IT'S THAT MAN AGAIN(22/11/2007)
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On teaching the King of Spain some manners.
CATALONIA TODAY – SECTION: LONG-TERM RESIDENT - ARTICLE SEVENTY-SEVEN
Earlier this month the Minister of Education, Mercedes Cabrera, decided that 'civismo' (civic manners) needed to be taught as a compulsory subject in all secondary schools, in an attempt to stem what local observers perceive to be a rising Spain-wide tide of unacceptably uncouth adolescent behaviour.
The Minister added the caveat that there were doubts among those in charge of preparing the course material as to how to go about instilling an abstract code of values in half a million highly material teenagers.
Indeed, in Spain's recent eductional history, civic manners have been taught at school-level to just one person alone: John Charles Alfonse Victor Mary of Bourbon and Bourbon-Two Sicilies - better known in Catalonia as Joan Carles I - was brought up to be nothing if not polite. Born in Rome, the future King of Spain was groomed in the finest etiquette from an early age at exclusive private schools in Switzerland and Portugal. When he finally arrived in Spain, at the age of ten, he continued his studies in another expensive school, this time in Madrid, from which he graduated to elite military academies in Saragossa, Pontevedra and San Javier in Murcia where he presumably learnt the importance of discipline and restraint. The result? Before the entire world, at the Ibero-American Summit in Santiago, Chile, on November 11th, this sacred head of an increasingly dysfunctional family, who (officially) represents over 40 million Spanish citizens, turned to a politician (officially) representing 26 million Venezuelans, and snarled the Spanish equivalent of 'shaddapaya face'. If I were Mercedes Cabrera, I'd drop the idea of teaching civic manners. If it hasn't worked for the King himself, it's hardly going to work for all his foul-talking, street-burping, binge-drinking teenage subjects, now is it?