July 2010

One of the things that really galls me (me fastidia, me cabrea, me molesta, me enfada) about living here in Spain is dubbed television. I loathe and detest it. The voices are all the same - I think there's a stable of about five people they use - young woman, old woman, young man, old man, and a spare. The intonation's always the same. Sandra Bullock sounds the same as Meryl Streep. It's wrong, wrong, wrong. Which is one of the reasons I love going to Portugal. They have all foreign movies in VOS (version original con subtitulos).
It's that time of year again when you pile bags and bags of stuff into the car boot: swimming costumes, towels, sunhats and suncream (and sunsuits if your kids are blanquitos like mine), buckets and spades, beach parasol, folding deckchair, cold box replete with water, soft drink, snacks, sandwiches (if you're English), and in our case, a UV tent (not as daft as it sounds.
It's funny that although the main story is, of course, that Spain won the World Cup for the first time ever last night, what most people are talking about is not Hiniesta's 116th minute goal, referee Howard Webb's questionable decisions, or even Pulpo Paul's amazing predictions, but the moment when the Spanish goalkeeper grabbed the journalist who was interviewing him and gave her a passionate kiss. That image will stay with most of us who were watching it forever.
And I'm not just talking about the football, more of which later. Yesterday those of us who live in and around Seville experienced a weather phenomenon which, while mild in comparison to those in the US, scared the living daylights out of me, and I was at home. It was like a mini-tornado, a swirling mass of dust which blotted out everything behind it, and swept across our garden, bending the trees double and rattling the windows.
One of the many things that fascinated, astonished and intrigued me when I first arrived in Seville, nearly seven years ago, was the way religion - or rather Catholicism - is intricately interwoven into every aspect of life, from names of hospitals, schools, streets, shops, restaurants and bars, to people's names (every other woman seems to be called either Maria Jose, or Maria something, while men are frequently Jose Maria, or Francisco, or Javier, or another saint's name), swear words, and of course the ubiquitous photos of preferred virgins (in
If you live in Seville, or nearby, or indeed even if you don't, you may well have heard about the continuing controversy over the Torre Pelli, the Pelli Tower. This 178-metre structure - designed by the Argentine architect, Cesar Pelli, as a headquarters for Cajasol bank - is threatening to lose Seville its World Heritage Status.