Friday, February 13, 2009

A year or two back, I cited the findings of a geneticist who said that Britain’s first settlers after the last ice age had come from the eastern Mediterranean, via northern Spain. I think I suggested this meant that the infamous English pirate and coastal raider, Francis Drake - who is decidedly unpopular in these parts – was really just one of the local lads on the take. Anyway, I’ve now read Bryan Sykes’ fascinating book on the British and Irish genetic make-up – “The Blood of the Isles” – and can confirm this is now the accepted view. Most intriguingly, it lends support to Irish and Galician myths about raiders from here invading Ireland. Though it doesn’t prove these, of course. Possibly they just felt the rain reminded them of home and decided to settle.

However, the main finding of the research is that, although the Celtic language disappeared almost entirely from England, it’s not true to say the invading Angles and Saxons wiped the genetic slate clean. The English, it seems, are just as Celtic as their neighbours in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Of course, it’s a bit late now for them to jump on the bandwagon and take advantage of the highly marketable Celtic ‘brand’ but it might be one way out of the recession/depression.

Talking of myths, it’s astonishing – or perhaps not – how similar these are in different countries. So we have a 12th century English king conveniently finding the bones of the mythical King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, just as he needs to establish his royal lineage. And we have some 10th century Galician Archbishop conveniently finding the bones of St James [Santiago], just as a rallying point against the invading Moors is called for. But the most fascinating coincidence is between the city of Pontevedra and the nation of Britain. Both, it seems, were mythically founded by someone wandering west after the end of the Trojan Wars - Pontevedra by Teucro, the half-brother of Ajax; and Britain, by Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas. And, just as we still have the stone post to which the boat which brought the body of St James from the Holy Land was moored, so we still have the first stone which Brutus put his foot on as he landed on ‘British’ soil. And the altar in the centre of what would become London to which he gave thanks to the goddess Diana. Who’d have thought it.

Anyway, what I’d like to know is whether there’s been any research done on the make-up of the Spanish so that we can establish whether the Galicians – as many of them love to believe - are more Celtic than anyone else in Iberia. My view is that this is nonsense – albeit harmless – but it would be good to know whether I’m right or wrong. If we don’t have this data and it's not in sight, is it too outrageous to conclude this is because few in Spain want confirmation that nearly everyone here has Moorish genes . . . ?

Back in real life . . . If you're an electricity user here in Spain, you might like to visit this site to see how the companies routinely defraud you. Or this one, to check whether your December and January bills were accurate, using the simulator provided.

Re-visiting Santiago yesterday – to check out a new Indian restaurant – I was able to re-visit the scene of my first speeding ticket of last year, almost exactly twelve months ago to the day. And, yes, it was as I had recalled – a four lane highway with no speed restriction signs. Meaning that you’re expected to conclude the limit is 80 or even 100. Not the 50 it actually is. It should be renamed Avenida de Los Ingresos.

Finally, what to say about Wednesday’s England v. Spain football match? Well, firstly, that Spain were clearly far superior. Secondly, that you can’t hope to win if you’re guilty of what one commentator called ‘profligacy in possession’. Or, less poetically, giving the bloody ball away. And, finally, thank God there was no racial abuse.


ANA said...

The American Journal of Human genetics published a study recently which says that 20 per cent of Spanish and Portuguse men have distictive Sephardic Jewish ancestry and 11 per cent have DNA which reflects Moorish ancestors, but I could have told them that!

Anonymous said...

Drake, Gualterio Raleigh y Morgan, poco populares en España

Anonymous said...

Yes, England gave the bloody ball away, but not of their own volition: the spaniards showed a hunger for the ball and put so much pressure (they were in the English faces), that it was very difficult for the English to keep the ball ... by the way, what "national" style of playing does that remind me of ... long, long time ago ... ?

Anonymous said...

... and finally, thank god, there was no English louts riots (perhaps they were aware of the no-nonsense aproach of the Spanish police, no matter how drunk they were at the moment ...?)

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