Archive for 19 noviembre 2013

Miguel de Unamuno´s “Borrow and the Spanish xenophobia” // “Borrow y la xenofobia Española” por Miguel de Unamuno

noviembre 19, 2013 Deja un comentario

Step by step I carry on reading Unamuno´s complete works, which I happened to come across some years ago in the bookshelves of my parent´s living room . Just as in a way Philip Roth has become a sort of a father- figure  for me, a father, by the way, that doesn´t care much about my life and contents himself with showing me the likely nature of certain important, not to say, crucial matters, Unamuno has turned into a sort of grumbling grandfather , one with whose style and rebukes i come to terms with or not depending on the day.  The other day, for instance, I found this article he wrote the sixth of April of 1917 when he was 53 years old. He delivers in it his opinion of the work and person of an astounding English writer, George Borrow,  so far fully unknown to me. This gives him also the chance to linger on his favourite topic, a topic he was profoundly engaged in till the day of his death, a few months after the Spanish civil war started: Spain and its people.

Borrow´s interest was also aroused by this topic but in the case of Borrow, speaking and writing over 50 languages as he did, that interest took him far beyond, dealing with many European and non-European people, in particular with the Gipsies. English, Spanish, Russian gipsies, where they came from and what dialect of the Gipsy language they spoke was the least important to him. He was apparently always available to make a translation in whichever possible direction no matter the place of the world he found himself in.

As to Spain both authors seem to have been more interested in what the low classes could offer them to nourish their spiritual search rather than by anything coming from the high and middle classes.

I wonder what kind of reflections would stir up in them a world almost totally peopled by a global middle class assorted in many different nations, as ours, from a certain perspective, has come to be.

Anyhow, following you´ll find my attempt at translating in English  Unamuno´s article ” Borrow y la xenofobia española”

Borrow and the Spanish xenophobia

George Borrow came to Spain in 1835 to hawk about Bibles- those Bibles that some snob people like to refer to as “protestant Bibles” . As a result of his travels through the peninsula a unique book came out that was published for the first time in 1842 and whose title read “The Bible in Spain or the Journey, Adventures, and Imprisonment of an Englishman in an Attempt to Circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula”. Albeit written in English this book is the last Spanish picaresque book because of the resemblance it bears to our picaresque novels regarding its inspiration, atmosphere and form.It was not the only thing that Borrow took out from the Spain of the end of the first third of the nineteenth century. He translated “The Gospel According to Saint Luke” in “Caló”, the language of Spanish gypsies and he wrote a work, partly phantastical, about the Spanish gypsies with whom he maintained closed and frequent relations.

The book was and still is very popular among the old fashioned English people from the inland. And it deserves it. They´ve taken from Borrow most of the ideas they have about a romantic Spain. And it is unquestionable that Borrow was able to see and feel our home country in its born-and-bred authenticity. I managed to collect some very interesting news about one of the book´s characters, the priest of Pitiegua, which come to round up the inner portrait of that singular man, whose full name, according to what I could find out, was don Antonio Aguilar, to whom Borrow, rightly, paid the tribute of his somewhat stingy admiration.

Together with  Mendizábal, Alcalá Galiano, Istúriz, the duke of Rivas and other public men Borrow´s book portrays along its pages mule drivers, gipsies, peddlers, canons… even Balseiro, the sidekick of the famous thieve Candelas. Altogether Borrow was anyhow, more interested in ordinary people, in the people one could come across in  crossroads, inns, small squares than in the high and middle classes, than in educated Spaniards. And more than in our literature to which he didn´t seem to pay much attention, he was interested in our language. Of our literature he says that she is “ scarcely worthy of the language”, and may be he ´s right and the Spanish language deserves a much better, more firm, more energetic and more  meaty literature.

Borrow liked very much Madrid. Not because of the city but because of its people, strictly Spanish as the city was in 1835. Back then there were hardly any foreigners , some  taylors, glove makers and French hairdressers. Nothing like the German colonies in St. Petersburg nor the English factories in Lisbon, “ no multitudes of insolent Yankees lounging through the streets, as at the Havannah, with an air which seems to say, the land is our own whenever we choose to take it.”

And after having greeted  in a picturesque English full of Spanish words – this should make the book more charming to the English- to water sellers in Asturias, to carriage drivers in Valencia, to beggars in La Mancha, to butlers and clerks in Vizcaya and Guipúzcoa- as to these last his view is the same as Cervante´s-, to bullfighters in Andalucía, to pastry cooks in Galicia and to grocers in Cataluña as well as to the people in Castille, Extremadura and Aragon, and to the genuine sons of the capital, the twenty thousand “manolos” whose terrible stabs  played havoc with Murat´s army the second of May 1808, Borrow adds:

“ And what about the high classes, all these ladies and gentlemen? Shall I not mention them? To tell the truth I can hardly say much of them. I didn´t meet many and what I saw of those I met didn´t move my imagination to praise them. I´m not one of those people who wherever they go they put down the high clases in order to extol the populace at their expense. There are many capitals in which the aristocracy, the gentlemen and ladies, the sons and daughters of the nobility are the most notable and interesting part of the population. That is the case of Viena and , more specifically, of London. Who can compete with the height, with the dignified bearing, with the strength and  courage that dwell in  the arms and heart of an English aristocrat? Who is capable of riding a horse in a more noble way? Who mounts more firmly? And who is more gentle than his wife, his sister or his daughter? But as to the Spanish aristocracy, all these gentlemen and ladies, the fewer words one says regarding these matters, the better. However, I admit that I don´t know much about them. They may well be admired by other people. I´d rather leave to their pen any panegyric. Lesage has portrayed them as they were some two centuries ago. His portrayal is all but charming and it doesn´t seem to me as they would have made any improvement from the times of the sketches of the inmortal French. I prefer to talk about the low classes, not only of Madrid but of all Spain.”

And this statement of Borrow reminds me of what one of my English friends- deeply acquainted with the Spanish people- told me once: that a Spanish countryman outclasses an English one just as an English nobleman outclasses a Spanish one.

But again Borrow:

“Whether “manolo”, peasant or “muletero” I find the low class Spaniard much more interesting. Rather than vulgar he´s  an extraordinary individual. It´s true he hasn´t  the kindness and generosity of the russian “mujik”, who wouldn´t hesitate giving out his last rouble to a broke foreigner, nor that placid courage which takes the russian peasant on a Zar´s order to  fearless yield to a sure death on the front line. The low class Spaniard shows more harshness and less selfnessness but his spirit harbours a self-sufficient independence that you can´t avoid admiring. Needless to say, he´s ignorant. However, there´s a remarkable thing you always find among the low and poorly educated Spanish classes: their feelings are much more generous than that of the high classes. It´s long been fashionable to talk of the self-righteousness of the Spanish people and their vile envy of foreigners. This is true to a certain extent and you can see it above all in the high classes. If the talent and valuable things that come from abroad haven´t been duly appreciated in Spain, it´s certainly not the fault of the great mass of the Spanish people. In the peak of his great victories Wellington´s honour was slandered by some Spaniards but not by the old soldiers from Aragon and Asturias that helped him defeat the French in Salamanca and the Pyrenees. I´ve heard the skills of an English horseman being debased but it was by the idiot heir of Medinaceli and not by a picador of Madrid´s bullring”

Borrow is right and if things were so in the Spain of 1835, they are much the same in the Spain of 1917. The xenophobia, that is:  the aversion to foreigners or better than aversion, the mistrust towards them, the Spanish xenophobia , is a feeling, a vile feeling indeed, typical of the middle and high Spanish classes. The low Spanish classes, that is, the non-educated ones- the not badly educated ones, I mean- are always more willing to appreciate the merit of foreigners whenever they get in contact with them. The Spanish xenophobia , the anglophobia in particular, is an artificial and contrived product just in the same way the Portuguese hispanophobia was, according to Oliveira Martins. It´s  the result of a bad education and of a systematic forgery of the past and present history acting upon two national Spanish feelings which we should be taught to avoid, these are: mistrust and touchiness.

It´s common among our badly educated classes to blame foreigners,  French and English in particular, for our own faults and misfortunes. By badly educated classes I mean those  ruined by a biased education. A deep spiritual laziness is thus bred into us, a fatalistic sloth, the laziness entailed by our fatalism. For most of our national disasters we put the blame on others, on strangers. We make up and blame them for  disdainful comments that were never made or we show ourselves eager to pick up on any comment that a ne´er do well makes, blowing it out of proportion and distorting it while we overlook other people´s sound and sober judgements , judgements we may even attribute to dubious interests hidden behind their praises. If someone speaks badly of us, or we think he does, despite lack of evidence, he´s just speaking out his true feelings. If we are praised or someone speaks well of us then he´s just trying to deceive us. Because, you see, no one is more touchy than a born-and-bred educated Spaniard

Having read his work some fool has said that the same Borrow, who so well came to know the Spanish people and so fair and so fond was of us, draw but a caricature of Spain , to which I reply that Borrow´s work can match our picaresque novels, the best of them in fact, and that it´s time we start recognizing that there´s much more truth to the picturesque Spain that circulates out there, even to the Spain that one identifies with fans flapping all around, than what our touchy mistrust reluctantly admits. Sure, there´s another Spain but this Spain also exists. As well as does a picaresque one. And a Spain where the cavemen still rule.

Far more could be said about the xenophobia of our badly educated and badly taught, and, thus, touchy and mistrustful and conceited middle class. The more conceited, the more she abhors conceit and acclaims a self-righteous pattern of unaffected feelings.

George Borrow, picture, image, illustration

Borrow y la xenofobia Española

Jorge Borrow vino a España a repartir Biblias-de esas que mucha gente presumida culta llama protestantes-en 1835. Fruto de sus correrías por nuestra península fue aquel libro singular, publicado por primera vez en 1842 y que se titula: “La Biblia en España; o los viajes, aventuras y prisión de un inglés en un empeño de hacer circular las Escrituras en la Península.” Que es, aunque escrito en inglés, el último libro picaresco español, el de inspiración y hechura y aire más parecido a los de nuestras novelas picarescas. Ni fue lo único que Borrow sacó de la España de acabado el primer tercio del siglo XIX. Tradujo el Evangelio de San Lucas al caló gitano de España y escribió una obra, en parte fantástica, sobre los gitanos españoles, con los que tuvo frecuente e íntimo trato.

El libro de Borrow ha sido y sigue siendo entre el pueblo inglés del interior y chapado a la antigua popularísimo. Y merece serlo. Las más de las ideas que sobre la romántica España tienen les viene de Borrow. Y es innegable que éste supo ver y sentir nuestra patria en lo más castizo de ella. Sobre uno de los héroes de su libro, el cura de Pitiegua, he logrado adquirir noticias muy interesantes y que redondean la etopeya de aquel varón singular, don Antonio Aguilar por nombre, según he logrado averiguar , a quien no sin justicia rindió Borrow el tributo de su admiración algo avara.

Con Mendizábal, Alcalá Galiano, Istúriz, el duque de Rivas y otros hombres públicos pasan por el libro de Borrow retratos de arrieros, gitanos, trajinantes, canónigos, etc, y hasta el de Balseiro, el compañero del célebre ladrón Candelas. Mas en general interesábale a Borrow, má que nuestras clases medias y altas, más que los españoles instruidos, el pueblo bajo, el de las ventas y los caminos y las plazuelas; y más que nuestra literatura, a la que no parece que dedicó demasiada atención, le interesaba nuestra lengua. De nuestra literatura española dice que apenas es digna del lenguaje-scarcely worthy of the language- y acaso el juicio es muy exacto. La lengua española se merece otra literatura mejor, más densa, más enérgica y más jugosa. A Borrow le gustó mucho Madrid. Y no por la urbe, sino por su pueblo, estrictamente español en 1835. Apenas había extranjeros entonces; algunos sastres, guanteros y peluqueros franceses; nada de colonias alemanas como en San Petersburgo, ni factorías inglesas como en Lisboa, ni multitudes de “insolentes” yanquis barzoneando por las calles como en La Habana, con un aire que parece querer decir: “El país es nuestro donde quiera que nos plazca cogerlo” (Cita de Borrow). Y después de saludar en un pintoresco inglés atestado de palabras españolas- y esto debe añadir encanto al libro para los ingleses-a los aguadores de Asturias, caleseros de Valencia, pordioseros de la Mancha, mayordomos y secretarios de Vizcaya- en esto último coincide con Cervantes-,toreros de Andalucía, reposteros de Galicia y tenderos de Cataluña, y a los castellanos, extremeños y aragoneses, y a los genuinos hijos de la capital , a los veinte mil manolos cuyas terribles navajas hicieron tal estrago el 2 de mayo en las huestes de Murat, Borrow añade:

“Y a las clases altas, a los caballeros y señoras, ¿he de pasarlos en silencio? La verdad es que apenas tengo que decir de ellos; mezcléme muy poco en la sociedad, y lo que de ellos vi de ningún modo tiraba a ensalzarlos en mi imaginación. No soy uno de aquellos que adonde quieran que vayan acostumbran rebajar a las clases altas y ensalzar, a costa de ellas, al populacho. Hay muchas capitales en que la alta aristocracia, los grandes y las damas, los hijos e hijas de la nobleza forman la más notable y más intersante parte de la población. Tal es el caso de Viena y más especialmente en Londres. ¿Quién puede rivalizar con el aristócrata inglés en elevada estatura, en dignificado porte, en fuerza de mano y en valor de corazón? ¿Quién monta más noble a caballo? ¿Quién tiene más firme asiento? ¿Y quien es más amable que su mujer, su hermana o su hija? Pero con respecto a la aristocracia española, los caballeros y señoras, creo que cuanto menos se diga de ellos en los puntos a los que acabo de aludir, tanto mejor. Confieso, sin embargo, que sé poco acerca de ellos; tienen tal vez sus admiradores, y a las plumas de éstos dejo su panegírico. Lesage los ha descrito tales como eran hace uno dos siglos. Su descripción es todo menos cautivadora , y no me parece que hayan mejorado desde el periodo de los bosquejos del inmortal francés. Prefiero hablar de las clases bajas, no sólo de Madrid sino de toda España.”

Y esto de Borrow me recuerda lo que uno de mis amigos ingleses, profundo conocedor del pueblo español, me decía una vez, y es que un aldeano español está tan por encima de uno inglés como un noble inglés está por encima de un español.

Prosigue Borrow:

“El español de clase baja tiene mucho más interés para mí, sea manolo, labriego o muletero. No es un ser vulgar, es un hombre extraordinario. No tiene es verdad, la amabilidad y la generosidad del “murik” ruso, que dará su único rublo antes de que le falte al forastero, ni su plácido valor, que le hace insensible al miedo, y que a la orden de su zar le envía cantando a una muerte cierta. Hay más dureza  y menos abnegación en la disposición del español, pero posee un espíritu de soberbia independencia que es imposible dejar de admirar. Es ignorante, por supuesto: pero es cosa singular que he hallado invariablemente entre las clases bajas y levemente educadas mucha más liberalidad de sentimientos que entre las altas. Ha sido largo tiempo moda hablar de la santurronería de los españoles y de sus bajos celos de los extranjeros. Esto es verdad hasta cierto punto, pero se verifica principalmente con respecto a las clases altas. Si el valor o el talento extranjeros no han sido nuca debidamente apreciados en España , no es la culpa, ciertamente, de la gran masa de los españoles. He oído calumniar a Wellington en esta soberbia escena de sus triunfos, pero jamás por los viejos soldados de Aragón y de Asturias que le asistieron a vencer a los franceses en Salamanca y en los Pirineos. He oído criticar la manera de montar de un jinete inglés, pero fue al idiota heredero de Medinaceli y no a un picador de la plaza de toros de Madrid”

Esta observación y juicio de Borrow nos parece exacta. Y si así era en la España de 1835, así sigue siendo en la de 1917. La xenofobia, esto es: la aversión al extranjero o, más bien que aversión, el recelo hacia él, la  xenofobia española es sentimiento, y sentimiento muy bajo, de las clases media y alta. La clase baja española, es decir, la no educada, la no mal educada, está siempre más dispuesta a reconocer los méritos de los pueblos extranjeros cuando tiene ocasión de ponerse en contacto con estos pueblos. La xenofobia española, y muy en especial la anglofobia, es un producto artificial y artificioso, como Oliveira Martins decía que lo era la hispanofobia portuguesa. Es un producto de mala educación y de una sistemática falsificación de la historia pasada y de la presente obrando sobre dos sentimientos nacionales nuestros, de que se debía tender a corregirnos al educarnos, y son: la quisquillosidad y la recelosidad.

Lo de echar la culpa a los extranjeros, a franceses e ingleses sobre todo, de nuestras torpezas y nuestras desgracias, es cosa corriente entre nuestras clases mal educadas; quiero decir entre las estropeadas por una tendenciosa mala educación. Y así se nos cultiva la honda pereza espiritual, la holgazanería de nuestro fatalismo, de nuestra fatal haraganería. De los más de nuestros desastres nacionales echamos la culpa a los otros, a los de fuera. Fingimos en ellos desdenes que no existen o nos apresuramos a recoger los de cualquier pelagatos, exagerándolos o tergiversándolos no pocas veces, y pasamos por alto los juicios serenos y justos cuando no los atribuimos a un torcido interés en adularnos. Si hablan mal de nosotros o creemos que hablan mal de nosotros, aunque así no sea, es que demuestran sus verdaderos sentimientos, y si nos alaban o elogian en algo, es que buscan seducirnos. Porque no hay nada más vidrioso que un español con tradicional educación castiza.

De aquel mismo Borrow, que tan bien aprendió a conocer al pueblo español y tanto le quiso y tan justo fue con nosotros, he oído decir a algún mentecato que ha leído su obra que trazó una caricatura de España. Y yo le digo que su obra puede ponerse al lado de nuestras novelas picarescas y de las mejores. Y que es hora de que empecemos a reconocer que hay mucha más verdad de lo que a nuestra quisquillosa recelosidad le cuesta confesar en el fondo de la España pintoresca que corre por ahí fuera, y hasta en la llamada de abanico. Que haya otra España no cabe duda, pero también hay esa. Y hay la picaresca. Y hay la troglodítica.

Mas aún queda mucho por decir de la xenofobia de nuestra mal educada y mal instruida clase media, petulante, quisquillosa y recelosa. Y más petulante cuanto más abomina de la petulancia y exalta el hipócrita sentir a la pata la llana.



noviembre 12, 2013 Deja un comentario

On part, on arrive. On va. On retourne.

Hier, par exemple. Je partis de là pour arriver ici.

À un moment donné, plus précisement à n´importe quelle heure moins le quart, je commençai à me déplacer, à me déplacer de là jusqu´ ici.

Condition préalable de ce déplacement fut l´aboutissement d´un trajet anterieur , un trajet que j´avais jusqu´ là entamé pour qu´il me conduisit justement là, lorsque- facile de le dire après coup  – ce “là”, auquel je me refère à present , était encore l “ici”, d´où je voulais à son tour partir.

Alors, cet “ici”, ce point d´arrivée d´auparavant- ou si vous voulez le “là” dont je parlais toute à l´heure moins le quart,- me fut devenu la veille le point de départ d´un autre trajet. Cet autre trajet devait m´amener ici, où j´aurais du me trouver maintenant, a travers plusieurs “icis” et “làs”, des étapes succesives le long d´un trajet qui devait toutes les comprendre et les donner de cette façon ,même malgré eux, du sens.

Je pris donc là un moyen de locomotion quelconque vers l´étape suivante. Le moyen arriva pourtant en retard et, faute de but en tant que moyen, il se fut  arreté sur la route plusieurs fois sans atteindre le dernier “là” au sein duquel j´était censée d´arriver ponctuellement ici, soit, là où j´aurais du être,  mais pas du tout  ici , cet “ici” qui est le plus pareil à être nulle part, un vulgaire “là” sans contours définis.

Voilà, chers lecteurs, comment d´ici là et pile à l´heure que marquait l´horloge sans aiguilles de ma gare, je me fus egaré en essayant de me déplacer.

Inventaire des choses difficiles à dire

noviembre 12, 2013 Deja un comentario

La vérité à soi même.

La vérité à l´autre.

La vérité en général.

À vrai dire, il n y a rien de plus difficile à dire que la vérité.

Romanized guy with the blues

Near the border with the Czech Republic, in the best and only hotel of a forlorn village in the upper Austria, called Aigen im Mühlkreis, in the middle of the hotel´s dining room where they sat eating their respectives breakfasts as  the sole guests of the hotel they were staying in, it someway happened that he came to hear a voice and that this voice was the one of the other hotel guest, a German guy at whose request he had previously introduced himsef as a Spaniard coming from Bilbao and that now assured him in dead earnest, while munching a toast with strawberry jam on it in the table opposite his, that the Basque people had remained unchanged since at least the Cro-Magnon Paleolithich period.

It was early in the morning and this news shocked him, partly because his bleary eyes hadn´t yet shaken off  the night´sleep and partly because being himself of Basque origin and being just about to crack the hard boiled egg  he was yawning at by means of some gentle touches of that precious outcome of civilisation named after the term of “spoon” , in hearing the German´s assessment he couldn´t help  but  start wondering whether the proper way to behave in such circumstances  would not rather be  to just  grab the egg in his hand and swallow it with shell and all after having uttered some noises that could resemble the ancestral Basque language he had never before in his life spoken.

But he was more than willing  to be friendly to anyone willing to be friendly to him in such a lonesome place and he dind´t want at any rate to dissapoint the views of that young german who , to make matters worse, assured him, equally in dead earnest, that he had thoroughly discussed the Basque  issue  with a Parisian woman novelist with whom he had shared not only appraisals of the Basque people and their mysterious prehistory but also a train compartment while travelling through central Europe where, as a matter of fact- he dared to conclude to himself out of the dead earnest of the German´s   statements-, he must have  tried to seduce her taking advantage of such an outlandish topic.

Thus, after a brief moment of hesitation and having remembered what little of prehistory had remained in his brain from his college years he decided to politely retort that he believed that some Roman garrisons were allocated along some winding paths that crossed the basque country by order of the roman emperor´s general staff and that may be God had seen fit to beget some of his own ancestors in a peaceful skirmish between a pretty Basque native and a Roman legionnaire , given the fact that he had always considered himself a kind of romanized basque not to mention the deep rooted fondness he still felt for the pizzas he got served in the terraces of Rome´s Trastevere neighbourhood each time he visited the “Eternal City”

In spite of this smart remark worth, incidentally, the scholarship he was denied at the  jesuit university of his basque hometown, the German guy kindly advised him to check on his alleged origins because not a single scientific proof was there on hand that could demonstrate  that he was the true basque, romanized or not, he had always pretended to be. Either he took a look at his family tree and luckily find his Cro-Magnon bias or else he should be prepared to say farewell to any pretention of Basque originality whatsoever.

He got the chance to evoque this unsettling encounter some years later when, living in Madrid, he happened to meet a sexy girl who seemingly was very proud of his origins too. They were talking in a bar about petty things such as her mother´s family tree-he, trying gradually to seduce her taking advantage of some incestuous branches in some light-hearted links of her lineage, she, gradually getting horny falling prey to his manly prowess amid the entangling and shameless leaves of such a humid forest – when unfortunately she began to make  allusions to, alas, his  Basque origins:

“Could you whisper  in my ears some nasty words in Basque?” she asked him invitingly.

 “Ouch…sorry, i don´t speak any Basque. I can´t remember much of what we were taught during one term in the English school i went to.”

“An English school?” she exclaimed uninvitingly

“So they used to call it, because you had to wear a cap that hardly covered the crown of your head, a uniform displaying the school´s coat of arms and you were fated to brave the harsh winter term with a pair of flannel short trousers in order, mainly, to cater the sports teacher´s lust for hairy legs. But it was fashionable then among certain Spanish middle class parents to boast of their English speaking children in front of their worse-off friends and, thus,  they were ready, no matter  the cost , to believe they were sending us to an original English boarding school like, say, Eton. In this sort of Spanish remake of Eton they tried to teach us Basque in English during one term , as a result of which  it didn´t take long before i lost the few notions of English i had till then, somehow or other, acquired.”…

But, sweetheart, let me tell you something, i´m really amazed …You know? You are the first girl to whom i talk about these moving matters… See? (he pointed to his crotch) it makes  my skin crawl, i think i´m itching for something”

“Wait there, not too fast, you rascal¡…., I´m stunned, i always thought every Basque spoke Basque since at least the Cro-Magnon Paleolithic period. But i suppose your special needs education makes a case for your illiteracy.

What about cooking? Every Basque is a good cook and loves eating, specially fish… So tell me , what dishes would you cook for me?… Mmm.. i have a craving for cod…”

 “ I really wish i could cook cod for you, honey, but i´m afraid that what i´m really skilled at is at tossing a salad if you´re craving for one”

 “A salad ¡” she grunted with a disappointed expression in her face.

 “Well, i also like pizzas. I don´t mean i cook them but i love the way they knead them in Roman pizzerias.I think i could afford enough dough for someone to knead it , shape it, leaven it  and blow it out of proportion if necessary. Anyhow i take pride in having a good palate and as to spirits, i´m pretty fond of mineral water. I´m a romanized Basque, you see? No alcohol was allowed in our legions while drilling”

 “I see…” she replied curtly.

Her curt reply made him realize that the frankness with which he had spoken out his origins had deprived him once and for all of the opportunity of mustering his drilling skills to a cod eater. He couldn´t but blame himself for the dubious roots of his sadly romanized stock,but was there anything he could do against it?

Albeit in a tacit way this question had, in fact, accompanied him since he was a kid. In one way or another his whole existence had revolved around it from the very beginning without himself even knowing it. His was the story of that unanswered question, of its central contradiction being deployed in a series of falls and rises, of endless comings and goings, of besetting expectations anchored in a wasted past. Between the self-evident shortcomings of Rome´s almighty civilisation and the ongoing ethnic whims that he saw in many people around him, there was apparently no happy medium. Regardless of whether Basque or Cro-Magnon, the lack of pure origin credentials condemned this romanized Basque to nothing but the blues.