Being a writer of “dry, ironic humour” has its upside (including the chance to snigger childishly at one’s own work) and its downside (other people occasionally thinking it’s not funny). Yours truly is a prime ranter, sniggerer and delver into black humour when the usual dry humour doesn’t suffice, as well as being “self obsessed”, “droning on” and full of “I, I, I” (“way-aye!”) and the cult of “me, me, meeeeeeeeeee”! See, I can take the piss out of myself as well as lambasting assorted other ‘targets’. Well, one has to write about something, I suppose.
But is this sort of material a bit, well, questionable? Should yours truly be more sensible in what is penned? A recent misunderstanding about my ‘Beware the Brits Abroad’ blog entry has led me to contemplate where journalism ends and undue criticism begins. After much hair-pulling about offending a ‘nice lady’ from Torre del Mar with my comments in the aforementioned blog entry, and even showing the offending material to my elderly Mother (more stringent than Mary Whitehouse in her heyday) to see if I had “gone too far this time” (she said not), it transpired that it was a case of mistaken identity. The ‘nice lady’ thought that one of my targets for sarcasm, ‘Hectoring Dad’ – whose son I had named ‘Jack’, just as I might have called him ‘John’ or ‘Jim’ - was based on her close male friend. By unfortunate coincidence, this man’s son of a similar age is called Jack and the family concerned was staying at the Torre del Mar campsite at the same time as Hectoring Dad and me. The ‘nice lady’ eventually asked her friend “did your son enjoy the campsite swimming pool” (the location drawing my sarcastic narrative) and he answered “we never went near it”. I was pleased as punch when this hideous misunderstanding was resolved as, believe it or not, I don’t like to offend people (especially nice ones)... but a slight paranoia about my “dry humour” has lingered onwards.
For example, I love Spain and could never, ever be considered a Spain-hater but I’m continually sarcastic about some of its characteristics, such as naff customer service and manic motorists. I would call it “poking fun” or “being ironic”. However, some people view my observations in a different way. An English hombre of my acquaintance recently insisted “you bring motoring problems upon yourself by being so negative about the other motorists” and added “why is it that you assume some of them are drunk” (this was a bit rich, considering that my critic was tipsy on costa at the time). Hmm! The aforementioned hombre completed the box-set of compliments by suggesting that “...if you want to continue with your pants driving, you should keep up your existing attitude” and topped it off with the old chestnut (wait for it), “my Mother is just the same”. Argh! I pointed out that there’s a difference between being “negative” and adopting “defensive driving” where – for example – one does not venture too close beside the car that’s swaying from lane to lane in front of one’s own vehicle. Ironically, about two minutes after I ejected the hombre out of my van, a Spanish driver shot out of a side street without looking and I had to do an emergency stop. Of course, if he’d crashed into my van, it would have been my fault for being so jolly negative and nothing whatsoever to do with his ‘malo’ driving abilities (more on ‘malo’ soon).
Anyone who has read ‘The Secret’ will know about ‘the power of attraction’, in which a person attracts whatever they’re dwelling upon or requesting from the universe – be it positive or negative. Taking this concept in one possible direction, people tend to sense the black clouds of doom and, hence, avoid us when we’re feeling negative, so why can’t the Spanish motorists sense my feelings and simply steer clear of negative ‘ol me and my van? However, I do hold truck with the idea that if you drive along the motorway thinking constantly about crashes, you’re far more likely to have one than if you’re actually concentrating on the damn road!
Remaining with my demeanour concerning Spain, the Spanish citizens and the native lingo, I’m convinced that my most commonly used expression is “mucho malo” (very bad) – a useful catch-all phrase for anything from “it’s gone a bit cloudy –mucho malo!” to “the cashpoint won’t work – mucho malo!” to “my children are misbehaving – mucho malo!”, and so on. I don’t dare tally the daily incidence of this expression as I know it would be into double figures, at least. [N.B. Yes, I know it should be 'muy malo' now thanks to a helpful user comment. :) ]
I also like the expression “un poco loco” (a bit mad). From discussing “el hombre loco” in the Coviran to “mi ninos estan locos” (my kids are mad), it’s so easily and liberally applied. So, am I drawing all that is “bad” and “mad” towards me? And then commenting that it’s “no normal” (not normal) to boot. Hmm!
Perhaps I ought to change my favourite expressions to “muy bien” (very good), “bonita” (beautiful), “excelente” (excellent) and “soy tranquilo” (I’m calm). Perhaps I’ll try this fresh approach for a week and report back here soon...