Sunday, November 12, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 12.11.17

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

  • “Hundreds of thousands” of Catalans demonstrated on the streets of Barcelona yesterday. The police say it was 750k and they are not known for underestimating these things.
  • President Rajoy will travel to the region to campaign ahead of the Dec 21 elections. Should get an interesting reception
  • The 'left-wing' ERC party, a key ally of Sr P, has announced that some of its prisoners, as well as some of the sacked ministers who also went to Belgium, will stand on its electoral list.
  • However, the ERC has rejected a call from Sr P to fight the election as part of a single pro-independence bloc with other parties - as they did in 2015.
  • Meanwhile . . . A recent opinion poll in Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia suggests the ERC will win the biggest share of the vote in December. But probably not an absolute majority.
  • The mayor of Barcelona, Sra Colau, will head up a new party – the Common Party – in these elections. She is anticapitalist and has accused the Catalan leaders of "tricking the population for their own interests.” And of “provoking tensions and carrying out a unilateral independence declaration which the majority do not want.” She might be right.
  • As for the involvement of Punchski, here's more on this story.
  • I learned yesterday of a fiesta called Amogosto in Asturias. Checking with a Galician friend, he insisted this takes place here as well, especially up in Ourense, and is known as Magosto. But no one in the tapas bar I was eating in last night appeared to have heard of it. Not sure what this says. Maybe that Pontevedra is 'sophisticated'. Or thinks it is . . . 
  • Flamenco as you've possibly never imagined it: "After stripping herself naked, she costumes herself up in tights and a quilted god jacket, strutting like a toreador, her feet racking up a zapateado storm. Strapping on a studded leather thong, she then becomes an androgynous dominatrix, the symbolism of her outfit made boggling by the half-empty crisp packet that's stuck to her groin, from which she feeds herself (and her band members) the remaining crisps.” A Guardian review of a performance of Rocio Molina. Courtesy of Pseuds' Corner in Private Eye.
Modern UK Society:
  • "A Cambridge University professor who emailed his new students to warn them they would have to work hard has been accused of endangering their mental health and frightening them. Eugene Terentjev told undergrads that natural sciences was a difficult subject and they wouldn’t have much time for getting rat-arsed. 'Extremely damaging' and 'neither appropriate nor acceptable' were the verdicts of students and the university authorities. Mental health campaigners suggested the email would foster the 'impostor syndrome' in students, making them wonder what they were doing at Cambridge. The syndrome sounds like a good thing. There are now 17 mental health campaigners in the country for every victim. It is our one growth industry."
  • "The British are hardwired for a kind of stoic pessimism: it goes with the near-certainty of rain on important occasions and a mistrust of ebullience. Winston Churchill told the Commons in June 1941: 'The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.'  It is clearly naive to believe that it will be possible for the UK to sail through Brexit, effortlessly bagging top deals. The challenge of extrication from the EU is a pressing reality. The next few years will be difficult and will require both the stoic version of pessimism and bursts of cautious optimism. This time, however, we really are all in it together — which is why hysterical pessimists and showboating politicians alike might want to restrain themselves."
  • Further despair from Richard North on the Brexit negotiations: “We are assailed by a torrent of inchoate antagonism – where the protagonists talk past each other, without engagement. And from this mêlée, no settled conclusions ever emerge. The result is unending noise, from which the only intelligent response is retreat. Eventually, reality will take a hand, by which time it will be too late."
The English Language: There's been, it's said, a “drastic erosion” of certain English words such as  'quite', 'rather' and 'fairly' - known (to some) as 'gradable adverbs' and used to “reduce the force of a phrase.” At least as regards British English, I guess. This is a bit surprising as it's been correctly said that “Tip-toeing around a subject, doing one’s best to avoid causing offence, and taking a little longer than necessary to get to the point are all quintessentially British conversational habits.”

Finally . . .
  • Swearing: here's a bit more on the value of this, from the author of the book I cited recently
  • Should I be worried that I had never heard of the 'wonderful' US comedian, Louis CK, now dumped and ostracised by all and sundry after revelations of his (apparently well-known) public masturbatory habit
Today's Cartoon

Great news, Erik! Your new ship has finally arrived from Ikeaborg!


Maria said...

Possibly no one in Pontevedra has heard of the festa do Magosto because it's not as celebrated as in Ourense, where yesterday was a local holiday. But here along the coast some small villages, or neighbors, do celebrate roasting the chestnuts and the chourizos, and drinking the wine. Just about every elementary school has a chestnut roast around this time, too. It's just not considered a festa here.

Sierra said...

Second reference from 960,000 results in Google:

Alberto MdH said...

It puzzles me to hear that there are pontevedreses who do not know the Magosto. In Vigo, in the (distant) times of my childhood, it was a very popular celebration. If a party includes roasting chestnuts (in a bonfire if possible) at the beginning of autumn, it would be a variant of the Magosto.

In fact, it is a kind of celebration common in parts of Spain, Portugal and France.

Colin Davies said...

Yes. I asked someone else today and she replied that it was essentially just chestnut roasting. (We have a guy with his train engine in the ain square) and that many schools did something. But she added it was just a seasonal thing and was not regarded as a fiesta. Of course, In Ourense, it coincides with the feastday of their patron saint and so is inevitably bigger there. But it's still odd that my fellow diners last night struggled to think what it was. I will ask my neighbours tonight.

Colin Davies said...

main square

Colin Davies said...

A Galician (nationalis) friend has sent me this:-

At least HE knew what it was all about and claimed everyone in the restaurant last night must have been espanoles de Galiza and not galegos . . .

But his wife does work in Ourense . . . .

Colin Davies said...

Brits just do 'conkers'

Anthea said...

I have been to Magosto fiestas in Coruna. it seems to involve eating lots of roasted chestnuts. No "conker" fights involved!