I had a Spanish lesson today, so I packed extra tofurkey sandwiches to eat on the way from office to class, and then, quite predictably, ate them all by four in the afternoon because I was hungry. Leaving the office today, bamboozled and tired from my ever-dripping nose, I took a train to Bugis rather than walk, in an attempt to preserve some energy for the class ahead.
It was a tough class. We had a different teacher to usual, and she was a lot stricter about not speaking English in class, and we spent all evening doing the indefinite past tense, which is an absolute horrorshow after the blissful uplands of the present tense. A whole new terrifying landscape of conjugations, of verbs that used to be happily regular suddenly sprouting new and terrible, irrational behaviour, with no possibility of comprehension ahead of me.
At least until my new teacher explained to me that the consonants have to agree with the sound they make in the infinitive, which is why you can’t just get away with tocar -> tocé, because that would involve a hard c changing to a soft c, and so instead the first person indefinite past tense of tocar is toqué, which would have seemed insanely arbitrary if nobody had explained the underlying system to me.
I’m not saying it’s simple, mind you.
As well as learning new bits of grammar, we listened to a song by Juanes, the Columbian pop star who isn’t Shakira. Apparently Historia de Juan is a popular choice for teaching Spanish, probably because it’s quite repetitive, or because Spanish teachers enjoy songs about maltreated children who only wanted to sing, to play, and other infinitives.
Actually it’s a bit rich, because Juanes claims Juan "solo quiso cantar" and "solo quiso jugar". Either he only wanted to sing or he only wanted to play. This sounds more like Juan couldn’t make up his mind what he wanted, which is typical of the youth of today, spoiled by luxuries like a cardboard box to sleep in. Privileges, privileges, etc.
When I came home, La Serpiente Aquatica Negra was sleeping so I didn’t have the chance to tell her how lucky she was, but fortunately a few hours later she woke up and started bawling, which was great as it meant I could go in the bedroom and have her scream at me for five minutes about the iniquities of infancy and how hard her life is. I was going to sing to her the song I’d just learned, but I have a feeling my wife would have been more distressed by the cacophony of both voices yodelling into the night, so I just tried making whooshing noises instead. Whooshing noises that failed to placate my daughter, it must be said. Tomorrow I’ll try castanets and a bit of flamenco guitar. And Juanes’ other hit, La Camisa Negra, with the word Serpiente substituted for Camisa. If that doesn’t quiet her down, nothing will.