Sunday, September 27, 2009

I mentioned the other day how extraordinarily quiet it was in Extremadura. This was even true of a place where there were six flat screen TVs on the walls. Mind you, this was in the Basilica in Guadalupe, when there was no Mass on.

And a few weeks ago I cited a book on Galicia written in the early years of the 20th century by an Englishwoman called Annette Meakin. It’s called “Galicia: The Switzerland of Spain”. Which is the first thing she gets wrong. For me, the Basque Country – or even Cantabria – have a much better claim to this title than Galicia. But, anyway, I’ve begun to publish re-formatted chapters on my Galicia web page, here. Additional chapters will be posted as quickly as I can do them. Ms Deakin was nothing if not enthusiastic and comprehensive about this part of Spain and you’ll find her an informative – if not totally captivating – read. She’s rather effusive and at least slightly OTT about almost everything. And she makes a number of tendentious comments, of which this is certainly one – “All who have studied Galicia are unanimous in their opinion that she contains more relics of the past and more trophies of antiquity than any other part of the Peninsula.” But, who knows, she might be right. As I’ve said before, it’s easy to see why she appeals to Galician nationalists.

But back to modern Spain . . . Although he seems sceptical of the views of super-pessimists on the Spanish economy, I’m not sure Charles Butler of IBEX Salad ranks as an optimist. But he’s certainly a realist. Here he is again on the subject of Spanish statistics and what might lie behind them.

Walking round the superb walls of Ávila last Friday morning, I came across three metal plaques paying tribute to the respective contributions to their construction of Christians, Jews and Mudéjars (Muslims). All very nice and ecumenical. However, although I may have missed it, I didn’t see any reference to the fact that two of these groups were given little choice in the matter. In other words, the walls were built with slave labour. It seems it’ll be a while before Spain succumbs to the modern plague of apologising for things which happened hundreds of years ago. Understandably, perhaps. For where would they stop once they got started? And then there’s the bullfights. And the goats still being chucked off church towers . . .

Finally . . . I regularly download podcasts from both the BBC and Radio España. It may or may not be significant that, for comfortable listening, I always have to increase the volume of the former but reduce the volume of the latter.

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