Monday, December 11, 2017

Thoughts from Galicia: 11.12.17

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.


  • Madrid is more than a tad miffed that, while Portugal is (belatedly?) gaining in influence in Brussels, Spain is thought to be losing hers.
  • Last week's Constitution Day here in Galicia saw the ceremony of swearing allegiance to Spain by kissing the national flag. I wonder if this happened elsewhere in the country. I guess so. Very discomforting for Brits, who 'don't go in for that sort of thing.”

The EU, the UK and Brexit
  • Richard North here: With excruciating slowness, the media is gradually getting the message – the "bad Friday" agreement is a crock – a phony deal.  Another commentator: By the end of next week, we can see Mrs May's famous "breakthrough" being ripped apart. What fun.
  • Here's Don Quijones again on the subject of cash. It could be argued, he avers, that any legislation aimed at disrupting criminal financial networks is a welcome move, but that would ignore the fact that many forms of modern-day tax evasion, avoidance and money laundering are conducted without cash through shell corporations located across multiple jurisdictions, including [Juncker's] Luxembourg. But the EU’s anti-cash measures are not aimed at the giant corporations and well-heeled individuals and families, including those who exploit loopholes to stash their wealth far from the prying eyes of European tax authorities. No, the measures are aimed at average Joes and Janes, and the main objective is to further dampen their ability or willingness to use or carry cash. You have been warned. Again.

True Brits
  • The writer of the piece at the end of this posts plumps – admittedly tentatively - for this as a defining trait: We are a nation with high emotional intelligence. We have a keen awareness of the feelings of others. Against this, another columnist this morning complains that: We have become a nation of inconsiderate noise oiks. . . Sensibilities have been let to slide. This is hardly surprising in a world in which the subjective is prized, and the very concepts of restraint, deferred gratification, and moral rectitude have become unfashionable. . . [These] are telling examples of a society whose grasp on civility and the value of public decorum and manners seems increasingly in peril. As we plunge ever further into the anarchic alternative reality of our own private internet worlds, the idea that our actions affect living, breathing other people is becoming ever more remote. Perhaps both are right but things are going in the wrong direction. Towards a noisier, less considerate-of-others culture?? Hmm.

The UK
  • Can this really be true: Ten-year-old children are being asked by the Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust whether they are "comfortable in their gender" in official health surveys being completed in schools, it has emerged. The form asks: "Do you feel the same inside as the gender you were born with? (feeling male or female)". Youngsters are also asked to tick a box to confirm their true gender, with options including "boy", "girl" and "other". 

  • Yesterday I went to see an exhibition of Da Vinci stuff in nearby Vigo. Or, rather, I didn't. Despite asking five(!) locals, my companions and I never actually found it. We did eventually happen on the building where it was thought the exhibition should be but it was closed. Perhaps because of the storm which had drenched us as we walked at least a kilometre along the seafront in search of the exhibition. And then back again to the car. My friends – both native Pontevedrans – felt this was a typical Galician mess. Which might he a tad harsh.
  • Which reminds me . . . It now takes 3 hours longer to go direct from Vigo to Barcelona (14 hours!) than to go south to Madrid and then north from there to the Catalan capital. My guess is that the arrival of the high-speed train to Madrid will only increase this difference. It says everything you need to know about travelling west-east. Or anywhere from Galicia.

  • I don't regard all ads as naff. Here and here are couple of good ones, the first from the 90s and the second from today's TV, at minute 3.43.

Today's Cartoon

Here's a seat!

Sensitivity to others is Britishness at its best. Matthew Syed

I have often pondered how to define that elusive notion of Britishness. What is distinctive about our character and mindset? Here’s a tentative (and positive) suggestion for at least a part of the answer: we are a nation with high emotional intelligence. We have a keen awareness of the feelings of others.

We conduct our conversations in public at a reasonable pitch so as not to disturb those around us. We are fastidious about punctuality, fearful of keeping others waiting. We are self-deprecating, conscious that trumpeting ourselves might make others feel small. We queue assiduously, aware that jumping the line would be to value our time above others. And that wouldn’t do, at all.

People often talk about the British sense of fair play, but my sense is that this is just one aspect of our emotional intelligence. I also wonder if the early adoption of the rule of law was a consequence of this tendency, or perhaps a cause of it. This is not to suggest that our culture is perfect, or that this attribute is anything like universal. It is merely to suggest a general tendency in our character and social norms.

Comedians such as John Cleese have satirised this trait. There is a wonderful episode of Fawlty Towers in which the guests keep shtum about the appalling service out of fear of offending the feelings of the hotel staff. Yet while we can take it too far, my sense is that sensitivity to others is a source of vast (if underestimated) national strength. It would be a tragedy if we ever lost it.


Alfred B. Mittington said...

I understood from a couple of expert articles recently published, that the main attraction of doing away with cash money (in the eyes of bankers and treasury officials) is their ability to charge negative interest over savings. As long as people enjoy the possibility of taking out their nest eggs in cash money (and stuffing it in their mattresses...)this would fail. But once all money is 'virtual' there will be no escape.


Scrooge said...

My recent experience with Spanish and Portuguese motorway toll booths which refused to accept my Mastercard credit card tells me we may be someway from a cashless society. One only needs to be rejected a couple of times to realise the worth of cash. The "vendors" need to get their act together if a cashless society going to work. The EU proposal to limit cash crossing frontiers to 1000€ is a poser for some travellers if cards don't work every where.

Perry said...

Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust nonsense. Leftists should be be punished where they sinned. Poetic justice would suggest Léon Nagant's contribution to the arcane ritual of righting wrongs would not go amiss. Oh & invoice the family for the cartridge.