Friday, July 24, 2009

I’ve said many times how impressed I am by the obit columns in Spain’s serious press. This week, I was astonished to see one of these dealing with the British actress Mollie Sugden, one of the engaging stars of the 70s sitcom, “Are you being served”. I was even more surprised to read that she and fellow star, John Inman, had become cult figures in the USA, thanks to HBO. It’s an odd world.

El País yesterday carried an excellent article on the stupidity of Spain’s far right on the issue of Gibraltar. Entitled “Three hundred years of futility”, this stressed the point regularly made here, viz. that the PP’s arguments over the rock apply equally well to Spain’s African possessions and that what’s sauce for the Gib goose is surely sauce for the Ceuta and Melilla ganders.

Over in the UK the “Consumer Watchdog” is fining the energy company EDF for ‘poor consumer service”. Bloody ‘ell. If this approach were adopted here, corporate Spain would face overnight bankruptcy.

Which reminds me . . . Nine years after I first started moaning about it, the government says it’s going to talk to water companies about reflecting actual usage in the bills. In theory, this should mean people living alone like me should see their bills reduce, as the fixed cost element falls. But, as the water companies will remain monopolies, I am less than optimistic.

Talking of profit margins . . . Here’s an article on the huge gap between what’s paid to risk-exposed British scallop fishermen and the prices paid for these in London’s restaurants. I imagine much the same is true of Galician shellfish. Perhaps most notably so in the case of percebes (goose barnacles), which are very dangerous to harvest and sell at ludicrous prices, especially at Christmas. The real irony in their case is that, fifty years ago, no one here would even feed them to animals. Having had the pleasure of tasting them, I can understand why. But, of course, they are an aphrodisiac. Like the equally repulsive oysters. How gullible is Man.

A Spanish audience is an amiable but not always the most attentive creature. At least on its fringes. Attending one of our Jazz in the Street events last night, I found myself wondering just why the many talkers had come to it. Possibly only because the music provided the loud backcloth they needed to their simultaneous chatting. Which is, of course, a function normally served by the 1 to 4 loud – and equally unwatched - TVs on the walls of the country’s bars and cafés.

Another question I found myself re-asking is why these events always begin at 10.30 and go on until well after midnight. After all, it’s not as if we ever suffer from nocturnal heat up here in Galicia. I concluded it’s because – as the evening traffic jams prove – many folk don’t get home for their evening meal until well after 9pm. Their kids having been looked after until then by the ever-helpful grandparents. Or - as with my next door neighbours – by the contemptuously disregarded household chica.

Finally . . . Quote of the week:

Pessimists and reactionaries make the best prophets because they are without illusions, because they can see behind as well as beyond contemporary viewpoints.

David Gilmour, in his biography of Rudyard Kipling – “The Long Recessional”.


Midnight Golfer said...

I would say I know her from the free to everyone, everywhere (in the U.S.) PBS network, rather than anything that played on the tiny, and very expensive HBO network.

I'm trying to figure out what I'm spending all the extra money I save by not eating shellfish, not smoking, and rarely going to dance halls that require admission?

Oh, yeah, trying to keep up with my favorite electronic gadgets, thats what.

How gullible is I.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure barnacles have not been appreciated in the country for longer than 50 years ...? I doubt it very much.
However, I don't think any gastronomy connoisseur will agree with your appreciation of them.

Your dismissal of them looks as if coming from someone who hasn't gone beyond the "fish and chips" gastronomy stage ... but this a question of personal likings, of course

Anyway, catching them is a very hazardous exercise, and many lives have been lost

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the Spanish right wing nationalistic claims about Gibraltar will falter when faced with the Ceuta and Melilla issue.

However, since you, Mr Davies, are so sympathetic (I assume) for the Gibraltarians' right to decide their own destiny, why not allot the same sympathy for Catalans and Basques, whose nationalistic claims you dismissed as "tribalism", when on occasion of the final of the "Copa del Rey" the fans of both teams booed through the Spanish national antehm?

If Gibraltarians have the right to decide by themselves whether they want to belong in the Spanish kingdom or not, Basques and catalans should enjoy the same right, shoudn't they?

Midnight Golfer said...

I forgot to thank the citizens of the UK, whose taxes and fees, distributed to BBC studios, have gone on to make television in the U.S. more enjoyable. Even in re-runs.

Also, in all honesty, PBS is not truly free, as it is heavily dependent on taxes, and the guilt-driven pledge money. I admit to have made many a donation. Especially when they had Diana Rigg hosting Mystery! (now Masterpiece Mystery, since they joined the two.)

I think the reactions of people in stadia should always be the measuring rod by which we survey our political decisions.

Anthea said...

Hmmm, cost of some shellfish:

zamburinas - 12 euros la racion!!!

pulpo - 10 euros la racion!!!

I love them both but really I want a whole meal for that!

Colin Davies said...


That's much steeper than in Ponters. Must be all those cruise liners.

Christina said...

Hi Colin, have been reading your blog for years and find it very interesting. You won't remember but ages ago I E mailed you with regard to buying property in Galicia. Because of our small budget you advised that we look in the Lugo area, which we did. At present we are renovating an old house, poco a poco, with a view to retiring there in 4 years time. I would like to thank you, and also to say that Cade's comments would make anyone lose the will to love. Regards, Christina.

Christina said...

Sorry, I meant the will to live obviously, although love isn't too bad a spelling mistake! Take care.

Colin Davies said...

Many thanks, Christina. Acutally, I'm not sure the typo isn't better. Very glad you found a place.

Anonymous said...

@ Christina

in Galician language little by little is "aos pouquinhos". Remeber that, in Galiza, Spanish is an alien and imposed language. The language of the people is Galician, which is known as Portuguese in the world. Despite the efforts of the Spanish nationalism forces (to which many Galicians submit), I hope Galician will prevail. But, as in Portugal, you will be able to communicate in Spanish, don't worry.

And don't loose your will to live and to love too, I wish you the best and happier times in my original country, but remember to respect the local culture and not to regard it as a Spanish byproduct or as something that is doomed to dissappear.

I may retire in Wales too, and though my knowledge of English no doubt will be of great help, I will take the bother of learning Welsh and not to bother when Wales people speak Welsh and write Welsh. It is, or it should be, their cown country after all.

After all, English is an imposed and colonial language there, and hopefully one they will be considered as such, even if kept as a very usuful means of communication for all Welsh people.

For Cornish, the same as with Leonese, I'm afraid it is too late ... so let's hope that those who still carry alive the ancient heritage of their ancestors prevail!

Good luck with your house in Lugo!