Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 17.5.18

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.

As ever on a Thursday, I'm indebted to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for some of today's items.

  • Supporters of independence in Cataluña are reported to now comprise 48% of the population, up from 44% in February. So . . . well done, Madrid.
  • Spain has suffered another setback in its pursuit (persecution?) of Catalan politicians, with the Belgian rejection of the extradition request in respect of 3 of these. Cue Spanish rage about stupid foreigners who don't really understand the concept of justice.
  • An interesting development in Spain's gender war.
  • And an interesting El País article on what I've oft described as the (growing) gap between Spain's macro and micro economic growth.
  • Thanks to (until very recently) the freezing of pensions, Spain's senior citizens are amongst the most unhappy – and most vociferous – about this situation. Click here for the latest developments,
  • On that economic growth and its future, here's a quote from an El Mundo article cited by Lenox:- 'The tailwinds that had saved Spain are running out: expensive oil, less tourism and an end to free money’. The piece begins: ‘The former Minister of Economy, Luis de Guindos, always defended that Spain had been able to take advantage of the so-called tailwinds better than any other country. That low interest rates or the fall of oil "play into everyone's hands", but that the Spanish economy grew "almost twice as much as the euro zone". However, these constant references by Guindos - as well as by all the members of the Government - to the good economic management of Mariano Rajoy's Executive failed to hide the obvious: that external factors were key to Spain's beginning to emerge from the crisis. And so the exhaustion of those winds that is now taking place is just as dangerous as its arrival in the past was beneficial...’.
  • One wearies of reporting cases of corruption in Spain but here's an interesting example, in English. Note the support of the accused from the PP party/government.
Life in Spain
  • Here's a video explaining why jamón can be so expensive.
  • Yesterday, I was hassled by 6 beggars. More in one day than in 3 weeks in the south of Spain. I suspect it's a nuisance that our mayor and his colleagues don't want to do anything about. The funny thing is that, apart from the regulars, the supply is endlessly reinvigorated by new ones. Maybe it's because the San Francisco church hands out a free midday meal to anyone who turns up. Someone who works there tells me the numbers have soared. I'm reminded of Richard Townsend's 1786 comment that Spain would always have thousands of beggars so long as her countless convents and monasteries went on handing out food to the (feckless?) poor.
Duff Cooper
  • His diary gets a lot more interesting – and less replete with details of romantic engagements – once he becomes a minister and then a Secretary of State in the pre-WW2 British government. His notes on the 1938 and 1939 cabinet meetings are as fascinating as you'd expect. He was clearly very close to Winston Churchill, no appeaser and no fan of Neville Chamberlin and his negotiations with Hitler. On the former, DC writes this telling comment:- I believe that Hitler has cast a spell over Neville. After all Hitler’s achievement is not due to his intellectual attainments nor to his oratorical powers but to the extraordinary influence which he seems able to exercise over his fellow creatures. I believe that Neville is under that influence at the present time. ‘It all depends’ he said ‘on whether we can trust Hitler.’ ‘Trust him for what?’ I asked. ‘He has got everything he wants for the present and he has given no promises for the future.’ Neville also said that he had been told and he believed it that he had made a very favourable impression himself on Hitler and that he believed he might be able to exercise a useful influence over him. Blood curdling.
Finally . . .
  • Needless to say, Skype started working as soon as I wrote about it not working elsewhere.
  • And need I say that El Tráfico was quick to welcome me back to Pontevedra, with a letter informing me of a fine for driving at 90pkh in an 80 zone east of Malaga. This was on the A7, an autovía/motorway/highway. As I've said, it's almost impossible to keep track of the changes of speed limits on these, raising suspicions about their real purpose. But I'm pretty sure one of my (overseas resident) colleagues was driving my car that morning. . . . 
  • This is a recipe I found in my father's things, dating from 1941, when he was a 19 year old RAF pilot training American pilots in Alabama[sic]. I suspect it's for hooch/moonshine . . . .
1 lb wheat
1 lb large raisins
7 oz yeast
1 lb potatoes
4.5[?] sugar
I gallon of cold water
Put wheat into large vessel. Peel potatoes and grate into wheat. Add raisins (worked . . . . . . . . . .). Then add sugar and water, keeping a cupful back. Warm the cupful to blood heat and put yeast into bowl[?]. As to the other ingredients into vessel, cool and stir each morning for three weeks. Let it set again and then bottle. But down cork down tightly until finished fermenting.
Can anyone confirm my suspicion?

© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 17.5.18


Sierra said...

"Brino (Brexit in name only) becomes closer a reality by the day." Richard North never wrote truer words.

Think you'll get your blue passports, and some cobbled-together revised immigration plan (which will be as ineffective as the previous ones), and the remainder will carry on as before

Les Revenants said...

That recipe would result in an alcoholic drink being produced, but it would probably taste pretty awful. Depending on the yeast type, you could expect an alcohol content varying in strength from 5% or so (beer level) up to 12% (wine). The potatoes have a fair bit of food for the yeast in addition to the sugar and raisins (which will also have yeast on the surface). The resulting product would only be drunk for the 'kick.' A better next step would be to distil it to create a hard liquor (like vodka). But that would require more equipment/skill...

Colin Davies said...

Thanks for that info. Will pass it on to a friend who was thinking of giving it a go.