This extraordinarily helpful poster can be found, not in a hospital or a school, but in the men’s washroom in the MALBA museum in Buenos Aires. I applaud the administrators of this institution for their interest in my personal hygiene. And we thought we had issues with the nanny state in the UK?
One thing I have never been able to abide is someone wagging a finger at me, or prodding said finger in my direction as they speak. There is a specific Porteño variant of this finger-wagging movement, which seems to comprise three sideways movements. A woman delivered it to me when I approached to ask a perfectly innocent question of her, imagining, I suppose, that I was about to ask her for money, or importune her in some manner. Do I look like a tramp? Do I look like some random maniac? Actually there is another explanation. Some people, on hearing a foreign accent, even if the speaker manages perfectly well to convey the sense of what they wish to say, simply freeze up. They go into a state of shock, as though their little brains send out a message: PANIC: FOREIGNER, followed by an utter failure to process language, as they are not listening to what you say because they are so distracted by the way you say it. I am certain there are other applications of this theory, and suspect it may be extended to many everyday life situations. As always, Blanco welcomes contributions on this theme.
How I loathe the casual conversations between travellers that one overhears in airport waiting areas, on ferries etc, the idiotic things people talk about in their quest to present themselves as accomplished globetrotters. I hope that doesn’t apply to me. But if it did, could I rant against myself? Probably.