I was talking a day or so ago about odd forenames derived from wine grapes. And there's also been a bit of talk about harsh economic times. Well, I saw a cartoon today which managed - would you believe - to bring these together. A young lad of about 12 is looking up at his 18 year-old sister and asking - "Chardonnay. Were you born in a 'boom' time and me in a recession?" To which she answers - "What makes you think that, Plonk."
Anyway, something else I read today finally answered a query I've long had on my lips - What the hell is a cupcake? Turns out it's the American version - larger, naturally - of the British fairy cake. Or, as it says somewhere - A cupcake (also fairy cake) is a small cake designed to serve one person, frequently baked in a small, thin paper or aluminium cup. As with larger cakes, decorations are common on cupcakes. . . . The name "fairy cake" is a fanciful description of its size, which would be appropriate for a party of diminutive fairies to share. English fairy cakes are traditionally smaller and are rarely topped with elaborate icing. I'm not sure I'd go along with all of this; my mother's were nearly always iced, albeit not fancifully. Ours was a Catholic-Calvinist family. Or maybe just poor. Here's a mouthwatering recipe. Which, BTW, used to be 'receipt' in English.
Still on cake . . . If you're going to the UK this summer, be prepared to see the national flag (the Union Jack) everywhere. Even in the middle of your sandwich cake. The reason is, of course, not the London Olympics but the Silver Jubilee (60th) of Liz's accession to the throne and she is wildly popular right now. Brits can get very nostalgic and, even if no one (contrary to Moscow's perception) talks about the Empire, there's still the Commonwealth. So admired around the world it has a waiting list of countries that were never even in the Empire. Damn! I've mentioned the Empire. Ah, well.
But, briefly, back to wine - Here's an article on the white Godello grape used in Galicia (and bits of other Spanish regions) to produce a white wine that's a nice alternative (as with Ribeiro wines) to the ubiquitous and over-priced Albariño. Some see it as “Spain’s emerging hope as an equivalent to the great white Burgundies.” Others aren’t so sure. Try for yourselves. It shouldn't be expensive.
Musing about the Bankía saga this evening - in particular about how a decent profit turned overnight into a humungous loss - the question occurred to me - Is the difference between British and Spanish politicians that, whereas the former go in for maximum obfuscation of the truth, the latter prefer to just lie? Ever more brazenly until the lies catch up with them. Or is it, perhaps, that the British politicians deal more in half-truths, knowing that (as my old law lecturer stressed) these are often more deceptive than complete lies? I think because the listener creates his own untruths on the base of the half-truth. If you see what I mean.
One Spanish politician who'd be well advised to eschew both lies and half-truths is Ms. Soraya Saenz de Santamaria, Spain’s deputy prime minister. She has flown to Washington today for talks with Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary. As the Spanish whirlwind rages around their heads, it's sobering to reflect that Ms. S S de S had never held down a (real) job before her appointment. Though she might have done a bit of lawyering before entering politics. At 40 and with no appropriate education, one wonders how she will fare against the truly daunting Ms Lagarde. 'Tying', 'into' and 'knots' are words that spring to mind.
As for the Spanish economy and national solvency, things get worse by the hour and Spanish politicians have yet to display much evidence they know what's happening and how to stop it. Given how important Spain's survival is to the EU project, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Rajoy government soon finds itself being 'shadowed' by North European technocrats. As the British government was by IMF folk after the '76 devaluation of the pound. Things are certainly that serious.
Meanwhile, one Spanish politico has said “We are a highly leveraged nation. What we need is a Europe-wide solution.” Or 'solidarity', as the Spanish government usually calls it when it has the begging bowl out. And the head of the ECB, Mr Draghi, has put his name behind the calls for "euro-wide bank monitoring" amid mounting support for a “banking union”. It all sounds positive but does anyone really know WTF they are talking about?
Meanwhile, money moves and talks. And the handcart is picking up pace all the time, as Hell draws closer and closer. Stoke up the fires! We have some sinners for you. As well as an awful lot of innocents. An awful lot.