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.
- It's not good news that the new Catalan leader has been fingered as an anti-Spanish 'racist'. I wasn't aware that Spaniards comprised a race.
- But it is good news that, though Sr Torra's appointment was expected to do nothing to improve bitter divisions between Madrid and the pro-independence block, the Spanish prime minister agreed last night to meet him for talks. Sr Rajoy must be seriously concerned by the latest polls. Not to mention the international reaction to his treatment of the Catalan issue. Needless to say, he has insisted that secession would be illegal and is a non-negotiable issue. Which was a given.
- It's reported that German spooks have confirmed that some Russians interfered in the Catalan elections of last October. Not much of a surprise. Except perhaps to RT News.
Life in Spain
- The Madrid Metro, Chapter 2: Here's what happened when I left Tribunal for Batán yesterday:-
- I note there are 4 machines and that the one on the far left clearly says it's for credit cards only.
- So I go to the 2nd machine, insert my card and then go through 4-5 steps so that I can put in my €1.50. Then I realise that there's no slot for coins . . .
- So I go to the 3rd machine, and again insert my card. It's rejected as being invalid.
- So, I to to the 4th machine and once again insert my card. This time it's accepted and I proceed again through the 4-5 steps and finally get my card loaded.
I have no idea if my experience is unusual. En passant, I had thought I could keep the card and use it next time I'm in Madrid but I was advised it expired on 15 May. Which was yesterday, of course. This suggests I have to buy another card at €2.50 next time I'm in Madrid. On second thoughts, perhaps it was only the ticket on the card which expired yesterday. So, I'll keep the card and check out its validity some time in the future.
- Here's The Local's list of the best beaches in Spain, one of which is in Galicia. Though it would be wise to stay out of the caves if you visit it.
- President Fart's initiative on Jerusalem has had its predicted consequence, with over 50 Palestinian deaths. I wonder if he sees this as a success so far. Almost certainly, would be my guess. After all, “I like to shake things up”.
- The interesting thing about the king of Spain's failed attempt to touch up and bonk his wife is that DC seems annoyed not at the act but, rather, at the lack of finesse with which it was done. Clearly a gent. Anyway, reader Perry has advised that one of DC's liaison's led to an illegitimate son. The latter has written a book in which he - astonishingly - describes his mother's affair with DC as almost a public service - an action of foreign policy in its noblest and most self-sacrificing form. See below for details. BTW . . . This was with a woman of 29 when he was 57. I haven't got to this (Paris) episode yet but I did read last night that – during his 50s – DC was finding it difficult to decide on which of his two 20 something nieces he 'loved' the most. To find out, he resorted to dining alone with each of them. No other details yet.
Finally . . .
- I've not been able to log on to Skype for 2 days now. Anyone else in Spain having this problem?
- A friend of mine stayed in my house during my trip. For reasons best known to her, she brought her cleaner, despite the fact I'd paid mine to come in every week and complete a long list of tasks. My cleaner knows not to touch the files and folders in my study but my friend's cleaner didn't. Absolutely nothing is where it should be and I now have to waste at least an hour putting everything back to how it was. As if this weren't bad enough, Sky has changed the numbers for nearly all the channels that interest me. Really annoying. Life can be very tough at times.
- Thank-god for Spanish last-minuteness. On Sunday, I advertised a ride back to Galicia on Bla Bla Car on Tuesday, stressing that passengers could practice their English. Thus relieving me of boredom during a 6 hour drive. I secured 2 young, male passengers and set off at 11am from Batán. Both of them fell asleep within 5 minutes and stayed in the land of Nod for the entire trip. Though disappointed at their silence, I was impressed at their confidence in my driving. Though it's quite possible they'd both been awake all Monday night.
Revealed: Duff Cooper's secret second son: Ben Sheppard and Andrew Alderson
As a diplomat, author and minister, Duff Cooper's colourful reputation was hardly a secret.
For sixty years, however, the full extent of the scandal surrounding the legendary womaniser has remained unknown.
Until now, it had been thought that Cooper, a wartime minister in Churchill's cabinet, had only one child - a son from his 35-year marriage to Lady Diana Cooper, reputedly the most beautiful woman in Europe. But he also had an illegitimate son, conceived while he was the ambassador to Paris, it has been revealed.
The discovery was made by an author who was preparing a magazine profile of Susan Mary Alsop, the American socialite, author and close friend of President John F Kennedy.
Cooper's legitimate son is John Julius Norwich (the second Viscount Norwich), the distinguished author and broadcaster. He was 18 in 1947 when his father, then 57, began the affair with Alsop, who was 29. The child she bore the following year is Bill Patten Jnr, now a Unitarian minister in Worcester, Massachusetts.
The disclosure is made in next month's Vanity Fair, which devotes 16 pages to the life of Alsop, who died two years ago aged 86.
Susan Braudy, who wrote the article, says that Alsop discovered in the winter of 1947 that a five-month "stomach ailment" was a pregnancy. Her son did not discover the identity of his biological father until he was nearly 50.
Cooper, Churchill's minister of information during the Second World War, had a formidable sexual appetite, and his wife gave her tacit consent to the affair.
When Cooper - created Viscount Norwich in 1952 - died in 1954, his wife allowed Alsop to spend time alone beside his coffin.
Alsop, who was living in France with her husband after the war, met Cooper when his health was failing. Bill Patten Snr, like Lady Diana, was aware of the affair and it was Alsop who consoled Cooper when Ernest Bevin dismissed him as ambassador in late 1947.
Alsop stayed at his last party at the embassy until 5am and later wrote to Cooper than she would have given anything if "in return I could have the next five minutes sitting on your lap and be held tight, tight against your heart".
Bill Patten Snr died in 1960 and Alsop returned to America, where she made a platonic marriage to Joseph Alsop, a homosexual who had been her late husband's Harvard roommate.
They were a power-broking couple and she was a favourite dinner companion of President Kennedy, who found her witty, entertaining and flirty. Bill Patten Jnr and Alsop's legitimate daughter Anne, born in 1950, eventually had DNA tests which indicated only that they had different fathers. Afterwards, in 1996, Mr Patten Jnr met his "new" half brother, John Julius Norwich, now 76, at his west London home.
Prof John Charmley, Duff Cooper's official biographer, told the Sunday Telegraph that he believed Vanity Fair's revelation to be accurate. "While I was researching Duff's biography, Susan Mary told me that Duff was Bill Patten's father. Bill himself didn't know at the time, so I left it out of the book. Later, she told Bill and he rang me out of the blue. I confirmed to him that all the evidence points towards him being Duff's son."
Cooper had many vices. He was a hard drinker, a reckless gambler and an inveterate philanderer. He wrote of one conquest: "I rapidly had her which was very agreeable. I promised to dine with her again but I doubt if I do." Many of his early liaisons left his wife in tears but, as his health failed, she accepted them.
Mr Patten, 57, was unavailable for comment this weekend but his wife, Sydney, said he accepted that Cooper was his father. "It was a terrible shock at the time and he later told me that he felt he had lost his father Bill Patten a second time [the first being his death]. But he says he will always look upon Bill Patten as his father." Mr Patten will break his public silence over the scandal later this year when he publishes a book about his father (Bill Patten), his stepfather (Joe Alsop) and his real father (Duff Cooper).
In My Three Fathers, he says his mother's relations with Cooper were "almost a public service, an action of foreign policy in its noblest and most self-sacrificing form."