Thursday, March 19, 2015

(Not)Criminal candidates; Castles in Spain again; The Brits: A Liverpool Library; British breasts; News(?)papers; and A warm welcome 'home'.

A while back (Back in the day?) the PP party in Spain promised there'd be no imputados included in their list of possible parliamentary candidates. Against the background of relentless corruption, this seemed like a tough challenge at the time.. But fortunately (for them) the law has just been changed (by them) and the term imputado has been dropped in favour of investigado. Hey presto! No criminals in our lists. No wonder one occasionally gets the feeling one is living in a third world country.

Possibly stimulated by the long-awaited decision to stop unjust evictions and demolitions down south, the Spanish property market is on the move upwards again. As ever, Brits lead the pack, buying twice as many properties as the next contender, the French. The percentages are: Brits19%; the French 9%; the Germans 7%; the Belgians, 7%; the Italians 6%; the Russians 6%; the Swedes 6%, and the Norwegians 4%.

Talking of national percentages, the latest DNA analysis of the British throws up some fascinating points:
  • The people of Cornwall and Devon are genetically different
  • The Cornish are different from anyone else in Britain
  • The Celtic Fringe folk are different from each other
  • The southern Welsh are different from the norther Welsh
  • There's little evidence of intermarriage with the Romans
  • There was little genetic influence on the British of the Vikings (so, more pillage than rape), and
  • Many English are 45% French and 25% German. But 'French' here doesn't mean the Norman invaders of 1066; it means the people ("a mystery set of migrants") who wandered north [why??] as the ice melted 15,000 years ago. I'd previously understood these to be Basque. But perhaps they all got in on the act.
Which reminds me . . . My sister and I were treated yesterday to a tour of the library of Liverpool's Atheneum Club. This was founded in 1797 and graciously allowed women to join soon after that, in 1997. There were many fascinating books there - including a late 13th century write-up of the articles of Magna Carta and first editions of both Bradshaw's railways guide and the Kelly Directory of Liverpool. Both of these were remarkably small and slim, bearing no relation to more modern editions. There was also a first edition of George Borrow's Letters to the Bible Society of the 1830s. These are about his exploits in Spain, trying to sell Protestant Bibles there. I told the librarian this would be of no interest to any sane person but he declined to let me take it off his hands for 10 quid. This prompted his tale of an attempt to auction off a job lot of Spanish-Latin dictionaries. Some sold but some didn't. It later emerged that the ones they'd been left with were actually Basque-Latin dictionaries. So, if you know any Basques . . .

In Spanish, the letters B and V are both pronounced as a B. I thought of this when I saw that the title of one of the books on the shelves contained the word "Improbement", suggesting the opposite had been the case in England in 1656. But I can find no support for this on the internet.

The British are rather fazed by breasts. Something you could never accuse the Spanish of being. In today's Daily Mail, the Home Secretary, Teresa May, is taken to task for displaying no more décolletage than one would see on the average TV News anchor-woman in Spain. The paper compares Mrs May with a glamour model. Which would also be true of the the average anchor-woman in Spain. Judge for yourselves here.

In southern Galicia, we have 12-14 daily newspapers. Each of these contains, well . . . news. In my mother's home town on Merseyside, there's just one weekly newspaper and it contains, well . . . adverts. I've never figured out how Galicia's newspapers survive financially - especially when many people read them in cafés - but the most plausible suggestion I've heard is that they're kept alive by ghost subscriptions from town halls, in return for glowing reportage on local developments.

Finally . . . My mother has a new kettle. More of a water-boiler-cum-percolator really. You put the cafetiere or tea-pot under the spout and set it going. The boiling water then immediately runs slowly down onto the coffee or tea. I assumed it would stop running when a mugful of water had been dispensed, as with the machines on the boat. But it didn't and I found myself with kitchen surfaces awash with hot water and coffee grains. Have you seen what these can get up to when you give them their freedom? Anyway, I cleaned up the surfaces and then set about cleaning the machine, especially the drenched underside of it. And it was then that I found that, if you grip the top of the machine to turn it over, you're likely to accidentally depress one of the buttons. The one which tells the machine to send out a jet of boiling water. I didn't have anything planned for yesterday morning. So the trip to the hospital fitted right in.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

How, pray tell, does DNA research show wether yes or no Romans indulged in legal wedlock with Britons?


Colin Davies said...

The adjective doesn't matter. The point is the Romans and the Brits had little carnal knowledge of each other.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

How, pray tell, does DNA research prove that Romans and Britons did not, well, you know… frolic?

The Romans were a civilized bunch. They probably used condomiums…


Perry said...


What was your source for the saucy bits of DNA rhetoric, pray tell?

Three years ago, my youngest son coughed up £150 for his & my DNA to be analysed by

We found that his mother's line was traceable back to a Danish woman resident in the Danelaw of Northumbria circa 900 AD. Odin be praised!

My Ancestry Composition is British & Irish 54.7%, French & German 13.9%, Scandinavian 1.6% & Broadly Northern European 28.2%. In addition Broadly Southern European is 1.4%, North African is less than 0.1% & 0.1% is unassigned.

Ergo, minuscule contributions from Carthage & Rome.

My DNA analysis also picked up that I am homozygous on the genotype for Alpha 1 Antitrypsin deficiency (ZZ), which is why I have developed emphysema since turning 65 in 2007. However I did not understand the significance of the finding until I was informed by the Royal Brompton 5 months ago that my emphysema is genetic. When I re-read the report, there was the result I ignored, right at the top of a list of 53 other genetic disorders that I do NOT have.

Apart from a little wheeziness in the morning that dissipates after a cup of coffee, it doesn't trouble me.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks for all that, Perry. The original report was in Nature, follwed up by articles in all the papers. I was thinking of having a profile done but perhaps not now. The A1AT stuff sounds terrifying!

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