Gibraltar: The storm in a bay continues its dog-day progress to nowhere and nothing. The latest developments:-
1. British warships have docked in both Gib and a nearby Spanish port, prior to a long-planned, multi-member NATO exercise in the Med. Not quite the invasion force depicted in some of the Spanish media.
2. Spanish fisherman have attempted to make a protest entry into Gib harbour and have been kept out. But it helped to pass the time on Sunday.
3. A British MEP and the Gib first minister have received abuse and death threats from numerous angry Spaniards. It's not unknown for this sort of thing to pass for argument in Spain.
4. An official Spanish map has surfaced showing the spot where the concrete blocks have been dropped to be off-limits for all fishermen, including their own.
5. It's emerged that the Spanish government permits in 3 or 4 of its own ports the bunkering it complains of in Gibraltar waters.
6. The EU has said any border tax would be illegal. Which surely won't have come as any surprise to Madrid, which can't ever have had any real intention of imposing it. They have lawyers in Madrid too.
7. The British government has said it'll do whatever it takes to stop the long border checks and noted that Brits are important to Spain's vital tourism sector.
8. The EU has said it'll get round to sending officials to inspect these checks sometime in September.
All in all, the Spanish government stands convicted both of self-damaging stupidity and of hypocrisy and it'll be interesting to see how it gets itself out of the mess it's gratuitously created. And whether the British government or the EU helps them in any way. Possibly, in the latter case, by declaring the checks disproportionate and illegal, allowing the Spanish government to stop them 'under duress' and thus save a bit of face. Whereupon the whole ridiculous spat will disappear from the media and life will go on. Leaving us no wiser as to whether the Spanish populace was distracted, for a few weeks, from the matters of corruption in high places and negligence in respect of a fatal rail crash. I rather doubt it. More importantly, will the belligerent Minister for Foreign Affairs stay in his job for being a good lackey or will be be sacked for setting back Gibraltar-Spain relations for at least 30 years? I'll let you know.
Talking of railways . . . Reader Sierra pointed out a while back that these were expensive to lay down in Spain, one reason being that excessive prices were paid for compulsorily purchased land. In same vein, it emerges this is also true of Spanish roads. These, it seems, are twice as expensive to build as German roads. The EU auditors who looked at all this said they believed some procurement practices 'did not deliver optimal costs'. And they recommended that the cause of the "considerable differences" should be analysed. I'll bet they should. More here.
Finally . . . Reader Martin has suggested the dragons flag I showed yesterday might be traceable back to the Suebi/Suevi tribe which replaced the Romans in this part of Spain and Portugal, before they themselves were ousted by their fellow Germanics, the Iberia-unifying Visigoths. For those interested, here's a truncated version of the language bit of the Wiki article on these folk: As the Suebi quickly adopted the local Vulgar Latin language, few traces were left of their Germanic tongue in the Galician and Portuguese languages. Distinguishing between loanwords from Gothic or Suevic is difficult, but there is a series of words, characteristic of Galicia and northern Portugal, which are attributed to the Suebi or either to the Goths, although no mayor Visigothic immigration into Galicia is known before the 8th century. These words are rural in nature, relative to animals, agriculture, and country life. Most notable were their contribution to local toponymy and anthroponymy as personal names borne by the Sueves were in use among Galicians up to the Low Middle Ages, whilst East Germanic names in general were the most common names among locals during the High Middle Ages. From these names is derived also a rich toponymy, found mainly in Galicia and northern Portugal and made up of several thousands of place names derived directly from Germanic personal names, expressed as Germanic or Latin genitives: Sandías, medieval Sindilanes, Germanic genitive form of the name Sindila; Mondariz from the Latin genitive form Munderici Munderic's; Gondomar from Gundemari and Baltar from Baltarii, both in Portugal and Galicia; Guitiriz from Witterici. Another group of toponyms which point to old Germanic settlements are the places named Sa, Saa, Sas, in Galicia, or Sá in Portugal, all derived from the Germanic word sal- 'house, hall', and distributed mostly around Brag and Porto in Portugal, and in the Miño River valley and around Lugo in Galicia, totalling more than a hundred. In modern Galicia, four parishes and six towns and villages are still named Suevos or Suegos, from the medieval form Suevos, all of them from the Latin Sueuos 'Sueves', and referring to old Suevi settlements. Even more here.
Finally . . . finally: If you've made it this far, this is a bit of good news. For 50% of you anyway.