Monday, January 05, 2015

The internet; Cyclists; Olive oil; Spanish blogs; Love of gin; Face cream; The eurozone; & The last bit of the Guide.

The internet: Undeniably wonderful. But . . . "In open, democratic countries social media are too easily infiltrated by the unreliable, the pestilential or the downright insane". Happily, this blog doesn't suffer from this modern curse.

Walking into town yesterday midday, I witnessed a minor accident when a cyclist mounting the pavement right in front of me fell and hit his head against the iron railings. Fortunately, he was decked out in all the gear modern cyclists sport, including a helmet. But this wan't enough and, when I held out my hand to lift him up, he declined it and preferred to stay laid out on the pavement. So I departed, leaving him to his colleagues. One of whose bikes, leaning unsecured on the railings, I could easily have stolen. It struck me.

Which reminds me . . . It's obligatory for cyclists to wear helmets in Spain but 14 of the cyclists who died last year didn't. Possibly because the police don't seem to do much - if anything - to enforce cycling laws. Contrast those in respect of motorists. Whose fines are presumably much higher. Though they do seem to have stopped scooterists riding round at 150 decibels, having illegally removed their silencers.

Talking about laws . . . The EU has decreed that bars and restaurants can't offer olive oil in refillable bottles. This may well be happening in the UK and elsewhere but news of the law doesn't seem to have reached Spain yet. Or not this bit anyway.

There are quite a few folk who write about Spain. Here's a list of them from Lenox of The Entertainer on Line. He doesn't pull his punches, describing The Bad Rash as 'left-wing claptrap'. This blog, by the way, says it's about about 'Catalan independence, Spanish corruption and English perfidy' but I can't find any evidence of the last mentioned. Modesty prevents me from citing the blog with the most referrals. Whatever these are.

As I've noted, gin is extraordinarily popular in Spain. Here's one explanation for this.

My elder daughter has persuaded me to buy a tube of face cream. It helped that it was only €2.50. So, I'm applying it to only half my face and, in 3 months' time, will defy her to tell me which.

Another lovely sunny day, another splendid dawn:

Penultimately . . . Just in case you're interested, here's one prediction on the Greek crisis: The eurozone as we know it will not survive – but there will be a propaganda campaign of Soviet proportions to persuade us that it has. The Greek elections will see the irresistible force of national popular will – the Left-wing anti-austerity party Syriza – in direct collision with the immovable object of the central authority of the EU. But the EU promotional machine is already spraying foam over the crash site in the form of assurances that Greece’s spectacular flameout will not damage the rest of the economies in Europe, the renegade country having been safely sealed up in an airtight container. Even if this is true and the immediate economic impact of Greece leaving the eurozone is manageable, the political consequences for the EU will be potentially catastrophic. If Greece restored the drachma in some reincarnated, devalued form, and then benefited from a huge increase in tourism and investment, the electorates of Spain and Italy, with their shocking levels of unemployment, would surely demand similar possibilities. Even if Greece does not manage a rapid economic recovery, the glorious prospect of restoring democratic accountability to its national government will be an incitement to restive dissident voices in the rest of southern Europe. Then again, the EU may see this coming and do some five-minutes-to-midnight deal with a Syriza government to keep Greece in the euro but in some sort of looser second-order relationship, thus establishing the principle of two-tier euro membership for which the peoples of many states – maybe even Germany – would begin to clamour. That will be the end of any prospect of true monetary and political union and a first step toward the effective dismantling of the eurozone – but nobody will admit it.

Finally . . . The final bit of the 1942 Guide for Yanks in Limeyland:


Don't make fun of British speech or accents. You sound just as funny to them but they will be too polite to show it.

Avoid comments on the British Government or politics. Don't try to tell the British that America won the last war or make wisecracks about war debts or about British defeats in this war.

NEVER criticize the King or Queen.

Don't criticize the food, beer, or cigarettes to the British. Remember they have been at war since 1939.

Use common sense on all occasions. By your conduct you have great power to bring about a better understanding between the two countries after the war is over.

You will soon find yourself among a kindly, quiet, hard-working people who have been living under a strain such as few people in the world have ever known. In your dealings with them, let this be your slogan:

It is impolite to criticize your hosts; It is militarily stupid to criticize your allies.


Anthea said...

Cycle helmets. Think back to how long it took for the wearing of motorcycle helmets to be enforced. It only worked when they began to fine people. can they be bothered to do the same for cycle helmets?

Perry said...

An Italian acquaintance was a restaurant owner together with his English wife. He kept incredibly fit by cycling as much as possible. Came the day for them to retire; they sold up & retired to a beautiful apartment on the Adriatic coast of Italy. They had an idyllic life for some months until one Sunday he was cycling with some friends...........

Some years earlier in England, his wife had finally persuaded him to purchase & wear a modern safety helmet in place of the old fashioned leather item he had worn for years. A few weeks later he & a group of his friends took part in a mass bike ride from London to Brighton. I've completed it 3 times, but only one way. The keen ones cycle back to London almost immediately they arrive in Brighton.

My friend was intending to do the return journey as well & was riding in the main bunch, when after only a mile from the start there was a pile up. His bike stopped, but he did not & he dived straight into the road surface, head first. He must have pivoted on his head because the helmet was scratched from one side, right over the crown to the other side. The helmet was also badly cracked as it absorbed the impact, but it's wearer was uninjured, save for road rash & the £3000 bicycle also took a bit of a hammering. He blessed his Almighty for his deliverance & his wife's powers of persuasion.

Back to that Sunday in Italy. Going down a steep hill there was crash involving a car & my friend was catapulted into the air & despite wearing his new helmet, he was knocked unconscious. The others unwisely lifted him to the side of the road & broke his neck. For over 20 years he has cursed his fate that he did not die that day, because it was a high fracture & he lost the use of all his limbs. For his wife, it has been almost a greater tragedy as both have lost their contentment with one another & their religious faiths.

I think I've got a new word for you. "Estraperlo" was incorporated into the Spanish language with the meaning of any business which is illegal or corrupt.

Coincidently, on the subject of gin, I started reading yesterday how Mother's Ruin became the Spirit of London.

Have you heard about boutique gins?

I'll stop now & pour myself another G & T & retire for the night.