Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 31.7.16

Even more frustration today but, hey ho. Duty calls.

Excellent News: Since I came here in 2000, road deaths have plummeted by more than 75%. I imagine this is pure coincidence.

Spain and the EU: Don Quijones points out that it was Germany who forced leniency for Spain over its chronic failure to meet the deficit. "Does this rare act of benevolence from Germany represent a genuine shift in policy toward the Eurozone’s Club Med members or is it merely an act of p olitical expedience?", he/she asks. See below for the answer, as it won't paste here. Beyond me.

Moscow Propaganda: "Russia has ramped up spending on foreign information 'black ops' by more than 100m pounds". You have been warned.

Pontevedra Politics: In 1952, in what was presumably an act of supreme brown-nosing, the Pontevedra provincial government made Franco its Perpetual President. Yesterday, they finally got round to dethroning him. Perhaps they had to wait this long to be sure of unanimity.

Finally . . . Sheep People. Every summer there are huge traffic jams at the bottom of my hill, as the city dwellers exit en masse for the beaches along the coast. Or for their summer holiday home 15km away (Sic). Sitting in one of the jams is bad enough but imagine how annoyed one/I can get when you can't get into town because the great majority of Spanish drivers are too whatever to leave a gap for crossing traffic. The problem of jams is so bad the council is talking about a new parallel road to ease the chaos. This is madness. For, only a few years ago, they built a new bridge to take city traffic to a new via rapida to the coast road some way out of the city. And they signposted all traffic this way. As far as i can see, though, I am the only person to use this route. To go home, in fact. Much to the astonishment of my neighbour, the lovely Ester. Anyway, here's a foto of the stationary cars on the relevant bridge yesterday. And another of the empty parallel bridge.


I finally found how to post fotos via my phone. So, here are snaps of the Slow City Hostel and one of its owners, Jorge. You won't believe how much trouble I've had including these . .

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ponters Pensées 30.7.16

NOTE: My laptop fell on the floor yesterday  – off the ironing board – and later gave up the ghost. I’m writing this on my phone, so it will be shorter than usual. I have yet to master writing text on this, so you may well hear me cursing from wherever you are.

SPANISH GOVERNMENT: Should we have  3rd round of elections in November, my suggestion would be that there’s an additional option on the ballot paper: None of the above. Let’s stay with the non-government which has served us well for the last 12 months.

ILLEGAL PROPERTIES: Using satellites and drones, the government has discovered 1.9 million of these. The worst offending regions – in percentage terms – are Extramadura and Galicia, the 2 poorest of Spain’s regions. Which is hardly surprising against the backcloth of very high taxes if ever the government gets involved in transactions of any sort.

TAXPAYER LARGESSE: If you’re a state pensioner here, the government will heavily subsidise your holidays under the IMERSO VIAJES scheme. Need I say that this is designed to help the country’s hotel owners. As if they need this right now. Especially after the latest news of dangers elsewhere – the Zika virus in Florida.

SPANISH TEACHERS: I was with 3 of these yesterday when they all urgently consulted their phones to see where the government would be instructing them to work as of September. Astonishingly, this is only provisional. They won’t find out where they’re actually going to work for another month. Another Franco leftover?

RUSSIAN PROPAGANDA: When I tune into RT TV later this morning I’m sure I’ll find them mocking reports that Moscow has set up a disinformation centre in Scotland.

FINALLY . . . I bought some hiking trousers that I liked so much I ordered a second pair yesterday. Like the first, they have a serious flaw – there are no rips or tears across the knees. So, I’ll have to do this myself if I’m to be 'a la mode'.


Walking down the Street of Bitterness yesterday, I found myself outside the newish Slow City Hostel. Here are some fotos. Or, rather, there aren't. Problems with copying from Word. So, my immediate assessment:-

Pretty cheap. At 17.50-20 euros a night, year round.
Super location. Quiet street. Close to my favourite tapas bar. Right in the centre of the old quarter.
Very pleasant owners.
Very clean.

None so far. Shared cooking and bathing facilities, perhaps. But it is a hostel. It’s fully booked at the moment, so you'll need to reserve if you’re thinking of a visit later in the year.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ponters Pensés: 29.7.16

Spanish Government: The farce continues, with the king trying to issue ultimatums to the various actors. The latest development seem to be that acting-president Rajoy will agree to have a vote in Congress on the candidacy of his PP party but, expecting failure, might well not attend it. As  someone has commented: Spain's prospects of avoiding a third general election appear slimmer than ever, after King Felipe finished his round of consultations this week. 

Doing Spain Properly:
1. Dealing with the sun.
2. Your Spanish bucket list entries.

Gibraltar: Nothing could have been more predictable than the reaction of the Spanish Foreign Minister - Motormouth Margallo - to the Brexit vote . . . The Spanish Government will veto the terms of any Brexit negotiation between the UK and the EU that seeks to include Gibraltar. Sr Margallo never misses an opportunity to play to Spain's far right gallery. Of course, he might not be in the job at the relevant moment. With luck.

The ECB and Greece: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard tells us that the IMF admits a disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece. More on an astonishing report here. As ever, the EU political project was seen as more relevant that the rights and the wellbeing of its citizens. Or some of them at least. The poorest and least powerful.

1. As regards doping in sport, the channel sees everything as a politically-biased Western attack on Russia. It seems to be beyond their capabilities to recognise that attitudes and actions stem from the fact it is/was state-sponsored. I mean . . . how political can you get??
2. It was good to see the analyst Bernadetti Beri wipe the floor with RT's stock harridan yesterday in respect of Syria. On this subject, RT's main objectives are to prove that:- Assad is not that bad; that the 'moderate' opposition isn't really moderate (probably accurate here); that everything the USA does is merely political theatre; that Russia has got everything entirely right; and that the stupid West has got everything wrong. It's surely hard to be objective on Syria but RT - with a total lack of subtlety - doesn't even bother to try.

Driving in Spain: Yet another warning about roundabouts/circles. Or, rather, yet another repeat of the same warning . . . Be very careful about cars on your right. Yesterday, I twice had the challenge of someone doing a U-turn while in the outside(right) lane. In the case of a learner driver, this was entirely without signals. If you try to exit from the inner lane and hit a driver on your right, the law says this is entirely your fault, regardless of how stupidly the other driver was behaving. Never exit without looking into your mirror and/or over your shoulder. Always remembering that, here in Poio, you might be booked for turning your head more than 28 degrees.

Finally . . . Spanish processes: Why do these always take longer than elsewhere? I've just had to securitise my bank bank card in order to buy a car seat for my granddaughter, due in August. For one reason and another, I had to enter my account number at least 10 times. Midst a good deal if frustration and irritation. Incidentally, as with bikes, news laws and new techology have conspired to take the price of cars seats to levels many times higher than when we bought one for my granddaughter's mother! The one I've been instructed to get comes in at a mere €500. A car-seat, that it, not a bloody bike.


In 16 years, we've had a variety of contenadores near my house. And they've been positioned in at least 50 different permutations over the years. One of these directly opposite my front gate.

But now they've all been put together in one place, on their own little concrete base. So, it looks like there won't be any more changes for a while. Which is good news, even though I now have to walk 100m to get to them . . .  The question is - How long it will it be before they're covered in the brambles (called silvas locally but zarzas in Spanish) growing profusely behind them . . . ?

1. Tourism: Here's what at least some folk in Palma, Mallorca think about it.
2. Post Brexit Nationality: Here's something of interest to those who want to be both British and Spanish.
3. Filtering my hits: Not working. 1,300 yesterday, many from Moscow.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ponter Pensées: 28.7.16

Spanish Government: We still don't have one of these, despite 2 rounds of elections since last December. And no one seems at all clear whether we'll have to have a 3rd round in November. Here's a Private Eye cartoon I've modified to turn it into a comment of the approach of Spanish politicians to the challenge of forming an administration:-

The Spanish Economy: Here's how tourism has progressed since Franco finally allowed the country to be opened up - after a fashion - in the 1960s. Annual visitors:-
1951: 1m
1961: 7m
1973: 35m
2002: 52m
2015: 68m
2016: 25m until end May. 11% up on 2015. Brits up 16%. Say 75m for the whole year.
An extra 2.2m are reckoned to be coming here this year because of problems in other places. Tourism now represents 11.5% of Spain's GDP, not much below the construction sector at its (phony) height in 2007/8, as I recall. So, let's hope volcanic activity in, say, Iceland, doesn't block out the sun for a year or more. Or that AGW doesn't turn Spain into the Northern Sahara Desert.

Good Books:

  1. As a sufferer - every 20 years or so - from major depressions, I naturally bought the well-reviewed Reasons to Stay Alive, by Matt Haig. If you're a fellow victim, this won't really tell you very much. But, if not, you'll certainly get a great insight into how cruel the condition is. One day I'll write a book about my own experiences. The problem being it'll be hard to make it funny . . .
  2. Travellers in Spain by David Mitchell is a delightful run-through of comments made by visitors from the 16th century until today, almost. Originally written in 1988, the last edition was published in 2004. I'll be quoting from it soon.

Appoyo?: Imagine my pleasure to see David Mitchell - on his last page - citing Galicia as a region he loved because it still felt like the Spain that had long disappeared from other large tracts of the country, even on its coast:- I remember Galicia with particularly vivid delight. . . . the rías[estuaries] near Pontevedra, where - emerging into mild sunshine from the monastery in Appoyo, I watched a line of brawny, bent-over women in a field, hacking up weeds with short-handled mattocks, singing, chatting ribaldries, hawking and spitting, just as Jardine had seen them 2 centuries ago; a sunken, ferny, fox-gloved lane leading to a warm shallow sea. In the distance 2 bare-footed nuns with dazzlingly white coifs digging for clams. Moored fishing boats set in a delicate cage of canes, as in a Chinese watercolour. Granite horreos at the beach's edge, interspersed with tiny circular ticks[?] topped by a decorative twist of hay and a twig of apples.  In fact, the sea - which is never warm - is some way away from the monastery. As is Combarro, where I believe he saw the horreos.  I can easily forgive Mitchell for some poetic licence but where on earth is Appoyo? I don't think I know a word in either Spanish or Galician with a double P. Did he mean A Poyo? Or - most likely - Poio, which is my barrio and which  has a large monastery? Surely the latter. A strange mistake to make for a writer on Spain. Or even just Galicia, for that matter.

Jewish Spain: The Faro de Vigo recently highlighted this fabulous Jewish Bible written in the late 15th century and, allegedly, finished in the Galician city of A/La Coruña.

Try here for a bit more on this. The Jewish community of Galicia - such as it has been since 1492 - is demanding that Oxford University return this treasure to Spain. Some hope, I'd guess.

Pontevedra Fashions: There was a show on Monday in a local institute. It's good to see that our local kids are up there with the international doyens of this crazy industry.

Finally . . .  Pokemon Go: I saw this new, strange sign on a wall yesterday. Can it be associated with this craze?


  1. No, my car remote control isn't amplified at low tide. BUT: At high tide, the distance is even greater than 200 metres.
  2. I'm trying to exclude Russian hits from my numbers but am finding it hard to follow the instructions on how to do this on the incredibly complicated, for me, Google Analytics site. Not at all sure I've succeeded.
  3. My weight loss campaign: I'm now heavier than I've ever been here in Spain.
  4. The European Commission has announced it won't be levying fines against Spain or Portugal for its failure to meet deficit target for 9-11 years in a row. There may be a freezing of some grants/subventions. What a surprise!

A nice place to stay in Galicia: Belonging to the parents of some friends of mine.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 27.7.16

Spanish Myths: A French Dominican priest, visiting Andalucia in 1705, recorded his astonishment that people here believed that the ship in which the prophet Jonah fled God's presence was from Cadiz; that the Three Wise Men were Spanish kings who sailed from Cadiz to the Holy Land; and that St James, the alleged apostle of Spain, travelled from Tyre in a Cadizian vessel and disembarked at Cadiz. No one believes any of these now, of course. Everyone knows, for example, that St James landed here in Galicia, at Padrón, in a crewless stone boat that had brought him 'back' to a place no one knew he'd ever been to. And that his corpse played hide-and-seek with the locals for about 900 years, before finally being put into a silver casket in Santiago cathedral. We've moved on a lot in 300 years.

Well, I'll Go to the Bottom of Our Stairs!: Or, putting it another way: Blow me down with a feather!

  1. The EU will give Spain another 2 years - on top of 9 already - to get its deficit down to the 'sacrosanct' 3%. Of course, no one with a brain thinks they'll do this.
  2. In the UK this week a horse with odds of 200-1 romped home to victory - the longest winning odds in the centuries-old history of racing there.
  3. RT TV has been reporting on manipulation in the US media in favour of Mrs Clinton. They might well be right to do so, of course, but they are the blackest of pots. You have to admire the chutzpah.
  4. Galicia is second only to Aragón when it comes to 'irregularities' in the description of properties in municipal Catastros. I'd have assumed it was top of the class.
Pontevedra Corridas: As part of our annual big fiesta during the first 2 weeks of August, we normally have 4 bullfights over the 2 weekends. This year there's only 3. Reduced interest or a question of finance and 'austerity? Dunno.

I Guess it Seemed a Good Idea to Someone: They're re-surfacing the roads on the northern approaches to and exits from Pontevedra city. But they've left undisturbed the large white sign you see on the road as you approach from Villagarcia:-

Finally . . . A shattered illusion: For a while now, Google have been recording the hits to this blog at  800-2,000 a day. But I had my suspicions and yesterday I researched the issue of bots, especially those originating in Russia. And I've now done something to stop the recording of hits from these infernal, eternal machines and expect a big drop in numbers. I imagine I'm of interest to Russian bot-managers because I occasionally cite nonsense from Moscow's outrageous propaganda channel RT TV. I do hope I'm on some file as a subversive.


Everyone knows that Spanish women use fans, sometimes to very erotic effect. Against that, I can't recall seeing a fan here in Pontevedra since I arrived in 2000. But, yesterday. when the temperature had hit 35 degrees, one of the city's guapas allowed me to take this foto. And then gave me permission to post it here:-

Postscript 1: An Anglican bishop commenting the Islamic terrorists thereat to priests: - The only weapon we have is prayer. God help them, then.

Postscript 2: As I write, RT TV is majoring on Mrs Clinton's income. I guess we can expect to hear about President Putin's some day soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 26.7.16

Spain and the EU: Given the tsunami of cash in this direction in the last 40 years, you can easily understand why the Spanish regard the institution with affection. And then there's the fact that Brussels condemns their corrupt Establishment for things such as the ludicrously inadequate investigation into the Santiago rail crash of 2013. Not that this changes much, of course.

Richard Ford on Spain: Anyone with a real interest in Spain must read the wonderfully-written commentaries of this English author of the early 19th century. He's astonishingly caustic at times but clearly a great lover of the Spanish people. Despite sometimes (always?) having the blackest of hearts, he writes like an angel. Try his Gatherings From Spain (free ebook), if you can't afford his Handbook for Travellers in Spain. His publishers originally declined to release the first draft of this, so nasty was it in parts. Having read bits of a later edition, one can only imagine what this must have been like!

The EU and BrexitThis is a podcast which perfectly encapsulates both my view of the last 25 years and of now. I'm a tad biased but I think everyone who supports the EU and opposes Brexit should be forced to listen to it. Daily.

Galician Highways: Well, they've waited a mere 13 years for it - almost as long as the rest of us in the region have waited for the overdue AVE high-speed train - but the residents of the charmingly-named Coast of Death now have their 26km bit of the A552, between Baio and Carballo. Eventually, this will be connected with other bits of this highway. But no one believes the official forecasts of when this will be, of course. Cosas de España.

Talking of Galician highways . . .

The Infamous AP9: I knew this Audasa-owned road was one of the most expensive in Spain - it doubles your fuel cost from, say, Pontevedra to La Coruña - but I hadn't realised Vigo is the only large city in Spain which doesn't have a free ring-road. Truly a licence to print money. Which Audasa is now aiming to get a lump sum for. There's no shortage of prospective buyers, of course.

Finally . . . . Keeping Secrets from Your Partner: Would you hide details of your finances from your partner? Here's the percentage who said Yes to this question in a few countries:-
Spain: 26%
The EU average: 31%
The USA: 32%
France: 50%. The highest by some way.

As for me, the percentage was 0% when I was a young man. Now that I've been through an expensive divorce, this might just be at the other pole, if I were ever to live with another woman . . .


A cartoon I recently enjoyed  . . . and shared with visitors from Norway:-

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 25.7.16

BlaBlaCar: Spain is reported to be the only country in which this company has had difficulties setting up. I wonder why. Could it be the usual problem of (effective) opposition from vested interests such as the bus companies? Probably.

'Involuntary' Temporary Seasonal Jobs: I'm not quite sure what these are but here are the worst (and the 'best') countries in their respect:-
Greece: 69% of all temporary, part-time jobs
Slovakia: 65%
Spain: 63%
OCED average: 19%
UK: 16%
USA: 8%
Switzerland: 8%
Norway: 6%

Why Do They Keep on Doing it?: The Director of the Traffic Department has been forced to resign - a rare event in Spain - for giving her husband's company €50k's worth of research projects without putting the work out to tender. A dedo - by the finger - as it's called here. To answer my own question, I guess it's a question of the logic used by the serial illegal parkers - Yes, there's an (increasing) risk of being done for it but the maths suggest the chances are still low.

Knowledge of Spain: Arising early this morning, I was told by my brain I'd failed to give the answers to the quiz of the other day. Though no one complained and so no one may be interested, here they are:-
1. The Catholic Church begin to distance itself from Franco's repressive dictatorship in the late 50s
2. The 1971 attempt by certain Spanish Catholic clerics to get the Church to apologise for its role in the Civil War was a failure
3. After Franco's heir apparent was blown sky high by ETA in 1973, he was nicknamed Spain's first astronaut
4. Spain's middle class was only 14% of the population in 1950. It grew by 1975 to c. 33%
5. Women were 15% of the working population in 1950. This grew by 1974 to c. 30%
6. Charlie Chaplin's 1937 film The Great Dictator was first shown in Spain in 1972

Pontevedra Dogs: During their visit 2 weeks ago, my sister and my niece insisted they kept seeing 3-legged canines. Indeed, they claimed to have seen 4 of them during one morning alone. I replied that I didn't recall seeing any in 16 years. And I still haven't. I can only conclude that having visions is a side effect of relentless shopping. Or that they saw the same (visiting) dog 4 times.

My 'Secret' Car Park: The 2 cars in front of mine yesterday had Portuguese plates. How the hell did they know about the place? Is some bugger disseminating info on the web?

Finally . . .  Unlocking Your Car: Some readers may know you can increase the distance at which the remote will do this by holding it next to your head. Honestly. Something to do with the water in your brain. Crossing a bridge last night, I wondered if I could bounce the signal over the river at a distance of 200 metres or so. Indeed I could. I suspect this won't work at low tide but will report.


This is yet another jewellers in Pontevedra, right next to the market, in a not-very-wealthy part of town. A genuine shop?:-

And this is 2 of our numerous beggars, arguing right in front of me last night. The skinny one - a regular - was unhappy at the other - a well-fed newcomer - plying his trade on his patch. 

The intruder asked me, rather aggressively, if I'd really taken a foto of them. Which I denied, of course. So, I hope he doesn't read this blog.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 24.7.16

The Horrendous Santiago Rail crash: Three years on, no one except the driver has been prosecuted, no one has resigned, very few of the victims or relatives have received any of the payments due to them, and the government has said it can't possibly re-do an official investigation that Brussels rejected as 'inadequate'. Spanish justice? Oh, and the proper safety system has yet to be installed on the relevant, dangerous stretch of track.

Kamikaze Drivers: In Spain, these are people who drive the wrong way down the autopistas. We have quite a few of them in Galicia, the most famous being the chap in a wheelchair heading for a brothel. But a surprising entrant in this class of negligent driver this week was a young (North) American guy(un yanqui) who rode his motorbike some way down the AP9 that I mentioned yesterday. Without a helmet.

France: So the vast delays in Dover caused by the French putting only one man and his dog on border patrol has everything to do with the horror of Nice and nothing to do with Paris reacting to the Brexit development. Yes, of course. Why didn't I think of that?

The Internet in Galicia: Pontevedra is reported to be the place in the region with the best service. You can imagine how this statement was received by those of us who had to wait almost 16 years for Telefónica to give us more than half a mega of download speed.

Spanish: The Brexit has been called a spanner in the works of the world economy. This was translated in the media here as un palo en la rueda. Or a stick in the wheel. I always thought the Spanish for spanner was llave inglesa. Which would have made the comment rather pertinent/ironic. But perhaps a llave inglesa is only a monkey wrench. Maria?

Finally . . . Language: The thought occurred to me yesterday that it must have been extraordinarily difficult for the first humans who created language to talk to each other. Imagine, for example, how long it must have taken for the world's very first pedant to get this point across:-
I rather think you should have been using the subjunctive tense there.
And then how even more difficult it must have been for the world's second pedant to reply:-
And I think you'll find the subjunctive is a mood, not a tense.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 23.7.16

Spanish Developments: The Local tells us that:-
Tourism: As reported, for one reason and another, this is booming like never before. And The Voz de Galicia tells us that hotels here in and near Ponters are full to overflowing next week. But I can offer expensive accommodation for the desperate . . .

Galicia: Negotiations for a valuable air link between Santiago and Tel Aviv have been aborted by Israel after the city council supported an anti-Isreal motion. This is well in keeping with earlier stupid decisions taken by all of the region's small, uncompetitive, eternally-competing airports. Who've all lost out to Oporto's expanding and very successful airport - which cleverly markets itself as The airport for all Galicia.

Galician University Courses: I looked at the data on the various Galician institutions last week, specifically at the marks they demand for their courses in the pre-uni regional/national exam, the Selectividad. Once again, the observations that leap out are that aspiring nurses always need to get very high marks and that aspiring lawyers don't. Indeed, for the 4 nursing courses available for the next academic year, there's a total of 2,200 people on waiting lists, against the approx. 250 places already filled. I wonder if this is replicated in the rest of Spain. Or do we have an endless supply of clever young women who can't find work in any other capacity?

RT TV and Russia: One huge advantage of being merely the propaganda tool of a government is that you never have to apologise or explain. After months of relentless criticism of Turkey, Moscow sees a chance - after the 'coup' - to get one up on the West. And so has now turned 180 degrees and is coseying up to Ankara. With a HT to reader Perry, here's an article on plans for a Eurasian Axis. It's by a Russian conspiracy thinker, by the way. It must be fun being a strategy planner in Moscow these days. Especially with things going so right for the Russian empire and wrong for the American empire. Or The Empire of Chaos, as this blogger calls it here, where he predicts that economic realities will force the inclusion of Germany in the Eurasian Axis. By the way . . . RT TV reached a new nadir the other morning, with the execrable Katie Hopkins shouting at another contributor whom she clearly didn't think had to right to respond to her crap. Despite seeing herself as the champion of free speech.

Enchufes: This is what the Spanish call personal connections. Plug-ins. And I'm pleased to report that I'm only one person away from the new Speaker of the Congress and, thus, only 2 people away from the President. Never mind the rule of 6. Favours, anyone? Reasonable prices.

Finally . . . I am also now a radio star, having done the English bit for a local company advertising costumes for our September Feira Franca, or Medieval Fair. A voice-over career now beckons.


Some friends of mine snapped this chap yesterday. He might look like he's reading a book but he's actually asleep. With his phone and his wallet on the table. A very trusting man. Or an idiot.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 22.7.16

Spain's Economy: As expected, Madrid has demanded another 2 years to meet the EU's 'sacrosanct' deficit limit of 3%. Of course, no one believes it will achieve this. Least of all in Spain, where we might well have a 3rd general election in November. Meaning more lies, give-aways and phony promises.

Spain's Civil War: Somewhere this week I read and noted that: Spain’s darkest hours are very much part of a living discourse. This near-three year disaster (it would endure until April 1 1939) is not so much dusty textbook subject as angry scar – still red and sore in the places where people are prone to pick at it. Sorry, can't recall where. But the comparison was with other recent civil wars around the world where attempts ar reconciliation have taken place. Here, there's an omerta around the war and its traumas, called El Olvido. The Forgetting. Which has not been entirely successful. Here's one 5-star book on the subject.

Spain: Here's another 6 questions to test your knowledge:-

1. When did the Catholic Church begin to distance itself from Franco's repressive dictatorship?
a. 1942
b. The late 50s
c. Never

2. Was the 1971 attempt by certain Spanish Catholic clerics to get the Church to aplogise for its role in the Civil War:-
a. A success
b. A failure
c. A hoax.

3. After Franco's heir apparent was blown sky high by ETA in 1973, what was he nicknamed?:-
a. That fascist bastard
b. That hell-bound fascist bastard
c. Spain's first astronaut

4. Spain's middle class was ony 14% of the population in 1950. To what did it grow by 1975?
a. 25%
b. 30%
c. 33%

5. Women were 15% of the working population in 1950. To what had this grown by 1974?:-
a. 19%
b. 25%
c. 30%

6. Charlie Chaplin's 1937 film The Great Dictator was first shown in Spain in:-
a. 1945
b. 1967
c. 1972

The Camino: At least here in Galicia, 2016 numbers are well up on the previous record year of 2010. No wonder, as reader Sierra has pointed out, new albergues are springing up in village and towns along the 12 Ways to Santiago. Or Finisterra, if you're really serious about your pilgrimage.

Finally . . . Fashion: My friend, Phil, tells me the latest thing for men is sandals with socks. This reminds me of the old joke that the only reason British men wear sandals is to allow their socks to breathe. And . . Taking a refresco in town yesterday evening I clocked a stocky chap sporting a side-cut, a top knot, a full beard, a shoulder bag and, inter alia, baggy harem(?) trousers. He reminded me of a a tartar horseman. And might well have been happy with this comparison. Ignoring the head on a pike.


Here's a couple of pretty nondescript fotos of some parked cars. Up until this week, this was a 'secret' place down by the river - opposite the old quarter - where I and a few others regularly parked for free. Suddenly, it's been discovered and was packed to the gunnels yesterday and the day before. God knows why. But I now confidently predict:- 1. Some guy from Nigeria or Somalia will turn up to 'look after' the cars and demand payment; then 2. The council will make it an offical, fee-paying carpark. Or un parking.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 21.7.16

Madrid v Brussels: The Spanish government insists it'll ignore EU strictures about more austerity designed to eradicate the country's perennial excess deficit problem. And this as the very technocrats with the power are contemplating fining the country for past failures. So, brinkmanship. And the questions arise - Who's bluffing? Who's going to blink first? And should that be 'blinkmanship'?

The USA: Donald Trump's running mate is an Evangelical Christian who doesn't believe in the theory of evolution. Or global warming. But is presumably happy with the theory of gravity. Oy ve!

Galicia's North-South Highway: This is the AP9 and negotiations seem to be taking place about its sale to (new?) private owners. The local press is disappointed these are all 'foreign' companies. But in localist Spain this means companies based in other regions of Spain, not outside the country.

Galician Food: I spoke to a charming English family the other night just after they'd finished a meal in my favourite watering hole. The husband said they were foodies who'd come to Galicia after seeing Ricky Steyn et al wax lyrical about the (sea)food here. They'd enjoyed everything, he said, and the two boys had even eaten a pig's ear each. You could have knocked me down with the proverbial. I can't imagine anyone enjoying these. But, then, I have the same view of percebes. Or goose barnacles to you. And of durian fruit - another expensive 'aphrodisiac'. So, what do I know? The English visitors were from Yorkshire, by the way. Which might explain the liking for odd things.

The Camino de Santiago: If you're contemplating this, then there's a new web page for you: Vivecamino. As this comes from the Voz de Galicia, it naturally only addresses the final stages of 11 (yes, 11) caminos here in Galicia. But it ignores the latest one - The Spiritual Way - which deviates from the Portuguese Way right here in Pontevedra. But it does include the Winter Camino, which I recently described as a walk past various bodegas in north east Galicia. And is probably best done in spring and autumn. There don't seem to be any English web pages yet on the Spiritual Way but here's one in Spanish. Beware of the company offering to arrange walks on this Way; it confuses it with the Coastal or Maritime Way, properly called The Way of Padre Sarmiento. Confused? No wonder. It's all about money, of course.

Which reminds me . . .

Pontevedra Lodgings: We have a new option. This is the strangely-named Slow City Hostal, where you can get a bed for as little as €17.50 a night, provided you're happy to share all facilities with several other folk. So, really just a step up from the other dormitory option of pilgrim albergues. Somewhere for the increasing number of less-than-really-poor camino walkers to try. Click here for the hostal's web page. It's situated, by the way, in The Street of Bitterness, in what used to be the Jewish quarter before 1492. It claims to be only 50m from the camino but isn't really. What would be so wrong with the truth of only 150m?

Finally . . . The Hugging Romanians are back in town. If you're coming here, beware of women asking you for directions and then thanking you profusely. They're after whatever you've got on your wrist or round your neck and will step into a nearby car as soon as they've done the biz. These people, by the way, are not to be confused with the conveniently "deaf and dumb" Romanian women collecting signatures and money using phony documents displaying the logos of genuine charities.

The street up from the market to the heart of Pontevedra's old quarter has been an eyesore for years, afer the shops on one side closed and the terrace became derelict:

But the bottom half has now been restored and work is taking proceeding on the top bit.

The council has successfully - so far - prevented bill posting but the graffiti vandals are altogether another challenge.

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the same chap appears in both fotos, fore and aft.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ponters Pensees: 20.7.16

Spain and the Brexit: Here's one of my favourite writers, Englishman(?) John Carlin, writing in El País, under the headline: The New British Dictatorship. He's clearly not a fan of the UK's likely exit from the EU and sees recent British developments as an example of how not to run a government. But I still like him. After all, some of my best friends are theists.

The Spanish Civil War: The Daily Telegraph reports here on a tour of the most moving sites associated with this. And The Local has provided this useful list of relevant reading matter on this key development in Spain, which began 80 years ago this week.

Which reminds me . . . 

Amazon Spain: Another fight in prospect . . .  They did give me back the money they charged me for a 'free' e-book but now I see they've charged me twice for the last book I ordered from them. Efficient they certainly aren't.

Telecoms Tricks: Over in the UK, something has happened which is impossible to imagine taking place in respect of Telefónica/Movistar here in Spain . . . . A government report has accused BT of “significantly under investing” in the nation’s broadband network and called for the company to be broken up if it doesn’t rapidly improve its performance. MPs pulled no punches in accusing BT of “exploiting” its position as both the owner of Openreach, the networking division that controls the country’s largest broadband network, and the largest internet service provider. One day, perhaps.

The London Housing Property Bubble: This is set to collapse, apparently. Not before time, of course.

Driving in and Around Pontevedra: This is only permitted at 30kph, or 18mph. As with people going up and down the hill to/from my house, I'd be astonished if anyone did this, other than in a jam. Or over the numerous speed bumps. So the police are missing out on a huge revenue oppportunity. Not like them.

Pontevedra Nuisances: As I've mentioned, this year has seen an explosion in foreign tourists, as well as beggars, dogs, beggars-with-dogs, and  . . . . jewellers. Here's one of most well-known and professional pan-handlers: An ex drug-addict (I'm told) who appears to have made friends with several of the city's women-who-lunch and is now so well dressed that she rivals Queen Letizia in the fashion stakes.
Finally . . .  A nice comment  from Matt on the Russian drug scandal:-
BTW . . . If you're at all interested in Russian disinformation, click here. Quite funny really.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 19.7.16

Bull-running: It's not always pure fun. Click here for how it sometimes turns out.

Spain's (acting) President Rajoy: He's not exactly the world's greatest speaker. In fact, his only oratorical trick is to pound his left arm up and down. David Jackson treats us to his view of the man's skills here.

The EU President: This, of course, is Plonker Juncker. As Private Eye recently pointed out: During his two decades as finance minister and prime minister of Luxembourg, he transformed the country into a great tax avoidance machine which allowed multinational companies to dodge millions -  even billions - of taxes back home. And this man is now in charge of cleaning up Europe. A poacher turned gamekeeper? Or just a jumped-up, self-important fraud? Mind you, he's survived the man who did the most to try to stop him being made President - David Cameron. What does that tell you about Brussels? And he's shown great statesmanship over the horrific Brexit development. Not.

UK Politics: There's been an amazingly successful spoof party created in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people – mostly young – have been persuaded to pay to sign up to a party with a decent program of policies but with a leader who's clearly a comedian and has about as much chance of leading the party into government as my coffee table. In case you haven't heard of it, it's called The Labour Party. And it's giving people a lot of laughs. Last night, the leader even managed in parliament to vote against his party's manifesto-declared policy on nuclear submarines.

Turkey: Another joker in the spoof Labour party had said this about recent events there:- Turkey is now - and has long been - a lynch pin in European and wider security. The ludicrous Brexit lies undoubtedly contributed to destabilising the country. HT to reader Sierra for this.

Russia: According to Moscow and RT TV, the report on the state-sponsored drug regime there is just 'political posturing by the West' and the process of arriving at this conclusion has been farcical. But the government accepts it and will sack everyone named. Cognitive dissonance? Which reminds me . . . If there's one person on RT TV I simply have to switch off, it's 'Gorgeous' George Galloway. So, it's nice to see that he's lost a case in which he was accused of various offences, including scurrilous sexual slander against an ex (female Muslim) employee. And will now have to pay her a lot of his ill-gotten gains. What an egregious shit the man is. Would anyone else employ him?

Here Be Dragons: Here's an interesting list of places which were believed to exist during the Middle Ages.

Finally . . . Cecile McLorin Savin. This year's Jazz & Blues Festival in Ponters hasn't been up to the standard of previous years, presumably because of cost constraints. I was on my way home past last night's final concert when I had my socks knocked off by this wonderful, Ella-esque singer. Try this as a sample of what she can do.

Another showing for a (Spanish) favourite of mine . . .

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 18.7.16

Spanish Politics; The PP party: I used to enjoy the South of Watford blog but the author seems to have stopped penning it. Last night I read a post written before last December's inconclusive elections and the failed attempts to establish a coalition government. This comment is, as we have seen in the last 7 months, absolutely spot on: The PP has an abysmal problem in reaching agreements with other parties, and the prospect of either governing in minority or passing to the opposition is too terrible to contemplate. As regards these elections, here's a relevant quote from the Don Quijones article I cite below: The Rajoy government purposefully loosened the belt last year in a blatant effort to curry favor with voters ahead of the elections. Brussels decided to postpone negative opinion on the Spanish budget for 2016 – a budget that had been drawn up with one basic goal in mind: to buy off as many gullible voters as it takes to tilt the electoral balance in the Rajoy government’s favor. In fact, of course, this didn't work out well enough for the PP party.

Good News for Spain: Tourism here had already received an enormous boost because of terrorist threats to other countries. And now comes the failed Turkish coup. Maybe there really is a God and (s)he is particularly fond of Spain. Or maybe it's just that it's an ill wind that blows no good. In Spanish - No hay mal que bien no venga.

Bad News for Spain: The estimable Don Quijones is scathing here on the government's long-standing failure to bring down the deficit to EU-dictated(?) levels. And (s)he is clear on the consequences for now and for the future. Or 'going further forward', as I saw it in a UK lawyer's letter sent to me for comment last night. Thrice! Anwyay, here's a taster: The one thing that’s crystal clear is that the way things currently stand, Spain’s new generation of unemployed, underemployed, badly paid, or “ni-nis” (stay-at-home-kids) are going to struggle to maintain Spain’s burgeoning ranks of retirees.

How the EU Works: As DQ puts it: Things are so serious that the EU is threatening to sanction Spain up to 0.2% of GDP. It will be the first time it has adopted such punitive measures, but for the biggest repeat offender of excess deficits, France, there is no punishment. Quelle surprise! Spain, by contrast, could end up facing a fine of as much as €2 billion. All will depend on how much and how convincingly the government commits to reduce its deficit next year. Naturally, the fine will not be paid by the politicians who failed to play by the rules agreed upon in Brussels; it will be paid by the citizenry who are already suffering the consequences of the recession that helped cause the deficits.

Brexit: The always-vitriolic Richard North is not too happy with the politicians taking this forward. Here's an enjoyable recent blog post entitled: Brexit: In the Hands of Fools and Knaves.

Finally . . . Economies: A quote from Elizabeth's Cranford (Knutsford, in fact): I have often noticed that almost everyone has his own individual small economies - careful habits of saving fractions of pennies in some one peculiar direction - any disturbance of which annoys him more than spending shillings or pounds on real extravagance.  I'm not above admitting to this failing, as my dear daughters will happily attest. Despite being huge beneficiaries of my purblind benevolence. I'd ask them to comment, if I thought they'd ever read this post . . . 

This is a sign preventing access to a short cut I usually take to the other side of the river, via a narrow bridge over one of its tributaries. It's in Galician and says the road is closed and there's only access to A Cross. I don't know what this is but it's an strange coincidence that it looks like a relevant English word. But perhaps it isn't. Un Cross is, in fact, a cross-country race. So, A Cross could well be the footpath alongside the road over the bridge. La Cross in Spanish.

Correction: In fairness to my departed sister, it looks like there's only one steak knife missing.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ponters Pensee´s: 17.7.16

The Real Spain?: With a HT to my friend David, here's a provocative little piece from Julio Llamazares in El PaIs yesterday. I regularly point out that Spain is different, comment from me would be superfluous . . .


For as long as our most international festival is San Fermín, Spain won't be a normal country

For as long as in Spain there are still people dying in bullrings or being gored by bulls and cows in bull runnings celebrated everywhere, this will not be a normal country. For as long as our most international festival is San Fermín in Pamplona - an exaltation of testosterone and the herd, not only during the morning bull-runs but all day and night - Spain will not be a normal country. For as long as our traditional festivities consist of throwing tomatoes and chucking firecrackers at each other,  or decapitating geese hung by their feet for public amusement, or forcing bulls into the sea for the same reason, or bathing collectively in wine, or bursting galloping horses in processions to virgins, or participating in competitions to see who can eat more eggs, meatballs or kilos of pork sausages, this won't be a normal country.

We will be in the European institutions, but we won't be a normal country.

For so long as our institutions continue to be populated by persons convicted of or being investigated for corruption while their followers continue to vote for them, for so long as our most famous fraudsters and scammers come and go from jail as if it were their home, for so long as on the TV and in bars no one is listening to anyone else, for so long as half the population doesn't read a newspaper or a book in their life, for so long as social networks are a snapshot of hatred, insults and beastliness, for so long as the grotesque and the picaresque remain our two most identifying features, for so long as most Spaniards boast of not having the slightest interest in science (nor in the humanities), for so long as we continue to be the noisiest country in the world, for so long as we have the largest number of mobile phones per person - all ringing at once - for so long as we lead the world in internet piracy, for so long as tax evasion and fraud are admired by many people, depending on who the fraudster is - "I'd do the same, if I could!", declare some admiringly - for so long as poor education is highly valued in our society and good education considered a sign of weakness, for so long as it's considered eccentric to speak and write correctly, for so long as listening to others is considered to be extraordinary, for so long as fun is identified with excess in any of its manifestations, for so long as vulgarity is admired and the mob commands, this country will be whatever it is, but it won't be normal. It'll remain crude and dreadful, as it has been throughout its history, no matter how much rhetoric we indulge in, as we're doing now in respect of the dead bullfighter.

On a lighter note . . . . Well, perhaps not:

Is the BBC Real?: We learned from them last night that Isis was claiming credit for killing 80 in Nice. Credit??? How about admitting responsibility???

Visitors: As I've already stressed, my sister and my niece did a fantastic job of cooking for me and my guests during their recent stay. But one downside was the amount of rubbish 2 female visitors can generate, mostly shopping bags and shoe boxes in their case. Another is the loss of  small household items that get chucked out with said rubbish, I guess. As far as I can see, I'm down 1 glass, 2 steak knives and 3 teaspooons so far. My sister, by the way, is the world's most professional packer. Her ability to stuff a case to within a gram of the 20 kilo limit is truly impressive. And it was good to see again the arrive-with-3-cases-depart-with-4 stratagem that my second wife employed on all our holidays.
Finally . . . This really is funny. Though not all will agree:-

I imagine there's a simpe answer.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 16.6.16

Spanish (non)Government: The centre-left and centre-right parties continue to refuse to do a deal with the acting PP goverment, on the basis of a long screed on the latter's proposed legislative measures. Just a re-hash of old PP policies, they say. And so the stalemate continues and the prospect of a 3rd round of elections looms. Seriously. Only in Spain?

Replacing London: Here's Don Quijones on this challenge for the EU: In true beggar-thy-neighbor fashion, many of Europe’s most prominent capitals are bending over backwards to provide global banks with the perfect enticements to lure them away from The City. As the New York Times puts it, “The race is on to be the new London.” If the City of London does fall from grace, the biggest beneficiary is likely to be Frankfurt. Click here for the full article.

Talking of Brit cities . . .

Liverpool: Astonishingly, this magnificent city isn't twinned with any city in Spain. Here are its current mates:-
  • Birmingham, Alabama, United States 
  • Cologne, Germany
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Shanghai, China 
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 
  • Medan, Indonesia
  • Penang, Malaysia
It also has 'friendship links' with these:-
  • Givenchy-lès-la-Bassée, France
  • Halifax, Canada
  • Havana, Cuba
  • La Plata, Argentina
  • Memphis, US
  • Minamitane, Japan
  • Naples, Italy
  • New Orleans, US [Good news, Rick]
  • Odessa, Ukraine
  • Ponsacco, Italy
  • Râmnicu Vâlcea, Romania
  • Valparaíso, Chile
So, an opportunity for Ponters. I will have to talk to the mayor . . .

The Caminos de Santiago: As I've noted, there are a lot more foreigners in Ponters this summer. From unfamilar beggars, through almost penniless pilgrims, to far-from-penniless groups of Americans, Germans and even Poles. Even badly-dressed Brits. (Though, on this score, nothing beats the also-new octogenarian Americans from the cruise ships moored in Vigo). Rather belatedly, I've realised why the pilgrims are numerous way beyond expectations - we have not just one but two more Caminos now. The first goes along the river Miño from Tui and comes up our coast. Passing through all the key drug smuggling places. This is the Camino de Padre Sarmiento. The second actually branches off from the old Portuguese Camino and heads north west, through the O Salnés wine country, to Cambados on the coast and thence up to Padrón. Because it passes 2 monasteries, it's labelled The Spiritual Route, rather than The Albariño Wine Tippling Route. Details of it here, with a HT to Rebekah. I think I know which of these 2 attractions modern pilgrims will favour. If you're coming, for either of these Ways, get in touch for a (free) tour of our gem of an old quarter. But not all at once. I make a lot of friends this way. It seems it's too soon to expect info in English on the Sarmiento Way, so here's a Spanish link.

Pokemon Go: If, like me, you've no idea WTF this is, here's Wiki on the phenomenon. It seems to have not just millions but billions to the share value of Nintendo. Easy money?

Finally . . . More laughter:-
  1. A new civil war in Europe?: Here's a conspiracy nutter called Alex Jones on Info Wars reflecting on developments in Turkey. We're still waiting for his predicted second civil war in the USA, by the way. 
  2. VP candidate Newt Gingrich: A couple of Stateside views: 1. He shares some things with Donald Trump, including an unflagging and perhaps inflated sense of his own intellect, a propensity to say outlandish things, and three marriages. 2. Both men will do anything to pander to the Religious Right. The difference is Gingrich actually seems to believe his own bullshit.
  3. The Bible and breast implants. Sorry, theist readers, assuming there are any left.
Great wine news from Galicia, on the best Ribeiro white wine:-

Friday, July 15, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 15.7.16

The Spanish Economy: If this interests you, you'll enjoy this article on the EU's attitude towards Spain's incessantly excessive deficits. All just words, of course.

Bullfighting: Following the recent (rare) death of a torero in Teruel, some people have 'celebrated' this on social media. Distasteful, yes, but is it really a crime? Well, some aficionados think so and are taking legal action because of what they see as "libel, slander and hate crimes." I don't know about Spanish law, of course, but I do know you can't defame the dead under British law. Perhaps a Spanish reader could comment on this bizarre case. Meanwhile, the Guardia Civil has said that: "Of course, we are investigating the potential criminal offences". Only in Spain? Acting President Rajoy has said the insults are "barbaric". A word he refrains from using in respect of much else in Spain, such as vast corruption, croneyism and nepotism in his PP party. Or in respect of this:-

The EU and Spanish Banks: The basic business model of the latter is Screw the clients wherever possible. In a rare consumer-orientated decision, the Spanish Supreme Court recently ordered them to pay back the billions they'd cheated out of their customers via a floor clause in their mortgage contracts which stopped their interest rate falling below c.3%, whatever happened in the real world.
Would you believe that Brussels has just pronounced that they don't have to, as this could bring down the entire Spanish and European banking systems. Assuming the situation in Italy hasn't done this already. See the wonderful Don Quijones on this madness here.

The 2013 Galician Rail Crash: More here on the rejection by Brussels of the pathetically corrupt official investigation into this. Is it any wonder that Spaniards hold the country's self-preserving establishment clique in contempt.

Which reminds me . . . 

Spanish Government: Acting President Rajoy continues to represent an insuperable block to the formation of any administration, 7 months after the general elections at the end of 2015. The man must have a humungus opinion of himself. And a lack fear that his PP party will make any sort of move to oust him. The contrast with recent rapid developments in the UK could hardly be more stark.

Russian Propaganda: Blaming the USA for every problem in Russia (be it a real problem or a fictional one) has become one of the most popular tactics in pro-Kremlin media. And, apparently, usage of this tactic has no limits. Igor Korotchenko, famous for his hawkish statements, is a very frequent guest in the main TV debates on Channel One and Rossiya 24. Last week, he visited Vladimir Solovyov's show, and even this notorious propagandist had to calm Korotchenko down: "You don't intend to say that it is Obama's fault that Russia fell out of the European Cup?" The answer was clear: "It is the fault of those conditions that have been set up in our country by America!"

Finally . . . You Have to Laugh:
  1. At the chutzpah of Spain. Having been accused 'hundreds of times' of illegal and dangerous incursions into waters claimed by Gibraltar,  Madrid has now responded with a complaint of its own against 'reckless behaviour' there. Details here. Can either side be believed?
  2. At this occurrence in Germany.
  3. At this video on the replica Ark built in America's bible belt.

The Boa Vista Plant War: I've been training my bougainvillea up my back wall for 16 years. But now comes the virginia creeper from the right, to challenge it for prominence. And growing at an amazing pace. Nice to see, especially when the creeper turns red in autumn/fall. But is this a good thing?

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 14.7.16

It's Thursday, so the usual HTs to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for some of what follows:-

Spain's Youth: Some 1.6m people below the age of 35 are said to have quit the country in search of work elsewhere, primarily in the UK. One consequence, of course, has been to increase the average age of those left behind.

Spain and the EU: Madrid is doing its utmost to avoid even a slap on the wrist for its failure to manage the Spanish economy in accordance with Brussels' (would-be)dictates. The latest tactic is to promise an increase in corporate taxes. Next week it might well be a reduction in these.

Spain and the Brexit: I've mentioned that some at least of the reporting here on the UK is way off beam. Especially those that hark on about Britain's obsession with its imperial history. Transference, I suspect. So, I wasn't too surprised to read in Lenox's Newsletter that, according to an ex British Council official, the British are being portrayed by the Spanish press, as a laughing stock. He adds that: During my 35 years of the Council, Britain may have been disliked but, until now, no one has found us this ridiculous. This is slightly irritating but is only to be expected from a country which is new to democracy and utterly cynical about its own corrupt politicians. With good cause. And it shouldn't be forgotten that Spain has benefitted vastly from joining the EU, and not just in monetary terms. It's beyond Spanish understanding that anyone would want to quit it. After all, it's been free money for 30 years. A common Spanish dream.

A European Passport (EP). For those of us living in Spain - A paragraph from Lenox's newsletter: We Europeans living in another EU country don't have many rights. Maybe even fewer with the UK leaving the European Union. We must have representation in Brussels: an agency and an appropriate number of European MPs to protect our interests and our rights as Europeans. To ensure our protection and our freedom of movement, we also seek to obtain an internal EP. We will talk to both our local politicians and to Brussels. We will not send more empty petitions to London or Madrid. There are 20 million of us. We are The Europats. Write to with your support.

Finally . . .  Many thanks to readers Perry and Kevin for their suggestions about the meaning of the letters on this T-shirt of the other day:-

  1. DuGs
  2. Bra size

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 13.7.16

The Santiago Rail Crash of 2013: This caused around 80 deaths, as I recall. Despite plenty of apparent evidence and to widespread astonishment/cynical laughter, the official investigation concluded that no executives of the rail companies were guilty of anything. All was the fault of the driver alone, even though a proper safety system hadn't been installed, on cost grounds. And even though drivers had previously recorded it was an accident waiting to happen. So, it's no great surprise that Brussels has now declared it wasn't a 'proper' investigation and asked the Spanish government to think hard about re-doing it. But Brussels won't be 'pressurising' Madrid in any way. So I think we can guess what the politicians and courts will do. Sweet FA. Oh, and there won't be any resignations either. Not a Spanish thing.

Spanish Views of Britain: The Brexit development has encouraged Spanish columnists to have a go at the UK. Fair enough but some of them don't seem to have too good an understanding of the place. A common theme is that Britain has never really been part of Europe. A typical article this week spoke of Fahrenheit and feet, inches and miles. But both of my daughters are in their 30s and are totally unfamiliar with these.

Words: A couple more oddities:-
Un Reto Non Stop
El Citroen C4 Cactus Rip Curl - Con Grip Control

Ponters Tourism: Spanish tourism took off in the late 60s, when Franco's regime opened up the place to wicked foreigners. It's taken the subsequent 50 years for the Pontevedra  council to arrive at the conclusion that it might not be wise to have regional, provincial and city tourist agencies competing with each other via separate offices and kiosks around the the city. So, now these are going to be fused. We wait to see how successfully. And whether anyone ever goes to the Rias Baixas - southern Galicia - office in the magnificent pazo in Plaza de Santa Maria. If it's retained.

Parking in Ponters: The council has announced there'll be 66 parking spaces on the site of an old paper factory on the outskirts of town. Looking for somewhere to park on a Sunday morning yesterday, it struck me that I could easily arrive within 5 minutes at more than double that total of spaces removed from the city's roads in the last decade or so. And then we have the recent reduction of free spaces in the centre – both in the squares and the roads – to 15m slots. So a certain ambivalence towards cars and motorists. I imagine the new parking will be free. For a while.

Finally . . .  Cycling in Pontevedra: Blow me down but there was a a full page article in La Voz de Galicia on Sunday last demanding that the law be applied to the bastards who use the pavement/sidewalk instead of the road. Or cycle through the pedestrian areas. This, he said, should be done whether or not the council accedes to demands for two-way cycle lanes in one-way streets. The writer spoke of public anger but folk must keep this well hidden. For the only person I've ever seen irritated by nuisance cyclists here is me. And I'm certainly the only person who carries a stick horizontally so that they have to slow down or even stop.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Ponters Pensées: 12.7.16

Spanish Politics: Seven months after the first round of elections and a couple of weeks since the second round, Spain's politicians are still showing no signs of maturity or concern for anything but themselves. And the unpopular and discreditied (acting)President Rajoy is still refusing to step down as part of a coalition deal with any other party. And his own PP party is clearly incapable of doing anything about it.

In contrast . . .

British Politics: Even El País is impressed with the outcome of the frenetic activity of the last  few weeks in the world's most successful political party, the British Conservatives. Here's an amended version of the usual crap Google translation of today's leader:- Giving a commendable lesson in British efficiency and pragmatism - which, like all themes, has a basis of truth - the Conservatives are about to overcome one of the most dangerous pitfalls arising from its defeat in the referendum on the UK staying in the European Union. Tomorrow, a few hours after the three week anniversary of the vote that gave victory to Brexit, David Cameron - the architect of the risky and disastrous referendum - will present his resignation and will be replaced as prime minister and Tory party leader by the hitherto Minister Interior, Theresa May.

EU Politics: Like the Luxembourg and Brussels bureaucrat he is, President Junker continues to rant and rave about what he sees as the lunacy of the referendum decision. I supect he has no idea of the concept of 'the wisdom of the people' who've had a democracy for hundreds of years. Albeit an imperfect one, of course.

Politics of the Left: My ex stepson and I are at different points on the left-of-centre spectrum but we remain in touch, on the basis of a love-hate relationship. I love him and he hates me. You can possibly see why from this email I sent him this morning:-
1. First select your subset
2. Label this the relevant demos
3. Claim there is 100% support for you in this demos of people who voted for you
4. Despise, vilify, sue or even, imprison and kill those in the other subset(s) of the Left.
5. Claim God, Marx, Lenin, Orwell, or at least Tony Benn is on your side.
6. Switch off the majority of left-leaning voters
7. Allow the unrepresentative Right - from Franco to May - a free hand
8. Moan about the unfairness of all this
9. Slink away with your tail between your legs to lick your self-inflicted wounds
10. Leave the majority of left-leaning voters without a voice
11. Blame the electorate for its stupidity
12. Take specious cold comfort in your 'purity'
13. Never experience power

All very reasonable, I thought.

Spain and the EU: It now seems pretty clear that Mrs Merkel will lose another battle and both Spain and Portugal will be given only a 'symbolic fine' for flagrently breaking the deficit rule, year after year after year. It's even suggested that this 'fine' will be nil euros. One wonders if the EU, as we say in the UK, could run a whelk stall. Or organise a piss-up in a brewery. Groucho Marx's comment about club membership springs to mind. Frequently.

Finally . . . I've just seen a woman sporting a black T-shirt with the intials D and G written large on it. I guess this signifies Dulce & Gabbana(?) but, given the position of the initials, it's possible they're the names of her breasts.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Questions from Ponters 11.7.17

A special post today - Part One of a quiz designed to reveal how much you know about Spain. Answers at the end. Good luck.

1. When did Madrid become the capital of Spain?
a. 1156
b. 1492
c. 1561
d. 1975

2. When did Columbus bump into 'India'?
a. 1487
b. 1492
c. 1503
d. 1516

3. How did the body of St. James arrive in Galicia?
a. In a coracle
b. In a crew-less stone boat
c. In a racing yacht
d. In your dreams

4. What did Spain invest its New World wealth in?
a. Unproductive professions in the church
b. Unproductive professions in the military
c. Unproductive professions in the government
d. Industry and commerce

5. When did Spain expel the Jews?
a. 1492
b. 1546
c. 1777
d. 1942

6. When did Spain first expel the Jesuits?
a. 1578
b. 1666
c. 1767
d. 1923

7. When did Spain join the EU?
a. 1976
b. 1980
c. 1986

8. How many Spaniards died fighting in the 1936-9 Civil War
a. 200,000
b. 150,000
c. 300,000
d. 400,000

9. How many people were murdered by the Right during and after the war?
a. 1 million
b. 500,000
c. At least 50,000
d. At least 150,000

10. How many people were murdered by the Left during the war?
a. 1 million
b. 500,000
c. At least 50,000
d. At least 150,000

11. Until when did Franco use political prisoners as slave labour?
a. 1939
b. 1942
c. 1960
d. 1970

12. What was Franco's 1939-59 economic policy called?
a. Autarky (self-sufficiency)
b. Stupidity
c. Insanity
d. Oligarchy

13. When did Franco die?
a. 1973
b. 1975
c. 1978
d. Not before time

14. What did Franco have by his side when he died?
a. His wife
b. His mistress
c. A corgi dog
d. The withered arm of St. Teresa

15. What is the name of the secretive Catholic organisation prominent in Spain's belated economic development and still felt to have considerable influence on Spanish politics?
a. The Sisters of Mercy
b. Opus Dei
c. The Shoeless Carmelites
d. The Soldiers of Jesus

1. c
2. b
3. d
4. a, b and c
5. a
6. c
7. c
8. a
9. d.
10. d
11. d
12. a
13. b
14. d
15. b

In between bouts of (excellent) cooking, my sister and her daughter go shopping. It's Vigo today but, as it's a public holiday here in Pontevedra at least, this might not be the huge success they were expecting when I saw them onto the train.

Finally many congrats to our neighbours and Britain's oldest ally in winning the European Cup.

I watched the match in my house with my niece, the lovely Ester and my good friend Elena. The latter 2 talked non-stoop for 90 minutes, despite my frequent requests that they shut up. Until that is, Ester fell asleep on my shoulder with a glass of red wine in her hand.

I was delighted most of all by the fact that the Portuguese team did it without the egomaniacal Ronaldo. Though he did seem genuinely pleased at the end for his team and his country. Perhaps he's not that bad after all. And he is a phenomenal footballer, when all is said and done. Though I prefer the tax-dodging Messi.