Sunday, October 07, 2007

Another report this week asserting Spanish company directors are the highest paid in the EU, coming just after the Swiss but a massive 40% ahead of their UK equivalents. Needless to say, at the front of the pack are those companies I love to hate - the banks and Telefonica. I guess it’s even easier now to believe the cream of Spain’s youth enter these companies. And then make hay while the sun shines. But I don’t suppose they can be blamed. Except, of course, for the way they treat their somewhat lower-paid customers.

ETA’s political arm, Batasuna, has labelled the arrests of its leaders a declaration of war on the part of the Spanish government. I wonder what ETA thinks they’ve been waging up to now. A minor local skirmish, with occasional bombing sorties into Madrid airport car-parks?

So, Gordon Brown won’t be going for a snap election after all and, in the process, has possibly weakened his chances of re-election when he finally goes to the country in a couple of years’ time. Looking back, though, I recall Tories in 1997 being horrified at the thought they’d be out of power for as long as 16 years and I guess this is still a real possibility. Prospective parallels with the PP? A minimum of 8? Meanwhile, here’s one columnist’s view of the UK political scene - There is now a clear divide between the two main parties on the future direction of Britain: one believes that a powerful, controlling state is the best way to achieve a socially just society; the other that power should be devolved to local communities and to individual citizens. How would my more politically aware readers summarise Spain’s situation in less than 50 words?

Talking of centralisation and individual citizens, the thought struck me yesterday that, whereas at the macro level there’s a demand for ever-more devolvement of political power to the regions, in their personal life the Spanish have to contend with quite a lot of centralisation. One central post office and one central medical centre [el ambulatorio], for example. I must ponder this further.

Another fine example of the Spanish tendency to insult – The president of one of the Catalan coalition parties has said that for Catalan authors to write in Spanish would be like German authors writing in Turkish. So, at least two birds with one foam-flecked stone.

I leave today for 2 weeks in the UK. So, posts may be a little intermittent. I leave with you three things, though the second and third are only of interest to those readers who want to post comments; everyone else can log off after seeing the photo . . .

In contrast to the rest of Spain, the October weather in south Galicia has continued sunny, warm and dry. To prove it, here’s this morning’s sun coming up on the hills behind Pontevedra . . .

Secondly, a few reminders:-

1. I don’t respond to anonymous posts

2. However unhappy it makes you, I won’t respond in either Spanish or Gallego. I am fluent in the former and can get by in the latter. But this is an English blog.

3. You can insult me as much as you like; it reflects far more on you – and on Spain – than it does on me. Especially in the case of those boors [groseros] who accuse me of being uneducated and illiterate.

Finally . . While I’m not going to break my rule about not responding to anonymous comments, I will say just this about today’s subject of Architecture. I believe every dome in the world – including those in Spain’s Christian churches – owes its existence to the previous skills of Arabic builders. Whether you see this as an example of the influence of Arabic/Muslim culture on Spain is entirely up to you. If you want, you’re free to go on thinking that nothing one sees, hears, smells or eats in Spain has anything to do with anyone but the Celts and then the Catholic Monarchs of the 16th century. It’s a free world.


Anonymous said...

Dear Colin:

You are a continuous surprise! I cant really understand what you pretended by attaching that link to wikipedia. May be you saw some pictures of arab buildings and you thought that it had to mean something!.I am overwhelmed by your knowledge of classic art!!.

Your lack of culture is greater than what I thought: Is in fact enormous even infinite!!

How you dare to state that domes have their origin or arab skills!!.

Let me explain you that "duomo" comes from latin "domus", meaning HOME. Ancient romans several centuries before christ built their HOMES or "domus" with the shape of a dome and a hole on top at the center to evacuate the smoke of a fire.

This was replicated in roman arquitecture in magnificient buildings like the very well preserved "THE PANTHEON" in Rome.

You evidently also ignore that arabs didnt truly had a development of their own, but mainly transmitted the knowledge of Greeks and Persians to the civilizations they conquered.

So you continue to google around and continue to make mistakes. If you only can argument based on what you read on the net then you should consider to rename this blog to "silliness from Galicia"

Anonymous said...

You hate the banks and Telefonica?.

Without banks you will not have your retirement money and without telecom companies you even shouldnt have Internet and hence wouldnt be able to write here. So what?

Anonymous said...

I believe every dome in the world – including those in Spain’s Christian churches – owes its existence to the previous skills of Arabic builders. Whether you see this as an example of the influence of Arabic/Muslim culture on Spain is entirely up to you. If you want, you’re free to go on thinking that nothing one sees, hears, smells or eats in Spain has anything to do with anyone but the Celts and then the Catholic Monarchs of the 16th century. It’s a free world.

Let's give it for granted that the first statement is true. But even that does not make the Galician Architecture any more Muslim/Mudéjar than St Paul's in London, San Pietro in Roma, Les Invalides or indeed the Roman Pantheon, does it?

And please don't answer mentioning the Celts or the Catholic Monarchs, because the only thing that interests me is the Galician Architecture. And I have not mixed it with anything else.

And, by the way, I do think that there are many things in Spain that have to do with muslims. The Alhambra, to begin with, and many more things.

Anonymous said...

Carlos, Colin is not only arguing that there are arabic remnants in Spain,like the alhambra, but our present culture is "arabised" to some extent.

He talks about genetical and cultural connections with arabs , he despises roman culture and says he sees "lots of things in modern spaniards both racially and culturally that reminds him of middle easterns, and to back his thinking he puts links to racist web pages.

Anonymous said...

Yes. I am portuguese and colin said that we portuguese are negroid and should be considered of black race. And that Europe finishes in the pyrenees...

Colin Davies said...


Whoever said anything about Galician architecture?

Whoever said Arab/Muslim influence is confined to Spain?

Are there really no limits to the way some idiots will distort what I write? I guess not. But, if I really cared what they said, I'd block their comments.

Colin Davies said...

El Lusitano,

You are a perfect example of someone who can't make his counter-points - which may or may be right - without indulging in angry but truly pathetic ad hominem insults.

Very Middle-Eastern . . . .

I wonder if 'ad hominem' is Latin. Perhaps you can give me a lecture on it.

Colin Davies said...


The WHAT is that they don't have to behave the way they do. And they wouldn't if there were - in Telefonica's case - true competition. Why do you think the EU has just levied a massive fine on the company for abuse of a dominant position in the ADSL market?

Actually, I don't have any money in Spanish-owned banks. I find the foreign-owned banks to be rather better at showing some customer orientation. But, as ever, I may be wrong. It's a personal view. No one is forced to agree with it.

Colin Davies said...

El Lusitano

God Almighty! Could you please show me where I said the Portuguese are a negroid race.

If you are referring to one of the web cites I cited, I've already dealt with this calumny.

Do some research among previous comments.

Anonymous said...

"You are a perfect example of someone who can't make his counter-points". Sorry but is just the contrary as I MADE PERFECLY CLEAR MY COUNTER-POINTS.

What is more I am still waiting to your counter-points to show up. It means then that you agree with what I say in my last commentary?.

Now you play the victim saying that EVERYBODY distorts what you say and then you call Carlos Idiot...

Who is that angry guy of truly pathetic ad hominem insults?.

With respect to the word ad-hominen if you truly didnt know it is in fact a latin world... well, this really explains all.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, I don't have any money in Spanish-owned banks. I find the foreign-owned banks to be rather better at showing some customer orientation. But, as ever, I may be wrong. It's a personal view. No one is forced to agree with it."

Poor Colin.How easily you got it wrong!. You are even wrong in this issue.

Spanish banks are considered one of the bests in the world and far better than british ones. The reason why spanish banks are buying so many banks worldwide explains it perfeclty. Barclays or Amro are two well known examples.

Anonymous said...

Hey Colin is there something in Spain you truly love besides marisco and paella?.

You seem to hate even Spanish telecommunication companies and banks.

Colin Davies said...

El Lusitano

My final comments . .

I acknowledged that you made counter points. My own point was about the WAY you made them. And are still making them. But I guess, if you could see this, you wouldn't do it in the first place. so, carry on.

You clearly have no understanding of irony, my friend. I studied Latin for 7 years.

Bye. Give my love to Portugal, a place where the word 'negroid' has never occurred to me on my hundreds of visits there in the past 10 years.

Anonymous said...


you wrote that the presence of Muslim (and Mudéjar) architecture to this day attests to the profound mark left upon Spain.

Yesterday I asked about the muslim Architecture in Galicia (since Galicia is a part of Spain, isn't it?), because I don't know any good example of it.

Now, you come with this thing about the domes, but that does not mean that the Galician Architecture has any more arabic influences than the English or French Architecture.

PS. Yesterday I signed as anonymous, but I mentioned that my name was Jorge. Today I'm signing as Carlos, because you said that you would ignore any anonymous post, but there was a guy signing as Jorge on Friday which is not me. I guess I could have used my full name ("Jorge Carlos"), but is something that I almost never do, since I hate it. Sorry for the confusion.

Colin Davies said...


It depends how you define 'successful'. Having lots of money - some of it from very doubtful sources - is just one definition. But of course Spanish banks are a financial success. I, though, speak as a customer, not as a financial analyst.

Did you see many British banks competing for the Abbey National, by the way? Which is not to say Santander haven't successfully managed its acquisition.

And that, Folks, is enough for today. I have a journey to make.

So post away to your hearts' content. There will be no more responses. However off-beam the comments.

Colin Davies said...

Except this one . . .

'you wrote that the presence of Muslim (and Mudéjar) architecture to this day attests to the profound mark left upon Spain.'

No, I didn't. Someone else did and I suggested at the time that readers take it up with the writer if they disagreed.

Rhetorically, what is the point you are making? That Galicia is not Spain?

Anonymous said...

So you studied 7 years of latin... mmmmmmhh good.

Then could you explain us why we study latin in Europe and we dont study Arab?. Should we spaniards considered to remove latin and greek from our schools an try to be honest with our true heritage learning arab and coran instead?

Anonymous said...

No, I did never suggest that Galicia is not a part of Spain.

What I implied is that the culture in Galicia is different to other Spanish Cultures.

And I don't want (and won't) talk about race, celts, or non-sense.

You used the Arab-influenced architecture to higlight the muslim influence in the Spanish culture (even if you didn't write the original text and only quoted what someone else wrote).

I am using exactly the same argument (the absolute lack of muslim architecture in Galicia) to emphasize what others have stated: That the arab influence in the Galician culture is very reduced.

And by lack of muslim architecture in Galicia I not only mean the lack of master pieces, but also the lack of its influence in the "popular" architecture. You are an educated man, so I am sure you know what I mean.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how quickly it becomes an 'us vs them' is it because Colins British???
Now before you jump down my throat, no I'm not British.


moskva17 said...

I suppose this coment will come to late. The Pantheon in Rome - mentioned by el Lusitano - is the first known public building covered by a dome - centuries before Muhammad's acolites left their desert waste and went on their peculiar rampage. Anyone with the "knowledge" is entitled to refute, debate and debase my statements as they see fit - I am not an expert in these matters, far from it. So, do correct me if I'm wrong, but when they converted to their intoxicating new faith, the Arabs were not much more than a bunch of desert nomads (in their savagery and primitiveness not too different from the Vikings, the Huns, the Mongols, and any other such folk, nomadic or not). Their so called culture is basically a blend of two ancient cultures: Byzantium (or Rome plus Greece plus Eastern Christianity) and Persia, which they first copied, and later adapted and transformed in their unimitable way. Domes were build by the Byzantines throughout the ages (even well before anyone ever heard about the Arabs), the main and the greatest example being the St. Sophia in present day Istambul. The Venetians had very tight commercial links with the Byzantines since the early Middle ages. The dome of the cathedral of San Marco bears witness to the Byzantine influence. Russians got their religion and their famous domes from the Byzantines (no Arab in sight for thousands of miles). The Italian Rennaissance adopted the Dome from several sources, Byzantinian, Venetian, The Norman Kingdom of Sicily (here the Arab heritage is more evident). Italian Rennaissance culture had a direct and enormous influence on the culture of Spain in the late Middle Ages. Your assertion that every dome in the world owes its existence to Arab influence is, in my humble opinion, not quite acurate.

Anonymous said...

From Mike the trike - Well Brendan remember on this blog anyone can post anything they like which of course they can't do if they sent it to La Voz de Galicia because it would be put in the waste basket. Freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom of opinion is posted here with no censorship! Rudness, bad language and insults which if I took seriously would change my mind about the good people of Galicia are in abundance. Luckily I don't have any of these folk as neighbours. And yes I believe there is an anti-British theme with these people. I have met several Galegos here who worked in Britain and have retired to their birth place but they have a different attitude to the British.

Anonymous said...

Colin, you see arabs and middle easterns here and there and everywere. I dont really understand whats your trauma but surely is a psychiatric thing.

In your opinion arabs are "the mother of all european civilizations" and not the romans or greeks. You come to Spain and begin to see lots of thing remembering you middle easterns. But I am sure you would find these lots of things also in whichever country you go, as is a kind of obsession you have.

You are ill, colin. Go see a doctor. In the meanwhile leave us spaniards in peace please, and go back to britain to find more "middle easterns" and arab things on british people.

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. You idiots are coming on here and complaining. Why are you reading this "trash" then? Simple - don't read this crap and you will live in peace. If Colin went back to England you would find his blog and complain about it.

Anonymous said...

What your saying Mike is true, sad but true...


Anonymous said...

Hey, hey... Wait. Take it easy Mr.Anonimous. Dont complain about others insulting if you do the same thing.

It is not very intelligent of you to insult people that critisize Colin statements because if Colin had an extense culture or were a kind of expert it would be much more difficult to critisize him.

But the thing is he is no expert at all and says lots of innacuracies even nonsenses and foolishness about spanish history and culture.

Beign this the case he should be more open to criticism as he could learn something in the process or better not to talk in the first place about what he completely or so much ignores.

What worries me the most is if this is really the approach of average british to new cultures: to always talk so freely about what they completely ignore from this sort of superiority stand point avoiding real contact with locals as if they feared infection instead of making the effort of integrating themselves and understanding the local culture comprehensively not stereotypically.

There is much more Spain that Toros, flamenco, paella and sangria, believe me...

Anonymous said...

From Mike the trike - Yes there is a lot of truth in what you say about the Brits who think Spain is sangria etc. but anyone who goes to the costa del chips is bound to think this. Also the Spanish tourist office in Britain has promoted this for many years. Stop the average Brit in England who has never been to Spain and ask them what does Spain mean and you will get your answer of sangria, flamenco etc. Until someone educates them to other parts of Spain they will remain ignorant. There are holiday programmes advertising other parts of Spain but I suspect only a few follow the advice and visit them. I am biased and only enjoy Galicia and have no interest in the rest of Spain I am afraid to say. I have been to Toledo, Madrid, Málaga, Ávila, Salamanca and all along the northern coast from France but I favour Galicia. This is heaven to me!

Anonymous said...

Last Anonymous, I don't think the British are an exception. Think about this: you are talking about the average British. What about the average Spanish, or Italian or whatever? Are you sure to them other countries, cultures are nothing else but stereotypes?

We cannot know everything. I mean, we are not walking encyclopedias. Our kwnoledge about other places has to be limited per definition. Let's take Vietnam. What can the average people say about them? "Oh, yes, the Vietnam War". And that's all.

Anonymous said...

Duardón de Albaredo, you are right in what you say but those with a true interest in a certain culture should go miles away from stereotypes and try to read, understand, study much more than those without that interest.

One extreme example you got it with northamericans, probably the most incult people in the world. The average northamerican only trusts on what he sees on TV or Hollywood movies, both highly stereotyped driven by definition.

Ask yankees were Spain is and they will say some place around Mexico. Ask them about their image of Spain and they will describe you a poor and underdeveloped dusty village within a mexican desert with lazy people having siestas on the street.

I am not asking for this effort to everybody, but those foreigners (british for example) living in Spain should give away their stereotypes about this country and learn much more about us than what Colins seems to know.

The arab thing is another stereotype. There are some cultural influences but minor compared with others and ignorant people tend to greatly exaggerate about its importance in modern Spain.

The problem seems to be that people come to Spain and see these magnificient monuments of arab past and instead of thinking of them as remnants of a lost for ever culture that we as christians re-conquered once, they tend to think of it like a kind of continuation. Like if they were our ancestors. That vision is highly incorrect.

There is in fact an absolute discontinuation of this culture as they were massively expelled. Only mudejares remained with their arabic influenced way of building (bricks, arabic arcs, etc..) but were also expelled 2 centuries later.

What I mean to say is that arabs have influenced Spain but also the rest of Europe as well although it is not so evident and that things that remain in Spain ( names of villages, rivers, etc, some cooking, some words, some ceramics, etc) although important are minor contributions within the main contribution (Latin world, Europe, Christianity, democracy, etc..) that has shaped and constitutes our present culture.

Anonymous said...

What I mean to say is that arabs have influenced Spain but also the rest of Europe as well

Sorry, but that is nonsense. You are comparing dissimilar things. 8 centuries (Granada) are a lot. Or 5 centuries in the center and Mediterranean Coast (Valencia, etc.). There was an obvious cultural impact. Suffice to say that Castillian language has 4,000 (yes, 4 thousand) words of Arab origin. Other people have already mentioned the cooking, agriculture, etc.

I don't get the point of the two extremes though. The foreign people who are obsessed about the Arabs (as I already said, they usually are racially or politically motivated) and the Spanish people who try to minimize the cultural impact. Quite absurd.

Anonymous said...

Duardón, I dont really understand where is the nonsense of my statement.

Spain was obviously more influenced than the rest of Europe as arabs were mainly in the south for long centuries, and this influence in Europe was again through Spain, but also through Italy, where the arabs remained for almost 4 centuries also at the south.

There was a cultural impact for sure, but WHAT IT REMAINS OF THAT IMPACT IS SCARCE or minor both culturally and genetically. And I am not minimising anything but only being objective. I have read a lot of books from experts I asure you.

With respect to the arab words remaining in spanish you said they are about 4.000. Well from those 4.000 words less than 1.300 are in fact used in MODERN spanish (just consult the Real Academic dictionary, I dont invent anything). The rest are arcaicisms only known by erudits that are even not considered in the dictionaries as nobody uses them nor understands them.

You know languages are dinamic and change through times hence you can see that the impact although important centuries ago, is highly minimised presently. As a curiosity I can tell you that english contains 1.000 arabic words.So ALMOST the same. And you know how many native american words contain spanish?. Just investigate and you will be surprised.This means we have an aztec culture and are sons of Moctezuma?

So my point is that our culture is very simmilar to any other european one and that those obsessed with arabs are very wrong, as they artificially focuse on a minor aspect of our culture looking for exotism and totally mising the point.They dont see us like we are but like they like us to be. They are clearly prejudiced just as Colin.

Anonymous said...

Last Anonymous, yes, I get your point. I already mentioned this in some earlier posts (last week or so, when this sordid talk about the "races & genes" started). It's funny how they forget the Roman and German invaders. And yes, the whole thing is indeed racially motivated (although most of them may ignore it).

But I don't understand why you are so concerned. Remember this sayings: "ande yo caliente, ríase la gente"?

And I very much doubt this blogger [Colin] is acting in bad faith. In fact, to be honest I don't care at all.