Spanish Hooligans

They exist! I found them. Not at a football match, club or on a dark street but… at a Beatles tribute gig! And they weren’t rowdy youths, canis (chavs), or scary motorbike men but… two well-dressed, overweight men in their sixties…

They weren’t drinking beer but gin tonic after gin tonic (not caring about the ‘brand’ of gin and tonic that’s de moda now of course…).

Instead of chanting football songs they knew EVERY WORD to every single Beatles song played, and they threateningly demanded more.

Their equivalent to “Come the F on!” was “¡VAMOS QUE NOS VAMOS!” – cried out between every tune…

Instead of throwing beer cans, one of them climbed onto the stage to hug the base player – a super fan, until… they found out that the group didn’t know how to play ‘Michelle’ (Rubber Soul album).

At this point all hell broke loose. The two men began chanting “MICHELLE, MICHELLE” at the tops of their voices and proceeded to sing the WHOLE song, while the poor group (who by the way, are amazing) carried on their show.

Y para colmo, their ‘likeness’ to English hooligans ‘relieving themselves’ in bottles of water, was to just NOT GO to the toilet the WHOLE BLIMIN’ night (excuse my inner hooligan) from the sound check (8.30pm) to the end of the show (1:30am)….

Lucky Eleanor Rigby. 

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Tell the Story

I went and did it. I dressed up as a gitana (gypsy) for the Feria de Jerez. People ask me if I feel “fully integrated into the culture” now… I would say I feel more like a true payasa (clown). I did it to be silly; a bit like dressing up as a pirate or an Indian. In fact, thanks to the rather serious look on my face in this photo I got nicknamed the “Gitana asesina” (Gypsy murderer) and gave a few people some ideas for Halloween.

The dresses are beautiful, I love them…. on Spanish females who know how to dance.

I decided I would include it in this blog as I was walking towards the feria, and that got me thinking. How much of what we do, do we partly do to tell the story? For example, the typical facebook status that tells everyone that you are “contemplating the world on a train” when really you are “bored and time-wasting on facebook”, or the “I’m having the time of my life” status and photos…

Undoubtedly, our need and possibilities for recognition have been accentuated by the web 2.0 and social networks. Yet, as humans we’ve always loved telling the story; sometimes more than living the actual event.

For that reason we have the marvellous expression in English: “That’s one to tell the Grandkids”…

Will I tell “the Grandkids” about my gitana asesina moment? I’m not too sure it’ll make it on to the list. 😉

The Universal Language: Small-Talk.

It’s the moment when you look into that person’s eyes, smile, and realize in a precious instant that… you have absolutely NOTHING to say to them. PANIC! So you get out that age-old, universal, silly small-talk.

You talk about the weather. It’s SO hot/cold! ¡Qué calor/frío hace! What miserable weather! ¡Vaya día! What a glorious day! ¡Qué día más bueno! You continue by contemplating what the weather is going to do over the next few days, what it did last weekend… en fin, a nicely dull, and time-filling topic of conversation.

The traffic could be your next juicy topic. It’s a nightmare!! (As Michael McIntyre says – have you ever actually had a nightmare about traffic?!) ¡Qué horror! Well, if traffic jams are a ‘horror’, what will people do when a real tragedy happens?! Great small-talk tool though ;).

Using the same but more exaggerated intonation, you might moan about the price of petrol. It is of course, “ridiiiiculous!!!”

You could finish up by talking about holiday plans. Are you going away for Christmas? I don’t know you very well and I don’t care too much, but let’s kill that awkward silence! ¿Te vas de Puente? 

Can you think of any other classic conversation fillers?  All this talk of small-talk is making me yawn. 😛

The Walk of Shame

In English there is an expression: “The walk of shame”, which would be something like, “El paseo de la verguenza” in Spanish.

The walk of shame is the journey back to your house after staying over at someone’s house… unexpectedly.

The morning after, you return on the same bus as the workers going to work, or the students going to university…

If you are a girl you are still in your high heels, skirt and smudged make-up from the night before. If you are a guy your shirt is hanging out, your trousers are half undone… You look like a mess.

And it’s obvious to everyone on the bus or in the street what you’ve probably done. SHAME on you!

You want to sneak back to your house unnoticed, but suddenly you see your old teacher, your boss, your arch-enemy or your loud, talkative uncle.

During the walk of shame you feel the lowest of the low. But to everyone else it’s hilarious!

And Sevilla this week is full of walkers of shame! 😀

This morning at the bus stop, girls and women in beautiful flamenco dresses stumbled over the road, while boys and men in messy suits hobbled along like drunken old men.

Yet the difference is, there’s nothing shameful about being an all-night “Feria-goer”. The Feria only lasts a week… the walkers of shame are the hardcore ones who really make the most of  it!

In England, with our early everything (lunch, dinner, closing-times), let’s face it – we just ‘ain’t’ capable of regular all-nighters… Shame on us! 😛

Don’ts and Dos for a ‘guiri’ (foreigner) in the Feria de Sevilla

DON’T…

  • Wear chanclas (flip-flops). You will come back with black feet, or maybe even directly tread on some horse poo.
  • Try to dance a Sevillana (the typical flamenco dance of the feria) when you’ve no idea, just because you’ve had a few rebujitos (manzanilla wine with lemonade)…
  • Go if you don’t know anyone who has a caseta (marquee-type-thing). All the decent ones are private!
  • Spend too much time in la calle del infierno. It’s called the hell street for a reason.
  • Wear a mini-skirt if you are going to go on the rides. Or if you do, at least don’t wear your Hello Kitty pants that day…
  • Be deceived by the small size of the rebujito glass. You might be used to pints, but I can assure you no tiene nada que ver – it’s stronger than beer!
  • Buy a toffee apple. Just don’t do it. It’s stickier than you think! After that first bite your teeth will never be the same again.
  • Expect to bop up and down to Lady Gaga. You’ll be lucky to get a flamenco version of the Macarena! This is the Feria, miarma! ¡Olé!

DO…

  • Say you “conoce a Pepe” (know Pepe) to get into any private caseta. There’s always a Pepe! 😉
  • Wear a suit if you’re a man and a traje de flamenco if you’re a woman. That way you won’t stand out so much… or you will be the “guiri gracioso/a” of the group.
  • Learn to dance Sevillanas before the Feria. It’s hot when a guiri knows how to dance, and cute if you have a dignified go at it…
  • Mira al de al lado (copy the person next to you) if you haven’t learn the moves but you really, really want to join in!
  • Remember, to move those arms as a true gitana (gypsy): “Take the apple, eat the apple and throw it away”…
  • If you know enough Pepes, change caseta from time to time. It’s a great excuse to catch up with friends, to meet people and to divertirte in a random kind of way! 😀
  • Eat Jamón and Tortilla, and drink rebujito! ¡Claro que sí!

7 Things you might do in Spain but not in UK

1)       Have lunch at 3pm and not be ‘active’ again until 5pm.

Lunch is to be enjoyed and savored in Spain. The afternoon starts later, while the sacred ‘hora de comer’ is for eating, talking and when necessary, siesta’ing.

2)      Give two besos (kisses) on the cheek to strangers.

In the UK it’s the good old handshake, a smile-nod-hello, or at most, a kiss on one cheek.

3)      Hear the word primo (cousin) used a lot.

In the UK we’re not generally as close to our cousins as to our siblings…

4)      Ask the age of someone when they tell you it’s their birthday…

Even if you don’t know them very well. In the UK that’s being impolite – in Spain it’s being direct and it’s totally normal.

5)      Have dinner out at 10.30pm or later.

Most UK kitchen staff are on their way to their after-work drink by that time.

6)      See toddlers out at midnight.

In some parts of Spain it gets so unbearably hot in the summer, that toddlers must sleep the siesta and be kept inside until late.

7)      Call your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s parents the suegros (in-laws).

In the UK we wait to get married before taking on extra parents…