When I was a teenager, probably the worst thing you could be called was a ‘square’. That, to us, was the person who had a short back and sides haircut, still had cuffs on his trousers and didn’t ‘dig’ Elvis, Buddy Holly or Chuck Berry.
The meaning of the word changed when I went into the military. In Britain, the term for basic training is ‘square bashing’. Not that we were allowed on the Square itself … the Holy of Holies … until we’d learned to drill in some sort of order.
Now, on most military establishments, the Square is simply a car park most days of the year But, in those times, it was forbidden territory, unless you were receiving instruction or on parade. Nevertheless, most important places, like the accommodation, the canteen and the Airmen’s and Sergeants’ Messes were usually grouped around it, and it was the centre of a lot of activity.
Likewise, the town or even village square. Although they don’t have public executions, or put people in the stocks any more, many places hold a market there. Or, a concert. André Rieu’s concerts in the Vrijthof Square in Maastricht are always a sell out. Sometimes, artists or craftsmen display their wares, maybe some cafés or bars spread out on to the square. Or, people just go there to hang out and meet their friends.
In Spain, they sometimes make quite a thing of just walking around the square; they call it the paseo. A podcast told me that, in Salamanca, the boys of the town would walk around the Plaza Mayor in a clockwise direction and the girls anti-clockwise. If a boy saw a girl he liked, he’s say ‘queso!’ (cheese). If the attraction was mutual, she’d reply ‘quesito!’ (little cheese)
The podcast doesn’t mention what happened next, but, when I visited Salamanca, I saw no evidence of this going on anyway.
Squares are all around us; even a bus ride to the nearest one wouldn’t break the bank for most people. So, from my photo collection, here’s just a few from various places around the world.
This week’s contribution to the ‘Travel Theme’ See more at http://wheresmybackpack.com/2016/03/04/travel-theme-square/