dogs, whistles and the dark ages

medieval fair with castle backdrop

I think Ávila always have some kind of Medieval Fair at this time of year, but it’s the first time our village has decided to do the same. So, for a couple of days the castle courtyard and carpark have been given over to tents and stalls and general activity that has about as little to do with the Middle Ages as is possible.

Frankly, given the usual level of culture and rural lifestyle in the place, I think seeing a few kebab stalls and a little oriental mystique of joss sticks, spices and ecological soaps etc makes it rather more cosmopolitan, and really almost twentieth century. (And what do the Arabs have to do with the Middle Ages anyway? Why should there be baklava and other honied pastries on sale at a Medieval Fair?)

Actually, at least one of the attractions of the fair is quite twenty-first century, with the whole ‘go-green’, resource-saving attitude. It’s true that when the feria comes to town for the fiestas del pueblo they sometimes bring a carousel which requires no motor as it’s simply shetland ponies walking patiently in a circle. But I’d never seen a carousel powered by a person until last night:

ecological carousel

The showman is sitting on what I think must be a converted exercise bike and pedalling to make the contraption spin. He keeps it up for the best part of five minutes for each ride, which seems like quite and effort, if you ask me. When we were watching I thought he might have been glad that there were only a couple of takers, as a full ride of a dozen fat little children, stuffed full of Arabian dulces and patatas fritas would have made it even harder work.

Not that he seemed to be complaining. He was sitting up on his perch, with neither dog nor penny whistle, but with his matted dreadlocks and colourful robes, and the jingling bells on his fingers, he was the perfect image of a perroflauta.

That, of course, is a Spanish word that suddenly hit all the newspaper front pages when the 15-M movement took over Puerta del Sol back in May. It caused much grief for journalists as no one knew quite how whether it was a single word or a composite, or how to form the plural etc. (See the post insults and anger for a little more about that.)

It also caused grief for translators, who tried, vagabond, traveller, gutter punk, crusty, busker, hippy etc., none of which is entirely satisfactory.

Certainly the guy in the picture is a perroflauta, but it seems to me he’s working far too hard for most of the suggested translations to be appropriate.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

2 thoughts on “dogs, whistles and the dark ages”

    1. Lo que yo quiere ver es cuando recojan la feria:
      ¿Volverá a poner las ruedas de su bici?
      ¿Llevará el carusel atado atrás por la carretera?

      Y ¿le seguirán todos los niños del pueblo menos uno -un pobrecito cojo, por supuesto- hasta una cueva en la montaña, para no volver jamás?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.