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Monday, February 19, 2007

Fun and Games

Granny has had a friend staying, Beloved has a stinking cold - not passed on to her YET - and despite her new office she hasn't had either time to write yet, and not much in the way of inspiration either. Maybe peace and quiet isn't the answer. Or maybe lots more of it is. Let's wait and see.

Meantime the year turns as ever. On Saturday, she, friend and Beloved went out to dinner with Mr and Mrs Jonah; at the table next to them was a whole party of people looking very peculiar; men in drag, wigs, feather boas and all, and women got up to look like men in drag; a new one on Granny. Anyone in Spain will know what this is about: Carnival is here again. And don't men on this island just LOVE wearing drag? Not only is there a carnival queen, and a baby queen and a dog cat camel and donkey queen (work out for yourselves where she is exaggerating, just a bit) there is also a DRAG QUEEN; the saucy bitch. And between now and the final end to the festival you are liable at any time and anywhere to run over men in wigs and frocks -and possible inebriation -lurching across the road. In Granny's innocent view -and even more innocent experience -she thought foolish jollities enjoyed before the arrival of Lent were not only mainly of the pancake cooking and eating kind but that they began and ended on Shrove Tuesday; that thereafter all is supposed to be sackcloth, ashes and boiled cod till the mournfulness of Good Friday is well and truly over. Not so here. The carnival procession up in her own dear Municipio is not scheduled till March 10th. Though much smaller and shorter than the ones in the main town it will have the usual contingents of citizens of the third age dressed up in costumes which might have been designed for performances of Merry England pageants, of prancing devils - a local, probably pagan, variation probably dating from the days of the Guanches, the early inhabitants of the island - of shivering kids in fairy outfits, of would-be Brazilian lookalikes heavily choreographed and decidedly under-clad on their nether regions and over-clad up top - plumes - feathers - huge wire, spangled and tinseled creations over-balancing on their heads; oh and plaster versions of old shoes, castles, pirate ships, etc etc, which sit behind people's houses all year round waiting to be brought out, touched up, decorated, attached to trucks and filled with a variety of clowns, angels, devils, what you will, all shouting, calling, singing and waving beer cans to the music thumped out by pumped up sound systems. Not much in the way of boiled cod there. But plenty of noise. And plenty of alcohol. All night.

Who says Catholics don't have a lot more fun than Protestants?

There are the odd spoilsports around of course. Franco banned carnival altogether. And the more sober residents of Santa Cruz on Tenerife have this year contrived to have had a banning order placed on street celebrations - which are of course the point - because they were fed up with the twenty-four hour racket. Though it looks as though the local ayuntamiento and the overall Canarian government may get this rescinded on the behalf of tradition and the enjoyment of absolutely everyone else. Back on Granny's other island of course, people like Cromwell did for such things altogether, long ago. Is it the survival of Catholicism she wonders that had led Catholic countries to preserve their local traditions and festivities the way they have? No self-consciousness here, like revivals of Maypole Dancing in England. No playing to the tourists. This is for the people. AND HOW.

And yes, Granny will probably slope off to watch one or other of these. Beloved won't; you've seen one, you've seen them all, he says. He has a point. But Granny sneakingly likes them, just the same. They remind her of the village Gala of her childhood, around 1949, where she and her twin sister featured as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. And WON FIRST PRIZE!! But no, she will not be dressing-up, this time. THE VERY IDEA. ( It was, you see, so very long ago and in another country; and, besides, the wench - the other wench - is dead.)


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