I can't say I'm keen on the globalisation. Foreign-ness is one of the pleasures of going abroad for me. On a hot day you can smell you're in France as soon as you roll off the ferry, and were the town of Cherbourg to upgrade its drains to UK standards then it would make my holiday slightly less value for money.
Showers have been more common in Europe for longer than here, and they've long since got the point about thermostatic valves, which we can't seem to for some reason. The bidet is a mystery though. I wonder if it's the hygienic or the contraceptive application that's in decline. Hole-in-the-ground toilets can still be found
in France if one looks hard enough. Conversely, street urinals
are now up-and-coming in the UK.
Clearly there is much I need to learn of the ways of bidets.
Never having been either French or Catholic, I know of this only by hearsay, and from reading Lolita at an impressionable age. But apparently, yes.
The 'urilift' street urinal seems horribly sexist and not terribly private...
Barcelona smells powerfully of drains. I wonder if this is inevitable in a hot country or whether there's something they could do about it.
Of course globalization works both ways. As Europe becomes more Anglicised/Americanised so Britain becomes more Europeanised. I'm more than happy that I can now buy European foodstuffs in my local supermarket.
Are bidets signs of "dirty"? Not having encountered them all that much, I'm not sure what their symbolic value is.
No, not "dirty"- just slightly bizarre and (to an English schoolboy in the 60s) kinda confusing.
Reading this has been very helpful. I've been envying people who see the world as a small place with many associations, but it sounds like there are anchors everywhere, even if only McDonalds and CNN.
I'm so glad you and Ailz had a good trip. It was fun reading about your travels.
The world is growing smaller.
On the whole I think this is a good thing. The loss of local colour is more than balanced by our increased ability to talk to one another.
I'm reading a book I think you would like.
It's Father Joe by Tony Hendra, who also went to your school (Cambridge) and is the author of Going Too Far, a clasic history of modern American satire, and was editor in chief of Spy and an original editor of National Lampoon...
This is a witty, fascinating, and true book--a memoir about his relationship with a Benedictine monk.
Here's a snippet--he is a wonderful writer. In this scene, he's been caught with a married woman--and at fourteen!--so the woman's husband brings him to meet with a Benedictine during a retreat. The boy is naturally scared to death. He's a Catholic during the 50s:
[Waiting for his interview in the refectory]:
Time for dinner. We trooped downstairs, my knees knocking as I prepared to confront Father Josef Varilau, Butcher of Quarr [monastery on the Isle of Wight]. But it was only the old monk again. The Benedictine Gruppenfuhrer had been further delayed--perhaps to give a recalcitrant postulant a lie detector test...
That sounds interesting.
I ran into a Father Joe as a schoolboy once and I wondered for a moment whether Hendra's monk was the same guy. Unfortunately not. Mine ran a mission to East End prostitutes and is the only person I've ever come across who may have been a bona fide saint.
I'm on a Dickens kick. Having finished Bleak House I've now moved on to Little Dorrit.
He swears this monk is a saint.
He sounds like one, too.
Did yours have a rubber face and knobby knees?
No, the face was more cadaverous. He was a tiny little old man who threw himself about so much when he was preaching that one was afraid he'd fall out of the pulpit.
The changes within western Europe over the past 50 years have made it almost unthinkable that France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy should ever to to war with one another again. I can't help but think that this is a good thing. I reckon I'd sacrifice a fair amount of local colour for the sake of peace.
I don't know if it's so much about giving up cultural differences as sharing them.
When I was a kid, people in Britain didn't drink wine. Maybe for a special occasion they'd get out a bottle of Mateus Rose or Blue Nun and it would be a big, big treat. Now every supermarket carries a wide range of wines from all over the world.
It's not just about Macdonalds and Starbucks setting up shop in Barcelona, it's also about me being able to buy Camenbert and Roquefort at the deli bar of the Oldham Tesco.