Sunday, June 24, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 24.6.18

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.

Life in Spain
  • There's a great deal of – understandable – emotion around the release on bail of the gang of youths convicted – possibly correctly under existing Spanish law - of a sexual offence short of rape, even though their victim was undeniably raped. Click here on this.
  • I forgot yesterday to record my long-standing view of Spanish football match commentaries. Viz, that they're essentially radio with pictures. Or, as a friend noted yesterday, rather more useful for blind viewers that for those of us who can actually see what's happening on the screen.
The EU
  • Mrs Merkel and M Macron are reported to have agreed to have further discussions about doing something meaningful to tackle the EU's potentially fatal challenges.
Social Media
  • A truism: Twitter is the bastion of self-publicising, self-obsessed idiots on one side and relentlessly outraged lefties on the other.
  • That famed Mediterranean diet doesn't seem to be working its magic here. Galicia – at more than 25% - is second only to Asturias in the obesity stakes. I'd guess the percentage is higher among kids than among adults, meaning that the number will rise. Fat-laden fast food? Sugary drinks?
  • One of our major drug barons – Sr Oubiña – has published his autobiography, taking advantage of the interest generated by by the novel (and now TV series) - Fariña - about our major industry. Sale of this book, by the way, is currently court-embargoed at the insistence of the corrupt ex-mayor of a local town. Only in Galicia?
  • For Spanish speakers/readers, here's an article on the Camino bum(boom). As I've said a few times, there must be ways I could make money. If I weren't so lazy.
  • Someone shot a dog and dumped it, still alive in a drain. A local animal protection society has offered a reward of €1,000 for the identity of the perpetrator. Which seems rather a lot for a charitable organisation (presumably) short of funds.
The World Cup
  • Today's talking points:-
  1. I guess I was one of many who predicted exactly where that last-minute German free kick would go?​
  2. And I'm sure there were many of us asking why Sweden had no player(s) on the line to defend against the obvious shot. Or possibly 11.
  3. Earlier, why wasn't VAR used to show it was a clear penalty against the Swedish striker by the German defender?
  4. Everyone watching the immediate replays could see it was a penalty. (The Times: Jerome Boateng had in the first half escaped the scrutiny of both the referee and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) panel for a incident Sweden thought merited a penalty). If the referee wasn't told this in his earpiece, why not? What is the point of having the technology and not using it to ensure justice?​
  5. If the referee was told that it looked like a penalty, did he ignore this advice?
  6. ​If so, does this mean the final decision on whether to use VAR is in the hands of the person whose decision is being questioned?
  • Postscript to my comment on match commentaries: Don't run away with the idea that I enjoy the British approach. While the commentaries during the match might be tolerable – unless by some ex player or manager – the in-studio discussions at half time or after a match are frequently utterly banal - unless an intelligent Dutch, German or Spanish player is participating. Ruud Gullit,for example. British footballers, on the other hand, are famous for being pretty thick and incapable of speaking correct English. But are paid handsomely for their statements of the bleeding obvious. See the nice (and accurate) article below on this subject.
Finally . . .
  • Looking for a ring I've lost for a second time – having only found it recently after 4 years – I put all my grass cuttings of 2 days ago in a large pile, with the intention of scanning them with my metal detector. Spreading out the cuttings last evening, I was truly astonished at the heat in the centre of the pile, not to mention the smoke that emerged. Here's the results of a net enquiry:
  1.  There are literally millions of bacteria in every gallon of grass cuttings. They eat the grass clippings and other organic material. When they are finished, the leftover is called compost. Being living things, their metabolism, just like yours and mine, results in the creation and release of heat. The pile of cuttings is self insulating, trapping the heat and thus allowing it to build up. If you want to prevent the heat build-up simply do not "pile" the grass clippings, but instead spread them out in a thin layer so they can dry out. On the other hand, place the pile in a safe place away from any combustible structures or dry grass or weeds, and let the creatures do their thing and make compost for you which is great fertiliser.
  2. If you have compost pile, putting grass clippings in it really helps getting it started. Add water every once in a while and also make sure you turn it every other week, as introducing air makes for a better compost. 
© David Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 22.6.18


It’s a world of two halves, lads. Women have a right to talk World Cup balls too: Camilla Long

Let’s imagine you’re an ageing male sports writer. It’s column day and, yet again, you are scrabbling around for a subject. Something in the corner of the room catches your rheumy and shrivelled eye. It’s a bloody woman. On the TV.

Not only is it a bloody woman on the TVh, it’s a woman on the TV during your World Cup — a strictly eyes-front, nothing-funny, men-only sporting occasion that’s only ever supposed to feature four blokes in awful spray-on grey suits or impenetrable foreigners in inexplicably epauletted athleisurewear talking utter Kaka about Brazilian midfielders and “sliding one over” and “bending it into the bottom corner”, or saying, slowly, “He’s good on paper, but the trouble is . . . this game’s not played on paper. It’s played on grass.”

And, good God, what’s this? She’s actually talking. She’s opening her mouth and words are coming out. Even worse, they are “polished” and “engaging” words, providing “a refreshingly different tone to the coverage”. This sickening display must be stopped, Gary. She’s got a first-class law degree, Gary — that’s very suspicious. She could easily slip up the far side and plant one in the back of the net, using trigonometry or Latin — you must write a column destroying her immediately, in case she raises the tone of football commentary for ever.

Yes, it’s reached that point of the World Cup. It happens at every big sporting event: Wimbledon, the Olympics, World Fishing Day, Crufts. National morale reaches such a state of honking, back-biting insanity that some bovine commentator decides it is time to take it out on the wife, laying into any women who’ve had the temerity to go anywhere near the men’s matches.

“The fact is that the World Cup is competed for, exclusively, by men,” sniffed Simon Kelner, the former editor of The Independent, last week. There is a huge amount of “diversity” in the competition but not in terms of “gender”. While women are “knowledgeable” and “enthusiastic”, he continued, as if sizing up Labradors, “I would question the insight they offer”.

Asking someone like Eni Aluko, who has more than 100 caps for England and 17 years as a footballer — or as Kelner might put it, footballeress — to commentate on World Cup games “is like getting a netball player to discuss major league basketball”.

I’ll skip over what I call the tiresome Sandra Bullock Fallacy — the bizarre liberal-fascist anti-free-speech brainfart that only certain people can comment on certain things; for example, only women can review women’s films. It’s patently stupid to suggest only men can comment on men’s games, just as it’s patently stupid to say only fish can commentate on World Fishing Day or, as one wag put it, only ships can read the shipping forecast.

Instead, I’ll focus on where Kelner’s argument really goes wrong. Darling, darling little man. Far from a noble and high-minded pursuit, most sports commentating is drivel. It’s a bunch of nonsense: mixed metaphors, unconnected thoughts and observations so bland, you’d be better off watching any given match in Serbo-Croat. 

It is the sort of arena in which someone might say something as sloppy as “it is like getting a netball player to discuss major league basketball”, even though he’s comparing two people who play the same game, whereas netball and basketball are entirely different sports with different balls, rules and teams. You simply can’t defend commentating on the grounds of “skill” or “quality” if you say something as facile as this.

You certainly cannot continue the pretence that football commentating is a complicated or sophisticated occupation that demands the involvement of a penis. Even men who’ve scored goals in front of billions can’t always string a sentence together. So my question is: if commentating isn’t about quality but entertainment, why on earth can’t women do it? And if the men are this awful, what’s wrong with the women supposedly being this awful as well?

An opinion is opinion; analysis is analysis. No one agrees in football — and that’s one of the joys of the game. Deciding you don’t trust someone’s opinion because, I don’t know, they didn’t balls up a World Cup penalty in 1998 suggests that you rate the opinion of someone who does balls things up. Which, I think we can agree, lacks logic.

It doesn’t make sense to reject someone like Eni Aluko in favour of, say, Didier Drogba, a man I wouldn’t trust to select the right Big Mac meal, let alone commentate on Iceland v Nigeria (“The team have to be a bit more quicker”).

What I do want to know is why on earth any of these clever female pundits want to hang out with the likes of Drogba and Glenn Hoddle*.

[Me: * By far the most stupid of the many thick ex-players/managers.]


Maria said...

Fariña was embargoed in all of Spain. The embargo has now been lifted because the defamation trial the ex-mayor asked for has been held, and the verdict is in favor of the publishing house and the author. The judge found nothing defamatory in the brief mention of the ex-mayor in the book, saying that it was all information to be found on the public record, and portrayed correctly. About time some sense came out of a courtroom.

Sierra said...

VAR - used very successfully in rugby, cricket and tennis, where it's part of the entertainment - why are the football authorities so inept?

Enjoying the matches on Spanish TV, mainly because I can get them in HD; rather than UK TV via the internet, which are SD - particularly the afternoon matches when you have those large contrast areas between sunlight and shadow. Also don't get the nonsense from the "experts" during halftime.

Colin Davies said...

I get the matches via satellite, on British TV. I suspect, though, they are SD as there are separate BBC and ITV HD channels. Must check whether I can get a picture on these . . .

Perry said...


You might like this:

The complaint among the foreign policy elite that Trump is crude and unsophisticated has a perverse element of truth: It takes enormous intellectual sophistication to convince one’s self that American democracy is a universal panacea for the world’s political problems and the inevitable goal of human progress. The foreign policy establishment is not stupid, but only psychotic.