Friday, December 03, 2010

I’ve been wondering why my neighbour is arranging a merienda next door for me so that I can be introduced to the two friends who want to meet me. Can it be my charming personality? My good looks? My two blue eyes? Or the combination of advanced age and two houses? On balance, I’m going with the houses. Cynical, moi!?

The utter mess which is Spanish national/regional/local property planning legislation and execution finally looks like it might be taking a step in the direction of clarification. Not to mention equity. At least down in Andalucia. Click here for details. Perhaps the crisis has forced a few minds to concentrate on the future and on damage to Spain’s international reputation, rather than on making the quickest pelotazo in whatever way springs to mind. It doesn’t do much for the Priors, though. Who had their house bulldozed a couple of years ago. And were then sent the bill, I as I recall.

I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again  - Poor Spain! Shackled not just with a pretty useless Prime Minister/President but also with a leader of the Opposition rated inadequate even by the guy who shoe-horned him into the job. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Or not, it seems. I’m not optimistic about the next decade here. Whoever wins the elections in 2012. Or earlier, if the current government falls.

Talking about voting . . .  It has to be said that the most amazing thing about the failed English bid to hold the 2018 World Cup is that anyone seriously believed it had any chance of winning. Can people really be so self-deluding? (self-delusory??) On the other hand, I was expecting Iberia to get it. But I suppose we can guess why Russia did, even if most of the facilities don’t yet exist. For one thing, construction is always profitable for more folk than just the constructors.

Finally . . . I’m delighted to move (temporarily) from plugging my daughter’s book to doing the same for that of my good Dutch friend, Peter Missler. Peter has penned a fascinating account of one of the most memorable characters in George Borrow’s The Bible in Spain, one Benedict Mol. It’s called The Treasure Hunter of Santiago and it’s a must-read for anyone with an interest in Santiago, Galicia or, indeed, Spain generally. And everyone else, for that matter. Here’s the flyer and you can sample enticing extracts here:-

In August of 1838, in the middle of a devastating civil war, a grotesque figure arrived at Santiago de Compostela, the ancient pilgrimage town in the North-West of Spain. He was a former Swiss mercenary, who thirty years previously had heard a rumour about a massive hoard of church plate buried by the soldiers of Marshal Ney. A fantasy? A daydream? Just one of the many hollow legends of hidden gold that abound in Spain? Perhaps so. But, astonishingly, the Swiss vagrant did not come on his own errand. He came sponsored by Spain’s savvy Minister of Finance, Don Alejandro Mon, who for some shadowy reason of his own lent credence to the tale.

Like an historical sleuth, Peter Missler traces the tale of Benedict Mol the treasure hunter through the mists of time and a smoke-screen of cover-stories. It is a fascinating saga which takes us to Portugal with looting French soldiers, into the wild mountains of Northern Spain with the brilliant polyglot George Borrow, and – by the hand of Mol - into the darkest nooks and corners of a hospital for syphilitics. The first attempt to find the treasure toppled the government, the second ended with the murder of two peasants. But was the hoard secured? Or does it still lie waiting somewhere in a Santiago park…?

Durrant Publishing, Norfolk, UK. Available in hardcover (₤20 + postage), paperback (₤10 + postage) and eText (₤0.75). For sample chapters see

How to order

The Treasure Hunter of Santiago may be ordered from Amazon (enter ‘Missler Treasure Hunter’ into the search machine of any Amazon site).

Those who prefer to acquire the book from a bookshop may contact Graham York Rare Books, 225 High Street, Honiton, Devon, EX14 1LB England. Tel: 01 404 41727; email ; website


Justin Roberts said...
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Midnight Golfer said...
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Midnight Golfer said...
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Midnight Golfer said...

I'm curious as to how the snack went.
Whenever I invite someone to have a nosh with my 'two friends' - it's the ones who wear the black name tags.
(But I only do it when that someone knows exactly what they're getting into.)
I've heard some Catholic leaders are encouraging a more proactive approach from their lay-clergy and congregations, directed mostly at fellowshipping the "lapsed" among them, but also in a more J.W. / Mormon missionary way, as well.

Colin said...

The snack has yet to come. It's a Spanish promise, so who knows if it will ever materialise. If it does, I will surely report on it. Meanwhile, MG, I guess you're saying I'm about to be Mormonised. Possibly. It will be interesting to see how they deal with my atheism or, depending on my mood, my pious Catholicism.

Midnight Golfer said...

When I read that it specifically was two friends, the thought crossed my mind. However, it's not like it would ever be a surprise that we spring on someone unexpectedly. So no, I don't suspect it's the Mormon 'inquisition'. (but then again, who suspects that?)