Things ain’t what they used to be: Temperament

Things ain’t what they used to be: Temperament

CONSTRUCTION DISASTER: Someone misread the blueprints Photo credit: Pixabay/Classically Printed

A READER recently mentioned that when writing about noise I omitted the conversations which, even when witnessed or overheard from afar, look uncomfortably heated.

I suppose I am so accustomed to noisy conversations that they barely register with me, as I know now that no-one is arguing and no-one’s losing their temper.  Spanish just happens to be a vehement language with its guttural Js and Gs and all those rolling Rs although endearing lisped Zs – outside Andalucia – help to dilute the sounds of what is often interpreted as unbridled temperament.

Or should that be temper?

“Temperament,” according to a dictionary, “is the emotional character or state of mind of people or animals, as shown in their behaviour.”

On the other hand, “Temper is a person’s state of mind seen in terms of their being angry or calm,” it tells me.

The Spanish are much more relaxed and less uptight than they were half a century ago, when I was soon told that it was bad mannered to lose your temper in public.  This was not necessarily the same as a noisy conversation although that, too, was considered quite uncouth.

But so, I soon learnt, was sitting with your legs crossed and so was smoking in the street.  Manners were manners and young women, whatever their temperament, were expected to behave themselves.

Of course, that never did stop people from losing their temper or, to put it another way, giving free rein to their “emotional character or state of mind” and there are occasions when, whatever the niceties, a temperamental outburst can be forgiven.

This was demonstrated early one morning, many decades ago. as I looked down glumly at the Benidorm building site which had replaced the olive grove and copse of pine trees that formerly separated us from the seafront.

I watched as the foreman inspected the first, completed storey and saw his complacency gradually gave way to disbelief as he looked about him. Aghast, he consulted the blueprints in his hand, doing a doubletake as he looked at them more closely.

Unable to contain himself, he flung off his helmet and kicked it over the side before throwing down the plans and trampling on them.

One of the workmen brought back his helmet and another picked up the plans. As the foreman lit a cigarette with trembling fingers it was plain to see that his “state of mind in terms of being angry” was definitely showing in his behaviour.

For the rest of that day and all of the next all you could hear was the sound of pneumatic drills whose din drowned conversations that looked uncomfortably heated from afar and close up must have sounded more like verbal warfare.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at