Introduction to the 3rd Edition of The A to Z of Spanish Culture

The third edition of The A to Z of Spanish Culture is now out, as Kindle, e-book and paperback. You can find out how the book has been updated in this post. If you purchased the previous edition and would like the updated sections, please comment in this blog (all comments need to be approved first, so I won’t publish them) and let me know. I will send you a PDF will the updates.

Many thanks again to Paul Read for his contribution. There’s no way this update would have happened otherwise. You can listen to Paul and Pilar talk about the update here:

Here’s the introduction to the third edition:

The A to Z of Spanish Culture. Updated Third EditionWhen I originally wrote ‘The A to Z of Spanish Culture’, I was hoping to sell a few books and make enough money to cover the costs of book formatting and cover design. So I was very pleased with how well the book was received by those with an interest in Spain and to my surprise, my little book about my country of origin made the recommended reading lists of academic programmes in both schools and universities.

An A-level Spanish teacher called Cristina told me that she recommends the book to the students in her London school precisely because it is such a condensed read. “Once they’ve read the book, they can identify which aspects of Spanish history and culture interests them most, and they can go and study those topics in depth.”
When I first found out how the book was being used, I considered updating it but felt too removed from the country to be able to do so. I’d also stopped publishing the ‘Spain Uncovered’ podcast, so I had little motivation to catch up with and share what had gone on in Spain. But when last year a generous reviewer pointed out that “An update to 2017 would be great as a lot has happened there,” I thought, “Right, now is the time to do this.”
I’d written ‘The A to Z’ to show how much Spanish society had evolved during the 1980s, 90s and first decade of the 21st Century. I thought the country had evolved and changed massively during that time. What I didn’t expect was there would still be more twists and turns on their way.

Introducing Paul Read
In the first edition of ‘The A to Z’, I said everything I had to say about Spain. I’ve now been away from the country for more than 25 years and I don’t stay much up to date with what’s going on there. This means I’m not the best person to update this book, so I reached out to the only other writer who I knew would enjoy putting down some brief words about those aspects of Spanish society and politics that had undergone the most significant changes since the last edition of the book.

Luckily, in between his own projects (which mainly involve teaching TaiChi online), Paul Read aka “Gazpacho Monk” accepted to take on the task of writing a few paragraphs to bring this ‘A to Z’ up to date.

So, what’s new then?

– There is a new, M is for Más Movidas chapter which summarises the recent change in Spain’s political landscape, as well as the rising number of corruption cases. Paul has done a brilliant job of explaining some very complex court cases, some of which are still ongoing (which means we had to tread carefully when laying them out in front of you).

– Speaking of corruption, I’ve expanded the chapter on C is for Corona to include the recent scandal involving members of the Spanish Royal Family using some of Paul’s notes.

– The chapter Ñ is for Ñ has been expanded to include the current situation in Cataluña. In the original chapter, I didn’t go into the different nationalist movements in much depth. That was because I have never had much of an identity as a Spaniard, and so I’ve never empathised with those holding strong nationalistic views. Even though I’ve been aware of the quest for independence from both Basque and Catalans all my life, I never took much interest. However, at this point in time, to have a book about Spanish culture that didn’t cover the Catalan movement in some depth would be to miss out a very important moment in contemporary history.

– In the new section When Ñ Becomes NY, I have left Paul’s words almost intact. He’s always had an interest in the history of Cataluña (which is at the centre of his book ‘Forgotten Stories From Spain: 1984 and The Spanish Civil War’) and once again, he’s been able to summarise clearly a very complex situation. Unfortunately, this chapter has an open ending, reflecting the unresolved status of this episode in history.

Paul has also provided me with bits and pieces to bring other chapters of the book up to date. I’ve peppered them around and adapted them to my own voice as much as possible.
Finally, in the interest of balancing his own opinions with facts (or at least with other opinions in the public arena), Paul has provided us with the long list of sources he used while writing the new pieces. You can find them all in the appendix Vocabulary and References.

I hope you enjoy this new edition, which, as well as facts and my own stories, now also includes someone else’s voice.

Pilar Orti
London, March 2018

Podcast on Spanish Podcasting

I am delighted to let you know that Craig Wealand (from La mansión del inglés)  and myself have teamed up to produce the podcast En clave de podcast – uncovering Spanish podcasting, in order to find out what on Earth is going on in that medium in Spain.

So far, we’re loving it.

But instead of writing about it, let us tell you about the show in this introductory episode cero. (And if you want to read about it, here’s the blog: https://enclavedepodcast.com/

I hope you enjoy it – espero que os guste.

The A to Z of Spanish Christmas – Podcast

In the first of two special episodes on The A to Z of Spanish Christmas, I talk about

Aguinaldo
Belén
Campanadas
Dulces
Estoy como unas pascuas
Fruta escarchada
Gallo (misa del)
Historia
Inocentes
Juguetes
K – no K, sorry.
Lotería
Mazapán

Please follow this link to listen to the podcast, www.spainuncoveredpodcast.net/spanish-christmas-1/

or look for Spain Uncovered in iTunes, Stitcher of your favourite podcast app.

U is for Uvas

It’s Christmas time!

I’ve completely neglected this blog while I’ve been setting up the Spain Uncovered podcast and building up that site. But I’m back! And as it’s Christmas time, I wanted to share with you one of the chapters from the A to Z of Spanish Culture: U is for Uvas, where I talk through some of the Spanish Christmas traditions, or at least, through some of the ones I’ve come across throughout my life.

Here it is.

Feliz navidad.

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…