Monday, April 30, 2012

Spain V England - Battle of the Weird Traditions

Every Friday evening I attempt to teach a 10 year old boy how to speak English, whilst the hour makes me very aware of the fact that my calling in life doesn’t lie in teaching, I am thankful that this boy is not the 3 or 4 year old I foolishly attempted to teach last year.

My little student, Quim (seriously, leave all the Victorian fanny jokes by the door – it’s pronounced Kim, or rather Keem), is fish mad and I suspect he puts up with having to read and do endless v v v v v v v v v v vs with me because he gets to (over)feed not 1 but 2 aquariums.

We tend to limp through the hour with a mixture of going over his homework, working on his (not very good) reading and then wasting considerable chunks of time surfing the internet for silly you tube videos.  I like to think he probably learns more from the last thing than the former (did I mention this wasn’t my forte?).

This week’s reading session threw up a bit of a surprise, we read through a section of his text book that introduced various characters from around the world describing something unique about their country (or area).  We had a native Madrilanian talking about some national park (sorry, I forget the name), an Alaskan talking about a similar subject, a child from Tanzania talking about solar panels, an Irish child talking about wind farms and an English child talking about cheese rolling.

Yup, you read correctly, cheese rolling!  Because we all know that of all the things the English are famous, or even infamous for, is cheese rolling….hmmm.

My student thought this somewhat marginalised English eccentricity was hilarious, or in his own words: "muy loco".  Getting bored with repeating ‘i’ as in ‘eye’ (with pointing) to my young charge I fired up the laptop and decided to show him the delights of the world famous sport of Cheese Rolling that us mad-as-a-box-of-frogs English folk get up to each week in our spare time.

To be fair it is very funny.  I know it only happens on one weekend a year in some remote village in Gloucester, but why should I be the one to spoil the romance?  Watching grown idiots hurl themselves down a stupidly steep slope at Cooper's Hill often dressed in little more than their underwear (and for one man a mankini), probably breaking ribs, arms, legs, necks en route was very comedic. However, one thing was bugging me…

Young Quim, seriously – you think cheese rolling is mad but racing around a village whilst being chased by a herd of marauding bulls is perfectly OK?  Bizarrely he couldn’t see the issue.  Granted our village’s version of the Correbous is on a much smaller, and certainly less dramatic, scale than the San Fermin in Pamplona. And without doubt the only injury that is likely to occur to any game bullrunner is a twisted ankle or a blister from a rubbing espadrille, but I still think the Spanish tradition holds the “muy loco” title.