The good, the bad ... and the slowcoaches

Article published on Feb. 7, 2007
Article published on Feb. 7, 2007

In the seventies, spaghetti westerns - those classic caricatures of the cowboy movie genre - were filmed in the Spanish desert. Italian directors such as Sergio Leone made the movies cheaply and quickly, just like the Italian staple pasta.

Everything is exaggerated in them. The baddies have all the chances in the world (or on a plate, one might say!), to either take out the good guys, clean out the bank or speed off on their horses with the Sheriff’s girl over their shoulders, whilst the law-type always arrives in the nick of time to save whatever needs saving. Hence the Spanish expression: 'you’re slower than the baddie’s horse! ('¡Eres más lento que el caballo del malo!')

In the same vein, Romanians say 'you move like a horse that keeps falling over itself' ('te misti ca un cal impiedicat'), and the Greeks: 'you're slower than an ox-drawn cart' (' '). 'Slow as a tortoise' is also a common classic around the world – except for a little village in Gaul. Here, the French are quick to show their bitter ironic cultural differences. It's got nothing to do with animals, - 'you’re so slow, I’d send you to look for death' ('je t’enverrais chercher la mort').

Is it really so bad to be slow? As the Bulgarians say: 'slower than a snail' (' ') - an animal that needs six hours just to copulate. So come to think of it, if the Sheriff does everything quickly, perhaps his girl would be better off with the baddies.