According to Andrew O’Hagan, “The essay has returned with a well-polished vengeance”. Giving us all, I guess, something to choose from between increasingly superficial newspapers and even more shallow blogs. “The essay”, he adds “is awakening a new generation to the fun of good writing and to the cut and thrust of intellectual engagement.” Of course, O’Hagan has a new book to promote – would you believe a set of essays – but he might be right. And anything that takes one back to Orwell has to be a good thing.
Talking of things that are a joy to read . . . It’s always thrilling to hear of someone in Spain fighting back against the levels of acoustic pollution so commonplace here. So, I doff my hat to the woman in Sevilla who got €24,000 out of the city council for failing to do anything about the botellón [binge drinking] that has made her life miserable for three years. So, even if nothing is done about it, she can at least now get some soundproofing put in.
A recent scandal up in Cataluña – we can all do a bit of homage – centred on the commissioning of many hundreds [if not thousands] of reports for €11,999. This is because at 12,000, they have to be the subject of competitive bids. Below this, you can ask a friend, say, to write about the curvature of bananas. Anyway, I mention this because Galicia’s Public Prosecutor says his office has come to the conclusion that cases of sudden and unexplained wealth in the towns of Vilagarcia, Cambados and Vigo along our coast might just have something to do with drug trafficking and money laundering. So, with the economic boom over, they’re going to look into this. And I was just wondering whether he’d had one of those €11,999 reports commissioned, in favour of his pet parrot.
Spain, it seems, leads the world for the number of rumours which start on the internet. This, I guess, is a reflection of the conspiracy thinking to which Spaniards seem to be so prone. And which itself must be confirmation that this is, as someone wrote, a low-trust society. Which, on reflection, is probably a better label than ‘corrupt’.
In for a penny . . . I really do wish I had a quid for everyone who arrives at this blog after putting throwing a donkey off a church tower in their search engine. This is a calumny that must really upset the Spanish. After all, the simple truth is, there just aren’t enough donkeys to go around these days. And the recession isn’t going to help.
Finally - the Spanish for 'to sweat' is sudor. And Christ's burial garment is El Santo Sudario. When I was a kid in a Catholic primary school, this was usually called 'the Holy Shroud'. Which does, I feel, sound a lot better than 'the Holy Sweatshirt'.