Arturo Pérez-Reverte is one of the very best writers of modern Castilian prose, but then he is also more than capable of writing in the purest seventeenth century Castilian prose, as can easily be seen (by Spanish readers) in his series of Alatriste action novels.
For several years he has presented his own acerbic column Patente de Corso in XL Semanal, which as the title tells us is a weekly magazine. In February of this year P-R wrote a singularly funny, at the same time accurate and thoughtful personal view of ‘eccentric’ happenings in the Autonomous Community of Andalucía. It is so good I think readers in English should get a chance to read it too. I have had the impertinence to translate Arturian Spanish into Deanery English:’
‘TOWN PLANNING, MASCULINE & FEMININE’
‘It would be correct to say that in matters of shameless robbery, the Government of Andalucía and its paid public servants (rather a lot of them) do not really go much further than other Autonomous Communities equally infested with rascals and crooks.
‘Also it is correct to say that party acronyms are always cooking up something, and that looters apart, an elevated number of complete idiots complete with necktie, official limo and ex-infantrymen in tow are fully present and correct. This image is arguably not lacking in all the Autonomous Communities in Spain. However, with respect to the percentage of caddish fools and including the equally high percentage of foolish cads – the regime that has governed Andalucía for the last thirty years would appear to worthy of the greatest applause.
‘Now look, this could be due to the fact that the region has been sucked dry, offers no work, and shows every sign of being culturally challenged, so much so that it could perhaps be called ‘under-developed’; but this is merely diluted within the context. Where can we find an Autonomous Community that does not include on its payroll innumerable thieves, incompetent and illiterate to a man? But one must applaud Andalucía for its distinguished place among the annals of opportunistic imbecility and demagogy in matters of gender (female) or gender (male). There’s nothing to beat them at this. Nothing better than an Andalusian Ultra-Feminazi getting her knickers in a twist to justify some grant or other, with a politician suitably near, anxious to get it published in the Official Bulletin.
‘Do let me tell you about the latest example, which I did not find but which was kindly sent me. In these days of literary piracy, little reading, and other miseries writers will need to search for work in other pastures. I for example am looking for work with the Autonomous Community of Andalucía, as a forest engineer. I shall be prepared to work wonders with my unique plan for the saving of forests from fires. It is so simple: One Pine, One Firebreak; One Pine, One Firebreak. Can’t think why no-one has thought of it before. One should be able to squeeze an enormous grant out of that. Much more rubbishy notions have been rewarded with huge loans.
‘But now I have found an authentic pearl! Article 50.2 of Law 12/2007 says, I assure you with hand on heart, the following:
“The public authorities in Andalucía, in coordination and collaboration with local government, must take into account town planning, urban policies and the definition and execution of urban proposals paying close attention to gender.”
‘Apart from not knowing the relation between being a forest engineer and paying attention to gender, the following questions make themselves felt as they are elemental, my dear Watson. The thing is, how do you do it? How do you follow the dictates of gender in town planning and urban policies? Or the definition and execution of urban proposals?
– Do you consult the architects and radical feminist associations before planning streets and squares, so that they can give you the necessary permission?
– Do you ensure that zebra crossings do not favour male abusers of women?
– Do you provide separated pavements, one for women and one for men, and order both genders to circulate on them in the same numbers?
– Do you ensure that streets will be named after the same number of females and males?
– Do you patrol these streets using policewomen and policemen equally? And if the police is mounted, do you ensure the horses are both mares and stallions?
– If your town should be Madrid, must you promise that among the ragged hippies whose sleeping bags adorn the Plaza Mayor to the tourists’ delight, there will be an equal number of male down-and-outs as female down-and-outs?
– That for each group of Mariachis, ex-Bolshevik jazz bands, or Rumanians who make music with glasses of water, there will be a lady Bulgarian violinist, a women’s orchestra from Nigeria, or a mob of Mexican females cackling Allá en el Rancho grande?
– That in the parks and playgrounds an equal number of girls and boys play, making sure they wait patiently before mounting roundabouts with gender respected, with the provision of special agents who will fine mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers, should the rules not be complied with?
– Will you ensure that in official prostitution zones circulate an equal number of tarts and rent-boys?
Please illuminate! I need these things to be explained. But remember, all future forest engineers:- One Pine, One Firebreak; One Pine, One Firebreak. My future depends on it.