My thanks to readers Eamon and Maria for adding details of Galician and Madrid aspects of the things I cited from Arturo's Barea's book yesterday. Check these out in yesterday's Comments. On a point of detail, the barquilleros used to sort of sell barquellos and these were not the filloas(pancakes) of Galicia but wafers of some sort. Here's an article on Madrid's last dealer in these.
And here's something on the trade of Barea's mother, who was a washerwoman down at the river Manzanares. They all lost their work when it was 'canalised'. Or channelled, I guess.
Am I being unfair about Spanish social norms? This is a foto of a group of 3 young women – and their 3 large plastic bags – blocking the pavement this morning.
The thing to bear in mind is that not only is there a strip of grass to the side of the pavement but also a bench half a metre from the path as well. I've advanced a number of theories for this sort of thing over the years – lack of antennae; individualismo; poor consideration for others; pragmatism; a love of spontaneity; a failure to think ahead or, even a hatred of planning. But the truth is I still have no idea why this sort of thing happens more in Spain than in any of the other 5 countries I've lived in. And I should be inured to it by now. As, indeed, I must be as I didn't get remotely annoyed. If only because, when I got within half a metre of them, the women all shuffled a bit to the left, so that I had enough room to pass without having to step into the road. One must be grateful for small mercies.
Just after I passed these women I went into the A Barca mall to check on an upcoming event there. On the top floor, there are 10 locales – 1 (Chinese) restaurant, 2 bar/cafés and 7 shops. Every one of these except the Café Games has closed in the last 2 years or so. Of course, I've confessed to a total inability to understand the Pontevedra 'retail' scene – I passed a restaurant yesterday which is being fitted out for its 4th incarnation in 10 years – and am forced to include it probably does have more to do with money laundering than with any serious attempt to sell things.
Which reminds me . . .
They say you're never far from a rat in Londom. Well, the same is true of addicts on this drug-financed western coast of Galicia. Apart from the incessant beggars, there's also a group of men - and the occasional women - who gather and argue in the old quarter. And sometimes shout at each other and then fight. I wouldn't mind but they do this under some soportales within a few metres of my table outside my regular bar.
Something should be done about it . . .
If you're trying to effect major change in society, it helps to go with the human grain. My ex stepson reminded me this week that I always told him this when arguing against his teenage love of communism. I had the same thought this morning when reading that the survival of the EU depends on rapid formation of a superstate. Have they not realised by now how concerned the various national populations – as opposed to their leaders - are at this prospect? Maybe over a 100 years, as one philosopher said last week, but surely not within the next 5 to 10 years. It's because of this that one can have no faith in the survival of 'the project'. If only they had gone slower. And not introduced the euro. And not seriously damaged several already weak economies in the process. And not allowed Germany to come to dominate Europe so quickly and comprehensively. But they did. And did. And did. And did. Meaning that their salaries and pensions are now at risk. Which is quite possibly all they really care about.
Finally . . . Our weather this year is bizarre. December and January were a great deal less wet than usual and we had a temperature of 28 degrees in Pontevedra last Friday. And ice on my car windscreen at 8.30 last night. I blame it on the boogy.