Saturday, September 15, 2007

“It’s Late September And I Really Should Be ...”

Vuelta al cole. Back to school. Same phrase, same adverts, but here there is a marked difference when it comes to the start of the new school year. Firstly, it is much later than in Britain, but more interestingly it invites pages and pages of copy and photos in the local press - happy, smiling faces, some less than happy smiling faces, queues of traffic. Don’t think for one moment that the school run is confined to Britain. One of the issues the papers concern themselves with is how well, or not, the traffic police are doing in managing the panzer divisions of SUVs descending on the local primary or secondary.

Reporting on the return to school has also emphasised the fact that the start has gone ahead with classes opening “with normality”, as though opening without normality would be what one might expect. But why all this interest? The start of the school year, like fiestas and Christmas, are the same every year. Same time, same sets of photos. But that’s probably the answer. The sheer normality of the “event”, the sheer déjà vu of pictures of kids at school gates or of fiesta demons or dancers is the underlying continuity of community that the Mallorcans revere and celebrate so well: continuity of community and family. Vuelta al cole can teach others a lot of lessons.

And on fiestas, an update on the bizarre happenings in Can Picafort during the Mare de Deu d’Agost fiesta when live birds were released by people in masks (18 August: This Here’s The Rubber Duck) amidst the rubber surrogates that turned the sea into a vast child’s bath-time. Or rather, there is no update except to say that the police have been unable to identify the perpetrators. “Who was that masked man?”

Cruelty to animals is an issue taken increasingly more seriously here, though I am unclear exactly as to the alleged cruelty to the live birds in Can Picafort. What of all those doves that get boxed up and then released at major sporting events? Or perhaps that has been banned as well. There is a more substantial argument about cruelty in the case of bullfighting; indeed it is irrefutable, I should have thought. I know the arguments about culture, and one is wary as a foreigner of being critical, but I’ll just say that the decision by the national Spanish television service to remove bullfighting from its “sports” reporting is perhaps a step in a more humane direction.

And weather. The mid-September storm duly arrived, a couple of days later than normal. Yesterday evening was almost suffocatingly sweaty and not just because of the sweat of anxiety surrounding England’s mauling at the hands of South Africa. During the night, the skies were ablaze with lightning, but the storm, mercifully, dumped most of its load out at sea. It was a monster.

Last time - Frankie Valli. Now Frankie Valli was the lead singer with The Four Seasons, and a Guest Quiz Inquisitor, namely Geoff, wants to know what was unusual about The Four Seasons’ hit, “Silver Star”. Good question this. And today’s title? Complete the line from this famous song. What was it? And who sang it?


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