Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Words; & The Guide for Yanks

The Spanish Word of the Year is said to be selfi. This prevailed over competition from dron and postureo, Other contenders were:
  • apli, an alternative to app
  • árbitra, the female form of the noun 'arbitro', meaning referee.
  • amigovio, a blend of the words amigo (friend) and novio (fiancé), 

Back in October, The Local gave us their Top Ten new Spanish words in the latest RAE dictionary, viz:
  • Birra
  • Establishment
  • Affaire
  • Mileurista
  • Serendipia
  • Tuitear
  • Drone
  • Blaugrana
  • Yihad
  • Agroturismo

Click here if any of these fox you.

As for English . . . These are the favourite buzzwords/phrases of columnists from The Times:-
  • Vape

  • Conscious uncoupling
  • Westminster
. As in "He's such Westminster".
  • Cybernat
  • r>g

  • Normcore

  • Ego bath

  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

  • Breaking the internet

  • Parklife

  • Executive dawn-risers

  • Undulatus asperatus

'You'll have to do your own research on these as I can't post the Times article because of the paywall.

A word you don't see very often in the headlines is bestiality. But I saw it yesterday in the context of a petition against it here in Spain. The accompanying foto was of a huge bull in a bullring and I can't begin to describe the images this conjured up. It turned out that the petitioners were concerned about Spain becoming "a paradise for animal abusers". What they want is a lengthening of the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from 1 to 3 years and criminalisation of the use of animals for sexual purposes. I'll leave the last words to their lawyer:- "These practices are much more common than you would think and it would be a grave error to let this opportunity to improve legislation pass, considering the present legal vacuum in relation to animal sexual abuse".

Penultimately . . . Here's a foto of a nearby beach my daughter and I walked along 2 days ago. 

Like most Brits, my mother thinks that wherever the sun shines in Spain it's boiling hot. Looking at the picture, she asked me why there was hardly anyone else on the beach, implying we'd driven them off.

Finally . . . Another extract from the 1942 Guide for Yanks in Limeyland.

Indoor Amusements. The British have theatres and movies (which they call "cinemas") as we do. But the great place of recreation is the "pub". A pub, or public house, is what we would call a bar or tavern. The usual drink is beer, which is not an imitation of German beer as ours is, but ale. (But they usually call it beer or "bitter".) Not much whiskey is now being drunk. Wartime taxes have shot the price of a bottle up to about $4.50. The British are beer-drinkers – and can hold it. The beer is now below peacetime strength, but can still make a man's tongue wag at both ends.

You will be welcome in the British pubs as long as you remember one thing. The pub is "the poor man's club," the neighbourhood or village gathering place, where the men have come to see their friends, not strangers. If you want to join a darts game, let them ask you first (as they probably will.) And if you are beaten it is the custom to stand aside and let someone else play.

The British make much of Sunday. All the shops are closed, most of the restaurants are closed, and in the small towns there is not much to do. You had better follow the example of the British people and try to spend Sunday afternoon in the country.

British churches, particularly the little village churches, are often very beautiful inside and out. Most of them are always open and if you feel like it, do not hesitate to walk in. But do not walk around if a service is going on.

You will naturally be interested in getting to know your opposite number, the British soldier, the "Tommy" you have heard and read about. You can understand that two actions on your part will slow up the friendship – swiping his girl, and not appreciating what his army has been up against. Yes, and rubbing it in that you are better paid than he is.

Children the world over are easy to get along with. British children are much like our own. The British have reserved much of the food that gets through solely for their children. To the British children you as an American will be "something special." For they have been fed at their schools and impressed with the fact that the food they ate was sent to them by Uncle Sam. You don't have to tell the British about lend-lease food. They know about it and appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Kim's compliments; Greece & the EU; Uber where next: Complex justice: Road deaths: Shopping, sort of: CC; Dancing again? & Soapsudding.

It's hard to believe that a global leader can be so unaware of attitudes outside his own bailiwick as to call Barack Obama 'A tropical monkey'. Especially if he has the worst haircut on the planet. Cue Kim un-Jung. Master of the universe. Well, a sad bit of it, anyway.

Moscow's RT's headline: "Falling oil prices hit US industry". And the entire Russian economy?

Greece continues to be in economic and political turmoil and things could very soon get a hell of a lot worse. With very serious implications for the eurozone and the EU project. I guess it's more likely that some bodge will be concocted to kick the can down the road again. Meanwhile, here and here are a couple of alarmist articles which may or may not be accurate. Who can tell with these things?

Despite being effectively banned, the Uber lift-share business will continue in Spain while a judge's 'precautionary' verdict against the company is being appealed. But will it be hampered by the court's injunction to telecom companies and payment service providers to block Uber? Ya veremos.

Which reminds me1: My Dutch friend, Peter, has asked me to try and illuminate the byzantine Spanish judicial system. Which I'm thinking about.

Which reminds me2: Apart from byzantine, the system is also crumbling. Physically. One judge has gone public with the complaint that years of neglect have led to facilities that are, effectively, Third World. Including the storage of files alongside urinals and on overloaded shelves that have collapsed. Money is promised for next year. Meanwhile justice will be even slower than usual.

After a stellar decline up to 2012, road deaths in Spain have risen in the last 2 years. One reason is said to be a Crisis-driven failure to maintain vehicles. Though in the case of bicycles, the finger has been pointed at the lack of reflectors. As if I didn't know. A lack of rear lights isn't mentioned, raising the suspicion these are considered unnecessary.

After 4 months and possibly 8 visits to the shop, I've finally concluded I was being told, via the increasingly implausible excuses, that the lamps I'd ordered were never going to arrive. And that I was being told to go elsewhere. Rather more quickly, I've decided the same thing may be going on in respect of the replacement keyboard for the one I dropped beer on. This time, though, I've paid a worrying €50 deposit. Needless to say, all explanations are delivered with great charm. Who says the Spanish are never as indirect as the British?

A second book has been written proving that Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón) was a native of my barrio, Poio, here in Pontevedra. Specifically, he was the same person as the local hero, Pedro Madrúga, who disappeared when in Alba de Torres in 1486. Pretty conclusive, I'd say.

I get the impression the video I posted yesterday worked extremely slowly and without sound. So, I'm trying again. If anyone gets this OK, please let me know. If not, just enjoy the picture. As it's taken an hour to upload, I'm not optimistic.

Penultimately . . . As I waited to wash my car in one of Spain's many boxes, I wondered why the previous driver had left with his car still pretty soapy. After paying for a couple of different wash options, I realised why - the bloody system was stuck on the initial soap wash. My car looked worse when I left than when I'd arrived.

Finally . . . The latest bit of the 1942 Guide for Yanks to Limeyland.


THE BEST WAY to get on in Britain is very much the same as the best way to get on in America. The same sort of courtesy and decency and friendliness that go over big in America will go over big in Britain. The British have seen a good many Americans and they like Americans. They will like your frankness as long as it is friendly. They will expect you to be generous. They are not given to back-slapping and they are shy about showing their affections. But once they get to like you they make the best friends in the world.

In "getting along" the first important thing to remember is that the British are like the Americans in many ways – but not in all ways. You will quickly discover differences that seem confusing and even wrong. Like driving on the left side of the road, and having money based on an "impossible" accounting system, and drinking warm beer. But once you get used to that you will realise that they belong to England just as baseball and jazz and coca-cola belong to us.

The British Like Sports. The British of all classes are enthusiastic about sports, both as amateurs and spectators of professional sports. They love to shoot, they love to play games, they ride horses and bet on horse races, they fish. (But be careful where you hunt or fish. Fishing and hunting rights are often private property.)

The great spectator sports are football in the autumn and winter and cricket in the spring and summer. See a "match" in either of these sports whenever you get a chance. You will get a kick out of it – if only for the differences from American sports.

Cricket will strike you as slow compared to American baseball, but it isn't easy to play well. You will probably get more fun out of "village cricket" which corresponds to sandlot baseball than you would out of the big three-day professional matches. The big professional matches are often nothing but a private contest between the bowler (who corresponds to our pitcher) and the batsman (batter) and you have to know the fine points of the game to understand what is going on.

Football in Britain takes two forms. They play soccer, which is known in America; and they also play "rugger," which is a rougher game and closer to American football, but is played without the padded suits and headguards which we use. Rugger requires fifteen on a side, uses a ball slightly bigger than our football, and allows lateral but not forward passing. The English do not handle the ball as cleanly as we do, but they are far more expert with their feet. As in all games, no substitutes are allowed. If a man is injured, his side continues with fourteen players and so on.

You will find that English crowds at football or cricket matches are often more orderly and more polite to the players than American crowds. If a fielder misses a catch at cricket, the crowd will probably take a sympathetic attitude. They will shout "Good try." Even if it looks to you like a bad fumble. In America the crowd would probably shout "Take him out." This contrast should be remembered. It means that you must be careful in the excitement of an English game not to shout out remarks that everyone in America would understand, but which the British might think insulting.

In general more people play games in Britain than in America and they play the game even if they are not good at it. You can always find people who play no better than you and are glad to play with you. They are good sportsmen and are quick to recognise good sportsmanship when they meet it.

Monday, December 29, 2014

The EU; Retribution; High streets; Hackers; Dancing; The Civil War; & Southern spots.

As you look at the growth of anti-immigration parties around Europe, you do have to wonder how much of this is reaction to the consequences of decisions of the undemocratic, elitist and idealist EU bureaucrats and technocrats who think they can make the world just as they'd like it by handing down a diktat. Rather like Britain's Labour Party's imposition of multiculturalism, now abandoned as being a mixed blessing. To say the least. Without that, would there now exist the egregious UKIP?

Here's a headline you're unlikely to ever see the like of in Spain, and not only because it's in English . . ."Rail chiefs could face the sack over rail chaos". It relates, of course, to the problems caused by over-running engineering works on the UK network throught Xmas. As we wait to see, one of the well-paid bunch has been told he won't get his vast 371,000 pounds pre-retirement bonus. Which is a start.

As we approach Jan 1, one group of people fears a change coming into force that day. These are the shopkeepers and restaurant/bar owners throughout Spain who've long benefitted from low rents dating under a control daing back to the Franco era. Thenceforth, rents will be market linked the result will be that many small operators will be forced to move elsewhere. This will allow larger retailers to move in, creating the risk that Spanish high streets will end up looking like those of the UK. Exactly the same. Not all progress is good.

Someone has hacked into the computers of Spain's National Police Force and destroyed files relating to some corruption trials. The culprits are said to be Russian but you do have to wonder. Even if it were down to Russians, who commissioned them?

If you listen to BBC4's podcasts - as I do and will do again when I find my iPod - one thing you'll note is just how many foreign academics work in UK universities, all speaking excellent English. Personally, I feel this is a very good thing. Especially as there's a wide range of accents.

Here's a series of short videos featuring national/regional dancing. I thought they were Galician but am assured they're Aragonese. This being so, I can probably safely say they're both elegant (the women) and a tad camp (the men). Make up your own mind. Note: The computer seems to have updated the same (soundless) bit twice. Am working on it! Perhaps it's because they're now in Apple Quicktime format.

If you know nothing about it, here's a brief summary of the Spanish Civil War.

And, penultimately, here's someone's view of the best vacation places in Southern Spain.

Finally . . . Another extract from the 1942 Guide for Yanks in Limeyland:

Remember There's A War On. Britain may look a little shop-worn and grimy to you. The British people are anxious to have you know that you are not seeing their country at its best. There's been a war on since 1939. The houses haven't been painted because the factories aren't making paint – they're making planes. The famous English gardens and parks are either unkempt because there are no men to take care of them, or they are being used to grow needed vegetables. British taxicabs look antique because Britain makes tanks for herself and Russia and hasn't time to make new cars. British trains are cold because power is needed for industry, not for heating. There are no luxury dining cars on trains because total war effort has no place for such frills. The trains are unwashed and grimy because men and women are needed for more important work than car-washing. The British people are anxious for you to know that in normal times Britain looks much pettier, cleaner, neater.


ALTHOUGH you'll read in the papers about "lords" and "sirs," England is still one of the great democracies and the cradle of many American liberties. Personal rule by the King has been dead in England for nearly a thousand years. Today, the King reigns, but does not govern. The British people have great affection for their monarch but they have stripped him of practically all political power. It is well to remember this in you comings and goings about England. Be careful not to criticise the King. The British feel about that the way you would if anyone spoke against our country or our flag. Today's King and Queen stuck with the people through the blitzes and had their home bombed just like anyone else, and the people are proud of them.

Britain the Cradle of Democracy. Today the old power of the King has been shifted to Parliament, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. The British Parliament has been called the mother of parliaments, because almost all the representative bodies in the world have been copied from it. It is made up of two houses, the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is the most powerful group and is elected by all adult men and women in the country, much like our Congress. Today the House of Lords can do little more than add its approval to laws passed by the House of Commons. Many of the titles held by the lords (such as "baron" and "duke" and "earl") have been passed from father to son for hundreds of years. Others are granted for outstanding achievement, much as American colleges and universities give honorary degrees to famous men and women. These customs may seem strange and old-fashioned but they give the British the same feeling of security and comfort that many of us get from the familiar ritual of a church service.

The important thing to remember is that within the apparently old-fashioned framework the British enjoy a practical, working twentieth century democracy which is in some ways even more flexible and sensitive to the will of the people than our own.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Electioneering; Unfree speech; Pensions; The A(P)8; Traffic fines; Trafficking; The bagpipe; & The Yanks Guide.

With an election looming, it's a racing certainty we're going to get a lot more of charisma-deprived President Rajoy telling us about the economic miracle he and his party have wrought. Right now, few Spaniards - less than 20% in fact - believe things have really improved and that Spain is standing on the springboard of economic take-off. Perhaps because, even more than elsewhere, nearly all politicians are seen as lying crooks. The only exceptions are those running the new left-of-centre Podemos party. Who'd win the election if it took place tomorrow. We wait to see what dirt the government digs up on them, even if has to be found where it doesn't exist. Politics, as they say, is a dirty business and politicians revel in dirt. The good ones, anyway.

An even smaller percentage of Spaniards - 12% - support the government's planned - and ludicrously named - 'Citizen Protection Law". This is a blatant attempt to control free speech in advance of next year's general elections. It'll be interesting to see if it's retained if the opposition socialist party gets back in. My guess is Yes.

One reason for citizen discontent could be that while local, regional, national and EU politicians and bureaucrats continue to line their pockets, the increase in pensions for next year will be 0.25%, or less than 2 euros a month, on average. The annual Galician average will then be a whopping €738 a month. Directors and bankers claiming responsibility for Spain's economic miracle will possibly get more. Per day. Even if the recovery was financed by taxpayers' money.

Very good news: The final stretch of the north coast motorway - the A8 - will open on Dec 31, thus fulfilling the promise that it'd be completed in 2014. I wonder if it will close again on Jan 1, until it really is finished. But, anyway, it will cut a bit more time off my drives to and from Santander, only provided that the high Mondoñedo stretch hasn't been closed because of fog. The only thing I have to worry about now is how long it will be before the free A8 becomes the AP8 toll road and crushing fees are imposed.

Which reminds me . . . Over the last 3 years, the Traffic Police in Galicia have fulfilled their revenue-raising responsibilities by extracting €61m from motorists. I wonder waht the amount was pre-Crisis.

Penultimately . . . Thanks to a famous Galician bagpipe-player, we now know that it was Gallegos who introduced this wonderful/appalling instrument to Scotland, in 1435. And that a Galician battalion fought with Rob Roy against the English at the battle of Glen Shiel in 1719. In revenge for this, he says, the British sacked Vigo in the following year, also doing a bit of damage to Pontevedra, I believe. Wikipedia, by the way, refers only to the 'Spanish' allies of the Scots. Who lost.

You Couldn't Make It Up Department: The police inspector and chief of the Anti-narcotics Group in Murcia have been arrested in connection with drug trafficking. HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for this tidbit.

Finally . . . More from the 1942 Guide for Yanks going to live among Limeys:-

The Country

You will find out right away that England is a small country, smaller than North Carolina or Iowa. The whole of Great Britain together – that is England and Scotland and Wales together – is hardly bigger than Minnesota.

England's largest river, the Thames (pronounced "Tems") is not even as big as the Mississippi when it leaves Minnesota. No part of England is more than one hundred miles from the sea.

If you are from Boston or Seattle the weather may remind you of home. If you are from Arizona or North Dakota you will find it a little hard to get used to. At first you will probably not like the almost constant rains and mists and the absence of snow and crisp cold. Actually, the city of London has less rain for the whole year than many places in the United States, but the rain falls in frequent drizzles. Most people get used to the English climate eventually.

If you have the chance to travel about you will agree that no area of the same size in the United States has such a variety of scenery. At one end of the English Channel there is a coast like that of Maine. At the other end are the great white chalk cliffs of Dover. The lands of South England and the Thames Valley are like farm or grazing lands of the eastern United States, while the lake country in the north of England and the highlands of Scotland are like the White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the East, where England bulges out towards Holland, the land is almost Dutch in appearance, low, flat and marshy. The great wild moors of Yorkshire in the north and Devon in the southwest will remind you of the badlands of Dakota and Montana.

Age Instead Of Size. On furlough you will probably go to the cities, where you will meet the Briton's pride in age and tradition. You will find that the British care little about size, not having the "biggest" of everything as we do. For instance, London has no skyscrapers. Not because English architects couldn't design one, but because London is built on swampy ground, not on a rock like New York, and skyscrapers need something solid to rest their foundations on. In London they will point out buildings to you like Westminster Abbey, where England's kings and greatest men are buried, and St. Paul's Cathedral with its famous dome, and the Tower of London, which was built almost a thousand years ago. All of these buildings have played an important part in England's history. They mean as much to the British as Mount Vernon or Lincoln's birthplace do to us.

The largest English cities are all located in the lowlands near the various seacoasts. In the southeast, on the Thames, is London – which is the combined New York, Washington and Chicago not only of England but of the far-flung British Empire. Greater London's huge population of twelve million people is the size of Greater New York City and all its suburbs with the nearby New Jersey cities thrown in. It is also more than a quarter of the total population of the British Isles. The great "midland" manufacturing cities of Birmingham, Sheffield, and Coventry (sometimes called "the Detroit of Britain") are located in the central part of England. Nearby on the west coast are the textile and shipping centers of Manchester and Liverpool. Further north in Scotland, is the world's leading shipbuilding center of Glasgow. On the east side of Scotland is the historic Scottish capital, Edinburgh, scene of the tales of Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson which many of you read in school. In southwest England at the broad mouth of the Severn is the great port of Bristol.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Quiz; A boob; Advertising; English; Spanish; Obits; Taxi guidls; Orujo risks; & Yo-Yo's then and now.

Who do you think this might be? Answer at the bottom of this post.

Oh dear. A charity up in La Coruña which provides clothing for the poor issued a notice on Xmas Eve advising of the days on which things could be collected: Gypsies were to come on Tuesdays and everyone else on Thursdays. Probably very sensible, if insensitive, but certainly not acceptable in these sensitive times.

Just before Christmas, my mail box was filled by a 92-page colour brochure of toys available from Din Don in town. I couldn't help pondering whether there wasn't a more targeted way of advertising. For example by identifying houses with kids. Or just handing them out to rug-rats in the street. I wouldn't mind but the glossy pages aren't much good for lighting a fire.

Yesterday I heard the Indonesian VP talking about the tsunami in perfect English and wondered whether we'd one day have a Spanish president who thought this was worth the effort. The three I've experienced certainly haven't.

Some new anglicisms: un buffer/bufer and el buffering. And el spooling.

And a new Spanish word for me - Un chaqué: A morning suit.

In the last week, El País has carried obituaries for both Billie Whitelaw, and Joe Cocker. Which is impressive.

Taxi fares are to rise by 2.1% in Pontevedra in January, against an inflation rate of close to zero. Could this be because they operate as a closed guild which negotiates with the council? And sets fire to the car of anyone who tries to operate privately and more cheaply? And then there's the reducing price of petrol/gas. Just asking.

Orujo is a liqueur which comes in 3 or 4 varieties. If you're a regular customer, you'll be given one or two glasses for free after a meal. It was reported yesterday that the police had raided an illegal factory up in the Galician hills, near Ourense. From the astonishing array of weapons collected, the business must be both highly profitable and cut-throat. Not wanting to go blind, I think I'll be giving them a miss in future. Especially in those places where all the drinks bottles fail to display the little sticker showing tax has been paid.

Finally . . . Just before Xmas, someone mentioned Yo-Yo biscuits and then showed something that was nothing like the minty chocolate biscuits I once enjoyed. And would do again, if I could find them. These were made by Burtons and United Biscuits, though I guess only UB sold them under the 'Yo-Yo' brand name. Burtons' were called 'Viscounts'.

Answer: It's the most likely sort of face for Jesus that experts can come up with. It's very different, of course, from any picture you've ever seen but, strangely, it's not a million miles away from Cecilia Giménez's version that gave us all so much amusement in 2012 and since. It creases me every time.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Boxing Day Morn.

Here's a snap of our Boxing Day dawn, with the sun rising over the hills and a mist rising over the river.

Interesting to read this morning that Spain's new king, Felipe VI, has had a relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow (her of the open marriage) going back some years. Possibly since beyond 2002, when this was written.

Wouldn't you know it. I thought about listing all the comments my daughter has made to me about me, my health, my way of life and the house, etc. So, I opened a file called Faye the Nag. There are numerous files on my computer's desktop, of course, but, when she glanced at them last night, guess which one her eyes alighted on. Miraculously, I was able to show her there were no entries in it. Yet. By chance, they're in another file.

Can't find my notepad, so that's it for today. Normal service tomorrow.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


This is an odd British film - Dinner for One - which is shown this time of the year in several European countries. Though never in Britain. The Germans, in particular, are big fans and presumably draw their concept of British humour from it. Anyway, here's a colour version. I can't tell what nationality the audience is but quite possibly it's British, at the live performance of 1963.

And here is the lustrous Judith Durham with a couple of seasonal songs: Silent Night and Just a Closer Walk with Thee And here she is singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing, just a year after a brain haemorrhage, at 70.

Finally, here's someone's idea of the worst outfits of 2014. I suspect many of us could come up with even worse examples.

Have a great day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dirty politics; Err . .Corruption; New words; St Vladimir; Chaucer; Fake art; & The Yanky Guide

The Spanish President had a chance to make a statement when he appointed the latest spokesperson for his governing PP party. So what did he do? He gave us the man who has the filthiest temper and the dirtiest language of all MPs. True to form, the latter promptly announced that the new left-wing party, Podemos, was "covered in dirt, not to say crap".

Talking of idiotic loose cannons . . . It was good to see North Korea getting some of its own medicine, whoever was responsible for its internet shut-down.

Corruption 1: The latest high-profile politician is resign in the face of financial skullduggery is the mayoress of Alicante.

Corruption 2: The Catalan opera singer, Montserrat Caballé, has agreed to remit €250,000 to the Tax Office, which is half of what she's said to have fiddled. She's also got a 2 month prison sentence but won't serve it as anything below 2 years doesn't count in Spain. You might ask why such sentences are imposed.

Corruption 3: Evidence is growing of collusion between the ex-king, his long-term German girlfriend and his son-in-law, the husband of in-the-dock Princess Cristina. There must be a book in here somewhere. Especially if they find the key documents which have suddenly gone missing.

An orang-utan ('jungle-man') in an Argentinean zoo has been declared a 'non-human person' in order to secure her freedom. I wonder if this works the other way, allowing some people to be declared apes. Possibly the new spokesman of the Spanish PP party.

2 more anglicisms:
1. Una crisma: An Xmas card.
2. Un clapping: A medical practice performed on people who need phlegm expressed from their tubes.

And a new word for me - Normcure: A unisex fashion trend characterized by unpretentious, average-looking clothing.
 A rebellion against hipsterdom, I guess.

I've just listened to a few minutes of a bizarre program on Moscow's RT channel. Essentially it was a paean of praise to Vladimir Putin, possibly not being aired for the first time. For this is a BBC report from early November which cites the same subject and the same players.

As you might have guessed, I try to read a page of Chaucer a day. Very hard at first, it does get easier as you begin to recognise words similar to their modern equivalents and words which are just spelled differently. Spelt, for example. Anyway, I've been patiently waiting for the first line which is exactly the same now as it was in the 14th century. And here it is:-
But now he is in prison in a cave

Penultimately, this is Roger Scruton's final podcast on the fakery of modern art, in which he lands his last hatchet blows on its rotting corpse. A sampler: Utter trash accumulates in our our museums, largely because it has a price. You can't own a novel or a symphony like you can own a work of Damien Hirst. They have no price. As a result, there are far fewer fake symphonies and novels.

Right on cue, I read this comment on this year's Turner Prize competition: It was the worst ever. The annual award this year cast its visitors into a black hole of interminable video pieces. Audiences spent more time than might reasonably be expected standing about in darkened rooms feeling decidedly unenlightened.

Finally . . . The next bit of THE 1942 GUIDE FOR YANKS ON THE ODD LIMEYS

Don't Be A Show Off.

The British dislike bragging and showing off. American wages and soldier's pay are the highest in the world. When your pay day comes, it would be sound practice to learn to spend your money according to British standards. They consider you highly paid. They won't think any better of you for throwing money around; they are more likely to think that you haven't learnt the common-sense virtues of thrift. The British "Tommy" is apt to be specially touchy about the difference between his wages and yours. Keep this in mind. Use common sense and don't rub him the wrong way.

You will find many things in Britain physically different from similar things in America. But there are also important similarities – our common speech, our common law, and our ideals of religious freedom were all brought from Britain when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Our ideas about political liberties are British and parts of our own bill of rights were borrowed from the great charters of British liberty.

Remember that in America you like people to conduct themselves as we do, and to respect the same things. Try to do the same for the British and respect the things they treasure.

The British Are Tough.

Don't be mislead by the British tendency to be soft spoken and polite. If they need to be, they can be plenty tough. The English language didn't spread across the oceans and over the mountains and jungles and swamps of the world because these people were panty-waists.

Sixty thousand British civilians – men women and children – have died under bombs, and yet the morale of the British is unbreakable and high. A nation doesn't come through that, if it doesn't have plain, common guts. The British are tough, strong people and good allies.

You won't be able to tell the British much about "taking it". They are not particularly interested in taking it ant more. They are far more interested in getting together in solid friendship with us, so that we can all start dishing it out to Hitler.

PS: My daughter has just told me there'll be 45 people at tonight's dinner next door. From experience, I know this will go on from 9pm to 5am tomorrow morning. She's thinking of sleeping elsewhere. Spanish lack of consideration at its worst.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Criminal princess; Gag protests; El Gordo; George Galloway; Sprouting; Judith Durham; And the Guide for Yanks.

Bad Xmas week news for Princess Cristina - the instructing judge has finally decided she'll face criminal charges of tax fraud. The trial is scheduled for the 2nd half of 2015, so there's plenty of time for the Spanish establishment (La casta) to find some legal reason why it shouldn't. Or just to sack the judge for some manufactured offence. Or both, probably. After all - What's the point of power if you can't abuse it?

Which reminds me . . . Unhappy Spaniards demonstrated in more than 30 cities yesterday, against the Gag Law, which, inter alia, will ban protest meetings anywhere near places selected by the government. There'll also be fines for folk who film or photograph police officers or who' disrespect' members of Spain's security forces. It seems to be a Latin thing to demand respect for numerous people in authority. And for the Catholic Church and its adherents, of course. A vestige of recent dictatorships, I guess.

For both the religious and the irreligious, the Xmas lottery, El Gordo (The Fat One), dished out €2.5 BILLION yesterday. Sadly, none of it came my way. Not even a duro nor a penique.

George Galloway is a British MP who's infamous for a number of egregious actions. Perhaps the worst was his cosying up to Saddam Hussein and lauding him to the skies - "Sir, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability." "Gorgeous George" has since become a standard-bearer for Muslims in the UK, married a 4th (young and pretty) wife and appeared on both Al Jazeera and Iranian TV, slagging off the West. So you won't be surprised to hear he's now on the Russian propaganda TV channel, RT. For some reason, George does all his interviews wearing a trilby. It can't be because he's bald as he's had little hair for a long time. Theories welcome.

Demonstrating just how insane tradition can be . . . 65 MILLION brussels sprouts will be sold in the UK tomorrow, ahead of the Xmas Day dinner. For the Spanish, this will take place around 10pm on Xmas Eve. Followed by another huge meal at 3pm on Xmas Day. Followed by the same performance at both New Year and Los Reyes (Jan 5-6). Given the noise levels next door, I really should go away every year. Except I'm invited for the NYE shindig - which normally goes on until 5am.

Penultimately . . . Judith Durham was the singer of the 60s group, The New Seekers. Before that, she'd actually been a performer of jazz and blues and, in the 70's, she recorded a double LP/album - The Hottest Band in Town. This is now available as a pair of CDs. So, how does she shape up singing numbers made famous by the likes of Bettie Smith? Well, pretty well, in my view; her unique (vibrato) voice, her immaculate phrasing and perfect pitch do justice to the songs. But others will surely disagree (Denis?). Needless to say, you can get some tracks on youtube and sample them all here, if you're tempted. And here she is singing with Woody Allen. BTW - She also gives a decent rendition of The Entertainer on the joanna.

Finally . . .


British Reserved, Not Unfriendly.

You defeat enemy propaganda not by denying that these differences exist, but by admitting them openly and then trying to understand them. For instance: The British are often more reserved in conduct than we. On a small crowded island where forty-five million people live, each man learns to guard his privacy carefully – and is equally careful not to invade another man's privacy.

So if Britons sit in trains or buses without striking up conversation with you, it doesn't mean they are being haughty and unfriendly. Probably they are paying more attention than you think. But they don't speak to you because they don't want to appear intrusive or rude.

Another difference. The British have phrases and colloquialisms of their own that may sound funny to you. You can make just as many boners in their eyes. It isn't a good idea, for instance to say "bloody" in mixed company in Britain – it is one of their worst swear words. To say "I look like a bum" is offensive to their ears, for to the British this means that you look like your own backside. It isn't important – just a tip if you are trying to shine in polite society. Near the end of this guide you will find more of these differences of speech.

British money is in pound, shillings, and pence (this is also explained more fully later on.) The British are used to this system and they like it, and all your arguments that the American decimal system is better won't convince them. They won't be pleased to hear you call it "funny money," either. They sweat hard to get it (wages are much lower in Britain than America) and they won't think you smart or funny for mocking it.

Editor's Note: A 'boner' was clearly something different back then. In the (US) text I am copying from, some automatic censor had replaced the word with asterisks. For 'dickie seat' it had substituted '****ie seat'. My thanks to reader Perry for explaining this to me.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Dubbing; Consideration for others; Ooliganism; Skype; Un countrie; Death by tazer; Risk; A foto; and The 1942 Guide for Yanks

A confession - I can't stand the dubbing which is such a feature of Spanish TV and films. One of the worst aspects of this is the bizarre voices of kids and teenagers. This stems from a prohibition on children working in this (protected) industry. So, more money for the adults, of course. My thanks to the Spanish reader who opened my eyes on this.

I've been known to say that - though wonderful on a one-to-one basis - the Spanish can be rather inconsiderate of others. I've attributed this to a lack of antennae and a malfunctioning radar system. Anyway, there was a long article by a Spanish writer in El País today, in which the author possibly went a tad overboard in praising English/British impartiality and fair-mindedness, contrasting this with the egocentricity of his compatriots. The Spanish attitude, he says, is summed up by the common adversarial phrases "Because I say so" and "You're not going to tell me anything". Here's the article in Spanish. If it's published in English, I'll provide the link.

Failing that for now, here's something from the paper on football hooliganism in Spain - Galicia, to be exact. And here, more generally.

I see Skype is shortly to introduce simultaneous translation for those talking in different languages. If Google's written efforts are anything to go by, this is going to have some disastrous consequences. Quite a few divorces, for example.

A new anglicism, but this time from Argentina - un countrie. This is a gated/ walled estate in which security measures are extreme. Hopefully this won't come to Spain.

Talking of criminals . . . A new description of death from the British police - The man became unresponsive. Well, yes. After being tazered, he was dead.

When I drove through Pontevedra last night I saw more than 10 bicycles, not one of which had a rear light. Or a front one, for that matter. Not even a reflector. Normally, I'm at ease with Spain's more relaxed attitude to risk but this just seems to be asking for death.

Talking of the city . . . I have to revise my dismissive view that most of the items in our Sunday flea market come from the house of the latest peasant in the campo to die. Today, many of them clearly came from his shed.

Penultimately . . . Another foto giving the lie to the myth that it rains all the time here in Galicia.

Finally . . .



You are going to Great Britain as part of an Allied offensive – to meet Hitler and beat him on his own ground. For the time being you will be Britain's guest. The purpose of this guide is to get you acquainted with the British, their country and their ways.

America and Britain are allies. Hitler knows that they are both powerful countries, tough and resourceful. He knows that they, with the other United Nations, mean his crushing defeat in the end.

So it is only common sense to understand that the first and major duty Hitler has given his propaganda chiefs is to separate Britain and America and spread distrust between them. If he can do that, his chance of winning might return.


No Time To Fight Old Wars

If you come from an Irish-American family, you may think of the English as persecutors of the Irish, or you may think of them as enemy Redcoats who fought against us in the American Revolution and the War of 1812. But there is no time today to fight old wars over again or bring up old grievances. We don't worry about which side our grandfathers fought on in the Civil War, because it doesn't mean anything now.

We can defeat Hitler's propaganda with a weapon of our own. Plain, common, horse sense; understanding of evident truths. 

The most evident truth of all is that in their major ways of life the British and American people are much alike. They speak the same language. They both believe in representative government, the freedom of worship, in freedom of speech. But each country has national characteristics which differ. It is by causing misunderstanding about these differences that Hitler hopes to make his propaganda effective.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Nurses; Hopitals v. GPs; Spanish prices & inflation; Scotland; Nationalists; Vikings in Galicia; & US v UK terms.

As you know, it's a mad world. Especially in the UK's ("Envy of the world") British National Health Service (NHS). While 80,000 applicants a year can't find places on nursing courses, thousands of nurses are being recruited from overseas. In particular, it turns out, from Spain. The suspicion is that this is because it costs the NHS 3 times more to train a nurse than it costs them to recruit a foreign one.

Talking of hospitals . . . Young Brits, it seems, are turning to the Spanish model of GP consultation - they're not bothering to try to get an appointment with their doctor but are going straight to the the Emergency Department of their nearest hospital. In Spain, the consequence of this is that the Urgencias are huge, crowded and slow. But at least you see a doctor (or 3, all with the same questions) within a few hours and any necessary tests will be done while you wait. Who can blame anyone, though I'd be more impressed if I ever saw anyone reading a book or magazine while they wait. Rather than just chatting to the 2 or 3 relatives that came along. But whatever rocks your boat, I guess. And the Spanish do love to talk.

Prices and inflation continue to decline in Spain. On the surface, this is good news but the economists say it ain't. For it heralds deflation and its concomitant reluctance to spend, leading to more layoffs. The good news is that the European Central Bank is going to tackle this EU-wide problem by 'pumping liquidity into the financial system'. God knows what this means but, whether it works or not, we can be sure the bankers will benefit.

With the oil price at 60 dollars a barrel, it's fascinating to recall that Alex Salmon predicated Scotland's economic future on twice this price. No wonder he quit the Scot Nats as quickly as he could. Before he was Roubled.

Talking of nationalists . . . My daughter went to a tango class in Vigo last night. One of her partners spoke to her in Gallego and - when told she didn't speak it - continued to do so. Thus can ideals stupidly override politeness. In contrast, the mayor of Pontevedra speaks only in Gallego to everyone in Pontevedra except me, to whom he does the honour of speaking in Castellano. Lovely man.

You may not know that, almost inevitably, the Vikings reached Galicia and may even have established settlements here. There's been little archeological research, apparently, but the University of Aberdeen has stepped into the breech and has set up a project. More info here. Maybe I can get a piece of the action myself.

Finally . . . In 1942, American UK-bound military personnel were given a leaflet aimed at helping them understand their strange hosts and fellow combatants. It makes fascinating (and amusing) reading as it describes a Britain which now barely exists. I'll be posting sections over coming weeks and here's the first, the wonderful Glossary. Suffice to say, many of the British words have since fallen out of use - sometimes completely, sometimes in favour of the American terms. I've italicised these as best I can. Of course, I've no idea how many American words were wrong back then or how many have changed or disappeared over 70 years. Perhaps someone could let us know. Meanwhile, have fun.


aisle (theater) – gangway
alcohol lamp – spirit lamp
ale – beer, or bitter
apartment – flat
apartment house – block of flats
ash can – dust bin
ashman – dustman
atomiser – scent spray
automobile – motor car or car
baby carriage – perambulator, or pram
baggage – luggage
baggage car – luggage van
bakery – baker's shop
bathrobe – dressing gown
bartender – barman, or pot man
bathtub – bath
battery (automobile) – accumulator
beach – seaside
beer – lager
bill (money) – banknote, or note
billboard – hoarding
biscuit – scone, or tea cake
bouncer – chucker out
bowling alley – skittle alley
broiled (meat) – grilled
business suit – lounge suit
call up – ring up
candy (hard) – boiled sweets
candy store – sweet shop
cane – stick
can opener – tin opener, or key
carom (billiards) – cannon
chain store – multiple shop
check baggage – register luggage
checkers (game) – draughts
chicken yard – fowl run
cigarette butt – cigarette end
closed season (for game) – close season
conductor – guard
closet – cupboard
coal oil – paraffin
collar button – collar stud
cookie – biscuit
cop – bobby
corn – maize, or Indian corn
cornmeal - Indian meal
cotton (absorbent) – cotton wool
cracker – biscuit (unsweetened)
daylight saving time – summer time
deck (of cards) – pack
derby (hat) – bowler, or hard hat
dessert – sweet
dishpan – washing-up bowl
drawers (men's) – pants
druggist – chemist
drugstore – chemist's shop
drygoods store – draper's shop
elevator – lift
fender (automobile) – wing, or mudguard
fish dealer – fishmonger
five-and-ten (store) – bazzar
floorwalker – shopwalker
frame house – wooden house
fruit seller – fruitierer
fruit store – fruterier's
fresh fruit – dessert (at the end of a meal)
french fried potatoes – chips
freight car – goods wagon
garters (men's) – sock suspenders
gasoline or gas – petrol
gear shift (automobile) – gear lever
generator (automobile) – dynamo
ground wire (radio) – earth wire
guy – bloke, fellow
haberdashery – men's wear
hardware – ironmongery
headliner (vaudeville) – topliner
highball – whiskey and soda
hood (automobile) – bonnet
huckster – coster or hawker
hunting – shooting
ill, sick – ill, poorly
instalment plan – hire-purchase system, or hire system
intermission – interval
janitor – caretaker, or porter
junk – rubbish
lawyer – solicitor
legal holiday – bank holiday
line up – queue up
living room – sitting room
lobby (theater) – foyer, or entrance hall
long distance (telephone) – trunks
low gear (automobile) – first speed
mail a letter – post a letter
mail box – pillar box
marriage certificate – marriage lines
molasses – black treacle
monkey wrench – screw spanner
movie house – cinema
movies – flicks
mucilage – gum
muffler (automobile) – silencer
necktie – tie
newsstand – kiosk
oatmeal (boiled) – porridge
oil pan (automobile) – sump
okay – righto
orchestra seats – stalls
package – parcel
pebbly beach – shingle
phonograph – gramophone
pie (fruit) – tart
pitcher – jug
poolroom – billiards saloon
potato chips – crisps
private hospital – nursing home
push cart - barrow
race track – race course
radio – wireless
railway car – railway carriage
raincoat – mackintosh, or mac, or waterproof
roadster (automobile) – two-seater
roast (of meat) – joint
roller coaster – switchback railway
rolling grasslands – downs
round trip – return trip
roomer – lodger
rooster – cock, or cockerel
rubbers – galoshes
rumble seat – ****ey [????]
run (in a stocking) – ladder
saloon – public house or pub
scallion – spring onion
scrambled eggs – buttered eggs
second floor – first floor
sedan (automobile) – saloon car
sewerage (house) – drains
shoestring – shoelace, or bootlace
shot (athletics) – weights
shoulder (of road) – verge
rubberneck wagon – char-a-banc
silverware – plate
slacks – bags
sled – sledge
smoked herring – kipper
soda biscuit (or cracker) – cream-cracker
soft drinks – minerals
spark plug – sparking plug
spigot (or faucet) – tap
squash – vegetable marrow
stairway – staircase, or stairs
string bean – French bean
store – shop
subway – underground
sugar bowl – sugar basin
suspenders (men's) – braces
sweater – pull-over
syrup – treacle
taffy – toffee
taxi stand – cab rank
telegram – wire
tenderloin (of beef) – under-cut, or fillet
ten pins – nine pins
thumb tack – drawing pin
ticket office – booking office
toilet – lavatory, closet
top (automobile) – hood
transom (of door) – fanlight
trolley – tram
truck – lorry
undershirt – vest, or singlet
union-suit – combinations
vaudeville – variety
vaudeville theatre – music hall
vest – waistcoat
vomit – be sick
washbowl – washbasin
washrag – face cloth
washstand – wash-hand stand
water heater – geyser
window shade – blind
"you're connected" – "you're through" (telephone)
windshield (automobile) – windscreen