Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 27.2.18

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.

  • Support for independence in Cataluña is said to have fallen considerably. At which point a sensible government would surely at least think about allowing a legal referendum. But I doubt there's much chance of this under Rajoy and the PP party.
  • Meanwhile, several Catalan politicians continue in jail, seen by much of the world as political prisoners of a very right-wing party.
  • I've never been much of one for Flamenco but, inspired by this article by Guy Hedgecoe, I now plan to visit La Quimera on my next trip to Madrid. This is Paco de Lucia's 1973 ground-breaking song Entre dos Aguas cited by Guy.
Life in Spain
  • Not having had a call, I went midday yesterday – for the 5th or 6th time - to the notary's office, where I was told he wasn't in for the day. So, containing my anger, I merely asked the secretary to give me the form back. As she did so, she commented that I was asking the notary to be a witness and he couldn't do this. I refrained from asking the obvious question of why, then, was it relevant that he wasn't in the office, but simply replied that he certainly could but was clearly disposed to not doing so. As I left, in the highest of dudgeon, I told her she should know there weren't any notaries in the UK. But I doubt this meant anything to her. In fact, I suspect she had the normal Spanish reaction of not being able to believe this, so important are these civil servants in their lives.
  • Anyway, I now have to decide whether to write to the notary to tell him he's lost the fees on the in-vivo transfer of assets to my daughters I'll be making this year. Which, needless to say, has to be done in front of a notary to minimise/eliminate taxes. Though not the notary's high fees, of course. In the UK, you can just do it and leave your executor to deal with any tax issues on death. Spain is different.
  • I bought a large ginger root in a grocer's shop yesterday. To my surprise, the young woman behind the counter started to wax lyrical about it. The normal Spanish reaction – at least here in Galicia – is to recoil in horror at something picante (hot) that 'masks the flavour of everything else' and almost destroys your throat. So we chatted about the various things you could find made with ginger both in the UK and in her country. Which turned out to be Brazil. Spain is different.
The EU
  • Martin Selmayr’s sudden appointment as secretary-general of the European Commission was a “cloak-and-dagger operation” and should be investigated, according to Sven Giegold, a German MEP from the Greens group and leading proponent of EU transparency.
  • Loved this: Norwegians are the undisputed champions at falling down hills on pieces of a repurposed bathroom suite.
The UK and Brexit
  • The consensus is that Jeremy Corbyn's 'game-changing' speech yesterday is pure cynical politics, having nothing to do with his stated aims. All about ousting Mrs May, then. Fair enough, that's his job. But there are many in his party who disagree with him, aware that any customs union would preclude the UK doing trade deals around the world. But there are wider issues, specifically what Brussels will do next as they continue to wipe the floor with London. Click here for the most informed view on this you'll find. Taster: For all the party political posturing neither Labour nor the Conservatives are any further forward. But, while they play their games, they are being quietly but nonetheless dramatically undermined. They are about to have imposed on them a situation which they can neither tolerate nor resolve, but have nothing to put in its place.  Particularly, this makes today's speech by Mr Corbyn a complete irrelevance and, by the time Mrs May gets to deliver hers on Friday, it will have already have been consigned to history.
Nutter-cum-Liar-cum Jackass Corner
  • President Fart: I would've rushed to confront the gunman even if I didn’t have a weapon. One can only hope he finds himself in that challenging position sometime during the next 3 years. It's quite possible, of course, that this comprehensively self-deluded man really does believe his claim.
The Gender Wars
  • Having commented on what some see as the hypocrisy of sexily-dressed actresses demonstrating against men being [choose your adjective], I was interested to read that designer Katherine Hamnett had commented thus on the topic of women wearing all-black to awards ceremonies: Black is one of the sexiest colours in the world. You think you’re making a protest? Wake up, look in the mirror.
  • Some folk have started to grow olive trees here on a commercial basis. The first crop of oil totalled 96 litres. I say 'started' but Vigo's nickname is The Olive City (La Ciudad Olívica) and it's possible the Romans produced oil there many years ago.
  • The number of 'emancipated' young people here – 18-35 year olds – is reported to have fallen by 30% in the last few years. Even more of these are staying with their parents until into their 40s. Or until they inherit the property, even.
  • A couple of years ago, I was cutting the hedge at the bottom of my garden when I discovered I'd lost my old wedding ring. Since it had to be in or below the hedge somewhere, I tried to find someone who could lend me a metal detector, but without success. Finally, last week, I bought a hand-held one and on Saturday morning I set about trying to find the watch either in the hedge itself or among the tangled roots of the privet bushes. Fifteen minutes into this endeavour, I realised my watch was no longer on my wrist, having presumably gone the same way as the ring. And it was no ordinary watch, as I'd bought it when I was 19, after saving a huge proportion of my meagre salary as a VSO teacher to do so. So, heavy with sentimental value. I tell you this because a callous Dutch friend of mine thought it was hilariously ironic that I'd lost the watch when looking for my ring and that I should include the tale in my blog today, in place of the crap I'd taken to writing. And so I have, though I doubt any of my more intelligent, thoughtful and sympathetic readers will be amused by it.
  • Anyway, having decided that I might be able to find both the ring and the watch using a powerful neodymium magnet, I went yesterday in search of one in an electrical store I'd used in the past. To my astonishment, this is now the city's 500th jewellery store. Or perhaps the 2,000th money laundering front. So, I will continue the search tomorrow.
  • Which reminds me . . . This BBC article makes out that La Línea is the drug importing capital of Spain. I rather suspect our narco clans would have something to say about that. It might simply be a case of sub-optimisation. They do Moroccan hashish, our guys do Colombian cocaine.
  • News just in this morning . . . The head of the police anti-drug unit at Barcelona’s port has been arrested on suspicion of helping a South American gang to smuggle cocaine.
Today's Cartoon


Maria said...

My daughter would say a woman has the right to wear (or not) whatever she wants. That, just because she is wearing a dress slit up to her waist, that that doesn't give anyone the right to see her as an object. I understand, and agree. With the summers becoming hotter and hotter, I am not going to keep covered up just for "decency." I will disrobe for comfort as my choice. Yet, precisely such fashion was invented mostly by men to show off a woman's body. While I don't say we should dress like back in the Middle Ages, or in some Islamic countries today, women should be conscious nonetheless of the reason behind the fashions.

The day I see formal menswear retreat back to the dandified eighteenth century, or display as much skin as a woman, is the day equality in the fashion world has appeared.

Alfred B. Mittington said...

I find it impossible to believe that a Dutchman would be so rude as to laugh at your horrible misfortune...

If you had lost a wheel of cheese, perhaps yes. (He might have sold you another one, and we all know what money-pinching tradesmen they are...)

But a watch? You need a Swiss for that!


Colin Davies said...

You clearly don't know Dutch volk as well as I do. They have their qualities but . . . .

Alfred B. Mittington said...

So... Are you sure that bloody Dutchman did not steal your watch and wedding ring???


Colin Davies said...

Could well be. As Lord Canning once almost said: "In matters of friendship, the fault of the Dutch is giving too little and taking too much".

Colin Davies said...

@Maria: Yes the field of rights is a difficult one. When your right conflicts with one of mine, for example. As the father of 2 adult daughters - and a feminist of many years - I'm very much in favour of equal rights for women. But I find it hard to reconcile the view that "I have right to dress as I want, even knowing that it will make you ogle me. But you have no right to be affected." Or words to that effect. Of course, the whole subejct of clothing is rather fraught. Women in a non-beach situation will be horrifed if they show underwear which reveals much less than their tiny beach bikinis. Or monokinis . . . Not terribly logical.

Perry said...


Rights do not come without responsibilities. A woman's decision to indiscriminately dress provocatively is an open invitation to mate, whether she knows it or not!

Evolutionary psychologists will tell you that men have a strong desire for casual sex with attractive strangers. The features that men find physically attractive in women are thought to signal health and fertility. Sensible women will be relatively more attracted to ambition and social status in a mate because these characteristics are associated with men’s access to resources.

Dressing appropriately to attract a high status male is a better strategy for a woman than maladaptive behaviour such as flaunting her wares for all & sundry to view. Vulgar displays are self defeating. Quality & fidelity are all positive traits & timeless good sense.

Maria said...

Perry, it's true that men will always look at a young woman in accordance with her dress. A woman showing a lot of skin is considered more open to finding a mate for tonight rather than a woman that is more covered. Even if boys are educated from when the are young that women are not their playthings, that will continue to happen.

But, aside from comfort in the hotter months, who creates the fashions that the world decrees women "must" wear to be considered modern and, even, liberated? Men. More men than women control the fashion industry, and end up controlling the clothes women will want to wear.

Colin, I agree with your perception of women who will wear string bikinis without batting an eyelash, yet will die of shame if someone catches a glimpse of their underwear under their short-shorts or mini-mini skirt. While I never wore the shortest of the shorts, nor the spaghetti string tops, when I was a teenager I was mortified if anyone caught a glimpse of a bra strap. Now, I don't care as much. Not that anyone will look twice - my body was never that of a sylph.

Perry said...

Women don't have to mindlessly follow fashions designed by men. There're also women designers.


When I was a peacock in the 1960s, I had 5 or 6 Hardy Amies' suits for work, but I had the figure for them, being tall & slim in those days. Now it's one black jacket & waistcoat with striped trousers, for Masonic meetings & funerals, mine included one day. Bath robes & shorts are now the order of the day & only shorts in summer in the garden. Big shirts hiddeth the belly in company.