Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Language; Jail-bound?; Customer orientation; Disrespect; Gib; & Vaping.

Yesterday I re-read Orwell's essay on language that obscures meaning, including his famous statement that Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Later, I saw this example in Private Eye's Pseuds Corner; John Osborne: I propose that Philip Larkin developed a set of techniques that allowed him to instantiate unfixity in the very fabric of his verse. These techniques include ellipsis, a four-act structure with closing reversal, asysmmetrical stanza lengths and rhyme schemes, plus a battery of disaggregative linguistic devices such as split similes, negative qualifiers, oxymora and rampant paronomasia. Together these techniques constitute the implements of a home-grown deconstructionism.

Possibly good news: The man responsible for one of Spain's notorious ghost airports - and a lot else besides - has had his 4-year jail sentence confirmed by the Supreme Court. We now wait to see if he ever sets foot in any jail and how long it is before friends in the Cabinet issue a pardon. I doubt he's on tenterhooks.

Spain: I sent an email to my home insurance company today. I got an automatic response which didn't just say they'd answer as soon as they could; it cited the law under which they're obliged to do do. I wonder what this adds to my satisfaction/expectation. One gets the impression that, if there were no legal compulsion, they wouldn't do it. Said law: El artículo 10.3, capítulo II de la Orden ECO/734/2004, de 11 de marzo, sobre los Departamentos y Servicios de Atención al Cliente y el Defensor del Cliente de las Entidades Financieras

I'm told you can be arrested in Spain for a 'lack of respect towards authority', usually in the form of an unfriendly Guardia Civil officer. Who would seem to have a good deal of scope. Especially when it's his word against yours. Here and here (para 4) are a couple of examples.

I mentioned Gib the other day. Specifically, the failure of the Spanish authorities to comply with EU instructions around the frontier queues. Here's an article which claims to provide the proof of borderline skulduggery.

Finally . . . A new verb for me: 'To vape'. This is to smoke an electric cigarette and there are now vape cafés all around the UK. And a Vape Room in London airport. Progress?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaelic Galicia?; Spanish Positives and a Negative; & Spanish walking.

In its search for proof that Galicia is truly Gaelic - and so entitled to the membership of the Celtic Nations Group currently denied to it - Proxecto Gaelaico has had a go at deciphering something written on a the wall of a 14th century church up in Betanzos, near La Coruña. Their conclusion is that it reads An Ghaltact, which is Gaelic for "Gaelic-speaking area." This, they insist, proves Galicia's links with Ireland and Scotland. Hmm. Swallows and summer are words that spring to mind. We now await a second opinion from 'expert epigraphists'.

Spanish Positives

  • Spain's crime rate has fallen further and is now only bested by those of Portugal and Greece.
  • Tourism receipts so far this year are the best for 5 years and a record 28 million tourists elected to come here, headed by the British and the Germans.
  • Gin and Tonic is very much the in drink in Spain these days. Not before time. I suspect it's not well known here that gin is a Dutch invention, brought to Britain by William of Orange.
Spanish Negative
  • Outside work, the average Spaniard spends 8 hours 48 minutes a day on his/her devices. This is, by some way, the most in the EU and compares with 6 hours 54 minutes for Brits.
Finally . . . I was looking at a list of English idioms today and came across To walk Spanish. This was new to me but apparently means to physically force someone to leave a place or to discharge them. No idea why. Suggestions very welcome.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Terrorists, now and then; Crazy cleric; Ukraine; Phoney bones; Gibraltar; & Urban shocks.

Pause for thought: The UK's 2006 Anti Terrorist Act would have made terrorists out of those Brits who went to fight fascism in Spain in 1936

In Madrid's 2nd church last week, a Mass was held to commemorate the 1936 fascist uprising. From the pulpit, the priest eulogised Franco and his forces and encouraged those of like mind today to consider emulating them, in a new coup d'etat designed to safeguard society and the Church from the rise of the "Far Left". It seems that neither the Church nor the state is minded to reprimand this outrageous cleric. Possibly because he's the only person in Spain who can see a refulgent Far Left. And because the prospects of another military rising are precisely nil. That said, he hasn't done the Church much good in Spain and I'm sure someone will be having a quiet word with him. Roll on next year's anniversary. When there'll possibly be more media representatives at the Mass than there were this year. Meanwhile, at least one organisation is taking the priest to court.

Ukraine: As someone has asked - Where is Mrs Ashton in all this? You may recall she was the unheard of person appointed a while ago to be the EU's supremo for Foreign Affairs. Except she clearly isn't. When she steps down shortly, will anyone notice? And which unlucky sod will get her job?

The bones of the 3 Kings(Magi) are lodged in a fancy box in Cologne cathedral and this is the 800th anniversary of their arrival there. Tests have shown that the bones are those of a child and two men from the 2nd or 3rd century. The cathedral authorities have said this is immaterial. As well they might. So long as pilgrims come to pray.

Spain's Minister for Foreign Affairs has accused Britain of inventing incidents around Gibraltar for domestic political reasons. Crikey! You'd never catch Madrid doing that, would you? Which reminds me . . . I read recently that Britain had complied with all the instructions arising from a recent EU investigation of the conflict, while Spain had complied with . . . well, none. Delays to cross the border are longer than ever.

Finally . . . I had a couple of a shocks in Pontevedra yesterday - A cyclist on the camino route through the town was ringing the bell on his handlebars. Plus he was moving slowly! And the motorist in front of me stopped at a flashing amber light to allow a (hesitant) pedestrian to cross. Progress.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Rolling news; Russian perspectives; & Urban surprises

Don't you just hate rolling news channels at times? Sky News: "Each of the people who died in the crash has a backstory. And we'll be doing our best to bring these to you."

Talking of news channels . . . The latest farcical statement from Russia's RT is that the 'authorities' in Eastern Ukraine are calling for an international inquiry. In the next sentence, these rebels were referred to as 'resistance forces'. Whatever they are, they're actually preventing access and damaging such an investigation, doubtless under the instructions of Mr Putin.

Apart from its biased news channel, Russia also has its own loony blogosphere, where discussion apparently centres on the possibility that flight MH17 was, in fact, the Malaysian Airlines flight which went missing in March. In order to discredit Russia, it was packed with corpses and brought down in Ukraine. I won't bother you with the 'evidence' for this.

Mr. Putin is, of course, an ex-KGB man. I wouldn't like to be the Russians and/or Ukrainians who've kaiboshed his step-by-step annexation of ex-Soviet countries by mistakenly shooting down a civil airliner. Assuming they're still alive.

Finally . . . I was intrigued to that see one of the temporary stalls in the town's main square was selling knives - something impossible these days in the UK. One even looked like the scout knife I used to have. But, anyway, I bought one with a handle made from the root of a heather plant. And so came to know that 'heather' is brezo in Spanish and urce in Gallego. Though I thought she said oorth. Hope these comes in handy.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fascinating Spain, the place to live; Summer fun; Paradors; & Easy payments

These are someone's idea of 50 fascinating facts about Spain. Be patient, if they don't immediately emerge.

And here's the answer to the question - Is Spain still a good place in which to retire? HT to Lenox of Business over Tapas.

Summertime is party-time in Spain and Galicia in no exception to the rule, even if the weather here may occasionally be a bit of a damper. Which a lead into the citation of one particular fiesta - the Festival SonRías Bixas. This is a clever combination of the Spanish for 'smile' (sonrisa) and the Galician name for our Lower Estuaries - Las Rías Baixas. Well, I liked it, anyway.

Galicia has 11 Paradors, the 4 or 5 star Government-owned hotels that were once castles, palaces or the like. Only 3 of these were (marginally) profitable last year - in Santiago, Baiona and Ribadeo. Pontevedra's lost €51,000. At least one - in Ferrol - has been closed. Though only in the winter, as I recall. This presumably an occupancy problem as they're usually good value for money. Especially if you're young or old and qualify for one of their discounts.

Finally . . . I may still be signing debit card chits here but back in the UK, I read, folk are using their phones and wristbands to pay for even the smallest items - by scanning them across a reader. Britain is different.

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