I've found a third reference to Napoleon in the March edition of Prospect: Like his US counterpart, President Hollande is commander-in-chief. There's nothing like a war to change a leader's stature, particularly in a nation of Napoleon and De Gaulle worshippers, which still celebrates its national day with a military parade. As does Spain, I believe. Which all seems odd to a citizen of a country which doesn't even have a national day, never mind a military parade. This time, though, we are marching to the right beat. What's the point of martial displays, unless you're a Korean dictator?
Going through my father's things, I came upon a cartoon of him drawn in 1947, just before he left the RAF. As it doesn't seem unflattering, what surprised me is that he hadn't put it on, say, the bedroom wall but left it folded up in a trunk. Where I also came upon a cigar box he must have bought when stationed in the US in the early 1940s. The cigars were made in Tampa, Florida and the brand was, would you believe, Hav-a-Tampa, suggesting either they came from Cuba or they didn't but the makers (Havatampa Cigar Co.) would like you to think they did. Anyway, the best thing in the box was a set of 5 yellowed poker dice, for which I may be able to find some use, after a lay-off of more than 60 years.
Talking of smoking . . . I'm pretty inured to seeing young Spanish women smoking – in search of appetite suppression and/or specious sophistication – and even to the sight of a woman smoking while pushing a baby-carrier. But today I passed a heavily pregnant senorita with a cigarette drooping from her mouth and this was hard to take.
I have a couple of fragile bone carvings from Indonesia, of a tribal king and queen. Over the years, the latter has lost one or other of her arms several times and my cleaner always tells me she found her this way and that it has nothing to do with any cleaning process. As if. This scenario was played out again on my return from the UK, leaving me wondering whether I should just staple the arm back on again, rather than resort to glue. Or just leave her armless. Talking of repair . . . I have a mohair jumper. Or, rather, I have three quarters of mohair pullover; the bloody moths have had the rest. Presumably it has a better smell than all my other jumpers. I continue to get the holes sewn up but the day must come, relatively soon, when I have more repair than garment,
I really should have a section for the loony things said by people of one religious conviction or another. Yesterday it was this comment from an emotional Venezuelan women:- The Lord called Hugo Chavez because He wanted him by His side. No, He bloody didn't. He just died!
I mentioned a week or three ago that Toledo seemed to be marketing itself as more of an ex-Jewish city than anything else. Well, we now have an equivalent in Galicia. The town of Ribadavia has always highlighted its old Jewish quarter and has had a Jewish museum for a while. But it's now gone one step further and become the first Spanish city to celebrate the Passover Seder since 1492, when Jews were invited to leave Spain and not come back. Incidentally, Ribadavia is the centre of the region which grows the white Ribeiro wine I mentioned the other day. And they have a wine festival every May. I'm wondering now how long it'll be before Pontevedra picks up on this trend. One thing's for sure – If they do, they'll have to put back the sign about the Jewish cemetery that disappeared 3 or 4 years ago, when that part of town was re-modelled. By the way, the main street running through what used to be the city's Jewish quarter is named Rúa Amargura, or Bitterness St. Which I've always thought rather fitting.
Reader Perry is a mine of research data. Here's his citation of something similar to los escraches. Talking of readers (and Readers), my thanks to Gerald, Diego, Bill and SP for advice on alternatives to Google Reader. See the Comments to yesterday's post.
Finally . . . Spring - summer even - arrived yesterday and this morning I had an unusual visitor on my lawn – a pied wagtail. Common enough in the Mersey estuary but never seen here before. At least not by me. And then later, down in Veggie Square, I espied a magpie among the pigeons and the seagulls. Another first. What a day for twitchers!