Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 18.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain

  • Both Spain and Cataluña are already experiencing the economic consequences of the mess they've got themselves into. See here and here. Things can only get worse.
  • And the street protests have begun in Catalan cities. Same comment. Here's the BBC on last night's candle-lit protest in Barcelona.
  • Meanwhile, Spain's property sector continues to recover from La Crisis.
  • And here's an amusing tale of frontier nonsense, to lighten the mood.
  • As usual, it seems, a heavy fine - of €25.8m - on Telefónica has been annulled on appeal. This time, the operator has saved itself 25,780,000 euros. I wonder what this company has to do to get even a rap on the knuckles.
These are some of the Yes percentages in a 'worldwide' survey on the answer to the question: Do you think religion does more harm than good?:
Germany 63
Spain 63
UK 63
Sweden 62
France 61

Argentina 49
Poland 49
Italy 47
Turkey 40
USA 39
Russia 36
Japan 26

Spain's number will probably surprise a people who don't live here but I guess the US number shouldn't come as a surprise, given the large number of (Trump supporting) Christian Evangelists there.

Meanwhile, here in Europe  . . . Developments in Germany and adding to the EU's list of existential woes . . .The new kingmakers of German politics have dashed hopes for a Franco-German ‘Grand Bargain’ to relaunch the eurozone, dismissing plans for a joint budget and shared banking debts as totally unacceptable. The fiery chief of the Free Democrats (FDP), said his party would not tolerate any drift towards a fiscal transfer union, and demanded that holders of eurozone sovereign debt should suffer sobering losses before there can any further rescues for governments in trouble.  As if this weren't enough . . . The rightward shift in German politics comes as the country’s top court decides tomorrow whether to ban the Bundesbank from taking part in the ECB’s quantitative easing after January 1. Any such ruling would have profound implications, tying the ECB’s hands and catching the bond markets badly off guard. It would sweep away a crucial monetary backstop for the eurozone system. While the ECB’s family of central banks could in theory continue to purchase Italian, French, or Spanish bonds, the political storm would be hard to manage.

Finally . . . Looking at the 'apology' issued by the disgraced Harvey Weinstein, I thought it would be a good idea to have a competition for the best deathbed letter from Henry VIII. Offerings very welcome. Perry?

Today's Cartoon:-

I keep thinking it's Thursday . . . 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 17.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain
  • The current Spanish government is good at both turning screws on others and generating bad PR for itself. Simultaneously, in fact. Yesterday it both effectively confirmed the imminence of direct rule over Cataluña and oversaw the jailing of two Catalan activists on charges of 'sedition', as well as the prosecution of the head of the regional police force on the same charge. All with the support of Brussels, of course.
  • So, as Don Quijones puts it here, Spain has its first political prisoners – and martyrs? - since the Franco era.
  • As we wait on further depressing developments, here's the BBC on Why Cataluña Wants Independence. And here's Wiki with more of the region's rebellion-filled history.
  • The local economy: The BBC again:- With no sign that Spain’s worst political crisis since the failed military coup in 1981 will come to a swift resolution, businesses are still leaving Catalonia. Already 541 businesses have left. As I wrote last week, there was no need to use police force. Money talks. And the Catalans are renowned for their commercial nous and their common sense. Possibly even some nationalists among them.
  • Spain's Image Abroad: While it might be true that the folk in Madrid are doing their very best to damage this, it's also irrefutable that foreigners – even in the most developed countries – have a cockeyed, 'romanticised' view of the country. To which they doggedly stick in the face of contrary evidence. Antonio Muñoz Molina takes these folk to task in a thought-provoking article in El País, appended to this post.
  • Iberian Fires: These are now raging in both North Portugal and in at least 2 regions of NW Spain – Galicia and Asturias. As in the terrible year of 2006, fingers are being pointed - especially by cost-cutting politicians - at pyromaniacs. How true these accusations are is unknowable but I confess to some doubts.
Talking of inept/duplicitous politicians . . .  Here's a nice Guardian article on developments in the UK at least. I like the concept of cutesification – the shrinking of any debacle, no matter how big, to ensure it fits within the confines of a short studio discussion.

And still on the theme of ignorance and incompetence, here's Richard North again on the British political and journalistic classes:- One can imagine that, if we do drop out of the EU without a deal – and that looks increasingly likely – it will all come as such a shock to media and politicians alike. But saying "I told you so", will not be enough. To avoid real suffering, somehow we need to get through to these stupid people, before it is too late. If you read North in ignorance of his Flexit-Brexit stance of several years, you'd be forgiven for thinking he's long been against the development. What he's really against, though, is the crass stupidity of those negotiating it, especially those - such as Farage - who push for a 'hard' Brexit, following the failure to reach a sensible accommodation with Brussels. And who can blame him?

Finally . . . Here's a great example of Northern English culinary fusion – A bacon and egg sandwich on white bread, with a side salad of rocket and peppers. Fantastic. I haven't had white bread for years but, for a bacon sandwich, there's nothing better. Especially if accompanied by a glass of wine:-

And here's an interesting looking - but unknown - Argentinean wine, apparently named after me:-

I should explain that David is my first name and that I use it whenever in Spain I'm asked for my name, as this is the first forename on my ID documents. Which is usually taken by Spaniards to be my only forename, while Colin is taken as the first of 2 surnames. I've given up trying to educate them on the system outside the Hispanic world. Ironically, the request for my name and phone number almost always come from shopkeepers who will never call me in any circumstances. Least of all when the product I've enquired about is back in stock. Or something is ready for me to collect. It's just one of those Spanish customs that no one queries. Like banks asking for your ID when you're paying a motoring fine.


In Francoland: Antonio Muñoz Molina

Both Europe and the US love what they see as Spain’s quaint backwardness so much that they feel insulted when we explain to them how much we have changed

It happened to me on the last night of September in Heidelberg, but it has also happened quite frequently in other cities in Europe and the United States, and even here in Spain, when talking with foreign journalists. 

At various points throughout different eras, I have been forced to explain patiently, and with as much clarity as possible for educational purposes, that my country is a democracy, while undoubtedly flawed it is not any more seriously flawed when compared to similar countries. I have gone to great lengths to name dates, mention laws and changes, and establish useful comparisons. In New York, I had to remind people, who were full of democratic ideals and condescension, of the fact that my country, unlike theirs, does not accept the death penalty, sending minors to prison to serve life sentences, or torturing inmates in secret jails.

Sometimes outside Spain, one is forced to teach a history or geography lesson. Until not too long ago, a Spanish citizen had to explain that the Basque Country is not even remotely like Kurdistan, Palestine, or the Nicaraguan jungle where Sandinistas used to protest Somoza the dictator, all in spite of being aware that the odds were that he wouldn’t be listened to. We had to explain that the Basque Country is among the most advanced territories in Europe, with one of the highest standards of living, and that it has a degree of self-government and fiscal sovereignty considerably higher than any state or federal region in the world. The answer used to be, at best, a polite but skeptical smile.

A great deal of educated opinions, both in Europe and the United States, and even more so among the academic and journalistic elites, would rather hold a bleak view of Spain, maintain a lazy attachment to the worst stereotypes, particularly about the legacy of the dictatorship, as well as a bullfight-like propensity to civil war and bloodshed. The cliché is so captivating that is unapologetically held by people who are convinced they really love our country. 

They want us to be bullfighters, heroic guerrillas, inquisitors, and victims. They love us so much that they hate it when we question the willful blindness upon which they build their love. They love the idea of a rebellious, fascism-fighting Spain so much that they are not ready to accept that fascism ended many years ago. They love what they see as our quaint backwardness so much that they feel insulted if we explain to them how much we have changed in the last 40 years: we don’t attend Mass, women have an active presence in every social sphere, same-sex marriage was accepted with astonishing speed and ease, and we have integrated several million immigrants in just a few years, without outbursts of xenophobia.

The other night in Heidelberg on the eve of the notorious October 1, in the middle of a pleasant dinner with several professors and translators, I had to explain that once again with a forcefulness that helped me overcome my despondency. A German female professor told me that someone from Catalonia had assured her that Spain was still “Francoland.” I asked her, as nicely as I could, how she would feel if someone said to her that Germany was still Hitlerland. She felt immediately insulted. With as much calm as I could manage and in an educational tone, I clarified what no citizen from another democratic country in Europe has ever been forced to clarify: that Spain is a democracy, as worthy and as flawed as Germany and as far away from totalitarianism; even more so, if we look at the latest election results achieved by the far right. 

If we are still in Francoland, as her Catalan informer said, how is it possible for Catalonia to have its own educational system, parliament, police force, public television and public radio, and an international institute for the dissemination of Catalan language and culture? Acknowledging the singularity of Catalonia was a priority for the new Spanish democracy, I told her that the Generalitat, the Catalan regional government, was re-established even before voting on the Constitution. What an odd Francoist country, one that suppress Catalan language and culture so much that it chooses a Catalan language film to represent Spain at the Oscars.

Anybody that has lived or is living outside our country knows about the precariousness of our international presence, the financial strangulation and the political meddling that have so often thwarted the relevance of the Cervantes Institute, the lack of an ambitious, long-term foreign policy, and a national framework agreement that doesn’t change with every change in government. Spanish democracy hasn’t been able to dispel age-old stereotypes. Basque terrorists and their propagandists took good advantage of that for many years, precisely the years when we were at our most vulnerable, when the most murderous gunmen were still being granted asylum in France.

Therefore, the Catalan secessionists have not needed much effort or a sophisticated media campaign to turn international opinion in their favor, the so-called “narrative.” They had succeeded even without the dedicated cooperation of the Interior Ministry, which sent forces from the National Police and the Civil Guard to appear as extras in the bitter spectacle of our discredit. Few things make a foreign correspondent in Spain happier than the opportunity to corroborate our exoticism and our brutality. Even the renowned Jon Lee Anderson, who lives or has lived among us, is deliberately lying, with no qualms he is aware that he is lying and aware of the effect his lies will have, when he writes in The New Yorker that the Civil Guard is a “paramilitary” force*.

As a Spanish citizen, with all my fervent Europeanism and my love of travel, I feel hopelessly doomed to melancholy, for a number of reasons. One of them is the discredit the democratic system in my country receives due to ineptitude, corruption and political disloyalty. Add to that the fact that the European and cosmopolitan world where people like me see ourselves and which we have so painstakingly worked to appear to be a part of, always prefer to look down upon us — no matter how carefully we try to explain ourselves or however assiduously we learn languages, so that they can better understand our useless explanations.

*I have to admit I've always thought that the Guardia Civil was a military-ish institution. Probably because they live in large barracks and, moreso, because I've been told several times by Spanish friends that they are.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 16.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain
  • The Catalan president has been for at least a week between a rock and a (very) hard place - not wanting to either alienate his (increasingly) extreme nationalist coalition partners nor to answer Madrid's ultimatum re the status of Cataluña, precipitating direct rule. This morning saw his latest doomed-to-fail attempt to square the circle. And, if we thought last week's address to parliament was rambling and confusing, we knew nothing. Inevitably, Puigdemont has ducked Madrid's key question about whether or not Cataluña has declared independence and sent a long letter to the Spanish president aimed at 1. stalling for time; 2. avoiding the acrimonious break-up of his fragile coalition; 3. stopping the flood of companies moving their HQs from Cataluña; 4. initiating a nothing-off-the-table dialogue with Madrid; and 5. internationalising this (so far non-existent) dialogue. If it wasn't so serious, it would be laughable. Suspicions must now grow that he's aiming for the martyrification of both himself and the head of the regional police who just happens to be in court in Madrid this morning.
  • In a word, the appalling situation is about to get a lot worse, especially in Cataluña itself. As Don Quijones says here: While much of the focus of the international media has been on divisions between Spain and Catalonia, it’s within Catalonia itself that the most toxic effects of this political crisis are being felt. Communities within the region are fracturing, families are splintering and friendships are breaking apart as the politics of sectarianism worm their way into just about every public and private space.
  • And here's news of the worst development - the resurgence of the fascist right. I should add that 'fascist' is the go-to insult of every Spaniard involved in an argument, whether his/her opponent is on the Left of the Right. But these bastards really are fascists. And should be stopped. Especially as it's a crime in Spain to 'disrespect' the authorities.
  • Meanwhile, in the rest of northern Spain, wildfires are ravaging the countryside of both Galicia and Asturias. As well as northern Portugal. Most worryingly, the flames have reached the centre of Vigo, the largest Galician city, killing at least 3 people on their way. There's been low rainfall this years in (“perpetually rainy”) Galicia but, thankfully, it's forecast for today. Here's a map of the outbreaks, many of which are thought – as usual – to be deliberately started. I wonder if we'll now get the wide raft of theories that we got back in 2006, when the situation was even worse.

Finally . .  Here in North Cheshire, my second grandchild, first grandson is now a day late. Kids! En passant, I wonder if that comment in Spanish would literally translate as mi segundo nieto, mi primer nieto. 'My second grandson, my first grandson'. Confusing or what? And . . .  muy macho.  I'm advised that, of course, an additional word has to be used:- mi segundo nieto, mi primer nieto varón. 'My second grandson, my first male grandson'.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 15.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain
  • The Catalan president is under increasing pressure from his left-wing, hard-line secessionist coalition partners to confirm tomorrow that Cataluña is now an independent republic, even though they can't be unaware that - by Thursday - this would bring the full might of the Spanish state - economic and other - down onto Cataluña - however mad you and I might regard this. Worse, it would almost certainly lead to the arrest and martyrfication of several Catalan politicos and the further hardening of 'moderate' opinion there. As someone has written: After the heavy-handed police effort to stop voting, that would be sure to reignite Catalan fury while darkening Spain’s reputation abroad. It may be exactly what Puigdemont is intending.
  • Needless to say, the EU president, while saying Brussels won't get involved, has announced that the last thing he wants to see is an independent Cataluña. This, he (rightly) fears would put wind in the sales of secessionists in the likes of Venice, Scotland, Flanders, Corsica and Brittany. Not to mention Cornwall. If this happened, he avers, the EU would become impossible to govern. As if that's possible now, other than by regularly ignoring the will of the people.
  • As you'd expect, this weekend the Spanish media -  as heavily government-influenced as ever - is having fun "feeding suspicions" of Cataluña and revelling in the economic impact of the flight of corporate HQs.
  • After a plane crashed shortly after Thursday's air display in Madrid, a politician suggested on social media that it was perhaps time to do what happens after every car crash and check the pilot's alcohol level. For this  he was charged by the police - presumably under Spain's infamous 'gag law' - with a 'hate crime'. Welcome to the Spain of the PP party. The one which for years has made an unholy mess of dealing with Catalan complaints of mistreatment by Madrid. Perhaps Cataluña could denounce Spain for this 'crime' motivated by 'hate'.

Brexit: The ever-despairing Brexiteer, Richard North, claims that the English language is being 'brutally tortured' by both negotiating parties. . . .We are entrapped in the debate of the insane . . . Words are losing their meaning.  . . No-one actually knows what they're talking about or, to be more precise, people are talking about the same things using different vocabulary and meaning different things, or even the same things described with different words. . . Where we go from there, I honestly don't know. If we can't even agree on what words to use and what words mean, and can't even rely on the various factions to apply honesty in their dealings, it does not seem possible to have meaningful negotiations. Mrs May is asking for something that cannot exist, while the EU is demanding some things that the UK cannot deliver – and neither side will offer any clarity as to what they really want. . . .  I'm moving towards the idea that there is nothing salvageable from the current negotiations

Talking of the EU . . . Don Quijones here describes the immense power of the ECB and tells us who benefits most from this. You won't be surprised to hear, I guess, that the major banks which exercise a 'staggering' amount of influence. The ones who've served us so well in the past 20 years. As DQ says of these institutions: These banks are supposed to be under direct ECB supervision, and yet they have been repeatedly caught committing serious financial crimes. And now it turns out that they enjoy more influence over ECB decision making than anyone else, begging the question: how can the Eurozone’s most powerful financial regulator possibly regulate European financial institutions when it receives most of its advice and guidance from their senior executives? 

Here's Donald Trump addressing US evangelists on the 'shared and timeless' values he'd never heard of before he became a (fraudulent) presidential candidate. And here's how someone thinks he can be removed from power before he starts a war of some sort. Meanwhile, his Republic colleagues are reported to be increasingly at odds with an ‘incredible shrinking president’ in whom they have nil trust. As one of these colleagues put it: With Trump, we can’t get anything done. There is no trust; no strategy. In terms of our foreign policy, America is at its lowest ebb. Allies can’t rely on us; no one knows where we stand. We’re in a dark cellar. It’s hard to think of a more dangerous moment.” With friends like this . . .

Finally . . . Last evening I checked out the Spanish wines in a local Coop supermarket. As usual, I recognised very few of the labels – and the prices! - and neither of the 2 albariño options on the shelves. There was no godello, of course. Anyway, having chosen a couple of – unknown – Spanish reds, I then made the mistake of using the self-service checkout, only to be told to wait until an employee could confirm if I was over 25. When someone finally came, the bastard didn't even bother to seek proof of this but just pressed a button.

Today's Cartoon:-

And he says if I'm really nice, he'll take me up in his helicopter.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 14.10.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Life in Spain
  • Only in Spain?: There's a bit of Cataluña -  Vielha - which will declare independence if the region succeeds in seceding from Spain. All rather unlikely, though.
  • During this lull in the Cataluña v Spain proceedings, the analysts are hard at work improving your understanding of the mess. And some of them are pretty incisive:-
  1. The Guardian: Suspended animation and bewilderment
  2.  Reuters: An effective alternative?
  3. The Local: A step forward?
  4. The Guardian: Towards federalism?
  5. CNBC: Spain's nuclear weapon.
  6. Time Magazine: The Crisis in Cataluña. The Reality Check.
  7. The NY Times: Can Spain reform and keep Cataluña et al?
  8. Antonio Carty: A heartfelt aspiration.
  • Somewhere among that lot is the nice - and accurate - comment: Millions of people have the impression that two bullies, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Mr. Puigdemont, are leading them toward a terrifying situation: if not a blood bath, at the very least a lot of sweat and tears.
  • And probably this as well: The government in Madrid will seize the opportunity to feed its own nationalist base and take electoral advantage of the situation, while it tries to restore its dignity and authority after the humiliation suffered during its pathetic and failed attempt to stop the referendum from taking place. Most probably, Madrid will keep the judicial pressure on Catalan leaders, and end up holding them accountable for breaking the law. Also very probably true.
  • And this - possibly a tad OTT: The harmful and dangerous rise in polarization of Spain’s people against the region of Cataluña is being most duplicitously and deliberately provoked, as an energizing exploitable crisis, by the failing minority rule of the ‘Popular Party’ Spain’s central government. The P.P’s are the torchbearers of Franco’s divided fascist Spain.  . . . The PP’s seem outrageously and arrogantly inept but are working a deliberate strategy. Twice they have lost a ruling majority, they see provoking Catalan and polarizing the attention of all Spain, as a way to gain back their dwindling conservative support, they’ve been losing the people’s support because of all the many mounting court cases and scandals against PP politicians for crime and corruption as well as their fundamental hopeless economic failure and injustice.
  • As for the vainglorious Sr Puidgemont . . . Pressure is growing from allies of the regional president for him to lift his 'suspension' on a declaration of independence. Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), a radical anti-capitalist party that helps prop up Puigdemont's 'Together for Yes' (Junts pel Si) coalition in the Catalan parliament, published a letter addressed to Puigdemont on Friday morning in which it insists that "the proclamation of the republic is necessary". "If they (the Spanish government) intend on continuing to apply the previsions of article 155 of the Spanish constitution – with the formal requisites now already met – and they want to continue threatening and gagging us, then let them do it with the republic already proclaimed," the letter notes. The move follows a similar call from major pro-independence organization Catalan National Assembly (ANC), which released its own statement late on Thursday saying the suspension should be lifted due to the "rejection from the Spanish state of any kind of proposal of dialogue". It can only end in tears. Lots and lots of them. Collective insanity.
Which reminds me . . . I really don't know the answer to this but in how many western developed countries could this sort of thing happen? I doubt anyone would do it in Britain but, then, it's not only Spain that's different . . 

On a more macro level . . . How the world turns and how this is relevant to Cataluña. Superb.

Brexit: Richard North: The thing is that the hacks do not understand the issues here, while the Kuenssberg's of this world regard the detail as "boring" and "nerdy". They prefer to stay in the more familiar territory of personality politics, reporting on the Brussels talks as an extension of the Westminster soap opera, but with a few foreign actors. 

Donald Trump has boasted that: “Fake” is one of the greatest of all terms I’ve come up with. As someone has said: Other F-words are available.

Theists do get themselves into some terrible messes. Reading about Pontevedra yesterday, I learnt that Sister Lucia of Fatima fame might well have been 2 different people, with very different views. And that the phony Lucia was probably installed by freemasons. Click here for more on this fascinating tale . . . And talking of mad Christians, this strikes me as about right, as regards American evangelists at least: This is what evangelical Christianity is these days: fear, lies, and uncritical support of an unhinged president who panders to the only base gullible enough to stay by his side no matter how many awful things he does.

As I live near oyster beds and mussel farms in Galicia and, more importantly, as someone concerned for the future of the planet, I was very concerned to read that: Populations of mussels, clams and oysters produce “ridiculous” levels of climate-warming gasses on a par with herds of cattle. Scientists have warned they're producing large amounts of the strongest greenhouse gases - methane and nitrous oxides - from the bacteria in their guts. This methane bubbles out of the water contributing to global warming. It has to be stopped. It's the least we can do . . .

Spanish Trivia:-
  1. When they built the railway station at Canfranc [On the Franco-Spanish border] it was on a grand scale and with no expense spared. It had to be bold and modern - an architect's dream come true, built in iron and glass, complete with a hospital, restaurant and living quarters for customs officers from both France and Spain. To give you an idea of its size - there are 365 windows, one for each day of the year; hundreds of doors; and the platforms are more than 200m long. The question is, how did such an extravagant station, high up on a mountainside in a village with a population of just 500 people, ever see the light of day?
  2. HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for the news that unexplained major fires are a frequent occurrence in Spain. There have been, he says, 141of these in different recycling plants across Spain since February 2012. But I doubt anything compares with the scale of the sudden conflagration that allegedly engulfed all the alleged flax factories in Spain after the start of an investigation in the late 1990s into one of the EU's largest ever CAP frauds. For which Spain was mightily fined. Though I'm not sure she ever paid up. 
English Trivia:-
  1. In the John Lewis department store near my younger daughter's house, a notice by the coffee machines in the café says you can get milk sachets after you've paid. So I was (doubly) surprised to see on offer a 'White Americano'. And I might have got to see what this was, if I hadn't pressed the 'Americano' button by mistake. My point is – Why offer a White Americano – actually a contradiction in terms – if you can take a (black) Americano and add milk to it after you've paid for it? I guess it makes sense to someone, if not to me.
  2. I forgot to say that neither my incoming daughter nor I had phone coverage at Liverpool airport, despite having roaming on on our (albeit) Spanish phones. Am I being cynical to suggest this forces people who can't communicate with each other to use the prince's-ransom carpark?
  3. If you drive down Menlove Avenue from my sister's house near the top of Penny Lane to the airport, you'd think Liverpool was a magnificently beautiful city. More than 2 miles of little but sandstone walls and trees, as you pass through the lovely barrio of Calderstones. There are trees even on the wide island down the middle of the 4-lane road. See here,  And these 2 fotos:-

Spanish-English Trivia
  1. There's said to be a horrible new trend in the UK – pigging - starting a romance with an 'ugly' woman and then revealing it was a pathetic joke, or a bet with your mates. It's said to stem from a 1990s US film but some will recall the 1956 Spanish film Calle Major, directed by Juan Antonio Bardem. See the IMDB write-up here. One or two reviewers cite earlier films with the same theme. So pigging ain't that new. But, then, neither are very nasty men. 
Finally . . .  To end on a postive note . . . Here's what I've been saying for years now: Look to Galicia for textured complex whites — Godello and Albariño in particular. From this page. I favour the Godello  over the Albariño. If you can find it . . .

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