Talking of hard-to-believe matters Galician . . . There's said to be a driver here who's been stopped more than a hundred times for reckless driving and who doesn't even have a licence. But it's not a myth and you can read about "Spain's King of reckless driving" here. After years on the run, he's now handed himself in and hired a leading lawyer. Who seems to have his work cut out.
Talking about driving . . . Here's one reason why you shouldn't implicitly trust your satnav in Spain. Teruel in particular.
Gay marriage: Here's a funny thing:- Catholic Spain? - Yes. Catholic France? - Yes. Protestant England? - No. Wonder what it means.
I've tried all sorts of tricks to get the hungry/greedy seagull back into my garden, even throwing real bread, but with no success. However, there was ample compensation this evening when that most timid (and unusually quiet) member of the crow family, a jay, swooped down and then sat in my fig tree slowly devouring a crust.
I've just noticed that the last paragraph moved seamlessly from gays to jays. Impressive, if unintentional.
Circumstances change principles. And priorities. I was talking to a Galician friend today about the Cómete o mar/Come o mar controversy I mentioned the other day. And about the fact there are three, yes three, organisations in Galicia - a region of 3 million - which purport to superintend the Galician language, Gallego/Galego. Maybe, she said. But no one has time for those things these days. There are far more important things to worry about. Like getting to the end of the month, as the Spanish put it.
In the book I mentioned yesterday - by Hape Kerkeling - he describes the Camino as a marriage market for South American women, some of whom are sent there by their parents specifically to find a husband. I can't say I've seen any evidence of this but, then, on each occasion my companions were 5 women. Must go on my own in September. And try to appear both rich and available. Well, one out of two isn't bad.
Finally . . . All religions have the capacity to make one laugh. Would that were all. Sadly, they also have the capacity to infuriate. Here's one justifiably angry woman, Rosa Montero, writing in El País today. There may be a Catholic response to her points but it ain't going to convince me, especially if it involves everyone dying but then living happy-ever-after in some variant of Heaven:
I'm not religious but I think that spirituality is not the prerogative of religions, rather an essential quality of being human. I respect religious beliefs as long as they are not imposed or themselves impose egregious abuses (such as the stoning of Sharia). I know wonderful Catholics, heroic priests and nuns who work to the bone in terrible places and enhance the world quietly. I feel much less sympathy for the Catholic hierarchy, which exercises a power that often seems retrogressive and abusive. Yet I almost always try to make the effort to be moderate and to coexist because I don't want to hurt decent Catholics, who are many.
But today I want to talk about the case of Beatrice, a Salvadoran aged 22, pregnant and very ill (with discoid lupus erythematosus, eclampsia and severe renal insufficiency), who will die if her pregnancy is not interrupted as soon as possible: each passing day her condition worsens. Now we know that the Salvadoran Constitutional Court has denied the possibility of abortion, a doubly wretched judgement when we know that the foetus lacks half its brain and is unviable. But within this cruel tale of horrors there something I feel that is even worse that those four insane judges, and it is that the Episcopal Conference of El Salvador has welcomed the ruling and has kept up throughout radical opposition to the operation that would save Beatriz's life. And I say that this attitude is worse because the bishops have not been disowned by the Vatican; because the Catholic Church is a huge and powerful institution and not a handful of fascist judges; because a ferocious fanaticism which saves a foetus with no brain and kills a mother is the antithesis of Christian humanism; because it forces you to assume, to the dismay of all, that the Catholic Church is a gang of criminals.