Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Tudor King, A Spanish Queen, and a Fresh Cucumber

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,

To f
etch her poor dog a bone.
But when she got there,
The cupboard was bare,

And so the poor dog had none.

Even as a child, I found this nursery rhyme problematic. Why would Ms. Hubbard keep a bone in her cupboard? Even in days of pre-refrigeration, were there not better places to store animal parts than in an enclosed cupboard? No wonder the poor dog had none - perhaps she should have checked the stew pot.

Of course, the Ms. Hubbard of the rhyme was a thinly disguised Cardinal Wolsey who had the occasion to greatly annoy Henry VIII by refusing to endorse the latter's divorce from Katherine of Aragón. To complete our Nursery Rhyme 101 class, the "bone" was the much sought after annulment/divorce requested by the Tudor king or "doggie". And the cupboard? - no less than the Catholic Church.

Wolsey would eventually be accused of treason but would die on his way to London where he was to stand trial. Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragón was declared null and void, and the Spanish Queen spent her remaining years banished from court, denied the right to see her own daughter, the future Queen Mary.

So where am I going with this? It seems that Aragón is seeing its fair share of empty cupboards today. As are Castilla y León , Murcia, and Galicia. As is the entire country.

Señor Gato Gringo and I popped into a grocery store on the way to work this morning to pick up some fresh vegetables. As it turned out, our shopping experience was but a brief one because the cupboards were bare. And by cupboards I mean shelves and not the Catholic Church. The same was true in the bread aisle - ditto in the cheese and meat department. There was no fresh fish. The grocery store looked like it had been looted after some post-apocalyptic event. Except for the liquor, potato chips and cereal aisles - thank the gods they were still stocked! And because we are rather thick people by nature, it took us about 3 minutes before we figured it out: the truck strike.

Today is Day 3 of the "indefinite" truck strike that's gripped Spain and parts of Europe. Protesting the soaring cost of fuel, truckers are shutting down the country: gumming up traffic by travelling the highways at a snail's pace, causing gas stations to run dry and grocery stores from restocking their shelves with produce. Petrol tankers are now under police escort. Some factories - notably Mercedes - have closed their doors because parts cannot be delivered. Ferry companies have cancelled routes; work at 60% of the construction sites in the province of Málaga has come to a standstill. One picketer was killed in Granada and another in Portugal, which somehow puts my inability to buy a fresh cucumber into perspective.

Yesterday, the Government and the National Commission for Road Transport (which represents the majority of Spain's truck drivers) reached an agreement on 54 measures to improve the current situation but this doesn't mean that the strike is over as two other trucking organizations have already rejected its terms.

Which b
rings me back to Ms. Hubbard. It seems to me that it wouldn't be a huge abuse of artistic licence to reinterpret the rhyme given the current political climate. You know, the dog would be consumers, the bone would be affordable petrol, the cupboard ... you get the picture. I can only hope that the next time I venture outside, I'm not reminded of any other nursery rhymes - say, Ring Around the Rosie which many believe refers to the Black Death.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

wasn't there a trucking/transportation strike in Rabat last year in January? how did you manage for groceries then?

Anne said...

A few years after "Winter Juan" in Halifax, trucks couldn't get into the city for a few days. The Superstore on Quinpool was looking sadly bare at the end of the first day - especially the liquor store part of it.

La Gatita Gringa said...

Anne, Senor GG made the same comment as we walked through the grocery store yesterday. Except for us it was the Super Store on Barrington.

Anon: I haven't been in Rabat since August 2007. If there had been a strike in Jan 07, it didn't affect us. We never had problems as far as groceries went.

Anonymous said...

If the truck strike lasts much longer then Mother Hubbard's dog better hide under the bed. She looks capable of doing the poor thing in.
On the other hand, if every city and large town had a major truck strike then maybe this foolishness would stop.Someone is making an awful lot of money out of this and it is not the little guy.

Bluestreak said...

yes, yes. Lord Petro (see the cartoon about Lord Petro http://www.markfiore.com/)...he's got us all cogidos by the cojones.

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Anonymous said...

keep quoting these dead white guys for a reason. We seem to be repeating some particularly nasty history, right now.

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