Granny has her -leftish - political opinions: but she hasn't publicly acted on them much, apart from the odd demo and apart from a depressing year or so on the G.M.C of her local Labour party in a then Tory borough (subsequently captured locally and nationally by the (then) Liberals who noticed the importance, locally, of what the Labour party Trotskyite faithful called, dismissively, 'dustbin politics:' more fool them.) So what was she doing on a very sunny Tuesday lunchtime sitting in a large cinema being addressed by local and less local party candidates in the upcoming provincial elections; culminating in a speech by no less than Sr Rajoy, the head of the party in question, Partido Popular; the Spanish equivalent of the Tory party?
She rather wondered herself; surrounded by well-upholstered, well-coiffed, well-made up matrons - no less than two in the next row, one fat, one thin, resplendent in leopard skin prints - and all of them waving little plastic flags emblazoned 'PP' as the politicians processed in to the sounds of music, shaking hands with everyone in sight - (one politician even shook Granny's hand; she's not quite sure who it was). Some waved little Spanish flags as well to make the point that this is a national party as opposed to one of the local nationalist parties rife throughout the Canaries. Rajoy, like Franco before him is big on maintaining the unity of Spain. His rival the socialist prime minister, Zapatero, has granted much greater autonomy to Catalonia, and is thought too lenient with ETA and the Basques. The Canarian Nationalist are beginning to think it is THEIR TURN. This is why poor Rajoy is traipsing round all the islands and in danger of losing his voice, judging by what was left of it. 'Presidente, presidente,' a group of excited men behind Granny were yelling. They showed no signs of losing theirs.
Well, she learned some things, despite the inadequacy of her Spanish. One is that Spanish politicians unlike English ones, DO NOT MAKE JOKES. (Just as well for her; jokes are the hardest thing to understand in other people's languages.) The other is that they do make promises - in this case just like English politicians - and what's more repeat them several times over. The PP candidate for the main town promised more police, jobs, medical services, roads etc. The candidate for the island council promised ditto for the whole island; neither were natural speakers and both had strongish island accents. The head of the Canarian section for the PP, its candidate for Canarian president, promised improvements for all the Canaries under the PP, at the same time brandishing his genuinely Canarian credentials, as ex Mayor of the main town on his own island, etc etc. (This was a dig at the Socialist candidate for president, a Canarian solely occupied up till recently in national politics, and not regarded by Canarians as 'one of us'.) Rajoy himself banged on as above about his party being the right party for all locally as well as nationally and in Europe, less inclined to improvisation on the one hand, factionalism on the other. He failed, of course, to mention the fact which must have been on some minds that in one municipio on the bigger island every single member of his party has been banged-up for corruption, money-laundering etc; even members of national parties being just as factional, improvisatory, just as corrupt on the ground. This is another reason, probably, why Rajoy is losing his voice in the Canaries, trying to repair that particular bit of damage.
As for being part of Europe? That fact was apparent in one respect, especially. Behind the speakers, on the platform, were lined up a motley collection, all of them PP candidates in the local elections. They included an African - an ex-refuge most likely - and one obvious(female) Brit. (Mr Jonah who had persuaded Granny to attend this gathering, has also been instrumental in getting ex-pats involved with the PP, which considers them, probably rightly, a likely constituency; he has even been trying to persuade her to stand. I mean. I mean. Ha ha ha.) But all of them were sitting on chairs provided by another very recent arrival on this island: namely IKEA.
Granny knows those folding wooden chairs. They are dirt cheap for one thing. She equipped her little London flat with them for just that reason. They are also, unless provided with a cushion, exceedingly uncomfortable; unlike the leather cinema seats on which Granny and the rest of those in the crammed cinema below were seated. The speeches went on for one hour and a half. Talk about suffering for your convictions; and ending up with a slatted bum.
Granny thinks she's done politics for some time to come. No flag waving for her.
That was Tuesday; Wednesday she and her Beloved took off; the kind of thing you'd think retired people like them would have lots of time for; but then they don't reckon on one of the retirees being a Beloved (what about milking my goats? Etc.) They took boats to a small virtually uninhabited island and walked all round it, on the most perfect of perfect, cloudless, cerulean/aquamarine sea days. A lot more fun.