Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 27.6.18

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.

  • Good to read that Spanish is on the verge of overtaking French as the language of choice for both O and A level students in the UK.
  • The new Spanish PM has been demonstrating his fluency in English. Which is said to have stunned the public here, given the parlous ability of all previous job-holders.
  • If you're a holder of shares in BBVA bank – or maybe just an account holder – this article will be of interest. The bank is very exposed to the troubled economies of Turkey and Mexico.
Life in Spain
  • Remember the orang-utang Jesus? How could anyone forget it? Well, here's news of another chapuza(bodge), though one not quite in the same league.
  • What's the first word that springs to mind when you see this cartoon about a Moroccan player negotiating the price in camels for the Spanish goalie's girlfriend?

Whatever you'd say, my guess is that the majority of Spaniards would merely say 'Funny'. And would argue furiously with you, if you claimed it was racist. Unfair?

The EU/The UK/Brexit
  • No. 10 can be cheered today however by a report from the Times’ man in Brussels that big EU27 splits are starting to open over the future relationship with Britain. He says most EU nations are expecting a compromise deal whereby Britain stays aligned to EU rules and regs in return for better single market access … Even though chief negotiator Michel Barnier and power-behind-the throne Martin Selmayr both view the idea as cherry-picking. A senior EU source tells Waterfield: “We all know this is the future … The Commission and Selmayr are obsessed with purity. The EU is not pure. It is always about trade-offs. The final Brexit deal will be bespoke.”
  • The US has an online entry application process for EU residents before a trip of 3 months or less. But you can't avail yourself of this if you've been to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen. If so, you have to apply for a visa. So it was that former NATO chief, Javier Solana, had his online application turned down for having travelled to Iran when he was taking part in negotiations on a nuclear deal. I wonder if I'd also been rejected for having lived in Iran in the 70s, even if it was before the Islamic revolution there. Probably, as I can't imagine a computer making such a distinction.
The World
  • Hmm . . . North Korea  has continued to upgrade its only known nuclear reactor used to fuel its weapons program, satellite imagery has shown, despite ongoing negotiations with the US and a pledge to denuclearise. Some deal.
  • One of the advantages of living in Galicia – especially in the southern half of it – is that Portugal isn't far away, providing the opportunity for regular dips into another culture. Next weekend there's an equestrian fair in lovely Ponte de Lima, which I might just make. If so, I'll take the opportunity to stop in Valença for some roast wild boar(javali) or kid(cabrito). For reasons not clear to me, these are hard to get here in Galicia. Or maybe trout(truta) in PdeL. Washed down with lovely vinho verde.
The World Cup
  1. Was the Nigerian player pulled over or did her throw himself to the ground? I'm not sure this even went to VAR but, even if it did, the interpretation was down to the ref. Who made a mistake in my view. But others will differ.
  2. This chap, for example: Grappling had been one of the clear problems in the early days of this World Cup with defenders getting away with far too much. Mascherano must have missed the memo. Wrapping his arms around Leon Balogun was by no means the worst example that we have seen but it was still a foul, and a stupid one. At least we agree that Mascherano was incredibly dumb to give Balogun the chance to fake a foul for the referee or VAR, or both.
  3. But, anyway, two brilliant goals by Messi and Rojo of Argentina took them through to the final 16, which has to be right. Even if this is an accurate comment about most of their performance: The maestro had done his bit, with a wondrous goal that perhaps only the world’s best footballer can score, but was being let down once more by the mortals around him.
  4. As for Messi in particular and Argentinean football in general, this is a brilliant article by a member of the World Cup winning team of 1986, penned before last night's match. Taster: When the World Cup starts Messi becomes a tortured soul who carries the fierce demands of 45 million people on his shoulders. And yet it’s not true: Messi has defended Argentina’s footballing pride like no one else for 15 years now and he has done so with an astonishing, scandalous consistency. But that perception became received wisdom and Messi is treated as if he was any old player by journalists who demand an excellence from him they cannot even dream of. . . . . Not even a genius can make up for so many failings. Still less, a genius who is dispirited.
  5. Has there ever been a World Cup when so many big guns have faltered and been on the edge of elimination in the first round?
  6. Is it too soon to say England are going in the opposite direction and have at least a chance of appearing in the final? Probably. Ask me after their next match.
Nutters Corner
  • Maradona: I knew God was with us. Having been AWOL in earlier matches, I guess.
Finally . . .
  1. I'm still not getting email notification from Google of Comments.
  2. Here's a nice notice from a shop door somewhere in Spain:-

3. And here's something you'd never see in the UK – a set of huge knives on display at the petrol station counter, next to the credit card machine.

© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 27.6.18

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