Friday, August 31, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 31.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • No one can say this wasn't expected once tourists started to return to places like North Africa and, especially, Turkey.
  • I've mentioned that scams on the general public are not uncommon here in Spain. Here's the latest biggie. The perpetrator is actually Italian but I'm sure he had some willing Spanish assistants.
  • Here's an interesting stat on Airbnb in Spain. I'd already gained the impression that – both here and in Portugal – it has become something of a business for the already-rich, rather than an opportunity for the not-so-rich to make a bit of cash from a spare bedroom.
  • The Local in Spain is going behind a paywall. I'm in 3 minds about subscribing. Will anyone really miss all their lists?
  • The 'age of consent' in Spain is now 13, having risen relatively recently from only 12. You might think this is unusually low but here's some others in Europe: Germany, 14; Italy and France, 15: the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium, 16;  Ireland and Cyprus, 17; Malta 18. Rather odd. But it's not surprising Brussels has stayed away from the issue.
  • I wonder how many Americans know:-
  1. That their national anthem, The Star-spangled Banner, was written in Baltimore as the British were bombarding the city from the sea during the war of 1812-14.
  2. That the melody of it is that of an old British drinking song, and
  3. That the Battle of New Orleans was fought a few days after the war had officially ended under a treaty signed by both parties in, of all places, Ghent in Belgium. So, was pretty pointless, except in (understandably) convincing the Americans that they'd won a war which nobody (except the Native Indians) had actually lost. Both sides merely got fed up with it.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • This is a sight I hoped I'd never see in Pontevedra – a large-ish group of foreigners being guided around the old quarter by someone with a flag. Things can only get as bad as they now are in Santiago. Or worse, Granada:-
  • Preparation for tomorrow's huge Medieval Fair (Feira Franca) is almost complete. Here's how the old Portuguese Gate has been reconstructed. If you search Feira on this blog you should come up with fotos I've posted in times past:-
  • Here's a sign I pass 4 times a day. A friend suggested I should include it here. Don't really know why . . .

Finally . . .
  • The ugliest buildings in the UK??? I'd love to see a similar competition in Portugal, where some buildings defy belief.  BTW - The Stockport monstrosity reminds me of a dreadful centro comercio in Vigo. Some architects deserve to be shot. Even Hitler did better.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 31.8.18

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 30.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • The Franco family say that it's uncivilised to move the dictator's remains. Apparently, they labour under the delusion that his reign was the epitome of civilisation.
  • One of Spain's weirdest fiestas . . . La Tomatina.
  • The Daily Express reports that the number of Brits living in Benidorm, Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca has fallen sharply in the last year, which it attributes to Brexit. And El Pais says the total number of British residents in Spain had dropped from 397,892 to 240,785. But, as ever, these numbers are suspect. No one knows how many Brits reside (or semi-reside) here. And there might well be other factors – e.g. Modelo 720 – at play.
  • Says a Guardian columnist here: One of the coolest destinations in Europe just two decades ago, Barcelona is now so overcrowded it is losing the character that made it so popular. . . A new word has been coined to describe this apparently unstoppable process: 'parquetematización' - the act of becoming a theme park. Barcelona has become an imitation of itself. I would say caricature. Sad to say, Oporto and Lisbon are going the same way, albeit they're still a bit behind.
  • In contrast . . . An unquestionably good news story.
The UK
  • Wonga is a short-term loan company which is in trouble. From an ad on TV, I heard that their 'representative APR' was 1,286%. A look at Wiki indicated it has been as high as 5,853%. And a glance at their Spanish website – which came up every time I tried to get their UK or US sites – suggested a mere 287%. Looks like usury to me, aimed at the poorer members of society. Capitalism/commercialism at its worst?
  • Brexit: Ambrose Evans Pritchard is optimistic that a catastrophic no-deal deal can be avoided but saddened that the final result of 2 years of madness will be an EU-biased version of the Chequers option which everyone on all sides is said to to hate. AEP states categorically: I think Chequers is the worst of all worlds. It does not restore sovereign self-government. It turns this country into a dependent colonial adjunct for the first time since the Norman Conquest, subject to the EU’s legal and regulatory writ but without a Council veto or democratic consent in the European Parliament. It is a formula for future conflict and is almost certain to break down within five or ten years, forcing us to go through this agonising ordeal yet again. He goes on to list the major mistakes of the British government. Specifically, he says: It should never have allowed Brexit to be defined in economic terms. The Referendum was to settle the elemental question of whether we govern ourselves, or whether we accept a higher level of government that British voters cannot remove by any democratic process. It had nothing whatsoever to do with GDP or the commercial interests of global capitalists. See his full article below. For what it's worth, I agree with him.
  • How can anyone with even a smidgin of self-respect and/or self-awareness appear in public with an orange face and pink hands?

Galicia and Pontevedra
  • Stand by for a new camino route. . . The good burghers of the town of Cuntis, envious of the dosh coming to other townships by dint of the increasingly popular camino de Santiago, have searched their archives and have been lucky enough to find exactly what they were looking for - a document which proves that a variant of the camino ​portugués once wended - after Pontevedra and Porráns - via Moaña and 'Los Baños' to Santiago. That's to say a little to the east of the traditional route through Caldas de Réis and Padrón. And 'Los Baños' is, they reveal, what Cuntis used to be called. This, though, is not mentioned on the Spanish Wiki page for the town. Yet. Nor, as far as I can see, does the term feature on the town's web page. Work to be done, then.
  • In a letter to a local paper yesterday, a camino pilgrim complains that the performance of the botafumeiro has to be financed by someone before the priests will perform it. I didn't know that. Serving both God and Mammon, then. 
Finally . . .
  1. Wopular is an online newspaper rack and a news and search aggregator. Today it cites my colourful(!) acount of my camino with friends back in 2010. One wonders why.
  2. My thanks to Demetria Rogers – or his/her computer - for 11 comments to my blog the other day even if they were all identical. And, as the first step in a scam process, not worth reading. This is what happens when you remove all restrictions on comments. At a reader's request . . . .
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 30.8.18


Celebrate the coming Brexit deal, but mourn the lost country: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The likelihood of a no-deal rupture over Brexit is diminishing by the day.  One can detect the contours of a political fudge behind the Kabuki stage.

You see it in today's conciliatory Berlin speech by the Irish Tanaiste. Simon Coveney, once a hardliner, is actively pushing for an EU gesture on post-Brexit trade ties to unlock a deal.

If the UK Government can “develop its position further” on the Chequers plan, the EU should reciprocate. “I am sure our union can be imaginative in return,” he said.

You hear it too in the changing tones from Michel Barnier, now touting an EU partnership “such as there never has been with any other third country”.

This is his new message, delivered each time as if the words were pregnant with diplomatic meaning, as indeed they are. We have reached the odd pass where Mr Barnier is now propping up Theresa May’s fragile Government. Brussels is her chief ally.

Let us set aside the catastrophe scenarios as August nonsense. If there were to be a quarantine of the UK economy, with no landing and overflight rights for British aircraft, and a halt to cross-border payments and data sharing, we would be in a state of war with Europe.

Even a partial dose of this would ricochet back into the EU through multiple channels of contagion. Airbus would spiral into crisis since the jet wings are made in Britain, and the company says it would lose €1bn a week.

Financial contracts worth trillions would be frozen. The derivatives market would seize up. European firms would be cut off from their main capital market. The shock would send the eurozone crashing into recession, reigniting the Italian debt crisis. European bank shares would collapse.

Such mayhem would crystalize late-cycle stresses already visible around the world, probably triggering a nasty correction of overvalued equities and a global recession.

East Europeans on the Russian front line would be incensed with EU ideologues who had shattered defence, security and intelligence ties with a key ally.

Any EU officials who think it to be in the interest of the EU Project to punish Britain in this way - and to do so in the menacing world of Putin, Erdogan, Xi, and Trumpian isolation - need their heads examined. It is absurd. It will not happen.

Even in a no-deal scenario there would be mini-deals to keep the show on the road.  The plausible dangers are of a different kind and lie lower down the Richter scale. What is true is that some in Brussels do not fully understand how vulnerable the EU is even to minor shocks, given its composite character and low political boiling point.

This may cause them to push the UK a step too far as they chip away at Chequers. That is where the risk now lies.

On the British side it is hard to see why bookies are pricing in a 50% chance of a no-deal. Events are moving in the opposite direction. It is becoming clear that Parliament has just two realistic options: either the Chequers package once Mr Barnier has finished with it, or no deal at all.

If Theresa May lacks enough Tory votes to pass Chequers, Labour will have to acquiesce, or abstain. Should the Labour Party vote down the deal, it will be held responsible and will ‘own’ the economic consequences.

Contrary to my earlier views, I now think the Tory rump will hold together as long as Michael Gove, Liam Fox, and the Cabinet Brexiteers remain loyal to the Prime Minister. They have concluded that it would be too dangerous to take a divided nation into a full-blown showdown with the EU at this point, and they have tied themselves to the mast of Chequers.

The 60 to 80 Tory ‘souverainistes’ in the camp of Jacob Rees-Mogg might vote in honourable dissent but they would be in an unholy alliance with hard Remainers, who also prefer a no-deal (and of the worst kind) in the desperate hope that a sterling and gilts crisis would abort Brexit altogether. This twin-headed Orthrus would not command the nation.

In any case, there is little sign yet that leadership letters from Tory MPs are pouring into the 1922 Committee.

It is worth reading a paper for the European Policy Centre by Andrew Duff, president of the ultra-federalist Spinelli Group and one of the MEPs who drafted the European Constitution. It captures the prevailing mood among EU insiders.

His greatest contempt is reserved for hard Remainers, living in the parallel universe of Westminster and seemingly unaware that the EU does not want to extend Article 50, or allow Britain to remain in the EU on status quo terms, or indulge in their procrastination games. The Barnier package is coming soon and will be the EU’s final offer.

“If Parliament refuses the EU’s 2019 offer of an association agreement, there will be no going back to the drawing board: Europe has run out of tolerance. If the deal is rejected by the British Parliament, the EU’s contingency plans will be put into operation,” he writes.

Mr Duff says none of the opposition parties have come up with a viable alternative to Chequers, and those Remainers now demanding a second referendum - after having vowed to respect the results of the first one, he notes - are playing with fire. It would become a battle over the betrayal of democracy. “A panicky referendum in present circumstances promises to be catastrophic. The nation would end up even more divided in terms of social class, generation and province, potentially pitching into a revolutionary situation,” he said.

Mr Duff said the EU has no desire to prolong this messy divorce. The more urgent need for them is to “salvage the international reputation of the EU” and build a new relationship that could become a model for orbital satellites in Europe’s near abroad.

Charles Grant, from the Centre for European Reform, said something may yet survive of Chequers but Theresa May will have to give ground on the Customs Union, the role of the European Court, and the scope of free movement.

I suspect that she will do exactly that, with enough camouflage offered by the EU side to disguise the violation of every red line. I suspect too that the Tory Party will go along for fear of political Armageddon. “Pundits claim that there is no majority in the Commons for anything. That, of course, is nonsense. Under Britain’s wondrous constitution, a simple majority of one can be full of meaning,” said Mr Duff.

Let me be clear, I think Chequers is the worst of all worlds. It does not restore sovereign self-government. It turns this country into a dependent colonial adjunct for the first time since the Norman Conquest, subject to the EU’s legal and regulatory writ but without a Council veto or democratic consent in the European Parliament.  It is a formula for future conflict and is almost certain to break down within five or ten years, forcing us to go through this agonising ordeal yet again.

The Government should not have triggered Article 50 before it was ready. It should have mobilised the British state behind a World Trade Organisation strategy from the outset, as a credible springboard for a ‘Canada plus’ trade deal on the basis of mutual recognition. It should never have allowed Brexit to be defined in economic terms. The Referendum was to settle the elemental question of whether we govern ourselves, or whether we accept a higher level of government that British voters cannot remove by any democratic process. It had nothing whatsoever to do with GDP or the commercial interests of global capitalists.

Yet two years of unforced errors, wishful thinking, and economic fear have led the Government into the current quagmire, and the die is cast. The balance of probability is that Mr Barnier will offer just enough to sweeten the bitter pill, and that both Tory and Labour MPs will sheepishly swallow it.

So celebrate the coming deal, and mourn the lost country.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 29.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • Here's one item on wolves in Spain. 
  • And here, by coincidence, is another. Also shocking but in a different way altogether.
  • A company producing wind turbines near Leon has announced the end of production. I wonder what this means. A shift in government policy and the end of subsidies?
  • At a meeting in the White House with evangelist leaders, Fart quoted this John Adams sentiment: I Pray Heaven To Bestow The Best Of Blessings On This House And All that shall hereafter Inhabit it. May none but Honest and Wise Men ever rule under This Roof. Of course, he left out the third bit.
  • Click here for an account of more of the repugnant behaviour we've come to expect, at that meeting. It's so very sad that we are no longer shocked by it.
  • The Times this morning, in a headline, uses the word 'fishers' instead of 'fishermen'. Normally I would prefer the shorter word but surely the former - if it exists - includes anglers as well as men at sea. So is ambiguous. In fact, they were the latter, who were being attacked by their French equivalents in the English Channel. The text of the article actually uses 'fishermen'. So, I suspect 'fishers' is the invention of a 17 year old sub-editor down in New Zealand. To whom, it's reported, once-great British newspapers resort for (poor) overnight editing of articles submitted the previous evening by real journalists. And for the creation of headlines, accurate or otherwise. 
  • Here's a list of English words used by the American writer Washington Irving in Tales from the Alhambra, written in the 1830s. Not many of them are current now, I suspect:-
Drawcansir – A a fictional character in a play entitled The Rehearsal.
To diaper – Meaning, I think, to cover with. Technically: 1. What Brits call a nappy. And 2. A line or cotton fabric woven in a repeating pattern of small diamonds. (Applied to Moorish wall decorations).
Pursy – 1. Short of breath; asthmatic. 2. Fat
Squab – 1. Young, unfledged pigeon. 2. Thick stuffed cushion. (Applied to a man).
To repine – To feel or express discontent
Wight – 1. A person of a specified kind, especially one who's regarded as unfortunate. 2. A spirit, ghost or other supernatural being.
Sloop – A sailboat but used by WI to mean 'shop', apparently.
Shopboard – Counter?
Tatterdemalion – Used here to mean very poor, it seems.
Darkling – Of or related to increasing darkness.
To subjoin – To add comments/info at the end of a speech or text. (See anything Alfie Mittington writes).
To mow at someone - ??? Similar to 'To mope'? To lower?

  • Here's a couple of Spanish words used by Irving that I didn't know:-
Trabuco – 1. Blunderbuss. 2. Drag queen.
Tocador – Translated by WI as 'Toilette'. 1. Boudoir. 2. Powder room. 3. Dressing table.

Galicia and Pontevedra
  • Readers will know that Pontevedra is – like Oxford – a decidedly 'anti-car' city. There are certainly highly commendable aspects of this and Pontevedra has become something of a favourite around the world on how to do things. I was reminded of this yesterday when I saw that, thanks to our town council, you can download a 44-page booklet published in Gallego, Spanish and even English, entitled: Fewer cars; More city. You can get it here. I'm impressed at the 'fewer' rather than (the once erroneous but now very common and, so, no longer erroneous) 'less'.
  • I've admitted to confusion about Spanish pensions and how they differ between regions and age groups. Yesterday, I saw a chart showing that the average monthly pension is Galicia is – at €810 - the second lowest in Spain, after Extremadura. Compared with the highest of €1,189 in the Basque Country. And the text advised that those senior folk getting their pension now in our region get considerably more than those who retired years ago. So, no consistency or uniformity at all. What would be considered in other countries as an unfair and unacceptable 'postcode lottery'. As well as age discrimination, I guess. Doubtless a reflection of the delegation of this 'competency' to regional governments. Naturally, some of our pensioners are revolting.
  • As mentioned, ahead of our one-day Medieval Fair on Saturday, work has been going on for at least 10 days on making the city look medieval. Another very observable fact is that almost every empty retail outlet has been converted into a 'pop-up' supplier of costumes for the 80-90% of celebrants who'll lash out on one of these. A business that didn't exist here 20 years ago. Here's an example I clocked last night. A place where I used to buy spices:-

Finally . . .

A sign of the times:-

© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 29.8.18

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 28.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • This seems to be the latest on the attitude of the Franco family to the government's plans to remove his remains from the Valley of the Fallen. The family, by the way, has a large mausoleum in a Madrid cemetery.
  • I came across this article in my files last night – a treatise on anti-Americanism in Spain, published in 2005. Here's the Summary: Spain’s feelings toward the United States are the coldest in Europe after Turkey, according to a poll by the German Marshall Fund. And they have been that way for a very long time. The country’s thermometer reading on a scale of 0-100 was 42 in 2005, only surpassed by Turkey’s 28 and compared with an average of 50 for the 10 countries surveyed. The same degree of coldness towards the United States was brought out in the 16-country Pew Global Attitudes Project where only 41% of Spaniards said they had a very or somewhat favourable view of the United States. This surprises many people. After all, Spain has become a vibrant democracy and a successful market economy since the right-wing dictatorship of General Franco ended in 1975 with the death of the Generalísimo. Why are Spaniards so cool towards the United States? And here's a footnote from page 1: Anti-Americanism means many different things. In the case of Spain, a distinction should be made between the conservative anti-Americanism of the Franco regime, which rejected US democratic, tolerant and free-market values, nationalist anti-Americanism, as a result of the 1953 bilateral agreement, which cut across classes and political parties, and left-wing anti-Americanism, stemming from US support for dictators in Latin America, the Vietnam war and other events. A distinction should also be made between anti-Americanism and ‘anti-Bushism’. 
  • I fear Alfie Mittington will feel compelled to give us his twopennyworth on this subject . . .
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • Yet another article pointing out just how zealous the police and guardia civil are here in Pontevedra Province in fining motorists. Fourth after the much larger zones of Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla.
  • Talking of fines . . . Using the latest technology, such as drones, the regional tax office has had huge success in identifying 'new' (i.e. undeclared) properties throughout Galicia. 2,200, to be exact.
  • There was an explosion near Tui a few weeks ago, of fireworks illegally stored in a residential area. Several houses were destroyed but the good news is that their owners are entitled to compensation - of up to €110,000, I think. The bad news is that, whatever they finally get, the tax office says they'll have to pay 40% of it back to the national government. The (ex)owners are, of course, protesting at this nonsense/injustice. IGIMSTS.
Finally . . .
  • My elder daughter and her man visited me at the weekend. As they were about to set off for Madrid, she pointed out that the letters of his number plate - FVN – could well spell out FUN. My feeling is that everyone in Spain should have these letters, with their own individual numbers.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 28.8.18

Monday, August 27, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 27.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • There are conflicting reports on the attitude of Franco's relatives to the removal of his remains from the Valley of the Fallen. The doyenne of the family says she's relying on the (ex-fascist) abbot of the Benedictine monastery there to refuse to cooperate with the government. And he himself is reported to have said he'll only do so on the instructions of the king. See a Guardian article on the subject here.
  • Spanish administrations – national, regional and local – don't make it easy for entrepreneurs. The general approach is to protect existing vested interests – such as hoteliers and taxi drivers – and a standard tactic is to compel licensing by some non-objective body or other. And then impose potentially huge fines on those who infringe. Here's El País on the subject of a (foreign) would-be guide down in Valencia. By the way, the Spanish term for guides is cicerones.
  • As for licensing, it can go the other way. At the start of the phony construction boom in the early 2000s, the Spanish government abolished the need for estate agents(realtors) to be trained and licensed. You can imagine the - totally predictable - result, in this country of 'low ethics'.
  • Possibly irrelevant for most of us . . . On a golden hilltop facing the Mediterranean Sea on the private Andalucian estate of Sotogrande, the groundwork is being laid for seven of the most extraordinary and expensive new properties in Spain.
The EU
  • Get ready for an even more German Europe, we're advised here.
  • Here's a fascinating - and worrying - article on what's happening there these days and what the nation's objectives are. I don't suppose Fart has read it. Or anything like it. Or possibly anything.
The UK: Brexit
  • Richard North: Any minister with the slightest grasp of the subject, confronted with the prospect of a "no deal" Brexit closing in on us would be pressing the panic button, preparing the British people to expect major concessions to Brussels in order to avoid catastrophe. . . . Mrs May is not going to find it easy when they have to deal with Brussels. It is quite possible that they are planning to take the talks to the wire, then expecting Barnier to "cave in" and offer the UK concessions which will mitigate the worst effects of a "no deal".  But this will effectively be handing the game to Brussels which will allow only that which is in the interests of the EU and its Member States. . . . We go to our doom blinded by the zealots, and kept in ignorance by the goverment.
  • What Brits call (potato) crisps, Americans call (potato) chips. Which is the phrase/word used by Brits for what Americans call (French) fries. All clear enough. But yesterday I came across these lines in a book written by George Orwell in the 1930s:-
Sometimes in the evening he would produce a greasy packet of Smith's potato crisps from his pocket and, holding it out, say in his clipped style:
“Hassome chips?”
The packet was always grasped so firmly in his large hand that it was impossible to extract more than two or three chips.

Very odd. You don't expect Orwell to be confused/confusing.

Galicia and Pontevedra
  • On the subject of tour guides, there are reported to be 683 official ones here in Galicia, where we had a record 5.1m visitors in 2017. But not many unofficial ones, for obvious reasons.
  • The medieval fair (Feira Franca) takes place here next Saturday. When I first attended this in 2001 – its second year – there were about 3 stalls in one small street. This year there will be 68 stalls and 376 'licensed tables'. (Is there anything they won't licence in Spain? Oh, yes, the ubiquitous prostitution). The fiesta has expanded from one street to take over the entire Old Quarter and much of the New Quarter as well. I believe it's now even gone across the river to the city's 'fairground' and the car park of the New Theatre.
  • Another alternative to the camino de Santiago.
Finally . . .
  • I struggled for a few seconds yesterday with the Spanish word jipi. I finally figured out it was 'hippy'. Or, more accurately, 'khippy'

© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 27.8.18

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 26.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • Franco's (wealthy) family has said they won't resist the government's plans to shift his remains from the Valley of the Fallen. And they will decide where these end up, it seems.
  • Here's another of those bull-taunting accidents.
  • Ending a review of the fascinating last few days, a commentator asks here whether this wasn't: The worst week yet of the Trump presidency? Adding that: It faces stiff competition from his responses to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, a devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki. Indeed, with this man in the White House, every week feels like a lifetime. 
  • To lighten your day, here's one of the laugh-out-loud US satirical shows I enjoy late every evening.
  • I've always believed Fart would never get to the end of his first term and am on record here saying so. I've even wondered whether the Republicans would have him assassinated in order to get Pence into power. My current view is that, if Fart were only a tenth of the deal-maker he thinks he is, he'd be working now with whomsoever on an 'elegant' resignation that would keep him and his entire his family out of jail. But I suspect he isn't. Yet.
The UK: Brexit
  • Christopher Booker was the co-author of Richard North of the exposure – 20 years ago – of the EU's founding and workings – The Great Deception. Naturally, he's always been in favour of Brexit. But not any old Brexit; he's always shared with North the vision of a gradual, Flexit-type departure. If you can bear it, below is an article giving his view of the British government's approach to date. And its implications.
  • Separately in the Times, Janet Daley refers to the miasma of contradiction and incoherence  which now envelops the government’s strategy. She goes on to say: What has become alarmingly clear is just how entangled we have become in the EU bureaucratic system. Startling degrees of European law and regulation now dominate the running of almost every area of our everyday lives. Message to Leave-voters: It was much worse than you thought. And to Remainers: Were you aware that we were in this deep? I don't think she's very optimistic either . . .
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • I mentioned recently the new – but 'authentic' – camino from Pontevedra to Combarro and then Sanxenxo and O Grove, en route to Vilanova de Arousa - the Way of Padre Sarmiento. Here's an article on the cleric. And here's Amazon's details of the book cited:-
  • I also recently mentioned the criticisms of poor signage on the newish Spiritual variant of the Portuguese Way just north of Pontevedra. Yesterday, there was a report of of group of confused and angry Italians who'd missed a turn and found they'd traipsed some way along the main road to Vilagarcia, instead of across the hills to the monasteries first in Poio and then Armenteira, towards Vilanova. Well, surely pilgrimages are not supposed to be a cakewalk.
  • Ooh, a British competitor to the camino de Santiago? The 'newly described' 13th-century pilgrimage route linking Swansea with Hereford: The St Thomas Way. 
Finally . . .
  • One of the books re Spain recently cited was by the namesake of my younger daughter.
  • Taking a look at it on Amazon, I came across this description of book on angels, by a woman I once watched – jaw on chest – on British TV: Angel Whisperer Francesca Brown has been communicating with the angels since they first came into her life during a time of grave illness and guided her back to health. In her new book 'The Voices of Angels', Francesca draws us once again into the angelic realm, sharing her amazing personal journey to becoming one of Europe's best-known angel channelers. Here she focuses on the insights of the angels with whom she communicates daily, most especially with Ann, her ever-present and trusted angel companion. TBH, I can't help wondering if, in other times, she'd have been consigned to a lunatic asylum, as they used to be called. These days, of course, she makes a mint.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 26.8.18


Finally, our wishful-thinking ministers are waking up to the consequences of no-deal Brexit: Christopher Booker, the Times

Ever since January last year, this column has had one persistent theme. When would the British people finally wake up to the potentially catastrophic consequences of the dramatic shift in Theresa May’s Brexit strategy revealed in her Lancaster House speech?

Until then, it was reasonable to believe her repeated insistence that she wanted Britain, on leaving the EU, to continue enjoying “frictionless” trade “within” our largest export market. And the only practical way to do this would have been to join the European Free Trade Association (Efta) and thus remain in the European Economic Area (EEA).

But as soon as Mrs May slammed the door on this, it became clear that neither she nor her ministers had any real understanding of what it would mean for Britain to shut itself out entirely from the EU’s trading system, to become what it terms a “third country”. They clearly had no idea of how enmeshed our economy had become with that of the EU or how complex it would be to disengage from it. All we saw instead was our Government completely out of its depth, lost in one bubble of wishful thinking after another, of which Mrs May’s absurd “Chequers plan” is merely the latest.

Only now, after 16 months of talking ineffectually around the subject, has our Government come out with the first tranche of 80-odd papers to explain how we should prepare for the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal.

These tell us nothing more than what should have been obvious back in the days when Mrs May was still claiming “no deal is better than a bad deal”; and for detail and clarity they are not a patch on the 68 “Notices to Stakeholders” already issued by the European Commission to spell out the consequences of Britain choosing to become a “third country”.

Yet even now, so poorly understood on this side of the Channel have been the implications of our leaving without a deal that this ragbag of papers has widely come as quite a shock, despite being airily brushed aside by the Brexiteers as another instalment of “Project Fear”.

The ultimate irony is that what we are facing is not so much a “no deal” as the need for dozens of “side deals”, to be hastily scrambled together in the few months remaining, to keep sizeable parts of our economic activity functioning. And many of the most serious issues have not yet been addressed, such as how legally we are going to be able to keep our airports open and our aircraft flying outside UK airspace (let alone that intractable riddle of how to keep an open border in Northern Ireland).

The bottom line is that we are putting at risk a substantial chunk of our export trade with the EU worth £270 billion a year, or 14% of our GDP, with all the implications for lost jobs, businesses and tax revenue that carries with it. Yet, tragically, without Mrs May’s fateful wrong turning in January last year, so much of this chaos could easily have been avoided.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 25.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • It really does seem that Franco's remains will soon be taken from the Valley of the Fallen.
  • Here's the estimable Giles Tremlett on this subject.
  • And here's someone's list of the books on Spain you really should read. Quite a lot. But nothing on Galicia, I note.
  • The Local has re-issued this list of things that guiris do which the locals look askance at.
The EU
  • That refugees/migrants problem . . . The EU has been near silent about Turkey’s transgressions – not least as Ankara has massive leverage. One peep out of Brussels and Erdogan could renege on his deal to use Turkish border forces to stop an influx of Syrian refugees into Europe, fuelling the flames of the EU’s populist fire. Real politique, then.
  • Says Jonathan Freedland in this article: The picture of Trump as president is now crystal clear. His instincts and methods are those of the autocrat. He respects no separation of powers, no zones of authority from which the constitution very deliberately excludes him and his office. He may be called Donald, but he wants to rule like a don. Seems about right to me. Freedland says that the surest way to defeat a would-be strongman is to make him look weak. I've always recommended laughing at Fart as an alternative. Or at least as a parallel strategy.
The UK
  • Here's a BBC article which answers the main questions asked by Spaniards about life in the UK. For example: Why are there nearly always separate hot and cold taps(fawcets)?
  • It never rains but it pours for poor TSB. It's still suffering the consequences of the IT fiasco of a few months ago. Or, rather, its customers are. And now it's had to apologise after leaving thousands of the latter in doubt over whether they will have a useable debit card after next Friday. I'm a tad surprised they've still got some customers.
  • Brexit: Says one of the many commentators: Is it any wonder, then, that European officials don’t believe Britain is serious? We are too fractured, too uninspired and too fearful to persuade ourselves, let alone the continent. The irony is, of course, that the less our European neighbours believe “no deal” is possible, the more Brussels digs in and the likelier it becomes. This is how historical accidents happen.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • Galicia's biggest export item to the UK is . . . tractors. Followed by clothes (Zara?), 'mineral oils', 'shoe bits', gypsum and timber. The balance of trade is very much in favour of Galicia, whose main imports are 'mineral oils', followed – astonishingly – by fish and shellfish. With iron and steel being 3rd on the list.
  • A recent drive to Padrón on the AP9 cost €3.60 for 36km. So, I was right about toll costs being around 10c a km here. Not the most expensive in the country but not the cheapest either, despite this being a poor region. That said, the coastal strip – for reasons oft spelt out – is far from indigent.
Finally . . .
  • There's at least one family in history which was probably worse than the Farts. Listening to a podcast on Agrippina the Younger, I learnt that this Roman empress was the younger sister of Caligula and the niece and fourth wife of Claudius. As if that weren't bad enough, her son was the infamous emperor Nero. Agrippina was accused by some of murdering Claudius but I'm not sure if it was for this that Nero had her - his mother - executed. As it says on Wiki: All surviving stories of Agrippina's death contradict themselves and each other, and are generally fantastical. I wonder what it'll say in 50 years time about the egregious Farts. One thing's for sure - there's more to come yet.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 25.8.18

Friday, August 24, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 24.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • When it comes to the acceptance of homosexuality, ex-Catholic Spain still seems to be well in the van.
  • Here's The Local doing its bit to promote 'over-tourism' with 10 things that, until today, were relatively secret in Barcelona.
  • Spain - a magnet for digital nomads?
  • If you look up a Spanish word in the dictionary of the Royal Academy but fail to include an accent, you'll be told it doesn't exist. Is this really appropriate – never mind helpful – in the 21st century?
  • It was asked frequently on US TV yesterday:- How stupid do Fart and his people think we are? An excellent question. Time will give us the answer. Perhaps as stupid as them. Or at least Fart.
  • A question I have . . . Would Fart lie so brazenly if there weren't a channel like Fox News to do it on without ever being challenged?
  • Which reminds me . . . If you're a US voter who witnessed Fart's lie-strewn – and possibly criminal - performance in front of a supine, mute interviewer on that channel on Wednesday and still rate him, then he was surely right to say that you'd vote for him even if he killed someone on 5th Avenue. Or maybe, as someone said on US TV yesterday, you'd react like Carrie Fisher did to John Belushi here.
  • Perhaps the most relevant comment made in the last few days is that, with US politics being now so polarised and tribal, it's not policies – let alone moralities – which determine victory, but turnout. So, both parties will be going hell for leather between now and November to maximise their voters at the midterm elections.
Social Media
  • Don Quijones here: Facebook tries to clean up its tattered image
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • Taking a coffee en route to my midday watering hole yesterday, I had to endure the stereo-blight of terrace life in Spain – a woman blowing cigarette smoke from the left, and – on my right - a woman moaning about her private life in a voice that could surely be heard in Vigo. So, in the immortal words of reporters on the News of the Screws, I made my excuses and left.
  • A local paper reports that our good August weather has led to virtually 100% occupation in our hotels. This implies that some Spaniards leave their holiday arrangements until the last possible moment. Can this really be true?
  • Which reminds me . . . It's a feature of Spanish life that no one takes reservations seriously. Neither the people who make them, nor the hotels and restaurants which book them. Nor is there any reaction if you reserve a table for, say, 6 and turn up with, say, 20. Or even vice versa. It's all part of the Spanish love of 'spontaneity'. Or, rather, their aversion to 'planning'. BUT . . . Hotels and restaurants are getting fed up of losing money because of this national practice. Maybe it didn't matter so much when the places were never full and things could be accommodated but, with tourism now booming like never before, serious money is being lost - both because of people failing to turn up and because of people turning up but then departing without paying. A sinpa. Or sin pagar. So, things will change. But probably slowly. Credit card details will surely one day be requested in advance. And Spain will become a little less 'different'. Once again.
  • Meanwhile . . There's more than a week to go to our one-day Medieval Fair but work has already begun on preparing for it. Evidence of my belief that the Spanish are at their most hard-working and efficient when having fun. Or even when just getting ready to have it.
Finally . . .
  • A personal note: I was brought up a Catholic and, for a time, was – as you'd expect - the best Latin-speaking altar boy in Britain. But I lost my faith during my teenage years, becoming first a deist and then an atheist. I married a protestant woman and now have one atheist daughter and one Catholic daughter. Plus one jewish sister and one very pious Catholic sister. I also have Catholic (as well as Jewish, protestant and even JW) friends, of course, as I regard their religious beliefs as irrelevant to the question of whether they're a good and interesting person or not. But, for quite some time now, I've regarded the Catholic Church as an evil and corrupt institution. So, you won't be surprised to hear that I agreed with comments in this article on its precipitous decline in Ireland. It's truly astonishing – but totally consistent – that an immensely wealthy organisation can only come up with cheap words. And then adds insult to injury by asking its faithful to pray and fast. As if that ever did anyone any good. I guess the only other thing worth saying is that, despite the rush away from the RC church in Ireland, Mass attendance there is still higher than it is here in Spain, where the church was/is, of course, associated with Franco's appalling fascist regime. On the other hand, there's Poland . . 
  • Oh, dear. A few minutes after writing that paragraph, I read this article about the inane pronouncements of a Mexican cardinal.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 24.8.18

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 23.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

As usual on a Thursday morning, I'm indebted to Lenox Napier of the comprehensive Business over Tapas for some of the following items.

Matters Spanish
  • Those bull-taunting 'fiestas' around Spain involve a degree of risk for the spectators. As can be seen here and here. Don't you just love the action of someone throwing in a (red) rag while the bull tosses a poor chap as if he were one.
  • More summer fodder from The Local7 Spanish habits you'll never truly master.
  • As someone who fights to prevent waiters putting at least 2 plastic straws in my GandT, I wasn't surprised to read that Spain leads Europe in the use of these pretty pointless things. .
  • Yesterday I got a call from someone in my home-insurance company. I called him this morning to talk about the proposal I'd got in April from one of his colleagues. He said this had nothing to do with him as he was an autonoma (self-employed) working out of the company's offices. And he stressed that I would get a different proposal from each person representing the company. 'Different' discounts, for example. My mind went back to comments made by Vernon Werner in his book about how bizarrely companies can work in Spain. From which I compiled the points listed in this post.
  • Says Lenox in a bit on the evils of 'over-tourism': The difference between an over-sold resort in Spain and the perfectly ordinary village next-door is a wonder to behold in prices, tourist numbers and the ubiquitous souvenir shops. Also true of next-door Portugal, of course.
The EU and Greece
  • Says Ambrose Evans Pritchard: Greece will not escape debt servitude until the euro is destroyed.Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. The IMF says Greece will still be bankrupt in 2060 under EU policies, despite half a century of austerity. If all goes perfectly, Greece will struggle through the 2020s and early 2030s on the edge of insolvency, still under the tutelage of the foreign commissars. In 2060 it will finally emerge from a half century of austerity just as bankrupt as it is today, with a public debt of 180% of GDP. Greece will be back where it started. It will not have escaped the debtors’ prison or the grinding indignity of neo-colonial oversight. It will still have EU officials telling its elected leaders which pensions to cut or how much the country can spend on hospital syringes. 
  • Nice Times cartoon . . .
  • A trio of relevant articles from the (left of centre) Guardian:-
  1. A leader: The walls have suddenly caved in on Donald Trump’s presidency. First came Michael Cohen’s stunning plea agreement . . .Then, Robert Mueller’s prosecution team notched a big win with the guilty verdict on eight counts against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. . . A third wall crumbled over the weekend, when the New York Times revealed that the White House counsel, Don McGahn, had spent 30 hours providing information to Mueller. 
  2. Nice article on Fart and his prospects. You have to say that a man with Fart's background, character and ethics who believed he could stand for president and get away with it is impressive in some way. Staggering self belief. Or, perhaps, self deception. Or just chutzpah?  Or pure hubris? With nemesis to follow?
  3. A cold blast for the Democrats.
The UK
  • Says Richard North re the Brexit: We now have 7 months to discuss in ever-greater detail the consequences of a no-deal deal, while conjuring up a sequence of imaginative mitigation measures that can get us off the hooks on which we've impaled ourselves. Sounds about right to me. He terms it the Dunkirk Option. Nice. The problem, adds North, is that the 2 biggest hurdles to a successful resolution are the stunning weight of ignorance borne by our politicians and a consistent inability to get to grips with the technical issues demonstrated by the babies in the media. Can one be at all optimistic?
  • A reverse trend? Words such as "dodgy", "bespoke", "wonky" and "twee" have popped up in the vocabulary of American speakers influenced by a desire to sound more sophisticated. I blame that new technology – the radio. Or, as we call it, the 'wireless'.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • The Guardia Civil – which is really a semi-military organisation – has over 200 barracks in Galicia. But is about to close 'a large part' of them. The smaller ones, it seems.
  • 84% of homes in Galicia have the internet but only 32% have 'high speed' connection. Fortunately, after 15 years of almost no speed, my house now numbers among the lucky ones.
  • With the big August fiesta finally over, we now move to the Festa de Demo (Devil) this week, for kids. And the huge Medieval Fair on 1 September, which is a tradition that goes back all of 18 years. And then there's a break until the very Spanish Oktoberfest . . . Hey ho. It's obigatory to enjoy yourself in Spain. Whether you want to or not.
Finally . . .
  • I'm reading about the Phoenicians and foolishly mentioned this to a friend I share with the insufferable Mr Mittington. The latter sent me this article on them which - for reasons I can't now recall - I'd put on my Galicia web page back in 2013. I have to admit it's pretty good. When he isn't being pettifogging, he can be quite learned. Amusing, even. You can read his original post here.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 23.8.18

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 22.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • Click here to read just how important tourism now is to Spain, and what it means about the quality of much of the employment here. Nice for now but can't be good longterm. Precarious.
  • There was an air crash at Madrid airport 10 years ago, involving Spanair. I can't say I was surprised to read yesterday that relatives of the victims don't believe the official enquiry has answered some key questions.
  • Worrying to read that: Measles cases have surged in Europe amid warnings that renewed opposition to vaccination has enabled the disease to make a comeback. 
  • A pessimist's view on the future of the EU.
  • Here's a fascinating article on Mike Pompeo, who's seen as one of the few successes of Fart's White House. His secret is apparently an amazing ability to 'manage upwards'. Or sycophancy. Allegedly, he never argues with the president but does calm him down as necessary. That must be a full time job. Especially this week. I don't get the impression Pompeo is always successful.
  • As for Fart and his long-standing-but-denied-by-him Russian connections, this looks like an interesting – if not exactly surprising – read.
  • As of now, are Fart and his wife not talking to each other? Who'd be surprised if they weren't?
  • As you'd expect, in the face of yesterday's astonishing developments, Donald Trump remained defiant at a campaign rally on Tuesday night, insisting he was "winning" - just hours after two onetime members of his inner circle were labelled "guilty" of criminal charges. You almost have to admire the man. Even if you had difficulty articulating exactly why.
  • For a while, asparagus was corrupted into 'sparrows' grass'.
  • Jerusalem in Jerusalem artichokes is a corruption of girasol.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • We now have 3 camino routes leaving from Pontevedra, as opposed the single one (the camino portugúes) we had until about 5 years ago. All of these, as I say, are “totally authentic”. The folk who re-discovered the Spiritual Variant – passing through Poio, Combarro, Armenteira, Cambados and Vilanova – have accused the local government of not promoting this route even as much as they do down in Portugal. The Xunta has, of course, denied this.
  • The wild boars are getting closer to Pontevedra city. They're now destroying corn(maize) crops in Cerpozóns, 8km from here.
  • August . . . My elder daughter will be here soon and I went to a notary's office yesterday to arrange a meeting next Monday for the signing of a public document. Not possible, they said.
  • If you're thinking of having a holiday in North Portugal at any of the following places, be warned that they are the property of some of our drug barons and are either already 'embargoed' or soon will be:- Quinta de Sobreira; Quinta Dourado; and Quinta de Agra.
Finally . . .
  • A question which regularly arises as I sit outside my regular watering hole - Why do young men wear shorts down to their knees but young (and not-so-young) women wear them up beyond their bum cheeks? Just asking. Merely differing fashions, I guess. Could change next year. . . 
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 22.8.18

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 21.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • The toxic porcine future I referred to yesterday has been termed the Aporkalypse by some wit. Nice.
  • If you need a new Spanish ID card or passport, you'd better plan ahead.
  • And if you're not Spanish, here from The Local, of course, are your 10 Commandments for enjoying life here. Pretty accurate, I'd say. Especially the one about never being ambitous as to what you'll achieve of a morning. Spain is different. Simply put, things just don't happen.
  • I'd add a Superordinate Commandment: Always establish a personal relationship - one way or another - with someone you have to deal with. This can be as simple as citing the name of a shared friend.
  • Click here if you still need to see just how crazy political commentary can be in the USA.
  • If you thought Fart's tweeting couldn't get any worse, you were wrong. As someone said last night, he's now freaking out for the entire world to see. Is this really happening??
The UK
  • I heard on a podcast yesterday that Shakespeare was old English for Masturbator. Which struck me as probably untrue. But I did some research and came up with the article below.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • On my way into town yesterday, I passed a group of around 10 gypsy boys aged between 5 and 12. Every one of them was overweight, and more than one was already obese. Can this be down to only poor diet, or are there also genetic factors at work? Most, though not all, adult gypsy women are rather large. Or, as we used to be permitted to say, fat.
  • We have a newish Indian restaurant in Pontevedra city – plus one even newer. As with vegetarian and previous international restaurants, their survival chances are not high. I've seen at least 2 Indian (i. e. Pakistani/Bangladeshi) restaurants close in my time here. Plus one in Vigo, now that I think of it. Anyway, if – armed with their leaflet - you're looking for the New Bombay Palace at Plaza de España 2, you won't find it there, but a couple of blocks away. Nor will you be able to access their webpage at www.newbombaypalace.com. Not good signs . . .
  • The newer place – New Surya Restaurantcan be found at its purported address of Rúa Álvaro Cunquiero, on the corner with Rúa Cruz Vermella(Bermeja). 'Red Cross street' to you and me. En passant . . . hoping to cater for Spanish customers, its lunch-time hours are 1 to 5pm. Equivalent to 11 to 3pm in most(all?) other countries. I plan to try their menú del día today.
  • Below is the translation of a nice article on Brits in Galicia from the Voz de Galicia of the other day.
Finally . . .
  • Having just re-read Ian Kershaw's monumental Nemesis, I thought I was fully aware of just how nasty Man could be. But last night I learnt that – after the American post-Pearl Harbour retaliatory air-raid on Tokyo - the Japanese slaughtered as many as 250,000 Chinese, for helping the pilots to escape. This contrasts with 50 people killed in the air-raid. Even worse than the Nazis. What an accolade.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 21.8.18


1. Shakespeare and Sex

The sexual puns that would be obvious to Shakespeare’s audience are now interpreted by modern readers as the epitome of English eloquence, simply because half of the time we probably don’t realize what Shakespeare is really talking about. I stumbled across an interesting book called “Filthy Shakespeare,” which translates Shakespeare’s jargon into today’s vernacular. One of the first things you appreciate is the overwhelming number of idioms for “penis.” Basically you can assume that anything that is longer than it is wide is a phallic symbol. Also Shakespeare’s name itself is a sexual pun, since Will was a colloquialism for penis, vagina and sexual desire. And the word Shakespeare can roughly be translated to “masturbator.” So you can only imagine the kind of teasing the poor kid had to put up with.

Examples of Shakespeare’s idioms for male sexual organs include (but are certainly not limited to): beggar, carrot, dewlap, holy-thistle, instrument, kicky-wicky, little witness, needle, pizzle, potato-finger, pudding, three-inch fool and weapon. The corresponding female idioms are more numerous than males and include bird’s nest, bogs, dearest bodily part, low countries (including the Netherlands), medlar, rudder, salmon’s tail, snatch, tongue and velvet. Puns on sex itself include: boggler, change the cod’s head for the salmon’s tail, dance with one’s heels, dribbling dart of love, fill a bottle with a tun-dish, horsemanship, nose-painting, paddling palms and tickle one’s catastrophe. And I am just scratching the surface here.

Shakespeare certainly did not have to depend on clever idioms to get his point across. The following is an example of his signature word play, where the word “will,” repeated 13 times, can mean either Will (referring to a Christian name), or “will” referring to either a penis or vagina. In this sonnet, the poet wonders if he can join the ranks of the Beloved’s lovers [ there is a translation into modern english below. I wonder if this piece doesn't also include the 3rd meaning of 'will' as 'desire']:

Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy Will,
And Will to boot, and Will in overplus.
More than enough am I that vex thee still,
To thy sweet will making addition thus. 
With thou, whose will is large and spacious,
Not once vouchsafe to hide my will in thine?
Shall will in others seem right gracious,
And in my will no fair acceptance shine?
The sea, all water, yet receives rain still,
And in abundance addeth to his store;
So thou, being rich in will, add to thy Will
One will of mine to make thy large Will more.
Let no unkind no fair beseechers kill;
Think all but one, and me in that one Will. 

Here is the translation from one Paula Kiernan, author of Filthy Shakespeare:
“While other women can only wish for sex, your sexual desires are fulfilled by your Will, and you’d get my penis in the bargain, in fact you would get an excess of sex.
I can perform better than all of your lovers put together and I will keep tormenting you with my sexual advances.
Will you not, with that vagina of yours which is large and spacious from so much use by other men, let me hide myself in you?
Are other men better endowed, and I cannot measure up?
The sea is all water, but it still receives rain, and adds to it abundantly. It’s the same with you.
Even though you are already rich in the number of your lovers, I am asking that you accept me as a lover. I am already aroused and my penis has grown larger.
Please stop saying no to my reasonable advances. Think of all your lovers as being a single one, and treat me as the only one that you desire.”

So . . . Pick the meat out of that. As it were.

2. The British press discovers Galicia

A group of English journalists disembark in Vigo to visit a country that goes from being "a mystery, or little less" to the best recommendation for tourists

"Galicia remains a mystery, or a little less [...]. Its natural wealth, its wonderful landscapes, its archaeological jewels, its industries are, so to speak, newly discovered. These are the words of Arthur M. Moody, editor of The County Express, who toured Galicia in 1910 together with several British colleagues.

The journalists arrived in Vigo on board the steamboat Hillary at the end of July, invited by the recently created Association for the Promotion of Tourism in Galicia. The aim was to promote the site in the UK press, which is now so keen to include Galician sites in its quoted lists. La Voz paid special attention to the visit, and from August onwards, it picked up the results of the initiative from the English newspapers.

"Breathtaking speed."

Almost all the members of the expedition agreed that they were in a land of contrasts. "The squeaky and heavy ox cart sometimes has to stop on the secluded village roads to the metallic sound of a car horn, a herald that heralds the arrival of a real boss, as the Spanish chauffeurs drive their cars at an astonishing speed taking corners with dizzying speed. In some cities, the serene, picturesquely dressed, sing under the arcades of the soportales all hours of the night," explained Moody, who was surprised by certain similarities with his country. "Along the roads there are huts where you can recognize the characteristic details of the same houses in Ireland. With no windows or fireplaces, the smoke from the fireplace escapes through the tiles.

Miss Adams, one of the four women of the group, highlighted in the magazine Truth her first impression from the deck of the boat: "Vigo is offered to our eyes, wrapped in a mantle of countless little lights that in their blinking seem to say to us in a mysterious language words of fraternity and welcome. Even nature itself seems to have prepared itself to receive us. "Galicia, A Terra as her children call it [...], is a land of contradictions, where trains crawl along with difficulty and modern automobiles cross the tortuous and risky roads with incredible speed; where women grind the grain by the same rudimentary procedure that Abraham knew; where [...] English engineers build ships 600 feet long.

What amazed A. R. Hill, director of the Cambridge Chronicle, was Santiago. "I will never forget my summer holidays of 1910," he wrote, "while my compatriots were scattered on our islands[...], I was standing beside the magnificent silver altar of the cathedral of Compostela, contemplating the swaying of the great censer, [El botufumeiro] which is one of the best shows in the world.

He made further discoveries: "The grain is stored, while it is not necessary, in curious small barns [hórreos]that are characteristic of the Galician landscape; they are long, narrow, built on walls or columns". And he saw "brave women" carrying "enormous weights on their heads, barefoot and walking fast".

"The feet are watched."

What follows is a scene he wrote down when they were invited to try "the delicate fish that the Spaniards call trout". "Several women villagers fried fish in huge frying pans, hanging over bonfires." The "cheerful meal" was served on "rustic tables, with crockery and wine glasses". At the beginning of "the inevitable sounds of the bagpipe", men and women began to dance "the dance of the mills (muiñeira), the favorite dance, in which the couples do not touch but carefully watch each other's feet".

"In Galicia there is everything that can interest the tourist", concluded James Baker. The "illustrious secretary of the British International Association of Journalists" wrote in the Evening Standard: "We have passed through lush vineyards, crossed wide cornfields, admired full-bodied and fertile fruit trees...". At some points, the sharp profile of the mountains, weakly veiled by a faint haze, brings to mind the memory of the aerial Greek mountains. And the very wide estuaries, of incomparable beauty, speak to the traveller of those Norwegian fjords". "In Galicia, a country of poetic legends, you can find - even if the chronicler has dedicated forty years of his life to travel - new and unknown impressions. It's the best recommendation anyone can make."

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator

Monday, August 20, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 20.8.18

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. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • You'd have thought that very high unemployment levels would have prevented this sort of thing. One of those alleged structural deficiencies?
  • Spain, warns the Guardian here, is heading for a toxically porcine future. With consequences for the already high consumption of water in a (mainly) hot and dry country. Not to mention the methane. And the nitrates. Still, the price of jamón might fall . . .
  • A warning about Spanish secret cults.
  • Impressive local initiatives.
The EU
  • The Commission is said to be toying with eliminating summer time. Many millions of citizens have commented on this idea.
  • Truth is not truth, insists Fart's lawyer, doing an excellent impression of Putin. What would you expect?
Social Media
  • How did digital technologies go from being instruments for spreading democracy to tools for undermining it? Or, to put it a different way, how did social media go from empowering free speech to becoming a cornerstone of authoritarian power? More here. And here.
  • If you want proof that social media is a performative space, then ponder this: 9% of UK Instagram users are buying outfits online just to photograph themselves in and then returning them to retailers.
Galicia and Pontevedra
  • August is not just the month when everywhere you turn there's a fiesta and fireworks; it's also the month when the main concern of the local newspapers is reportage on the bloody fiestas. At least in Pontevedra.
  • I do a lot of people-watching in summer, sitting outside my favourite water-hole. One of the regular features of the holiday traffic is a couple in their 40s with a bored looking teenage daughter tagging a metre or two behind. But rarely a teenage son. Wonder where they are? At football camp?
  • Hmm . . Arrests for drug possession in Pontevedra province in 2017 were - at 4,600 - 66% up on 2016.
  • One of those endless local news items . . . Centenarians here in Galicia currently number around 1,750. Within only 12 years, they're forecast to total 3,500. Double, for the non-numerate.
  • And another . . Among the 17 Spanish regions, Galicians complain most about electric companies' services.
  • And another . . . A cyclist is injured every 2 days here in Galicia.
Finally . . .
  • Do sparrows go north for the summer? Or south for the winter? I ask because the 30-40 who nest in my roof seem to have disappeared, leaving all the seed for the – increasingly chubby – collared doves and wood pigeons:-
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 20.8.18