I dropped my old friend off at Porto airport this morning and then meandered back to Pontevedra via the lovely north Portuguese countryside, trying to follow the Way of St James I’ll be walking with more old friends next May. I got lost in Ponte de Lima, which is ironic as I know the delightful place quite well. My excuse is there were no signs for the old road to Valenca. At least not until you’ve actually left the town. Anyway, I was helped out by a couple of policemen from the National Brigade, who’d seen me parked at the roadside, scrutinising an inadequate map. In their leather bomber jackets and jackboots, they looked rather intimidating but, as ever, they were kindness itself. And, as is usually the case in Portugal, they spoke to me in English, presumably being unimpressed with my Gallego. Very impressive. Now, there's a country without language strife.
A Spanish vignette from last night . . . As we were walking into town, there was a car trapped next to the kerb by a double-parked second car. As ever, the hazard lights of the latter were flashing, indicating it wasn’t really there and that the owner was somewhere in the vicinity. Nothing happened the first time the driver blew his horn. Nor the second time. By the third time he got to sounding off, a good five minutes or more had passed and the blasts of the horn were rather longer. But no one was emerging from any of the cafés or shops. And then someone poked his head out of the window of a first-floor office, where he was at a desk, talking on the phone. A minute or so later, he was down in the street moving his car a few metres, to block in someone else. As ever, no words were exchanged and no gesture of apology made. Así son las cosas in Spain.
Finally . . . If any of you’ve had the dubious pleasure of reading the latest comments from my friend Cade, you’ll probably be as fascinated as I am by the possibility he thinks he can convert anyone to his views. Or, alternatively, the possibility that he knows he has no chance of doing so but, being in the UK and unemployed, merely has a massive amount of time and energy to waste. I thought of him this evening when reading this (Gallego) article on how the association of Gallego with Galician nationalism is doing no good for either of them. I wonder how the writer would view the association of Cade with both. Surely not sanguinely. Perhaps I should alert him.
Cade, of course, reminds one of the dictum that nationalists define themselves by the people they hate. For him, if you’re not his particular breed of Galician nationalist, you’re a fascist ‘Spanish nationalist’. What a simple Manichean world he inhabits. I almost envy him.