I think I will claim pressure of living to excuse my dilatory approach to this writing. Late night operas can hardly excuse a three or four day lapse in my efforts to keep the small world of my writing up to date!
The weekend which has now passed was notable for Toni taking his double exam on Saturday. His first was at eight in the morning and the second at six in the evening. A whole day given over to the misery of nerves and sick expectation. Some of it transferred to me and I felt thoroughly unsettled as well. Given the number of examinations that I have taken it only takes the slightest stimulus to reawaken all the old horror of a printed sheet of paper next to a blank one!
My next exam is in September, I think, though my first assignment is due in the middle of next month and the next I the hitherto sacrosanct month of August!
I reminded myself that the previous crime committed in the name of examinations was the Chaucer And His Contemporaries paper in my finals which was on a Saturday afternoon! I feared it might clash with my watching of Doctor Who and I feel that tension appreciably lowered my mark. Together with the fact that many of the early Middle English texts were far too boring to read. I still shudder with inexpressible disgust whenever I think of anything other than page one of Sir Gawaine and the Green Pig or whatever it was called!
To celebrate the end of Toni’s exams we went to La Fusta and sat at our usual table and had our usual tapas. The pinchos were rather dry and a disappointment but the rest (patatas bravas and tomato bread and Sangria) were excellent.
It was while I was there that the interesting behaviour of people waiting to sit down at their table was observed.
Generally speaking a table of four or five or six settles seating almost immediately, it is when there is a group consisting of seven or more that the “Pre-Seating Cluster Behaviour” can be observed.
A long table of twenty people causes all sorts of problems in seating and so people who arrive first daren’t take the first step of sitting (if you see what I mean) in an undesignated place. Usually there is one person who is tutelary in charge and who Has A List. This list will be referred to in a haphazard way to ensure that everyone is actually there. At no point will the Person in Charge actually look the part, but the piece of paper is a comfort!
Seating: the Cluster will mill around until the VIP arrives. This is sometimes a very old person who is the great-grand-mother or something of that sort and will usually arrived escorted by a great-grand-daughter, thus resulting in a clash of generations and a difficulty in the seating pattern as the two do not usually sit together.
The VIP being seated the rest fall into their places with difficulty. As sitting next to the VIP may actually mean doing more than chatting (one thinks of cutting up food and taking to the toilet) there is a ripple effect of people trying to create a cordon sanitaire around themselves so that they are not in the immediate chore range of the VIP. Parents meanwhile are trying to distance themselves from their children (especially if very young) by palming them off (i.e. sitting them next to) grandparents or doting aunts.
People will be sitting down by this point with the VIP looking confused and people near him/her looking resentful, while the rest of the seating pattern can be upset in a moment by the pre-emptory demands of some spoilt three year old demanding to sit next to someone else. This is Spain; such small people wield immense power!
Then comes the meal. This is the signal for yet more chaos as The List Person has already asked each person what they want to eat from the menu and has it All Written Down. The food starts arriving and each dish is announced and remains unclaimed. The List Person looks, with increasing dementia, at the list and is unable to find anyone who ordered the Catalan Salad. The dish is placed on an adjacent table and will later be claimed by someone demanding to know where the Catalan Salad that he ordered is.
The drinks are, of course, a free-for-all and the real danger is not in the water or the wine (both of which are present in abundance, even if not drunk with English enthusiasm) it is the fizzy drinks that are the problem. Quite apart from the Coke/Pepsi divide there is now the decisional crisis that can arise from the various forms of specious “liteness” that the drinks claim.
By the time the fizzy nexus has been resolved Conversation with a capital “C” has begun and will not cease until the people have left the table – a process which demands a monograph in itself!
Conversation in Spain is not the to-and-fro of comment and response that one expects in, for example, the UK. In the UK you have the off chance of someone actually listening to what you say and then responding appropriately to your initial comment. In Spain there is no chance of that happening. Conversation in Spain is simply talking. Talking, all at the same time. At high volume. That’s it. Even if you try and make a speech, there is absolutely no guarantee that anyone is either listening to you or not talking!
Sunday was a time for relaxation, especially for Toni who was exhausted after his strenuous efforts on Saturday – but he decided to install the security cameras that he had for his birthday. Don’t ask.
We now have the ability to watch our house using mobile phones and computers. Don’t ask me how as I have been given only the sketchiest version of access, but we were able to watch the departure of the Scumbags via the computer and their going was greeted with heartfelt cheers. We have to be gleeful while we can as they are soon going to descend for the duration of the summer and stay into the month of September.
And so to Monday and a late-ish start for me on a morning where it is trying its best to rain and is therefore yet another of the brightly-dull days which are characteristic of Catalonia. But it is not actually raining, and for that I give thanks.
This evening there is an Elluminate session with my extended tutor group for the OU with a tutor who is not our own. Never mind, I have done the preparatory work; the only fly in the ointment is the difficulty that I have had with actually joining the session. I hope that things have been sorted our by the time that I come to the keyboard, but I will have the portable ready in case there are problems with the iMac as there were the last time.
How many days are there left? Perhaps I should only do a daily count when we have reached the Month of Leaving which is, praise be, on Saturday – when there is a Workshop with out tutor in the OU.
It’s all go!