Saturday, February 20, 2016


As I was crossing the bridge from the city at 11.45 last night, I was passed by one of the many inveterate young beggars from the old quarter. Knowing he's wasting his voice and money, he normally doesn't bother me at midday. Or any other time of the day or evening. But he'd clearly not recognised me from behind and, as he - rather rapidly - passed me, this is the not-unpleasant conversation that took place:
  • Señor. Can you give me 10 centimos to add to these coins I've got?
  • No. You're clearly off to O Vao [the gypsy drug supermarket].
  • Yes. I am.
  • Why? [As if I didn't know]
  • To get something to smoke
  • What?
  • Cocaine.
  • Well, I'm not going to give you money to buy that. It's not good for you.
  • I know?
And with that he rushed ahead to try to inveigle something out of the folk in a bar at the end of the bridge, in the entrance to a shopping mall. As he came out, I inexplicably weakened and gave him 20 centimos, but told him this was the last (as well as the first) thing he'd ever get from me. He didn't give the impression this concerned him and rushed off towards the gypsy settlement at the bottom of the most exclusive barrio in Greater Pontevedra.

Talking of Pontevedra . . . Oddly for a purely middle-class, wealthy-ish city, this has a mayor from the left-wing Galician National Block (the BNG). And a popular chap he is, too. Largely because he's pedestrianised(humanizado) not just the old quarter but also the shopping streets that radiate from it. This started just before I came, 15 years ago. And all that time the mayor and his council have campaigned to get rid of the smoke-and-smell-belching wood-pulp factory in our ría, or estuary. The only major employer in the area. (Yes, I know large-scale redundancies is a strange objective for a left-wing consortium but there you go). Anyway, a month or so ago, Madrid announced it was giving a 60 year[!] lease renewal to the company, in total defiance of (some) local wishes. As a result, there'll be vote of censure on President Rajoy in Monday's council meeting, aimed at making him persona non grata in Pontevedra. I've no idea what this means in practice but it might not be academic. For Rajoy is a son of the city and comes here regularly to see his family and visit his old haunts. And to be punched in the face in the street by his wife's teenage cousin. Anyway, the question that arises is – Will he be officially banned from his own birthplace? Vamos a ver. Meanwhile, we have the Lenten fancy-dress parade tonight, postponed twice because of precipitation. And tomorrow, weather permitting, we have the phoney cortege and immolation of our Lenten symbol, Ravachol. Also twice postponed. Elsewhere along our coast, the corpse is normally a huge sardine. But ours is a huge parrot. Use the Search box above to find an explanation of this in an earlier post.

Finally . . . More criminally offended religious sensibilities from the 15th century: A poetess is being prosecuted for reading out in public an encomium to the vagina in the form of the Lord's Prayer - starting with: Our mother who art in heaven, hallowed be thy c***. As one British paper reported the scandal. Needless to say, those who've initiated the prosecution are members of the Association of Christian Lawyers. An evidently humourless lot. Click here for the full “prayer to maternity” and the “ode aimed at dignifying the female body”. Something which the Catholic Church is less than famous for, of course.

A view of the city from my window, one sunny dawn last September:

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