Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A cinema, a parade and something on words

Here are some ramblings from this weekend.

Once upon a time Pizza Express used to serve really good pizzas in interesting buildings. The person who launched the restaurant chain was a chap from Peterborough called Peter Boizot. One of his other ventures in the town was to try to restore the old Odeon Cinema to its former glory as a single screen venue. I've not been to Peterborough for ages but I have this vague recollection that the venture failed. People must prefer multi choice cinemas.

Spain, like everywhere else, has multiplexes in amongst fast food franchises and out of town shopping centres. The big, single screen cinemas are a thing of the past. Youngish people, twenty somethings, I taught in Cartagena still talked nostalgically of the city centre cinemas so it can't be that long ago that they disappeared. Nowadays the old cinemas are gone, boarded up or used as retail outlets.

Years ago, on holiday, I saw my first ever Rus Meyer film in a cinema in central Alicante. On Saturday as I Googled the films from a restaurant table on my phone I was surprised to find that there was a cinema, Cine Navas, just 400 metres away. And, for once, Google maps wasn't fibbing. It was all pretty run down to be honest but it was still pretty impressive, acres and acres of velvet curtains lined the walls and the floor was raked downwards from the screen so that you naturally looked up to the screen. Quite different to the tiered seating of today. The screen was big enough but the image was a bit dull and the soundtrack less than crisp so I wondered if it actually was a real film. The film by the way was terrible - Viaje a Sils Maria or the Clouds of Sils Maria in English I think.

When we came out of the cinema we could hear music. At the top of the road there was a parade. We went for a nosey. Hundreds of people were walking along the street wearing "traditional" clothes. We presumed, and I later confirmed, that it was an early procession as part of the "Bonfires of St John." Nowadays this big Alicante festival is usually given its Valenciano name of Fogueres de Sant Joan rather than its Spanish or Castellano name of Hogueras de San Juan. It marks the Saint's day on the 23rd but it also turns around the shortest night of the year. Huge statues are burned in the street. I like San Juan, it's a very community festival in lots of places with people lighting little fires to cook food, setting off fireworks, jumping over waves to get pregnant etc. San Juan seems also to be a signal. People go and open up their winter long abandoned beach or country house ready for summer.

We'd been in Alicante on Saturday to collect some visitors for one of Maggie's Secret Wine Spain bodega tours and we'd taken advantage of being there which meant spending money. So Sunday was quieter. Very quiet. Too quiet. I polished the car and, as I did so, I listened to a podcast from the radio about the visit of the Beatles to Spain. The Spanish expert on the Beatles explained that their first single Lips Me hadn't been a big hit. I had to listen three or four times to eventually decide that Lips Me was Please Me. The pronunciation and also the mis-titling of Please Please Me didn't help. Later in the programme I was told that the big break for the Beatles was thanks to Harrison Knight. I thought of the people I could remember as being associated with the Beatles - not Brian Epstein, not Mal Evans nor Neil Aspinall nor that American chap because he was an Alan something. Then it struck me. A Hard Day's Night.

This sort of strange pronunciation of English words is very common here. English is fashionable so using an English word in place of a perfectly good Spanish word is rife. There is also a tendency for the English way of saying something to supplant the more usual Spanish form. Lots of English language sounds are very difficult for many Spaniards, hence the mispronunciation. There is a second problem too. If a Spaniard knows how to pronounce an English word correctly it often isn't recognisable to other Spaniards who haven't studied English. So words are intentionally mispronounced to make them intelligible. Sometimes there is a sort of recognised half way house type pronunciation. I can usually guess at common words but names are a real problem - trying to interpret the names of music artists on the radio is by turns a lot of fun and frustrating.

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