Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Good news (twice), Yet more dust and noise, and French follies,

Some excellent news for Spain - June's tourists were a record. As I've said, though, it's also important how long they stayed and how much they spent. In this regard, it was encouraging to read that Majorca has finally decided to stop pitching to British and German drunkards and, in search of big-spending tourists, to "transform the image of the seafront strip, the Playa de Palma". This will involve banning 24-hour drinking and
converting hotels from 4 to 5-star. Good luck to them.

The other excellent news of yesterday was that President Rajoy has finally bowed to pressure and promised to address parliament on the issue of illegal funding of his PP party. This followed a day or so of various PP mouths telling us he would do this when it suited him. In the arrogance stakes, none emerged higher than the Deputy PM telling us Rajoy would "give his explanation at the time and in the manner he feels appropriate." To be followed by the Foreign mInister telling us he'd appear "when he considers the timing to be right". This turns out to be at the end of either this month or the end of August. So, either when everyone is setting off on holiday or when they're coming back from holiday. Can this be a coincidence?

No sooner had I given my car its bi-annual wash than they started to tear up the road with a jack-hammer. The result? A car covered with a layer of tarmac and granite dust. The lovely Ester tells me they're connecting to the electricity grid the 23 houses behind me, finished at least 2 years ago but still unoccupied. Which is odd as there's an electricity sub-station alongside the access drive. I guess this means they've solved the problem of the drive and the first 4 houses being illegal. Anyway, pending completion of the works, we now have regular blasts of metallic thunder, as cars drive over the lids on the trench in the road. Noise and dust, a wonderful combination.

The good news is that I've learned the Spanish for 'jack-hammer' - martillo neumático. Which is closer to the British equivalent of 'pneumatic drill'. So, comparing syllables - Spanish: 8; British: 5; American: 3. Sounds about right. No wonder notices are so much longer in Spanish than in English.

My mother called me yesterday to say my old college (King's, London) had topped a chart of crime rates near British universities. A bit of checking revealed that 1. This is true, but 2. Crime is measured within a 3 mile radius of the main campus. As King's doesn't have one, crime was measured within 3 miles of its location in The Strand. In other words, central London. Likewise, the LSE and University College, London, who ranked shortly after King's. So, not a very fair comparison as no students actually live in central London. But thanks, Mum.

In the late 19th century, after military defeats to Germany, the French were desperate for a great national figurehead. They went with Joan of Arc. In other words, they chose someone who'd been tried and executed, not by the English, but by the French themselves. Likewise, although the Catholic Church later made her a saint, she was tried in an Ecclesiastical Court and convicted of heresy, before being burnt at the stake. By the French. So, an episode rich in irony. By the way, the miracle said to allow sanctification of Joan, was a change in the wind which benefited the French in their attempts to end the English siege of Orleans. Which smacks of desperation to me. Not a coincidence, then? Maybe my Catholic daughter take take advantage of any change in the weather that occurs just before my death. Not much for a father to ask, I feel.

That other French hero - Napoleon - is also rather tarnished. Aside from ending his years in ignominy and exile (twice in each case), he was also an invader of a Hitlerian scale. Not to mention the initiator of a new royal family in Spain. Where I doubt he's remembered with affection. All in all, it was odd to see monuments to the tyrant when watching the end of the Tour de France. By the way, next year's Tour de France will start in England, but in Leeds - not at Waterloo Station.

While I'm on this French theme, my elder daughter told me of this recent conversation with a friend who works in international personnel (or 'human relations' as we now have to say):-
So, Helen. How do you find working with people from different cultures?
Fine. I enjoy it.
Are there any significant differences between nationalities, in terms of being hard or easy to work with?
No, not really. Of course, there are occasionally difficult people from every country, Except for the French. They're always difficult.

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Colgar al último rey con las tripas del último cura said...

Napoleon no trajo a los Borbones a España.
Desgraciademente, esa familia ya llevaban como cosa de un siglo haciendo de las suyas por estos pagos, antes que llegase el corso que hasta igual tenía patentes.

"En España, la subida al trono de los borbones dio lugar a la llamada guerra de Sucesión, que fue a la vez un conflicto europeo y una guerra civil, y cuyo efecto mas inmediato fue escindir el país en dos fracciones antagónicas. Se ha especulado mucho en torno al papel desempeñado por los soberanos de la nueva dinastía en el s. XVIII: Felipe V (1700-1746), Fernando VI (1746-1759), Carlos III (1759-1788) y Carlos IV (1788-1808), si descartamos al breve e intrascendente «reinado relámpago» de Luis I )1724). Se ha dicho que los Borbones tuvieron una importancia capital en el resurgimiento español del s. XVIII, pero tal idea es ilusoria: el estímulo surgió de la misma sociedad española y del desarrollo económico del país, y los monarcas apenas hicieron otra cosa que favorecerlo con la implantación en España de una administración centralizada según el modelo francés, a lo que les movió básicamente su deseo de afianzar el absolutismo real. La imagen que nos los muestra como soberanos ilustrados carece de fundamento: Felipe V y Fernando VI acabaron en plena demencia, y tanto Carlos III como Carlos IV fueron de inteligencia nada más que mediocre. En su saldo negativo hay que anotar, además de la costosa guerra civil que fue necesaria para afianzarlos en el trono, su desastrosa política italiana, guiada por los meros intereses familiares de la dinastía. Pero si el papel de los Borbones españoles del siglo XVIII puede calificarse de pasivo, no hay duda que su actuación en el siglo XIX resultó desastrosa para el país. Fernando VII (1808-1833) se alió con una fracción política, la de quienes prometían defender la integridad de su poder absoluto, y reprimió duramente (en 1814 y 1823) los intentos de establecer una monarquía constitucional."

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Ay, history is an elusive thing, once someone wants to turn partisan. As you do, my dear boy, in this your Francophobe posting.

The French condemned and executed Joan of Arc? Come now... Really! That's like saying the Poles started World War II...

And true: Napoleon and his brother Joe were not very popular in Spain at first. But let us not forget that in the latter half of the 19th C, when Spaniards were looking out for a new king, they did actually consider the descendants of Joseph Bonaparte! So the hatred was limited...

Get rid of the Owls, I say! And keep your Limey hands off my beloved Patrie!

Alphonse B. Mittintone...

Colin said...

@Colgar . . . .Hablaba de la familia Bonaparte.

Colin said...


The Burgundians captured Joan and sold her to the English, who did, of course, influence events, via their anti-French Burgundian allies.

But the French did absolutely nothing to try to buy her back or rescue her. She had failed in her last battle, proving to the French she was not a divine creation and was, in effect, a busted flush. They were quite content to see her off the scene, especially as her final strategic idea had been to march on Paris. Which they thought was militarily crazy. And the Ecclesiastic Court was, indeed, French, inspired by the University of Paris's take on Joannie.

Strange it took nearly 600 years to canonise her.

And stranger still that both Vichy and Free France saw her as a symbol of something. Appeasement and non-appeasement, I guess.

As someone has said, a woman for all seasons. Who is now celebrated on 3 different days by 3 different groups in France.

Anyway, for Hitler the pesky Poles did cause WW2. . . . .

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Must I point out to you that Not Stopping A Crime is not the same as Committing A Crime? (And he a lawyer...)

There were very many reasons why very many people wanted the young lady out of the way. But the English wanted her out of the way most, as they still hoped to Hitlerize France and she stopped them. No measure of Limey propaganda can change that shining truth!

It took 600 years to canonize Saint Joan because the Vatican still hoped to bring the uppity English back into the fold, and was afraid they might take offense at seeing the greatest anti-Brit since Caesar formally applauded!


Colin said...

Thanks to the Norman Invasion in the other direction, the Lancastrian English kings had a legitimate claim to the French throne. And French allies who - doubtless for their own reasons - agreed with them.

More like the French coming home than an English invasion.

The English only abandoned their claim in 1801.

Did you make up that stuff about the Papacy wanting to bring the English back to Rome?

At the very least, the French were guilty of culpable negligence and very probably complicity in the burning of the Maid. Murder by omission, if not commission.

You'll be telling me next you believe in her visions!

Perry said...

It was that naughty Pierre who enjoyed English gold.


The maid was not PLU & the French aristos were less than forthcoming in their efforts to save her.


Elites of all nations are treacherous, self serving bastards. Never trust them.

All the best,


Alfred B. Mittington said...

If the English claim was righteous, then why did the Brits fail to take France in a 100 years...?

Incidentally: the claim rested not on the invasion of 1066 but on Edward III's French Grandmother (I believe). If only because William the C. was not king of France, but only Duke of Normandy. But who cares if you're trying to gobble up an innocent country belonging to somebody else, eh?

The Maid's visions were for real of course. Do you doubt the veracity of the Vatican?


Colin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin said...


I am instinctively suspicious of all Pierres.


If the English claim was righteous, then why did the Brits fail to take France in a 100 years...?

1. They got tired, and
2. Divine intervention. The Brits were seen as proto. Protestants. A failed attempt to prevent the creation of the Church of England. Neither Joan nor her God were

The French have NEVER been innocent. Of anything. Give me a good Dutchman any day.

Not that you get many of them to the pound!

Pepe Bottle said...

Me meto donde no me llaman .
Me parece exagerado denominar nueva familia real a Pepe Botella y sus 5 años de reinado sobre Madrid y poco más, aunque igual los hispanistas ingleses de tanto prestigio y que tanto saben, opinen distinto.
Por esa regla de tres, el masón Amadeo de Saboya, inició en España la dinastía Saboya de apenas dos años....

La señora condesa
tiene un tintero
donde moja la pluma
José primero.

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