Monday, March 09, 2009

As you’ll know, various towns or cities lay claim to being the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Or Crístobal Colón, to give him his Spanish name. Indeed, one such town is the one in which I live, Poio, on the other side of the river from Pontevedra. A local writer has even produced a book detailing the evidence for this. But now an historian – and a Spanish one at that – has suggested he wasn’t from either these parts or Cataluña but from the main claimant Genoa. And that, more interestingly, he wasn’t Christopher/Crístobal Columbus/Colón but Pedro Scotto, reflecting his Scottish ancestry. Honest. You can read more here.

I’m not sure the post-election mess in the Basque Country is any closer to resolution but I felt it was a nice remark from the leader of the nationalist party that has ruled there for thirty years that the PSOE and PP parties who were constantly at each other’s throat and who could never come together to rule any other part of Spain could somehow manage it when it came to the Basque country to keep out the party with the most votes. I’m sure it’s a little more complicated than that, or possibly no more than a reflection of a simple lust for power, but it’s a comment that’s sure to play well with the local populace.

If you’re confused by the fact it’s Spain’s Fine Arts Institute which gives medals to bullfighters, then your grasp on Spanish culture is tenuous. I mention this only because two leading exponents of the art have returned their medals in disgust at one of their number – presumably an inferior performer – being honoured. Personally, I think they should all do the decent, artistic thing and fight it out to the death. Sans bulls. Hemingway would surely approve.

The Spanish savings banks [the cajas/caixas] are now the country’s leading estate agent. This is because they’ve taken on so many properties from bankrupt construction companies in settlement of their debts. And they’ve formed a new association to flog them to buyers who are currently thin on the ground. Which is why some lucky employees are being invited to bid for them, perhaps in lieu of some of their salary. Separately, the European Central Bank has said the withdrawal of credit facilities has been greater in Spain than elsewhere. Though there may be a connection between these developments.

I was premature in anticipating Tony's return from sea early last week. But he's certainly back now, with a voice that's in fine fettle. Cue standard kids' response of crying [5 year old] and bawling back [9 year old]. Incidentally, we calculate these two get around nine and a half hours sleep a night [11 to 7.30], which I believe is well below what they need. But perhaps they have a long siesta.

Finally, I see that the IRA terrorists whom Ted Kennedy preferred to call "freedom fighters" have murdered two soldiers and injured several civilians in Northern Ireland. I wonder if his knighthood will be now withdrawn before he’s even allowed to pick it up.


Sierra said...

I would have thought if you asked anybody, apart from the Poio Tourist Board apparently, where CC was born they would have said Genoa

Alfonso el Idiota said...

UPN, which would still be a PP franchise were it not were a row in 2008, governs in Navarra with the support of the PSOE's franchise there, so constitutionalist alliances are possible. I thought that Zapatero felt more comfortable working with separatists, but it may be that I'm wrong and/or that he is no longer the force he was.