Saturday, April 01, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 1.4.17

The Spanish Judicial System: I thought the stories about the backlog of cases here were horrific enough. But that was before I heard that it amounts to 31 million cases in India. Where one case - Jardine v Jardine? - has been going on for decades. Small mercies. At least things have got better since a limit was put on frivolous denuncias by the - very belated - introduction of a charge.

If she were dead, my mother would be turning in her grave. She lives on the Wirral peninsula, which used to be in Cheshire and is definitely not Liverpool. Despite this being the case, the Voz de Galicia recently reported a gas explosion in a Wirral village as being in Liverpool. Susto en Liverpool, to be exact. I haven't told my mother in case she wants to come and 'have words' with the editor. I would fear for his/her life.

Talking of explosions . . . The other day, as I descended the hill in my car, I came upon a 5-car Guardia Civil roadblock, at the entrance to one of our permanent gypsy encampments. They didn't stop me but I took the opportunity to ask them if there really had been an explosion at 4.30am a few nights previously. They were very polite - calling me usted, of course - but said they knew nothing of such an event. And then saluted me as I drove off. You don't get that in the UK these days!

Galician Cuisine: As befits what was until recently one of the most backward and poor regions of Spain, this majors on offal. The shellfish, of course, is fantastic - except for bloody percebes - but I can take or leave tongue, heart, tripe and pigs' ears, for example. So, I wasn't impressed to read that over a thousand raciones of the latter had been served at a recent fiesta gastronĂ³mica here in Poio.

People in Galicia are getting really upset about our pesky Portuguese neighbours getting too entrepreneurial. The latest beef is that they're pursuing business opportunities here in our region. Welcome to the EU, folks. Things work both ways. By the way, you have to bear in mind that Galicians regard all investors from Spain's other 16 regions as predatory 'foreigners', come to denude Galicia of its natural resources.

I wasn't terribly surprised to read that Pontevedra province is the 3rd most prolific in Spain when it comes to fines for speeding. Maybe this contributes to our exceptionally high insurance premiums. Along with the winding roads and the hundred of bastards without a licence and insurance. Whom the police don't seem to be terribly interested in catching. Even with today's IT technology. Fixed radar traps are much less work. And more profitable.

A public service from me: "Well", you're asking, "would you recommend Christopher Howse's book A Pilgrim in Spain". Yes, absolutely. Provided only that:- 1. You're a pious Catholic with an abiding interest in the minutiae of the lives and relics of Spanish saints; 2. You have an equally deep interest not only in the architecture but also in the entire history of Spain's cathedrals and churches; and 3. You know absolutely nothing about Spain and the towns and cities Howse passed through on his pilgrimage. It would also help if you have total sympathy for those 'Blessed' individuals on the Right killed by the Republicans and no sympathy at all for those of the Left slaughtered by the Nationalists. So, both of you should really love this book. For completeness, I've added reviews at the end of this post. I really should have read between the lines of the non-Catholic ones.

Finally . . . 

Today's cartoon:-

Talking of reviews . . . . A Pilgrim in Spain: Christopher Howse.

The Bookseller [Interested in selling books]

  • The author's subtle wit make this very readable.
  • A wonderful book

The Daily Telegraph [where he is a columnist]
Howse, an elegant if fastidious writer, displays a fogeyish dislike throughout of discos, McDonald’s and motor cars (trains are preferable). His prose is at times pernickety (“Stale urine plays an heroic part in urban smellscapes”), But, in the end, I warmed to the sheer Edward Lear-like strangeness of this book. [Decodify that!]

Catholic Magazines
  • Blending humour[?] and faith[certainly], this book offers a marvellous look at the way landscape is shaped by belief and history.
  • If you want a witty[?] and erudite cicerone round the heart of Old Spain, read Christopher Howse's 'A Pilgrim in Spain' ... His curiosity and descriptive powers do it ample justice.
  • A captivating book... Howse roams freely between description, history, theology, custom, cookery, architecture, anecdote and devotion. In a conversational style which almost belies this breadth of knowledge, he allows us to feel that we are being let into a series of delightful and interwoven secrets
  • Howse not only knows his Spain well but he has done a lot of careful research into the background of Spanish history... the reading of [this] book was a sheer pleasure.
The Spectator
A book whose myriad eccentricities mirror those of the Spain it celebrates

The Oldie
'A Pilgrim in Spain' can be employed as a useful guide to areas of Spain still undisturbed by mass tourism. [Not!] Howse is informative about cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and convents, but his eyes and ears take in every aspect of the cities, towns and villages he visits. The sights and smells of this uniquely beautiful and ragged county are conveyed throughout.

Standpoint Magazine
The text, dense with historical facts and minute observation, demands careful reading... Savoured slowly, the book is richly rewarding for those who enjoy poking around in the past. [Another decodification challenge]

  • Howse does not come across as a natural communer with people; his preference is for ecclesiastical treasuries and devotional imagery. [You can say that again!]
  • He has an eye for the humorous and strange. [Hmm. The strange, maybe]


Eamon said...

When purchasing a book it really helps if you can find it in a bookshop and thumb through the pages. I have bought several technical books from Amazon based on the reviews I read. Big mistake! When the book arrives it is not what I expected and in some cases a complete waste of money. Some listed books have a facility where you can turn the pages but they never really give me the information I want to see. Another complaint I have when buying from Amazon is that the seller insists on sending me an email to give a review of the product. If they want a review they can pay me.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

The 'charge' for starting a judicial denunciation which you mention is, if I remember well, some 350 euros. Which means that the rich can pay it without a second thought and and the poor will think twice before they engage in litigation. It's a little bit like fines for traffic or parking offenses, which do not punish the wealthy as heavily as they punish the penniless.

A much more reasonable way to limit the number of court cases would be to fine those who bring a frivolous case heavily - and if possible also a hefty fine for the lawyers who represent people who bring a frivolous case…


Eamon said...

Well LegAl I picture you sitting in your favourite armchair gazing at the television whilst sipping on a glass of wine, flipping peanuts into the air and catching them in your mouth. I thought you would have picked up on the subject of book reviews. I usually buy books entitled do it yourself but they are sometimes misleading especially the reviews as Colin has pointed out. I bought a book on how to build your own atomic clock based on a review in the Daily Worker newspaper by Victor Bodnarchuk a Ukrainian. It took 8 months to build after struggling to get the parts then to find it had no hands and I needed to purchase a Geiger counter to read the time. The accuracy of an atomic clock depends on two factors. The first factor is temperature of the sample atoms—colder atoms move much more slowly, allowing longer probe times. The second factor is the frequency and intrinsic width of the electronic transition. Higher frequencies and narrow lines increase the precision. So as you can see I have to keep the clock in my deep freezer to keep it ticking. Maybe I should have bought the other book called "Build your own atomic clock for Dummies".

Alfred B. Mittington said...

My dear Eamon,

You are right when it comes to armchair, glass of wine and peanuts.

You are wrong when it comes to gazing at telly, flipping, and catching peanuts (I do sometimes flip, once I have had more than one glass of wine - but unfortunately I never really catch… You ought to see the floor of my kitchen!)

At for book reviews… So many of my own best-sellers were unjustly Blitzkrieged by The Times, The Daily Mail and The Guardian (to name but a few) that I loudly laugh at their self-importance and triviality!

Other than this… Are you on drugs, my boy? This rant about atomic clocks??? Where DOES it come from?


Eamon said...

PsychologicAl as an inventor I have been dreaming up inventions all my life. Some have worked well and others have been a let down as they just didn't live up to my expectations. Come to think of it they were totally useless to the outside world. I invented a self cleaning toothbrush which I thought would be ideal in a world that is plagued with germs and bacteria. As everyone should know, a dry mouth is not the best condition for your teeth because the bacteria can multiply beyond belief and attack the enamel on your teeth. Once the enamel becomes weak eventually a cavity will form and you now have a serious problem if you do not seek the attention of a qualified dentist. A simple answer is to keep your mouth moist especially during the night when sleeping. Should you awake with a dry mouth just keep a glass of water handy near the bed. When necessary just take a sip of water from the glass. As you can see that after eating you should take care to clean your teeth and mouth. Tooth brushes look very innocent as they sit on your bathroom sink but they can harbour bacteria and germs. So while you are busy cleaning your teeth you are spreading bacteria around in your mouth and working it between the teeth and gums. Of course if you brush your teeth for a considerable time you can eliminate the bacteria by frequently rinsing your mouth with water and brushing again for a few more minutes. However, many just don't do that and also spend only a short time brushing their teeth. When you have finished brushing your teeth you usually rinse the tooth brush and leave it out to dry.

Remember about having a dry mouth? When the toothbrush becomes dry it is now an ideal home for bacteria. It all sounds pretty straight forward but bacteria is still on the handle and it works its way along into the bristles and the closeness of the bristles now form a super ideal home for bacteria to multiply. So, I set about making a self cleaning toothbrush that would eliminate bacteria and other germs. Bacteria and germs don't like the cold or the heat if it goes to a certain level. I found a very simple way of heating and cooling the bristles and handles of the toothbrush. However, I won't go into any details on that as the idea is worth a small fortune which could possibly be applied to something else. So having spent a year perfecting my self cleaning toothbrush I finally got it working so that it cleaned the brush of all bacteria and germs. I was ever so proud of myself and my perseverance over the year of hard work that I had put into my invention. I had to make one final test and set the brush down to let it self clean. I watched as it worked away and within ten minutes the red light that indicated bacteria and germs were present changed to green and I then knew the brush was now sterile. With excitement I picked the brush up and suddenly the red light came on. I put the brush down and after a few seconds the green light lit and the brush was clean again. Once more I picked up the brush and the same thing happened again. So it was picking up bacteria or germs from my hand and would then self clean. I put the brush down and breathed on it and sure enough it started self cleaning. I stood and watched for a long time and this repetitive action continued as germs and bacteria floating in the air touched the brush and set if off self cleaning. As you can see another useless invention on my part but at Christmas I have it hanging on my Christmas tree where it flashes green and red and makes a lovely ornament.

Perry said...


In order:

Was "Cuanto tiempo piensas USTED quedarse en Galicia" one of the questions the G.C. asked you? ;<)

Please reassure your mother that Wirral villages should Worry her not.

Jardine v Jardine or Jarndyce and Jarndyce?

I thought that tongue, heart, tripe & pigs' ears were staple comestibles in 'pool?

The Portuguese neighbours have the USA on their side.

McKernan is only ****mildly amusing.

Christopher Howse is not as peripatetic as George Borrow.

Colin Davies said...

Yes, Jarndyce. Ta.


Colin Davies said...

piensas USTED

piensa usted??

Perry said...

McKernan the **** cartoonist.

piensas USTED = How long do you think YOU shall stay in Galicia?

piensa USTED = How long do YOU think staying in Galicia?