, promoting the podcast, tweeting his quotes and thanking the people who had re-tweeted my posts.

And in the process, oh no! I forgot to stop by this A to Z of Spanish Culture to let you know about the podcast. The fact that 19 August fell on a Tuesday, which is the weekday when I’m releasing the Spain Uncovered Podcast, was too good an opportunity to miss. Lorca died on that day (or was it the night before?). He was half way through revolutionising Spanish theatre and so, like all artists who dare challenge society (especially a repressive society), he was dangerous. And so, the Fascists decided to remove him. No more Federico.

This special edition of the Spain Uncovered Podcast is my little homage to his memory. I used to teach “Blood Wedding” as part of Drama ‘A’ Level and to the answer of “Why do you think Lorca was killed?” I always got the same answer, “Because he was gay.” Ok, let’s face it, there was probably some truth in that, but that was not the main story. He was an open supporter of the Left, he was popular and he treated “the people” with respect. But I always used the scene between the Bride and the Maid in ‘Blood Wedding’ to illustrate one of the main reasons why he was killed, the scene between two women talking about their sensuality, talking openly about the fact that one of them might have the pleasure of enjoying sex. I told you, dangerous.

So, here is the podcast. I babble a bit, but you’ll also have the chance to hear other people. Caroline Angus Baker talks about his early poetry work, Maria Ferrara talks about Lorca’s language, in particular regarding the Rural Tragedies and the Gazpacho Monk presents his very own ode to Lorca.

If you like the podcast, do subscribe to the Spain Uncovered Podcast via iTunes or Stitcher Radio. Enjoy!

Click here to listen to the episode.

Lorca image: Lorca (1934)” by Unknown – [1]. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lorca_(1934).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Lorca_(1934).jpg

P is for Podcast – a New Podcast About Spain

Spain Uncovered podcast imageMy new, humble venture has seen the light. “Spain Uncovered” is the name I’ve given to the podcast where I talk to people living in Spain about what’s going on in their area, what’s happening in Spain and of course, about their own stories.

I’m trying to get a range of voices on the podcast – as the podcast is in English, you will hear many English voices. You might have well come across some of our guests before on Twitter, Facebook, G+, you name it… But I also want to bring on board people who you might otherwise never come across. And let’s face it, for now, these are likely to be my friends.

What do we talk about in the podcast?

Anything Spain related. Anna Kemp talks about how she’s heading the mammoth project of building an amphitheatre in Laroles (La Alpujarra); Graham Hunt talks about how he ended up running Valencia Property; Debs Jenkins shares her favourite spots in Murcia and Marta Rubio discusses how the theatre scene is changing in Madrid.

I also have interviews plan where we talk about Gran Canaria, taking your family to Spain and Spanish architecture.

So, if you enjoy listening to podcasts, head over to www.spainuncoveredpodcast.net. There you can listen to past episodes and subscribe via iTunes. I’ll also be adding other platforms as I roll out the podcast.

And do get in touch if you would like to contribute to the podcast in some way.

G is for Guiri. Happy Guiri.

Who is the Happy Guiri?

He (or she, they can also be a she) is a person currently away from the land they grew up in.

That doesn’t mean they’re not happy. On the contrary. The happy guiris, by their very name and nature, manage to find happiness everywhere they go. Why?

They look around them and wonder at the wanders of human nature. They also wonder at the wanders of nature, full stop.

They take in what’s different, they take in what’s new. They compare, maybe, and then they move on.

The happy guiri is warm, not indifferent.

The smile behind his eyes takes in the whole world.

If he carries a camera, he still takes in life as he breathes and doesn’t just see the world through a rose-tinted lens. He might be “away” for two days, he might be “away” for two years, two decades…

Happy guiris know that there’s no place like home, but they also know that home is where the heart is. (They also speak in clichés every now and then.)

He’ll always feel like a guiri because he knows there’s a different way. But he will always be happy. A happy guiri.

“What is a guiri?” Guiri is the term that the Spanish use for foreigners, mainly for tourists, but not exclusively. I mainly hear it used affectionately now. In Spain, you can still spot a tourist or a foreigner; in London it’s a little bit harder. So a guiri is someone who breaks the mold, if only because their points of reference are different to most people around him/her. I now consider myself a guiri in Spain; I even look like one, especially when I walk around with my Dutch boyfriend who really looks the part. So, I’m a foreigner in the UK and a guiri in Spain. Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner…

B is for Batalla de Vecinos

Batalla = Battle. Vecinos = Neighbours

Hello, it’s been a while. Time flies and I only really like to blog when I have something to say. If you’re wondering what made me return to my keyboard, have a look at this, the view from my parents’ kitchen window one quiet Easter afternoon in Madrid. (Click on the image, you’ll enjoy it more.)

carbattle

It probably doesn’t look that dramatic, but it was interesting enough to pick up the binoculars and have a close look. This car park is surrounded by three seven-storey buildings and to enter it, you have to open a gate. (I know this might sound like we’re a bit posh, but this is not the case.)

As I was staring at the car, I saw a man walk nearby, look at it, look at the building in front of it, and look back at the car.

“Surely this hasn’t happened here. This huge dent on the car’s roof is probably the result of it being near a building site or similar,” I thought.

Not quite.

My mother found out what had happened from our portero (concierge).

You might be able to see the blue paint under the car. It shows the space is a disabled parking space. Well, apparently the nice owner of this car keeps parking in one of the three disabled spaces. She has been warned by the chair of the residents’ association a few times, in writing. The nice lady’s reply seems to be that there are 3 parking spaces, but only eight badge holders in this community, so she can’t see the problem with parking in this space. Maybe she doesn’t understand that there are ways of approaching this which are much more civil and better than breaking the law. You would think that, as apparently, she works as a prosecutor.

This neglect of following any rules of civility in the car park is commonplace in this community. There are some areas in the car park where you can only park for 30 minutes maximum. This is so that there’s always a space for the cars to maneuver and to have room for emergencies. Or for ambulances to park – when last summer my father was brought back home in an ambulance, the ambulance had to park on the pavement, cowboy-style.

So eventually, it looks like a neighbour got fed up and decided that the only way to stop this nice (prosecutor) woman was by throwing a rock at the top of her car. They also left her some poetic bits of text on the windscreen, but unfortunately by the time I decided I wanted to write this post, the car had gone so I can’t share them with you here. Apparently the nice (prosecutor) lady has kept the rock and will obviously press charges. Good luck to her and all the other people who think social rules were written for somebody else.

S is for Siesta

The word siesta (that nap people take in the afternoon) is as well known and popular as the word tapas. In the same way that you can’t assume that Spanish people eat tapas all day, you also can’t assume that all Spanish people take siestas. Some do and some don’t, but the time after lunch, from around 3.30 to 5.30 pm is still referred to as la hora de la siesta.

As you can imagine, I never thought about the origin of the word siesta, it’s just a word. But yesterday I was reading Tony Schwartz’s excellent book Be Excellent at Anything when I came across the origin of the word. The book talks about how to structure your work and look after yourself to make the most out of life (a very, very interesting proposition and one which is laid out extremely well). The author dedicates quite a chunky chapter to sleep and mentions the restorative power of naps. It also talks about how useful and productive dividing your day into separate periods can be. The Romans used to do it apparently, as far as the first century B.C. One of these periods was the midday rest, which took place six hours after dawn, so it had the name of “sexta”, sixth. Sexta has eventually involved into siesta, which has come to mean “the nap after lunchtime”.

If you’re like me and begin to feel sleepy just before lunch, around, then you might be related to a bovine animal, as this nap is referred to as “la siesta del carnero”, the ram’s nap.

(For more on Siesta, check out the A to Z of Spanish Culture podcast on iTunes.)

 

E is for Eurovisión 2013

Well, I missed most of it, I’d completely forgotten it was on, so I only caught it half way.

Not sure who’s won, but if Greece don’t win… well, they were the best, life is unfair…

The best act had to be Sweden’s own incredibly witty, well-written, self-mocking song, with lyrics like “seasoned with a hint of horse” (referring to their meatballs, of course). A great act to keep us staring at the TV while the audience voted.

Ironically, while there is so much talk in Britain (or should I say England after what happened in Scotland) of leaving the EU, most of the songs were in English. Plus, the Swedish song at one point could have been about Britain: people loving queues , standing in trains, not really making eye contact…

Are we really that different?

I suppose the answer is yes, but then, aren’t we constantly being bombarded here about the benefits of Diversity? Or has that agenda just gone out the window now? I suppose not, considering most of the countries sent singers to launch their careers, whereas the UK decided the festival would be a great full stop to the career of a legend.

E is for Extras on the Letter K

As promised, here are the other suggestions I was sent through when I asked for Spanish personalities to feature in a post on the letter K.

Karina
60’s pop singer.

Kiko Veneno
Spanish artist still going strong.

Kaka de Luxe
A punk-rock group formed in the late 70’s, headed by Alaska. Olvido Gara, who has always been known as Alaska, has managed to reinvent herself through the decades and still remains in the public spotlight.

Kiko (from Verano azul)
Most probably spelt Quico, but what a great excuse to talk about Verano azul in this blog.

Verano Azul (Blue Summer) made its mark on Spanish teenagers who watched TV in the 80’s. I remember the gang, on their bicycles, happily riding around the town where they spent their summer holidays. And the tune, oh the tune. If you’ve got two minutes, have a look: