Sunday, 25 November 2012

From both ends, now

My favourite Teruel story was told me by a teacher in the school where I was working last week. He was from Sevilla, and not knowing Teruel, went in search of a streetmap, a task which proved rather harder than he had expected. Oh, he was told, we don't have those - everybody already knows where everything is. The punchline is that this conversation took place in the tourist information office.

I had meant to write about Teruel today, and about the importance of provincialism in Spanish life, but the day after I came back I was taken ill. Not too ill, but ill enough to miss the eleventh annual Huesca tapas competition, ill enough to take to bed for a day or so and ill enough to find the task of writing anything substantial quite as far beyond me as the task of eating anything substantial.

So here I am, after six hours' drive, in a hotel room in Guardo, a town in the north of Palencia province and one that no Spaniard I have ever spoken to can place, save those who are from Palencia province themselves. As I am still vomiting, as it were, from both ends, perhaps for this week it is better to pass you from the north of Palencia to South of Watford where Graeme has a piece or two relating to the Catalan regional elections that have been taking place today, with a view of Artur Mas, his party, their cynicism and their relationship to the Partido Popular which is not very far removed from my own. Unlike me, however, Graeme actually reads the papers regularly and is therefore rather better informed than I. Albeit he may know less than I do about the provincial towns and capitals of Spain.

Talking of which, my favourite Huesca story involves the Cubans who opened a bar on the Coso - Huesca's main shopping street - and began by serving really good free tapas with the customers' drinks. As you would expect, in Spain, but not in Huesca where no such tradition appears to exist - a point made to the Cubans by various bar owners who came round to put them right on the subject. ¡No es de Huesca! they were told, and the tapas ceased.

Which is one reason to actually go to the concurso de tapas: it's virtually the only chance you get to see any in most of the bars in Huesca. Let alone eat any. Hasta la próxima.

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