How times change. For much of the ten years I've been here, the regions (or “Autonomous Communities”) have tried to wrest power from Madrid, with some success. But now Madrid is asking (begging?) them to take over the administration of Justice and they're pleading poverty and an inability to bear the cost. Follow the money, as they say.
Well, I watched the first ten minutes of Rick Stein today and was rather bored by it. Perhaps because I already know everything he talks about, including the ferry to Santander. And I'm very familiar with the cocido he waxes lyrical about but which does nothing for me. I expect he'll go on to extol the virtues of Galician seafood, possibly even the terrible percebes. There's nothing wrong with any of this marisco, of course (with the definite exception of percebes and the possible exception of octopus a la gallega/galega) but I am with the authors of a cook book I picked up last night when they write:- “Muchas preparaciones hervidas, al vapor o a la plancha son aburridas por sí solas, pero pueden convertirse en platos deliciosos si se acompañan cons salsas y aderezos.” Thus I prefer my zamburiñas done in a garlic and red pepper sauce. Similarly mussels done likewise but with thyme added. Sadly, the majority of Galicians don't operate on the basis of this philosophy, the net result being that the food here tends to get pretty boring. Especially when every restaurant has much the same menu. Thank God we have a Basque tapas bar in town.
What was particularly odd about the Stein program was the outdated comment that you can smoke in restaurants because the owners are allowed to choose whether or not to permit smoking. You can't and they aren't. I wonder when it was filmed. Incidentally, this reminds me that, if you choose to sit outside to eat or drink these days, you're pretty sure to be surrounded by smokers. In the old days, you could at least move away from them, either inside or outside. Thus do laws have strange consequences. As all lawyers know.
We haven't had any Spanglish for a while, so here's a bit:– Un full: A full house, as in poker.
On the site where this block of flats was built used to stand a beautiful old stone house. In fact, it was the destruction of this which stimulated me to take this series of fotos a few years ago.
The flats, of course, are all empty and are likely to stay that way for several years – unless people are enticed by the sort of offer now doing the rounds: ten years of renting with an option to buy at the end of the term.
Meanwhile, building permits in Galicia are at an all time low and the bottom has dropped out of the restoration market which was providing architects and builders with some compensation. Strangely, though, permits for new flats in Pontevedra city were as many in the first half of 2011 as they were in all of 2010. The builders must know something we don't, as the city was already overflowing with unoccupied flat blocks.
Finally . . . Britain. If you read the Austin Mitchell stuff last night, you'll already have seen this paragraph: “Everything a deferential nation has deferred to for so long is mired in discredit. The City and the banks blew themselves up; politicians and parties were damned by the expenses scandal. Now the press, which took over Parliament’s role as forum of debate and invigilator of the Executive, has blown itself up. What’s left to respect?” Well . . . as someone who's for years been criticising the UK politico-media nexus – I venture the comment that one possible answer is that all this is being aired and addressed. At least to some extent. Which wouldn't happen in every country.
If you missed the obviously-scripted performance of the Murdochs and Mrs Brooks yesterday, here's an as-good-as-any description of what went on (or didn't) from Nick Davies on The Guardian. In a phrase - “Behind that gloss, there was an intensely serious and carefully organised defence. They allowed some moral blame to get through – hence the humility – but at all costs they had to repel anything that looked remotely like criminal responsibility.”
If that's not enough, here's another superb overview from Alison Pearson of The Telegraph. I particularly liked this sentence:- “If James Murdoch's plan was to say the same vague, helpfully unhelpful thing over and over again in that midatlantic drone of his until viewers gave up the will to live, he succeeded admirably.”
For Spanish readers, James Murdoch did a good impression of the stonewalling Francisco Camps, but without the perpetually defiant smile. “Nowt to talk about, milord”. That said, today's news is that Camps is finally going to plead guilty of corruption so he can stay in power. However unlikely and ironic this may sound.
Tomorrow night the news from Brussels will surely overshadow that from London, whatever happens in the latter. Even if it's the Queen being found to be on the books of the News of the Screws. Which reminds me . . . It seems that the phrase 'Kiss and Tell' has been replaced by 'Shag and Brag'. Which says something about modern society, I guess. At least in Britain.
Thank-you and Goodnight. To empire, reputation, the pound and just about everything else. Could someone please switch off the lights. Especially on the road to Europe.