It seems that Britain's favourite Telly-Chef, Jamie Oliver, has been hauled over the coals and forced to apologise for merely mentioning bullfighting in his latest book and making some anodyne comments about the bullring and Taurean museum in the lovely Andalucian town of Ronda. Are guides no longer allowed to mention subjects which might make some readers feel queasy? If so, imagine how useless any guide to Pamplona would be. Likewise a guide to all the military hardware in the Leeds Armouries Museum. It won't be enough to be factually objective. You'll have to steer clear of anything at all controversial.
In a revolutionary move, the Spanish government has announced it's thinking of allowing shops and even customers to decide what opening hours are to be kept. This is said to be a response to pressure from tourists. And it raises the question of whether Turismo offices will soon be open at hours convenient for customers and not the staff. Possibly not as they aren't shops. Vamos a ver.
Talking of Spanish institutions . . . I have easily slipped back into the habit of an afternoon siesta. This despite the fact I never once took a siesta in the UK. I wonder what that says about me. Bit of a chameleon, perhaps. Or is this the only rational response to the crazy Spanish horario of 9 to 1.30 and 4.30 to 8.30?
The Euro: Spanish bond sales last week saw rates soar back to what they were before the latest crisis was resolved. As with every previous crisis resolution. In a nutshell, we're still mired in Act 1 of this performance. With no one knowing yet what will happen in Act 11, let alone how it will all end in Act 111. As a result, it's impossible to tell whether it's a tragedy or a farce. But the Greeks will surely have a word for it.
Meanwhile, here's The Economist's take on things:- The longer the euro area’s debt crisis drags on, the more it resembles an instrument of economic torture. Like the medieval rack, every turn of the crisis tears Europe further apart. This week Cyprus announced it would seek a bail-out. Spain formally asked for money to recapitalise its banks. The Greek limb is close to being ripped off. How long can the Italian one hold? Monetary union was meant to be a blessing. The euro’s founders dreamed that it would end chronic and divisive currency crises, promote growth and multiply Europe’s economic power. After the creation of the single market, the euro was the next step toward political union. For decades European integration worked. Through trade and regional aid, poorer members joining the club quickly started catching up with rich ones. But the euro has now set the “convergence machine” in reverse. Parts of southern Europe are in depression and must pay high interest rates, while Germany enjoys record low borrowing costs. The debtors plead for mercy, but the creditors think they must suffer for their sins. More here.
Finally . . . My old friend Mike, who's just gone back after a couple of weeks here, seems to carry in his memory an awful lot of poetry and many, many quotations. Not to mention the libretti of several opera. In contrast, all I can remember from both primary and secondary schools are the following pathetic snippets. I list them here to cheer up anyone who feels their own performance is inadequate. I don't vouch for accuracy, by the way.
Before the Roman came to Rye or out to Severn strode,
The rolling English drunkard made the rolling English road.
The reeling road, the rolling road, that rambled round the shire.
You blocks! You stones! You worse than senseless things!
Wherefore rejoice? What conquests brings he home, to grace with captive bonds his chariot wheels?
"Is there anyone there?", said the traveller, knocking at the moonlit door,
As his horse in silence chomped the grass of the forest's ferny floor.
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosomed friend to the maturing sun.
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
The vines that round the thatched eaves run
Oh, and I can also remember all the songs we used to sing in the assembly room, seated on the floor near the piano. I think every primary school teacher could play the piano in those days.
And I know quite a few limericks. And my own stuff, of course.
Still pretty pathetic, though.