Friday, 17 June 2011

Sex, God and Politics

Despite the title, I'm not going to discuss any of the three, just the resulting conversation from having been polite enough to stop for an elderly and very infirm lady to give her a bottle top, which she wanted for some reason that was never explained to me.

So.

Routine demands that some menial tasks are carried out so that we can eat, sleep, get the children to the right place at the right time so on and so forth ad infinitum. On one such trip to the local equivalent of the Kwiki-Mart I found myself engaged in conversation by one of the most elderly of the local community.

As is common in Spain she was quite direct, asking me if I could give her the top to the Coke bottle I was drinking, to which I answered that of course she could take it. I recognised her very quickly, as she sells the lottery tickets, has had a very difficult life and is really in need of some attention and a bit of care would certainly not go amiss. What could have potentially been a quick exchange of bottle tops and the usual "turned out nice again" discussion turned quickly to my voting habits and to my belief in God. Again a topic not entirely unheard of locally, and certainly a common platform for debate of all kinds.

Suddenly I felt quite violated. Perhaps this is just the uptight Englishman speaking, perhaps it's just common manners I'm not quite sure, but I felt the urgent need to say to this woman - "I don't really know you well enough to discuss my politics or my religious beliefs as that's really rather personal." I was always taught that certain kinds of conversation leave you totally bear before the person you are talking to, and to be found in that situation with someone not really known to me felt quite embarrassing. I was glad that she had found someone to talk to, glad that she felt that she could talk easily to me, but a bit worried about the questioning.

I don't think I have ever openly discussed my political or religious opinions clearly or openly with anyone that I didn't feel very close to indeed. In fact I an even go so far as to say that it's a topic I don't even discuss very often with Sonia, though we certainly coincide in more than the odd viewpoint, it is seen by both as something personal.

The weather changes, as does the date, as does your body, time and even existence on this planet, but someone's political or religious values are very unlikely to change. So I suppose that it's a futile area to talk about really. No devout ...ist is ever going to change from their ism. No devout believer in ... is ever going to change either, thus there seems little point in using it as a conversation point, other than to comment on something like a religious or political version of the weather.

After being embroiled with this woman for well over half an hour, and having made some evasive answers that would have made the most gruesome of politicians proud, I finally found myself free of the person in question, but with a lot of other questions still floating around in my head. Perhaps it may be better every now and again to keep some thing to yourself, I'm not into diatribe, but that equally well doesn't mean I don't have my beliefs, I just don't feel like sharing them with everyone.

I'll end with a quote attributed to my dear parents - "Speaking about religion of politics is like having sex, if you're going to do it in public, make *damn* sure of your audience first"