Monthly Archives: December 2009

Holy Shit! The Catalan Caganer

It’s one of the world’s most instantly recognisable scenes. The Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus, the faithful Joseph looking on, and all around shepherds, wise men and farmyard animals paying their respects to the new-born Messiah. But who is that red-faced peasant lurking in the shadows? And what the hell is he doing? Surely not! Not in front of the son of God? And yet your eyes do not deceive you: the impish wretch in the red beret has hiked down his britches in the middle of the manger and is taking a shit!

Pass me the bogroll will you?

In most Catholic countries this would be considered blasphemy of the first order, and no doubt require convent-loads of rosaries to reach atonement, but here in Catalonia taking a dump in the nativity scene is surprisingly enough considered good clean fun. Indeed the figure responsible, called ‘the Caganer’ (meaning ‘defecator’), is held up as a symbol of fertility and even equality (everyone has to shit, is the logic here) and celebrated with great mirth by the Catalan folk.

Indeed Catalan kids take great pleasure in hiding the Caganer somewhere in the nativity scene and seeing if their mates can spot the little shitter. Typically the Caganer is a pipe-smoking peasant who wears the traditional red beret of Catalonia but, sensing a merchandising opportunity, a large number of traders will happily hawk you Caganised versions of all manner of familiar faces, from local favourites such as Messi and Joan Laporta to global figures of Barack Obama and the Pope. It seems no one has been spared the indignity of being portayed with their arse bared performing a poop. If this seems like an irresistable stocking filler you can pick them up at the Christmas market by Santa Eulalia Cathedral for 3 euros (plastic peasants) to 15 euros (ceramic celebs).

Obama follows through on the Nobel piss prize

Read more about the Caganer on Wiki, or head to Caganer.com for some more famous faces bearing their buttocks…

More Footballers in Photos

…continuing on from the most pointless photo gallery of all time, I bring ye Footballers in Photos part dos.

That's Mr. Towers to you

I'm too lazy to Photoshop this...


Arsenal reject


Arsenal legend


Quite pleased with this one


Selhurst's finest

So there you have it… proof that Barcelona lives and breathes football? Or proof that I’m a sad and lonely individual… No need to answer, that’s a rhetorical question.

(While I’m here and we’re on theme, I suppose it’s a decent opportunity to introduce my new Arsenal blog… I like to think of the Arse as the Premiership’s equivalent of Barca, but without the world’s most irritating right back.)

Noise Restrictions

A recurrent theme of my adventures in the realm of Barcelona’s nightlife has sadly been one of party-pooping noise restrictions. WTF! This is Barcelona! In Spain! The city is supposed to be one of the most party-mad in the world and what’s more Spain is famous for being noisy – from the constant roar of motorbikes to mujeres shouting at each other from various balconies.

I’ve already heard of numerous fantastic venues which have been shut down thanks to noise restrictions, such as Danzatoria, a posh paradise up in the hills (which has had to relocate and hence lost it’s appeal), La Terrrazza (thankfully re-opened but with decibel reductions) and the legendary La Paloma, which starred in the film L’Auberge Espanol and was supposedly the best night out in the city (naturally I got here too late!). In fact La Paloma soundproofed itself and even employed mime artists to try to get punters to quieten down – but to no avail. Residents complained, and it seems they are winning every battle in destroying the nightlife around here.

Not that I’m unsympathetic to residents of noisy neighbourhoods. It can be a pain to live on a noisy street, and no one likes to have their sleep disturbed more than me, but some of that is part and parcel of living in the Old Town I’m afraid. There’s always double glazing and earplugs!

More annoyingly recently (I’m talking about my personal experience now!) has been the habit of neighbours complaining about house parties. Really quiet and boring house parties at that! I mean come on. There is a difference between being tormented by a nightclub that pounds 130bpm until 6am every weekend and your friendly neighbours having one soiree a year – for f@ck’s sake, suck it up for one night and let the kids have fun!

IMHO it seems that the very people who enjoyed the revelry of the 90s and the no-holds-barred good times have grown up and got grumpy and are not so happy to let the next generation do the same. I say this as a relatively old and grumpy git myself. We’ve already got strict licensing laws on bars and clubs, destroying much of the magic of all night escapades in Spain, not they’ve passed a law banning happy hours – for health reasons. But this trend of complaining at every raised voice past midnight flies in the face of everything that is Spanish… ie. the live and let live, good times, late night culture!!! (Ok there may be more to Spain than that, but that’s why we’re here right?).

A balance has to be struck. Nightlife is an important aspect of any city, for the local economy, for quality of life, for tourism… not to mention for keeping the population growing. Pandering to every Senor Meldrew will rob the city of much more than a quiet night.

Hmmm. I’m filing this under ‘Hot Debates’, even if it is more of rant… feel free to disagree thus making the post a lot more debate-like!