Silly Season my sweet asp!

Spain’s ‘Snake Summer’ is enough to give you a hissy fit, writes Belinda Beckett, aka Mistress of Sizzle

LAST UPDATED: 8 Aug, 2015 @ 09:05

WITH silly temperatures and even sillier trading hours, the Spanish have a lot of apologising to do for the month of August.

Spain shuts shop and hits the beach in August
Spain shuts shop and hits the beach in August

Except there’s no one there to apologise. They’re all de vacaciones.

August is Silly Season in Spain in more ways than one. It’s the month of short staff and even shorter tempers, mostly mine.

The lack of parking … the lack of service … the coming to terms with bizarre summer opening hours…

Even when you get it right and the store’s open, nothing’s in stock because the manufacturers are also de vacaciones. Mañana? You’ll be lucky! In August, it’s mes proximo.

Estamos en verano! they all cry, as if working in heart-attack-inducing heat all day was only for locos and guiris.

Too right. You try working in my A/C-challenged (disabled due to austerity) gaff, with every window open sesame to every stray cat in the neighbourhood and not the whisper of a cross-breeze to be felt.

But when most stores’ air-conditioning is whacked up to nipple-erecting temperatures, do Spanish traders have an excuse to take a ‘heat holiday’ anymore?

And don’t get me started about my village’s ‘summer’ (i.e. ‘skeleton’) bus service, which is AWOL for the holidays too. There I was at the bus stop at an obscene hour (for a Sunday morning), hung about with cold boxes and sunbrellas – more beast of burden than beach babe – only to be told there was no 10.30am to Palmones beach.

What’s a gal to do with an hour to kill while most people are still in bed? I grabbed a Cerveza, of course, as you do (in Spain).

Silly Season was coined by the British as the time of year when newspaper editors scrape the bottom of the journalistic barrel because real news is as correspondingly scarce as MPs at Westminster, which also shuts down for August.

But, in fact, it’s a worldwide phenomenon.

The Germans call it sommerloch (summer hole), in France it’s la morte-saison (dead season), and the Dutch, Hungarians, Norwegians and Poles collectively term it gherkin season, perhaps because the stories are so hard to swallow.

Here in Spain, they call it serpiente de verano – summer snake – because (I’m reliably told) serpentine Loch Ness Monster sightings are one of the hardy perennials of Silly Season stories. Although there mightn’t be any more of those since the poor chap who gave up his work, his wife and his life to find Nessie, 25 years ago, has finally realised she’s just a big ol’ catfish.

But for me the real serpent in the Garden of Eden I call Spain is not the news coverage. (Call me biased but I think the Olive Press does jolly well for summer news coverage).

It’s this mass downing of tools in August when half of Spain is on half-day closing and the other 50% are on the beach. Have they never heard of staggered holidays?

You can’t even pay a multa on time because the Town Hall’s also on silly season hours … which means you get another fine on top for late payment when you can finally get some service, come September.

Summer my sweet asp! I feel another hissy fit coming on.

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  1. I couldn’t agree more with the article, all business time of opening and closing are erratic and random, some open at 8AM or 8:30, 9:00, 9:30, even 10am on some cases. and they close at around 13:00, 13:30, 14:00 14:30.

    So it is tricky to schedule a morning and go shopping and get stuff done, the best one can so is go from 10 to 13. And find all businesses opened… and you are very lucky… they might have what you look for, without ordering it for the next day!