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Life In Old Spain - Part 1

LIFE IN OLD SPAIN - PART 1The following morning I went across the street to the cafe for breakfast. I could have stayed in my hotel dining room and eaten breakfast there but I was curious to know what would be the reaction to the gun-shots of the night before. I was expecting there to be no mention in the local newspapers, but I wanted to ask a few people about the matter. I was curious to see how censorship worked in an event that, although I hadn’t witnessed it, I had heard the shots and knew that something unpleasant had happened.

As soon as I entered the dining room I could see that something was afoot. There were several people huddled around one table, and they were clearly discussing something in the newspaper.

I walked over and joined the group.

They had homed in on one apparently innocuous article which simply stated that one of the churches would be closed for a couple of weeks for repairs. They were intent on discussing what seemed to me to be a rather pointless matter; the size of the type face.

I listened for a few minutes, and then couldn’t suppress my curiosity, and I asked if someone would explain what was the matter. Since I was known in the cafe, and most of the regulars knew I was a foreigner and therefore safe, one of the gentlemen started to explain. After just a few words he motioned for the waiter to stand by the door just in case someone unknown should come in and catch them openly explaining something which was clearly not a subject for careless conversation.

“Did you hear the shots last night?”
“Yes, but…” I shrugged.
“You were not close by?”
I shook my head. “I was down by the theatre.”
“Ah. Too far. Miguel here was close to the church. There was gunfire, and someone was taken away. Maybe more than one person. It does not pay to get too close on these occasions.”
“And there is a report in the newspaper?” I asked.
Almost every person present made a face. “Oh yes, there is a report. Read it.” A finger stabbed at the page.
I leaned forward and read the short article. It said very little, just the simple report that the church would be closed.
I looked up. “I don’t understand. What has this to do with the shooting?”

One of the men sat down in a nearby chair. “When there is an incident in the city, and we all know there was an incident last night, we try to find out what happened. We know the truth will not appear in the newspaper so we look for clues.
“The easiest way to find the important article is to check for unusual type sizes and extra white space in the newspaper. The authorities have already ealised that we look for these clues so it is illegal to leave white spaces in a news article, but there are ways round that problem. Have another look at that article.” I peered again at the newspaper. The article did look to be slightly different from those around it. The title was centred, and there was the word AVISO at the head. I also noticed that there was a fraction of unused space at the bottom of the article, but probably no more than one line. The odd thing was that there were several articles headed with the word AVISO. After all, the word was just highlighting that this was an announcement.

“First, Miguel was in the church yesterday morning. There was no hint that it would be shut for repairs. That’s odd. So we look at the article again. “Now look at the other articles headed by the word Aviso. You will notice that they do not refer to any particular notice. That’s odd. It is clearly a blind, printed that way to confuse. Then there is that slight white space at the bottom as if the article doesn’t quite fit its space. It is just a line, and the editor could get away with a shrug if he was questioned. But there is one more clue. Look at the first word. It is capitalised.

“All these things are small, but they tell a story. They tell us this article has been censored. We now know that something unpleasant happened in the church last night, and we are not supposed to know what it was. Miguel will be first in when it is reopened and he will be looking for gunshot marks, and not properly cleaned up bloodstains, and in tomorrow’s edition of the newspaper there may be an article which is apparently harmless but will mention a name, or the fact that someone has moved. Over the course of a few days we will be able to piece the whole story together. In this country, reading the newspaper is a skilled and difficult art, my friend.”

I nodded and picked up another newspaper and went and sat at an empty table. I had no idea reading the paper was so complicated. From now onI shall be finding hidden stories on every page. Breakfast time has suddenly become an intriguing time of day.

 Read Part 2  - https://algarvedailynews.com/travel/19059-life-in-old-spain-part-2

This blog article has been provided by a collaborating author, published for our readers enjoyment. The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Algarvedailynews.com team, and the facts should always be verified by the reader!

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