Well, the thronging kids may have been happy squirting wine at each other in the centre of town last night but, over in the bullring, all was not well. In fact, the audience was revolting. It seems that the toros bravos “had less class than cows and didn’t even provide milk.” However, it might not have been all the fault of the spineless, mortality-bound quadrupeds. One of the bullfighters is quoted today as saying Pontevedrans are taurinely ignorant and were simply unable to appreciate the excellence of his faenas. I guess he won’t be coming back in a hurry.
I’ve mentioned that George Borrow was none too keen on Galicia, Galicians or the local language, Gallego. Having now gone back to the beginning of his book, I can’t help wondering whether his distaste for the language arose from his attitude towards Portuguese – expressed in this passage about his border crossing:- In little more than half an hour we arrived at a brook, whose waters ran vigorously between steep banks. A man who was standing on the side directed me to the ford in the squeaking dialect of Portugal; but whilst I was yet splashing through the water, a voice from the other bank hailed me, in the magnificent language of Spain, in this guise: "O Senor Caballero, que me de usted una limosna por amor de Dios, una limosnita para que io me compre un traguillo de vino tinto" .
These days, I guess we’d just have to dismiss Borrow as a Spanish nationalist.
Another paragraph that tickled my fancy was this one, written just after he’d expressed regrets at losing his temper at a Portuguese soldier who seemed rather ungrateful for the loss of British blood shed in Wellington’s campaigns between Lisbon and Spain:- The French have ravaged [Portugal] with fire and sword, and shed the blood of its sons like water; the French buy not its fruits and loathe its wines. Yet there is no bad spirit in Portugal towards the French. The reason of this is no mystery; it is the nature not of the Portuguese only, but of corrupt and unregenerate man, to dislike his benefactors, who, by conferring benefits upon him, mortify in the most generous manner his miserable vanity. There is no country in which the English are so popular as in France; but, though the French have been frequently roughly handled by the English, and have seen their capital occupied by an English army, they have never been subjected to the supposed ignominy of receiving assistance from them.
Back to Spain . . . Here’s the latest Economist view on her economy. Which reads both convincingly and depressingly.
And back to Pontevedra . . . If you ever come visiting, you might want to see our many petrogliphs in the hills near Campo Lameiro. But you don’t even have to go that far. For, a few metres from my house on the hills overlooking the city, there's a new ‘petrogliph park’, just opened by the council. As you can see, the best thing about it is that they’ve killed all the eucalyptus trees around it.
And here’s the stairway up from the road. As you can see, it’s made of wood. Untreated wood. So, don’t leave it too long.
Finally . . . Against the background of the current fight for urban supremacy in Pontevedra province between Pontevedra city and Vigo, I was interested to see in the exhibition on The Peninsular War that, in 1813, Pontevedra wasn’t even one of Galicia’s then six provinces. These were Santiago, Ourense, Tui, Betanzos, Lugo and La Coruña. Or they might have been; I’ve lost the relevant scrap of paper. As if anyone cares . . .