Friday, October 19, 2007

Walking this week around the streets of the Cheshire towns I knew as a youth, it's remarkable how little things have changed architecturally in the last 50 years. A lot more cars parked on the road, of course, and rather more plastic doors and window frames than back then. But, apart from that, virtually nothing at all. In contrast, I doubt that any part of Pontevedra outside the old quarter would be recognisable to anyone who returned after an absence of half a century.

According to one of the numerous myths in which Galicia abounds, Pontevedra was founded by Teucro, who was the half-brother of Ajax and who had taken to wandering around northern Spain at a bit of a loose end after the end of the Trojan Wars. So, it was interesting to see at an exhibition in London's Royal Academy this morning that some Brits used to believe British society was founded by the Phoenicians and then settled by a Trojan called Brutus. Or possibly the other way round. Given the flow of people and peoples over many thousands of years, it is, of course, possible to come up with just about any theory at all. And then to find the facts to prove it. So I guess Galicia is not unique in this regard. Except that a larger percentage of folk here may take this essentially harmless activity a little more seriously than elsewhere.

Incidentally, I was going to use the expression 'the land of Galicia' in the last paragraph. Then I wondered about 'country'. Or 'nation'. Or 'region'. Or just 'place'. But finally I decided to duck the issue. Who can blame me? I've already had one death threat . . .

Back to Britain and my feeling that it's now a creepily regimented place. The UK has 0.2% of the world's population but 20% of the world's CCTV cameras. And I heard an ex Battle of Britain pilot explaining yesterday on the radio that he's not allowed to eat a soft-boiled egg in his residential home as it might be dangerous for him. More likely litigious for them, I suspect.


Anonymous said...

Colin, the origin of these "myths" (or mysteries) are already solved. First off, to understand them, you have to remember the path followed by "civilization" (neolithic, etc.): from the Middle East towards the West.

The first important European civilization: the Greeks. After them, the Romans. What did the latter do? They created a "myth" which explained the origin of their city: the Eneida, written by Virgil. The founders of Rome were refugees from Troy. They escaped when the town was finally stormed.

The Greeks did more or less the same. They realized that the East (or Asia) was the craddle of civilization, and created many myths which were reflecting this idea (or fact).

The path which goes from Rome (Eneida) to er, Pontevedra (Teucro) or Britain (from what you are saying) is exactly the same. It is the same old tune. It may be surprising or shocking when you do not know the origin of these myths (I mean, its rational meaning). But in fact it is an old and well known tune. The east (Asia) was the symbol of a Golden Age. So the "primitive" people of the west needed somehow to find an illustrious founder wich came from that area. Didn't someone say somewhere on your blog that the Irish say that some of their ancestors came from Egypt (according to old myths)?

In other words, all these "myths" are 100% bullshit, they were pure propaganda politically motivated most of the time, which was the case for Rome. Augustus ordered Virgil to write the Eneida. This work was supposed to be mere propaganda: "Rome Rules & Is Cool" could have been his motto. But in the end Virgil wrote a masterpiece.

It's more or less like the [pathetic] people who try to find an aristocratic ancestor: "Oh, My dear Lord!!! One of my ancestors [living on the 1400's or so] was a Baron!! Cool!!!!". The next thing they do: wet their pants.

I mean, no mystery at all. And yes, they are pure invention.

moskvitch7 said...

That's right. Spain has changed an awful lot. But the same could be said about social changes. Even taking into account what happened in the 60's, plus the so called Thatcher revolution, it seems to me British society hasn't really changed that much in the last 40-50 years - at least in comparisson to Spain. When I see pictures from the mid and late 60's, from America and the UK, I am always struck by how modern they seem to me (even if the "Flower Power" generation looks faintly ridiculous from today's vantage point). XC wrote in a previous comment about negative thingies in Spain. He left out the shanty phenomenom, which just doesn't seem to want to go away. I was just watching Euronews today, when pictures of a huge Favela-like neighbourhood just outside Madrid were shown. 30,000 (Thirtythousand!) live there. Has anyone ever seen anything like that anywhere else in Europe? There have always been "chabolas" in Spain as far as I can remember. There seems to be a curious acceptance of them, as if they belong in the landscape. Spain is not a poor country. So, why does is happen?

Anonymous said...

In the rest of Europe, they don't live in favelas. They live in the streets, parks, tube stations, pedstrian subways, etc...

See London, for example.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is right... In London alone, there is estimated to be as many as 150,000 homeless.


Colin Davies said...


Isn't the 'favela' outside Madrid essentially an officially sanctioned haven for drug addicts? Possibly a pragmatic solution for keeping them off the streets, if you are not going to put them in jail.

Colin Davies said...

That's a nice thought, Mike. Thanks.