Religious adherents come in many different guises, even within the same faith. I, for one, had no idea how many sects there are in Islam. I mention this because I read yesterday of extreme - not to say ludicrous - beliefs in both Christianity and Islam. A pastor in the USA died of a snake bite while obeying the Biblical "instruction" to handle poisonous snakes. He even refused medical help, on the grounds that God would protect him. But God had his mind on other things. And then I read that a young mother had been stoned to death in Pakistan because she was found to have a mobile phone. The mob was led by her uncle, who found alleged Hadith instructions to be of greater importance than his blood links to his niece. Or even than her life. I wonder when an omniscient God looks into the future, he sees a time when all this lunacy has disappeared from the earth. And I mean before its final destruction. Let's hope so. If he can't, it'll mean it isn't going to happen. Millions of years from now, people will still be stoning each other to death because their beliefs don't conform. But rest assured, when I get to Heaven I'll be taking this up with Big G. So all is not lost. Unless . . .
But, anyway, . . . With the Winter Olympics on the TV, it's been easy to prove that everyone younger than 35 in the UK now pronounces medal with the same semi-glottal stop used for model. Which is at least consistent. I hoped to be able to give you the modern pronunciation here and here. But, in fact, it's the traditional way favoured by us ancients. And here the accent is American.
Well, the Scot Nats' response to the broadsides from London and Brussels was as expected - a mixture of bluster, insults and pointless threats. The President of the EU was dismissed as "a preposterous man", which should go down well with him. It was, as someone labelled it "The chippy politics of grievance". It may play well in some Braveheart parts of Scotland but elsewhere it's seen as non-productive. Even counter-productive. There'll be smiles in both London and Madrid today. But consternation in Barcelona, where they may also have seen Cataluña as a shoo-in to EU and euro membership - presupposing they get past the huge barrier of Spanish resistance to their departure. Talking of Spain, perhaps the most disingenuous Scot Nats response to the events of the weekend was to twist the comments of the Spanish Foreign Minister on the independence process ("We're relaxed about it") to mean that Spain wouldn't veto the entry of Scotland into the EU and the euro. I doubt they even believe this themselves, but politics is politics. If you're going to tell a lie, tell a big one. As Hitler is reputed to have said.
When the train crash occurred outside Santiago last year, there was a witch hunt of the driver and the media and the mob convicted him of sole responsibility within days. Some of us felt that there must be shared responsibility and the enquiring judge - on the basis of some pretty shocking evidence of the dismissal of safety concerns - has now pronounced that the track management company - ADIF - consciously endangered lives. It's difficult to imagine him coming to any other conclusion.
I mentioned intrusive advertising last week . . . Watching a football match on Sunday night, I was reading down the list of the players when a bloody plane obliterated it and a voiceover said something about Air Europe or Air Berlin. I remain certain this wouldn't be tolerate elsewhere but it's still a joy to see how far Spanish companies will go in interrupting viewing with their ads. Outside the real commercials, I mean.
Finally . . . Tom Finney died recently. He was an outstanding player for Preston North End and for England. He only ever played for Preston, despite lucrative offers from Italy. By trade he was a plumber and - because he was so superior to his team mates - Preston was once dismissed as The plumber and his 10 drips. This sounds funny in English but I have to tell you it doesn't in Spanish. So don't waste your time.
January: 31 days. On which it rained: 28 - 93%
February: 18 days. On which it has rained: 18 - 100%. So, 46 out of 49 - 94%, and rising.