…is how my Jereziano taxi driver describes the roadside as we enter Jerez. The jacaranda trees are in full bloom and their perfume fills the air. The Feria is over, only the skeletons of the casetas remain in the Parque Gonzales Hontoria and soon they too will be dismantled. It’s been a quieter Feria than usual, my neighbours say, it’s austerity. Even the town band (a very good band, including a number of Conservatoire de Jerez musicians) is now defunct because of cuts. In a city where music is part of the lifeblood, this is a serious matter.
The municipality is ungoverned at the moment, local elections (only five days before) having resulted in a complicated situation. The PP (Partido Popular, christian democrats of the right) gathered most votes, but insufficient to form a council if PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol) and the Podemos supported candidates unite against it. There seems to be a consensus that they will unite to form a coalition of the left. Elsewhere in Spain, Podemos gained 117 seats in regional governments. It augurs well for them in the national elections to be held on or before 20th December.
There is speculation among English-speaking expats about what the recent Tory victory in the UK elections might mean for the EU. Few people I spoke to understood that a referendum might take place as early as next year. Whether or not UK citizens living in the EU will be allowed to vote is a big issue, as it is for the foreign nationals currently resident, long term, in the UK. The terms of suffrage could be crucial as both those groups are likely to vote to remain in the EU. If the vote is close they could make the difference between one outcome and the other. People need to mobilise to ensure they are enfranchised. Especially as one possible impact of an exit vote may be the return of those taxation measures deemed discriminatory by the EU, making residence abroad more expensive and, perhaps driving some ex-pats back to the UK. Taking money from the ‘foreigners’ is a demagogue’s rallying cry everywhere and it has already been heard in France and, in a different context, in the UK.
Meanwhile life goes on. It is Corpus Christi on Thursday and preparations for the celebration are underway. In Plateros on Saturday night we’re treated to an interesting co-incidence, as one Spanish religion, Catholicism, meets another, football. It is the Copa del Rey and Barcelona are taking on Athletic Bilbao, so the bars and cafes are full, inside and out, with folk there to watch. The square is also crowded with those there for a religious procession. The cheers greeting Barca’s goal (and subsequent groans, as it is disallowed) mingle with the sound of the applause for the pasos of the virgin and the cruxification and the music of the band following them. All is good humoured, but it’s sufficiently noisy to drive our party away into a restaurant and our table is quickly taken by a be-suited group of male wedding guests, who are clearly bunking off from the ceremony taking place in the Town Hall near by. The last time I saw that happen was in Manchester.
There are more photos to be found on Pinterest, of Jerez de la Frontera, other historic sites and places associated with my books. Check them out here. Or read more about southern Spain in these posts