Well, it’s the first of our four annual bullfight nights tonight and the city is overrun with peña members whose intentions, as ever, are far more bacchanalian than taurine. It will be a miracle if I get home without being sprayed with wine. Or at least water.
I went today to see a nice little exhibition on Pontevedra’s role in what the Spanish call The War of Independence and others call The Peninsular War. Presumably because Portugal was involved as well. Actually, I went yesterday but either the city Events Guide was wrong in saying it opened on Thursday or there were a couple of days delay in getting it up and running. Happily, eight years here has given me enough command of written Gallego to allow me to read the wall plaques and the item notes but God knows how all the tourists will get on, if they aren’t satisfied with the short brochure in both languages. Anyway, I was intrigued to see references to two Spanish generals with decidedly un-Hispanic surnames. The first was Joachim Blake, who was of Irish descent but who clearly lacked the famed luck of his compatriots. And, as if one Irish-Spanish general wasn’t enough, there was another of the buggers active on the battlefield. This was Luis de Lacy and he was even more unlucky, being executed in Barcelona in 1817.
Talking of Gallego – The new PP government of Galicia recently commissioned a survey of what language parents here want their kids educated in. As for the results, you buys your paper and takes your choice. According to El Mundo, “The majority of parents want all primary education to be in Spanish”; according to El País “Only 20% of parents want their children to be taught exclusively in Spanish” (though they neglected to add that the corresponding number for Gallego was 6%); and the Diario de Pontevedra went with “Galician parents want their children to share Gallego and Spanish”. I don’t know how fair this survey was but on the face of it – and as with the recent regional elections – it doesn’t seem to provide much comfort for those Galician nationalists who want all of us, in effect, to be propelled towards fluency in Gallego.
And still on this subject – One of the things that emerged from my re-reading of George Borrow is that the greatest writer in Galician of the 18th century was the so-called Curate of Fruime - Diego Antonio Cernadas y Castro. I also learned of another Gallego writer, Benito Feijoo, said to be Spain’s greatest enlightenment author, whose Teatro Critico Universal is regarded as a great read. I may be very wrong on this but, despite his literary pre-eminence, there doesn’t seem to a street named after him in either Pontevedra or Santiago. Though there is in Oviedo, where he died. And where, by the way, there’s also a bronze statue of Woody Allan.
Finally . . . The last day of July brought with it two well-established Spanish institutions – the mass exodus from the cities and the hike in petrol prices for those departing in cars. Here in Galicia, it's also brought more un-seasonal weather, the tail-end of yet another depression centred on the UK. On the latter, the Sky woman this morning stressed there were two compensations for another weekend of misery:- 1. The pollen count would be very low, and 2. The bad weather would also hit France, North Western Spain and Portugal. I do hope this made everyone in Britain feel at least a bit better.