Sunday, September 30, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 30.9.18

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
  • I had 3 Spanish friends round for dinner last night. One of them arrived at the appointed time but the other two arrived somewhat later. As you'd expect. Anyway, the former had brought 2 barras of bread, since Spaniards can't eat happily unless there's bread on the table, even if they never touch it. She then proceeded to cut up one of the barras and to put the pieces in the basket I gave her. As I was clearing up around midnight, I noticed it had been left in the kitchen. Which was a tad ironic. My family of sparrows - and a large crow - are now enjoying the bread on the lawn below my salón window.
  • I got a call yesterday from someone in Madrid wanting me to rate the service of the tyre shop. As I believe it's all a pointless sham, I gave them a 10 for everything – in fact, I was happy with their service – but pointed out they'd grossly over-inflated not just the 2 new tyres but also the other 2 on the car. I had the distinct impression she hadn't expected anything other than numbers she could put into her computer. And so didn't know how to respond. I have no confidence my complaint will achieve anything but will test my scepticism when I replace the rear tyres next year.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Could there be any greater indication of the stupidity (venality?) of Galicia's politicians than the fact that our 3 puny 'international' airports can muster only 26 foreign cities between them, while Oporto's rapidly growing facility offers 69? And calls itself The Airport for all Galicians . . .
  • Talking of flights . . . Some of these being offered from here to Madrid – at around €8 – would cost you less than the tolls on the autopista between La Coruña and Vigo.
  • And talking of autovias . . . On that of the Coast of Death last week, a woman gave a new meaning to the name by drove more than 8km down the wrong side of it. So, kamikaze tendencies are not confined to the male of the species.
Finally . . .
  • Another collection of TV ads that tempt me to vomit:-
Insurance company: Our car insurance comes from the heart.

Shampoo manufacturer: Shampoo 'designed for men'. In their 'Men's Ultra Collection'.
??: Dial up the fun.
??: Be totally ready for fun.
Bingo company: Keep it fun.
A bank: We are what we do. Fleecers, then.
A furniture company: Nothing can hold you back from moving forwards
A toothpaste supplier: You'll know you're totally ready for life.

©[David] Colin Davies: 30.9.18

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 29.9.18

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 an interesting - and impressive – development. The problem, I suspect, is that not many folk will believe the statements. The historically vertiginously high levels of corruption among Spain's political class has not exactly created trust among the ruled. (Which reminds me of a nice phrase I read the other day – Trust arrives on foot but departs on horseback. Or Hard won, easy lost, as I've always told my daughters.)
  • It used to be that politicians never resigned here in Spain but now – in more tribalised times – this seems to be expected of many – if not most – of them. Here's one case, which references another. And here's Lenox Napier on the subject, with a prediction.
  • Reading of a camino new to me - San Salvador – I went to my go-to site and confirmed that it does exist and, secondly, that the total number of caminos has shot up to 39, from 33 only a few months ago. All doubtless totally authentic relics of a thousand years ago. And then there are the 'variants'. Easy money.
  • Want a hydrogen-powered car? You can now get one in Spain.
  • Nice autumn places, from The Local.
  • And here's the Eye on Spain on wine festivals.
The Spanish Language
  • The possibly less-than-useful Chachi
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • A 74 year old woman in Vilalba has admitted that she's one of the many Galicians who keep their cash at home, out of the banks. Or she did before someone climbed in through the window and went to the bag in her wardrobe. But her family have since said the cash might be somewhere else in the house. Let's hope so.
  • The Xunta tells us it's destroying 50 velutina(Asian wasp) nests a day and that they've got rid of 12,000 so far this year. Four years ago there were none here in our region.
  • It's rumoured that a Pontevedra bypass road (the A57?) is being built and it's even said there's some evidence of this up in the hills. But it's generally known as The Phantom Road and its arrival is forecast to be some time after that of the AVE high-speed train. Which – for at least 25 years – has been a moveable feast.
Finally . . .
  • My elder daughter now has her latest novel – Esperanza - on Kindle. They say that all writers are traitors to their family. So, I will commence reading it today with some trepidation. Anyway, here's the précis - from Amazon Spain - and here and here from Amazon UK and Amazon USA . . .
A chicken bus moving through sullen villages and violent towns takes Carmen Muñoz back to her hometown on Guatemala’s Pacific coast, where she hopes to find a curandera to cure her sick child. But when Carmen arrives in Esperanza, she finds more than she bargained for, including a hostile family and the attentions of the man who once raped her, and who now insists on building a relationship with Carmen and her daughter. But when the charming and corrupt Jacobo Ramos starts trying to enslave Carmen’s mind as well as her body, it becomes clear that her real struggle will be to discover why she really came back to Esperanza.

I do hope I'm not Jacobo Ramos . . . .

© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 29.9.18

Friday, September 28, 2018

Thoiughts from Galicia, Spain: 28.9.18

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
  • Spain's Venezuela Paradox . . The country's problems are causing headaches for all Spain's political parties, one way or another.
  • The President of Belgium's parliament has stuck his neck out quite a bit. In the light of requests from Madrid for extraditions, he's ventured the view that Spain might not be entitled to EU membership. A bit harsh, I would have thought.
  • From the sublime . . . No, I wasn't called by the the IT shop during the whole of yesterday. I called them again this morning at 10.30, to be told – again – that the owner wasn't in and that the assistant knew nothing about my battery. As I'm wont to say, unfathomable things either happen or don't happen in Spain and it's easier not to enquire as to why but just persevere, relying on your own resources and not expecting initiatives from anyone. Así son las cosas. “It is how it is”, as the Spanish say. And with which Vincent Werner took very great exception in his book. I guess I'll have to go to the shop for the 3rd or 4th time this evening. By the way, you very rarely get an apology for this sort of thing. It's like you're expected to expect it to happen and take it in your stride. ..
Matters US
  • Yesterday in the Senate . . . America’s political culture was on trial and the verdict was guilty.  . . A dark spectacle that offered a glimpse of the state of the disunion. . . Bile, ugliness, and tribal politicking. . . The Foxification of American institutions continues. How desperately, depressingly true that is. Is this really the sort of country that Americans fought and died for, first against her colonial masters, then against slavers, and then against the totalitarian regimes of the 1930s? Not to mention communists in Korea and Vitenam. A country whose tone is now set by an imbecilic, lying misogynist whose base is fanatical evangelist Christians who think he's an instrument of their vengeful god. And that anyone who opposes him is driven by the Devil. Millions must be revolving in their graves. If I believed in the Devil, I'd say he's done a fabulous job of corrupting a great country.
  • There's a nice article on it all in Politico, here.
  • But, anyway, this is a (long) article on Fart's approach to the transitional phase of his presidency. It won't surprise you but will surely shock you. Assuming you've been left with at least a modicum of shockability.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Galicia, it's reported, suffers from very low 'foreign' investment. But I don't suppose this reflects an emphasis on the local language, Gallego, or a fear of 'nationalism'. Other factors must be at work. IKEA, for example, went down into Portugal because of a lack of industrial space in Vigo. Hard as that is to believe.
  • According to Spanish Society of Cardiology, Galicia has the highest percentage of overweight people nationwide. I don't see it in Pontevedra but, then, this city is almost certainly not representative of the regional population as a whole. Lots of cigarette smoking, skinny young women.
  • One town, Narón, has an original approach to the problem.
  • Another possible reason for our high car insurance premiums – Animal accidents are more frequent here than anywhere else in Spain.
Finally . . .
  • A TV ad for a remedy for 'Tired Feet' has reminded me that Orwell also predicted products aimed at making you feel ashamed or guilty. In his case, something for Pedo-Pong. 
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 28.9.18

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 27.9.18

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.

Welcome back, Lenox, after your sever ankle injury. As ever on a Thursday, I owe some of today's items to Lenox's Business Over Tapas.

Matters Spanish
  • Here's El País on the growing problem of poverty in Spain, in Spanish.
  • And here's a report on something that won't help – the soaring costs of renting property here.
  • I can't say I really understand what's happening around a claimed qualification of the new leader of the right-of-centre PP party, Pablo Casado. My impression is that many folk are unhappy that the courts are giving him a degree of protection against legal action. You can read about this here, in Spanish.
  • Well, it's Thursday and, as I'd not been called by the IT shop about the laptop battery due to arrive a week ago, I called them. Three times before I got an answer. Which was that there was some confusion about the order and I'd be called back in 5 minutes. That was almost 2 hours ago. Apart from anything else, this supports my claim that giving Spanish retailers the number they always ask for is invariably pointless. Like Movistar's computer, they're just going through the motions of customer service. Playing at it, as I put it. It might also display something of the Spanish attitude to time. It seems that the IT shop owner has the same concept of this as my neighbour, Ester. Perhaps they live in the same parallel universe. With my battery.
Matters US
  • I've been saying words to this effect for a long time:- The sniggering response [at the UN] to the president’s boasts proves laughter is a powerful weapon. 
  • It's so hard to believe that Fart didn't anticipate scorn. But, then, we've had plenty of evidence of how he doesn't think. The best evidence in the entire history of the world, I'd day. If I were him. Still, it remains hard to conceive of a clown who doesn't expect his act to he greeted with laughter.
The Spanish Language
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • I suspect the claims in this article apply to our narco business as much as to that elsewhere in Spain.
  • Another guided tour of pretty ancient Americans in town last night. Possibly from a vast cruise ship moored in Vigo. The city gets more and more like Santiago every summer. In 20 years' time – by when I'll be long gone – it'll be just like bloody Venice!
  • Meanwhile, reader María has her own blog, now in my RSS feed, and here she is on the subject of what tourism has done to said Santiago. About which I, too, have (mildly) ranted occasionally.
Finally . . .
  • I read in the article I cited that the max pressure for your tyre/tire can be found on its wall. To my surprise, on my new ones this is 51psi, against the 30psi recommended by the manufacturer Or 3.5bar v 2.1bar. This is even above the 41psi(2.8 bar) put in at the shop and is surely not recommended, even if it means your tyre isn't going to explode before you go past 51psi/3.5bar
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 27.9.18

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Thoughts from Galcia, Spain: 26.9.18

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
  • My first external task of yesterday morning was to get a pair of new tyres. My second was to drive to the petrol station to remove air from the massively over-inflated neumáticos. From 3.0 bar back down to 2.1. Not just the new ones, also the other 2 that had been attended to. I've had to do this every time I've bought new tyres here, at various outlets. God knows why they do it. The cynic in me says it's because they know it'll accelerate wear, but it might be that they have a genuine misbelief it improves handling and/or fuel consumption. As it says here, this simply ain't true. In fact, it's downright dangerous. Be warned.
  • Here and here are articles from The Local which will help with your learning of everyday Spanish. The journal's web page here gives an indication of which articles are free and which are Premium and, thus, behind their paywall.
  • Says Don Quijones: Abengoa, the Spanish green energy giant — with big entities in the US, Canada, Mexico, and other countries — famed for cooking its books with Enron-esque aplomb before collapsing in spectacular fashion a few years ago, is back in trouble. More on this here. If you're a taxpayer here, you're actually a shareholder, after the government 'invested' more than €400m in the company a while back. If you're optimistic about the company's future, you might soon be able to pick up some shares at the price of a hundredth of a centimo each. Who could resist?
  • Need I say that I wasn't called yesterday with the news that the laptop battery scheduled to arrive last Friday was now in the shop? One learns to be patient here. . .
Matters US
  • Click here to get an insight into what Satan is up to these days. In the USA at least.Which is his/her favourite place for him/her to operate, it seems. As well as in the Catholic Church, of course. 
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • From the voices I hear around me, the Irish are here in force this month. Perhaps an article in the Irish Times. They've been very lucky with the weather.
  • The Galician Xunta is going to do something about the region's famed 'ugliness'(feismo). It's going to tax people who leave their properties in a ruined state, both in old quarters and in villages which have been abandoned. There's quite a few of the latter. So, a nice source of revenue, I guess.
  • Pontevedra city as 'Paradise'.  . . Do you get hassled by beggars 5-10 times a day in Heaven?
Finally . . .
  • 1. Things forecast by Orwell in 1984, inter alia:-
- Two-way TVs
- Helicopter police patrols
- Camera surveillance on every street
- Microphones everywhere. Even in the countryside.
- Pornography easily available for the masses
- The 24 hour clock, striking 13, 14, 15, etc.
- Populist leaders who hold mass allies at which dumb people chant mindless slogans such as Hang the traitors! Or Lock her up!
- People denying that objective truth exists, believing that ALL news is fake.
- Conversion of British Imperial measures to the metric system.
- National lotteries with which the masses are obsessed.
- The portrayal of nasty capitalists as ugly, cigar-smoking men in frock coats and stovepipe hats. (See every Spanish cartoon on the subject of wealth).
- Saccharine tablets instead of sugar.
- People who neither smoke nor drink and who spend hours every day in the gym.
- Vegans, or at least vegetarians.
- 'Rubbishy newspapers' – the tabloid press.
- 'Films oozing with sex'.
- The faking of photographs. Photoshop.
- Idiots chanting Trump!Trump! Sorry, Big Brother! Big Brother!
- 'Ink-pencils'. Biros?
But it doesn't look like he managed to foresee, among all the other horrors, Spanish daytime TV
  • 2. According to Google Analytics – allegedly the most accurate people – only in the cities of La Coruña (Eamon) and London(??) was my blog read every day by one person in the last week As I know of at least 6 un-cited cities where this happens, you'll understand why I have little confidence in their reports.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 26.9.18

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 25.9.18

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 El Pais on Spain's magnanimous policy on migrants. Impressive as it is, one can't help wondering how long it can continue. Now that all African eyes are on Spain. And not just those of the Moors who want to restore Andalucia . . .
  • I just got a recorded message from Movistar, asking me to rate my satisfaction with the (mal)treatment I got in their shop last Thursday. I tend not to respond to this playing at the game of customer service. All so easy with today's technology. And almost certainly meaningless.
  • El Tráfico has announced higher penalties and more serious campaigns against the use of a mobile phone at the wheel. As I said years ago, if they just sat at the bus-stop at the roundabout at the bottom of my hill, they could catch dozens, if not hundreds, of drivers negotiating the hazard with only one hand on the steering wheel.
  • Stuff is still coming from The LocalHere they are on the word sobremesa.
Matters Brexit
  • Oh dear. Richard North, having taken a look at the IEA's Hard Brexiteers' A+Plan, accuses Ambrose Evans Pritchard here of 'bovine stupidity' for seeing it as a 'breath of fresh air'. I've always rather liked AEP. Admired his articles even. But, on Brexit, I have far greater trust in RN.
  • The IEA's 'simple-minded' plan is also savaged in the Guardian here. Good stuff, ending with:- Clowns to the left, jokers to the right. It it wasn't so serious, it'd be hilarious.
Matters English
  • Below is an interesting article on the (possible) origins of 14 'geographical idioms' in common use in English. It'll be of particular interest to any Dutch readers.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • For the last 18 years, driving up or down the hill below my house around 4.30-5.00pm has meant a slalom – assuming you could move – between the cars and Chelsea tractors of the parents waiting near a private school. There's always plenty of space further up or down the hill but this would mean their precious charges fighting the flab by walking perhaps a couple of hundred meters. So, the parents prefer to double and triple park and the block the garages and gardens of the residents. Not to mention the road itself. I mention this now only because the police – both municipal and provincial – have suddenly decided to step in and prevent this lack of consideration for others. One wonders why. Have they reached the limit of bleeding drivers for one or more of Spain's numerous offences? The most useful of which – as it can mean anything - is something like 'Distracting Yourself'. I reported a couple of years ago that, under this, the Poio police were fining anyone whom they said turned had their head more than 28 degrees.
  • Which reminds me . . . Pontevedra and Lugo provinces are the only ones in the country where motoring fines are higher this year than last year. No surprises there, then.
  • It's reported that 80% of Galicia's university graduates gain employment within 3 years, at an average monthly salary of €1,200. I'm not entirely sure but I think we're supposed to be impressed by these statistics.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 25.9.18


From Dutch courage to French kiss, the fascinating origins of 14 geographical idioms: Oliver Smith, Daily Telegraph

The following geographical idioms are well established in the English language - but do you know their origins?

Dutch courage
The best theory behind this expression refers to the supposed use of Jenever - a type of gin - by 17th century Dutch troops, who fought alongside the English during the Thirty Years’ War.   Fuel for battle, apparently

Going Dutch
Britain and The Netherlands were both allies and colonial rivals during this period, while a Dutchman, William of Orange, became king of England in 1689, and these connections can be seen in other common phrases. Going Dutch, or a “Dutch treat”, which refers to the even splitting of a bill, may be a reference to a Dutch door, which is divided horizontally halfway down, but could simply be a derisive term borne out of our colonial rivalry. It’s hardly chivalrous and “English”, of course, not to offer to pay the whole bill.
Other insulting idioms from the era include some still in use, such as Double Dutch (for incomprehensible nonsense) and Dutch uncle (a harsh and unindulgent person), and many others that are obsolete, like Dutch widow (referring to a prostitute), Dutch gold (a cheap alloy resembling gold), Dutch concert (drunken uproar), and Dutch nightingale (a frog).

Mexican standoff
A recurring theme in cinema - the conclusion to Reservoir Dogs being a prime example - this expression dates back to the 19th century, and is possibly a result of real experiences during the Mexican–American War or in gunfights with post-war Mexican bandits. It may, however, like the Dutch idioms above, simply be a derogatory term, like “Mexican breakfast” (which refers to a cigarette and a coffee).

Mexican wave
There is disagreement regarding the origins of the wave itself, with suggestions that it first appeared at US sporting events during the late 1970s. Krazy George Henderson, however, a professional cheerleader, led the first video documentation of one, on October 15, 1981 at a Major League Baseball game in Oakland, California.
We call it a Mexican wave because of its widespread use at the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico, which was shown to a global audience.

Russian roulette
While the Russian writer Mikhail Lermontov, in his novella The Fatalist, describes a character firing a gun containing an unknown number of bullets at his own head, and surviving, the phrase "Russian roulette" isn’t actually used. Its earliest known use is in a 1937 short story (called Russian Roulette) by Georges Surdez, published in Collier's magazine. The version he describes, practiced by Russian soldiers, is even deadlier than the one most people think of today – it uses a gun with five of the six chambers loaded, rather than just one.

Chinese whispers

This game, in which whispered messages are passed around a group, gets its name from the general perception that the Chinese language is particularly hard to understand and decipher – in a similar vein to the phrase “It’s all Greek to me”. Until the 20th century it was better known as Russian scandal.

Chinese burn
The practice of painfully twisting the skin is not, as far as we can tell, an accepted move in any form of Chinese martial arts. Calling it a Chinese burn, as British schoolchildren have done for decades, would appear to simply be a novel and exotic name for a devious prank. In North America, it’s better known as an Indian burn.

Indian summer
This probably comes not from British colonial India, but to the American Midwest, where warm weather in the autumn is common, and Native Americans would take advantage of it to hunt and stock up on food for winter. In 1778, a French American, St John de Crevecoeur, wrote: “Sometimes the rain is followed by an interval of calm and warmth which is called the Indian Summer; its characteristics are a tranquil atmosphere and general smokiness.”

Irish goodbye
To leave a social gathering without saying farewell. A great tactic, and it has been suggested that the origins of the phrase date back to the Irish Potato Famine (1845-52), when millions fled the country for the New World. Others, however, claim it is linked to the stereotype of the Irish being heavy drinkers. No one really knows, and the practice has other names, including the French leave, which dates back to 1771, according to Oxford English Dictionary (OED). “He stole away an Irishman's bride, and took a French leave of me and his master,” wrote Tobias Smollett in The Expedition of Humphry Clinker.

Luck of the Irish
According to Edward T. O’Donnell, author of 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About Irish American History: “During the gold and silver rush years in the second half of the 19th century, a number of the most famous and successful miners were of Irish and Irish American birth. Of course, it carried with it a certain tone of derision, as if to say, only by sheer luck, as opposed to brains, could these fools succeed.”

French kiss
The amorous reputation of the French is to blame for this idiom, which came into use at the start of the 20th century. And the French (who call it un baiser amoureux, meaning “a lover's kiss”) certainly didn’t invent it – there are mentions of open-mouthed kissing in Sanskrit texts dating back to 1,500BC. Furthermore, it was once known as a “Florentine kiss”.
Our old rivals France appear in several other phrases, most of them uncomplimentary. Such as a French letter (a condom), pardon my French (to apologize for swearing) and the French disease (syphilis).
The French kiss was once called a Florentine kiss

Glasgow kiss
A tongue-in-cheek reference to the city’s violent reputation, this is a recent addition. The OED reckons a 1982 citation from the Daily Mirror was the first printed use of the term:
“Glasgow has its own way of welcoming people. There is a broken bottle gripped in the fist of greeting. Or there's the Glasgow Kiss - a sharp whack on the nose with the forehead.”
“Liverpool kiss” - meaning the same thing - dates back to 1944.

Sent to Coventry
The events of the English Civil War could be responsible for this one. In The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, recounts how captured Royalist troops were taken as prisoners to Coventry, a Parliamentarian stronghold.

When in Rome

The oldest saying on our list. St Ambrose is attributed with the phrase “si fueris Rōmae, Rōmānō vīvitō mōre; si fueris alibī, vīvitō sīcut ibī” (“if you should be in Rome, live in the Roman manner; if you should be elsewhere, live as they do there”). A truncated version remains in use 1,600 years later.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 24.9.18

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
  • As I walked into town yesterday, it struck me why Sunday is special here in Spain. It's not just because it's still like the now-extinct British Sunday of my childhood. No, it's because the shops are all closed. Meaning no errands and no shopping. Meaning no disappointments and frustration. So, Sunday here really is a day of rest and relaxation.
  • Just after I'd had this thought, the first ATM I tried rejected my bank card and the second was not working. I had to find a third one to get the cash to pay for my tiffin and Sunday squid. A tad ironic.
  • Education is one of the areas where Spain doesn't do well in international surveys. Simply put, not enough money is spent on it and too much is left to the Catholic Church, which - until relatively recently - used to do pretty much all of it. I was reminded of this when reading of the amounts spent annually by parents per child in the various regions, to compensate for what isn't spent by their governments. Galicia's total is c. €900, but this pales beside the €1,624 of Madrid. 'Books, insurance, activities, trips, 'scholastic materials', meals, lodging, transport, etc.' I guess the numbers cover tertiary as well as primary and secondary education.
  • In contrast, Spain – per a Bloomberg Index – does very well when it comes to 'healthcare efficiency', ranking 3rd behind Hong Kong and Singapore. The UK, in contrast, doesn't figure in the top 20. Surprised to see France at 15. Excellent but very expensive? All a bit crude, I suspect.
Matters European
  • In truth, Brussels is a democracy-free zone. Says the ex Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis. Not for the first time. In this Guardian article of May 2017 - The six Brexit traps which will defeat Theresa May – he justifies this view on the basis of his experience with the EU Commission a few years back. Reading about Brussels' 'Truth reversal' tactics after boning up on Newspeak in Orwell's 1984 last night was an unnerving experience.
  • For a more recent - and not dissimilar take - on the nature of the EU beast, see the article below. Varoufakis, by the way, said 16 months ago that the only hope Mrs May had was of a Norway-style deal - the Efta/EEA Brexit always favoured by Richard North. Who has expressed fears the window for this has closed. His hard-puching posts of yesterday and today can be read here and here, by those few seriously interested in these matters. Today's is headed A State of Chaos. In it, North sets out how progress can be made towards achievement of this option, in the light of a failure to realise it was the only feasible 'compromise' from the outset of negotiations. A chink of light?? Maybe. But North remains pessimistic about Mrs May's ability to seize the only sensible opportunity available to her. 
  • Finally on this, I recommend a reading of this Peter Hitchens article cited by North.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Pontevedra city and Vigo have been enemies - rather like Manchester and Liverpool – ever since the latter ceased to be a little fishing village and became a huge port and a city with more than 3 times the population of the provincial capital, said Pontevedra. I imagine the people of Vigo are not over-pleased to see all the international reportage on the 'Paradise' of life here. Nor the several pages in the local papers at the weekend. Which, by the way, gave a more balanced view than that of the Guardian writer.
  • Because they neither like or trust the banks, almost 50% of Galicians keep their savings in cash at home. No wonder the burglary rate is rising.
  • Because of the success of the Spanish/Galician forces of order against our local narcotraficantes, the Dutch are said to be moving in and negotiating directly with the Colombians who bring most of their cocaine to this coast. Along with the inevitable Albanians. I hope the Netherlanders know what they're doing.
  • Road deaths here in Galicia are double what they were last year. No one seems to know why. But doubtless there are various theories. They can't include Because the police have dropped their guard.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 24.9.18


The EU is a religion – and Britain is up against federalist fanatics: Janet Daley

Who would have thought that the EU would so disastrously overplay its hand that the Prime Minister would be driven back into the arms of the Brexiteers who thought she had abandoned them? By Friday, there was little else for her to say to the Rees-Moggs and the Redwoods of her party than, “You were right all along.” She didn’t disown Chequers but she made it clear that it had been roundly rejected and it was up to the other side to create a plausible alternative. So we await your response: otherwise good-bye and good luck.

Theresa May’s performance at Downing Street was pretty much note perfect – even if it had been an unconscionably long time coming. We are beyond what is normally encompassed by the word “negotiation” now: this is a mud fight. When the French president, without contradiction from his EU partners, describes major political figures of a friendly country as “liars”, the normal expectations of diplomacy have been abandoned. They may have been crass and amateurish – revealing of his political inexperience – but Emmanuel Macron’s insults were certainly deliberate and calculated for effect. Misjudging the British, as the French have a tendency to do, he got more than he bargained for.

How do we begin to make sense, with our Anglo-Saxon preconceptions, of this absurd situation? If the European Union had been a British invention, whoever was in government in the UK would now be saying, at least in the privacy of his own advisory chambers: “Hey, this isn’t working very well. The member states to the east are refusing to co-operate on migration, the Mediterranean countries are being forced into an economic backwater as well as being furious about migration, and populist movements are running amok even in the founder nations. Let’s see if we can find some changes that will make the system more acceptable to everybody, shall we?”

And then, either through official or unofficial means, the rules would be adjusted, the expectations modified and the demands made less repressively stringent. There would be acknowledged and unacknowledged concessions, a bit of semantic rearrangement and quite a lot of looking the other way. In the end, the project would be less rigorously coherent but a lot more pleasant and humanly viable. To put it in the traditional terms that characterise the difference between French and British discourse, it would be less rational but more reasonable.

But it wasn’t, goodness knows, a British invention: the European Union was a Franco-German project so it is not a practical solution to concrete questions about trade and mutual co-operation. It is a metaphysical system with absolutist truths at its centre and a rigid set of premises which follow inevitably from them. The tragedy (or comedy depending on your degree of cynicism) that unfolded at Salzburg was the most vivid demonstration of this doomed misunderstanding. This didn’t start with Theresa May, although her personal style of obtuse tunnel vision certainly made it peculiarly agonising. David Cameron’s futile efforts to make the EU reform itself – as much for its own good as for the UK’s future membership – fell foul of this basic philosophical misconception as well.

The British have always thought they were doing politics while the French and Germans were actually doing theology. For the EU, Brexit is not just a mistake, or a setback, or an economic dilemma. It is a heresy. At one point in that agonising fusillade of anathema that spewed forth from the EU leaders, Emmanuel Macron reiterated the great apostolic truth: there were “very clear principles regarding the integrity of the single market” which could never be breached. The “integrity” of the single market? These are trade agreements for heaven’s sake – not revealed truths whose principles, once laid down, must never be transgressed.

Virtually by definition trading arrangements need to be flexible: they must evolve, adapting to new circumstances and changes in the way that societies and communities do business.

So if, for example, the free movement of people is producing consequences that are unexpectedly disruptive of social cohesion or damaging to indigenous labour forces and this results in the rise of dangerous populist movements – then perhaps that “very clear principle” as Mr Macron describes it, needs a bit of reconsideration. But of course, you can only reconsider a principle if it is part of a practical package – not if it is the tenet of a sacred text. Needless to say, Mr Macron’s appeal to revealed truth was brought into play for his own very practical ends. His popularity at home has crashed and he is now not just eager, but desperate, to become the spiritual leader of the EU as Angela Merkel’s dominance recedes. So the French are doing politics too – as is everybody else because each of these leaders must explain himself at home.

Brexit, they may say, is not much of an issue to their electorates, so the drama at Salzburg will not receive that much attention. But what is important to all those national leaders who are having trouble with rabble-rousing populist movements – or even having to form coalitions with them – is precisely what is at issue in the Brexit farrago: the self-determination of nations or what we might call, to adopt the Macron vocabulary, the “integrity” of the democratic state.

It is totemic that the greatest uproar among the restive European populations is about migration. This is not, as the malign caricature would have it, because so many Europeans are bigots. It is because the sense of historic identity – of inherited cultures and proud communal loyalties – is perceived to be under threat from an overweening, insensitive, unaccountable authority whose decrees on migration are the most obvious symbol of its contempt for public opinion. The EU has clearly decided that it must expunge the unbelievers without mercy.

How this ends may very well depend on how great an example to the others, Britain is prepared to be.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 23.9.18

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
  • An interesting development:- A magnificent tapestry commissioned by Henry VIII has been discovered in Spain, long after it was thought to have been destroyed. . . In exquisite detail, its main scene depicts a spectacular bonfire with Saint Paul directing the burning of irreligious books. Experts described it as “the Holy Grail of Tudor tapestry” and “one of the most sumptuous and important Renaissance tapestries”. It will go on public display for the first time in October as the centrepiece of a loan exhibition at the S Franses gallery in St James’s London. After which, an export licence will be sought from the Spanish government.
  • Here's something to look out for if you live in Spain . . . In the last week, I've seen 2 or 3 examples of people not only entering details into the computer in front of them but also in a tatty notebook at the side of the latter. As if they don't trust it. Which might be understandable in the garage where I took my car for a service last week. As it took 2 of them15-20 minutes to get the computer to print out my bill.
  • Which reminds me . . . Time-wasting. On Tuesday I ordered a battery for my laptop at my local IT shop and was told it would be in by Friday. So, I called in on Saturday morning, to finethat owner wasn't in and his assistant knew nothing about a battery. So I returned on Saturday evening, waited 15-20 minutes and was then told the battery hadn't arrived but should be there by next Tuesday. Not Monday, because that's a public holiday. Not a national one. Nor even a provincial one. Nor even an urban one in Pontevedra. Just in my barrio, Poio, on this side of the river. So, after the big downs of Thursday and the big ups of Friday, a normal unproductive day at the coalface. And the prospect of more time-wasting next week. I've asked the owner to call me when the battery arrives but this is very rarely a successful tactic in Spain. No wonder one of my key pieces of advice for newcomers is: Take reading matter with you wherever you go.
  • Here's the link which might have been faulty for you yesterday – The Local on the Spanish word otoño.
Matters British
  • Are you up on the latest transgender developments? For example with the attitude of the UK's Fire Brigades Union. If not, see the article below. It's quite hard to credit.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Pontevedra city has an annual Pont-Up event . . .

This gives local entrepreneurs the chance to, literally, set up shop for a couple of days in Plaza de España in front of the town hall. It's bigger this year than last year and I'm impressed. Though not with the fact that all the literature is only in Gallego. As if we didn't live in Spain. But, anyway, given that the event is bigger this year, I guess there was a lot of Pont-Up demand . . . . Sorry. If you got it. Stupid Spanglish name by the way. Based, I guess, on the term 'pop-up' shops.
  • Another report confirming that Pontevedra province has the highest car insurance premiums in Spain. Is this due to the incidence of accidents or to the very high level of motoring fines achieved by our various police forces. Either way, the premiums are reported to have risen 20% this year. Nice to know.
  • Talking of the police . . . My neighbour, Ester, told me last night that one of the things the local variety are willing to do is help you if you accidentally chuck your keys into one of the large rubbish bins in the street. She couldn't believe the British police would never contemplate doing this. Having more important things to do. Such as arresting people who make comments about trans folk that are perceived to be hateful. The comments, I mean.
Finally . . .
  • Not sure where this was filmed - can't make out the child's language - but it's certainly amusing:-

© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 23.9.18


Transgender activists are fanning the flames of misogyny

For female firefighters, prejudice and harassment is often part of the job. Women-only facilities are rare, sexism is rife and the profession is dangerous and traumatic. So how does the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) deal with the myriad problems facing their female members? By passing a policy that supports the right of men to self-identify as women, which, in turn, would enable them to use women’s dorms, washing facilities and lavatories.

Women comprise a mere 7% of the UK’s firefighting force, up from just 4% in 2012. But soon, if we go along with the line taken by the all-male national executive committee, there will be a few more, only these “women” are likely to have penises and Adam’s apples.

The policy was voted in on Thursday, eight votes to three, by an executive committee made up entirely by men. Its statement claims that: “The FBU is keen to ensure, for example, that women in workplaces are fully involved in discussions about the provision of women-only facilities and the impact of the proposed changes on those provisions.”  But, according to a number of senior female FBU members I have spoken to, the voices of women have been largely ignored. “Many of us are outraged that a group of men have decided, without any consultation with female members, that a man can self-ID as a woman,” Lucy Massoud, the FBU’s LGBT representative told me. 

This sorry tale from the FBU is just the latest in a long line of outrages towards women in the name of transgender inclusivity. For the past year, the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act – which would allow people to self-define their legal gender – has created a massive ruck between transgender activists and feminists. It’s hardly surprising – there are potentially dire consequences to a law being passed that allows men to just decide they are women, and act on that decision immediately. If the law allowing self-identification passes, it would mean the end of women-only refuges, changing rooms, tents at Girl Guide camps, hospitals and psychiatric wards, and even prisons. This idiotic campaign has even been adopted by the Labour leadership (consisting of macho men reminiscent of the Seventies), who have decided to support having men who claim to be women on all-female shortlists.

Self-appointed “feminist allies” such as the Leftist poster boy, Owen Jones seem to get a thrill out of screaming “transphobe” at those of us who make it clear we do not believe men can be women simply because they say they are. When the world finally wakes up from this Orwellian madness, and the cowards who have so far been silent on the issue finally dare to speak out, it will become as clear as day that – as so clearly illustrated by the case of the FBU – transgender ideology is nothing more than gross misogyny dressed up as progress.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 22.9.18

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
  • Thus do the gods play games with us. After writing yesterday of a very bad Thursday, I now have to stress that yesterday went pretty swimmingly. In fact, for the first time in 18 years, I got everything on my list done during the morning. And there were 6 or 7 items - of which I'd normally be happy to achieve 3.
  • I think I cited a few weeks ago a report from a Chinese student of my daughter in Madrid that there's a huge scam of Spanish universities selling qualifications to Chinese folk, so they can get into a better college or university back home. Not only to the Chinese, it seems. The Italians are also in on the fraud in a big way. Another example of the 'low ethics' of Spain? Here's The Local on the general issue.
  • Which reminds me . . . I still seem to be able to access items from The Local, despite its (alleged) paywall. Here, for example, are articles on Trump's Saharan suggestion, and the word duende. And here, here and here are more articles, from yesterday.
  • More 'low ethics'? - phony retail customers 
  • It's several months since I looked at the Amazon pages on Vincent Werner's coruscating book on Spain. Specifically at the reviews of it. Interestingly, there are only 5-7 of these on the UK and US pages and all of them agree with his criticisms, even if the writer lives in and loves Spain. On the Spanish page, though, there are 25 reviews and the book gets an overall rating of 3 stars, against 5 on both Anglo pages. Largely because some (very angry) Spaniards and some ('embarrassed') Dutch folk rate it only 1 star. The numbers for Excellent and Terrible are 40% and 36%, respectively. So, pick the meat out of that. Here's a quotation from one reviewer, with whom I suspect readers Eamon and María would heartily agree: On the factual content; Werner is spot on. After living in UK, Germany and now for the last 8 years in Spain I can only say that, in terms of service, Spain is deplorable. Particularly the water company, the electricity company, and banks are the worst offenders. They have absolutely no idea what service is. Not even the common courtesy to send an automated reply to an email to ensure the writer that the question is being dealt with! And a Spanish reviewer makes the valid comment: Mr Werner asks himself many times: "How can a country like this work?" Well, it does work (with many setbacks). There is an easy answer: there is a significant number of people who do not display his seven faults. People who have been educated on the Erasmus program or have worked abroad. Another way of putting this is the long-established one that: 10-20% of Spaniards carry the rest. How this differs from, say Germany, France or The Netherlands, I really wouldn't know. But I'd guess the numbers are quite different.
  • As for me . . . As I've said, I found a lot to agree with in the (badly written) book but, even though I love living in Spain, I know that I'm far too short-fused to work happily here. I was the same when I laboured in the Middle and Far East, of course, but at least there I could tell myself it really was the Third World. And so I could more easily 'adjust my expectations'. Not logical, but . . .
  • All this has reminded me that yesterday I saw a good example of the character trait here that annoys me more than any other – the anti-social disregard for others. Waiting for his woman, a man had parked his car in the unloading bay of a supermarket in a narrow street, causing a traffic jam while a delivery truck waited for the designated space. The woman/wife eventually emerged and the man/husband proceeded to pull out. Seeing me looking at him, he gave me a smile and a cheery little wave, just to show that he knew what he was doing and didn't give a toss what anyone thought of it. Possibly saw himself as Don Effing Quijote. Or at least Spain's favourite literary character type – un picaresco.
Matters European
  • Did anyone seriously think that – given its track record – Brussels would not play hardball when it came down to the line?
  • Anyway, if you want, you can read Richard North on Mrs May's humiliation here(yesterday) and here(today)
  • Maybe it's time – in the light of Macron's role – to stop buying French goods. Because of their protectionist approach to - for example - foreign cars, I've done so for years. And haven't suffered.
Matters Global: O tempora, O mores:
  • Who'd have thought it? 1: Independent analysis of tens of thousands of reviews on the world’s best-known travel website shows that supposedly top-rated bed and breakfast hosts at tourist hotspots have almost twice as many “fake” reviews as lower-ranked accommodation. Two thirds of reviews posted about top B+Bs in some hotspots are thought to be suspect. An undercover operation by the Times has caught venues trying to buy five-star TripAdvisor reviews — as well as negative reviews of rivals.
  • Who'd have thought it? 2: Google has admitted that it gave access to client emails to companies which could search them via their employees not just impersonal computers.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • The German company Arriva says it'll have a train running from La Coruña to Oporto by mid next year. Let's hope so. Spain's national carrier, Renfe, is naturally upset about this development, preferring to retain its inadequate monopoly. Incidentally, I think Spain's rail system – under pressure from Brussels – was liberalised back in 2010 but this is the first attempt by a foreign company to enter the market. Though there is also talk of a French company running a train from Madrid to Montpelier.
  • Talking of trains . . . The 'far left' Podemos party says the country should stop spending vast sums on AVE high-speed services and invest the savings in the existing rail network - local, regional and national. Which has to be right. So long as we still get the AVE to Galicia before I pop my clogs.
  • Back to the issue of corporate responses . . . My neighbour, Ester, told me in astonishment yesterday that she'd rceived within a few hours a reply from a VP of IKEA to a suggestion she'd made to the company. Her incredulity was immense. But who could be surprised at that, given what she must be used to?
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 22.9.18

Friday, September 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
  • Trigger warning - A rant, reflecting the fact that yesterday was one of those days:-
  1. Spain Corporate 1: In Portugal on Wednesday, I bought a SIM card for my phone and then somehow lost the Spanish one. No problem, I thought, I'll just get a new one from the Movistar shop in town. Which I did yesterday at the cost of €11. "The phone will be registered in about 15 minutes or so", I was told. But it wasn't. Not in 15 minutes, nor in 15 hours. All in all, I wasted between 2 and 3 hours of my time yesterday trying to solve this problem, including pointless searches on the internet and a second visit to the shop in the evening. Where I was - eventually - told there was a fault on the Telefónica line which prevented registration. A sort of apology was given as a I left but it didn't assuage me much, as I'd really needed the phone to be in touch with the Bosch garage where I'd earlier lodged my car for a service.
  2. Spanish Corporate 2: In his book It is not What it is: The Real (S)pains of Europe, Dutchman Vincent Warner asks why Spanish companies have email addresses, as they frequently don't respond to messages sent to them. Which is certainly my experience too. Anyway, last night I was asking myself why the Bosch garage had a phone number, as they didn't answer it the 3 or 4 times I called in the evening - after I'd been unable to receive an important call from them during the entire day. But, with my phone now on this morning, I can see that they did at least try to contact me several times during the day. But, of course, couldn't get through to me.
  3. Spain Corporate 3: The (Catalan) company which supplies both my gas and electricity - not a great deal of real competition - was called gasNatural fenosa(sic) but is henceforth to be known as Naturgy. In a letter received with my latest bill, I'm advised that they're doing this To offer a better service and To make your life easier. All just by changing their name to one that is prepared for a modern and digital future. I guess the alternatives of actually providing a decent, cheaper service and making their bills comprehensible were rejected as likely to cost them some profit.
  4. Spain Corporate 4: But at least I'm not looking to buy an HP computer from the Corte Inglés, Spain's best-known (only?) department store . . .
  • 5. Time in Spain: I don't recall Werner making this point in his book, but suspect he did. The concept of time here in Spain is different from elsewhere. For one thing, it has to allow for endless chatting and the completion of a vast amount of paperwork that would be considered intolerable in Anglo cultures, and perhaps others. I thought of this again last night, while waiting 45 minutes to be attended to in the Movistar shop and then during the additional 15-20 minutes while the woman dealing with - but not solving - my problem pounded on the keyboard, took a copy of my ID and then called someone in Telefónica who eventually answered the phone. During all of this 60 plus minutes, one of her colleagues was dealing with a young couple and one of their parents over, I guess, a new contract. Both the employee and the customers gave the impression of regarding this as a family outing. Actually, it was longer than I've indicated, as they were already being attended to when I arrived. None of the group showed the slightest irritation at things taking so long.
Matters US
  • Someone has asked whether Fart's suggestion that Spain build a wall across the Sahara isn't the daftest thing to come out of his mouth. Blimey! That's quite a contest. Of course, the questioner is only assuming the question came out of his mouth.
Matters Galician/Pontevedran
  • English academías sprout regularly in the city, reflecting the demand for classes. This poses a challenge for those charged with finding an attractive name for a start-up. This one is quite good, but opinions might differ:-
  • For my evening trip to the Movistar shop, I got a lift down to town from one of my neighbours. As we got halfway down the hill, she noticed a police patrol ahead of us and exclaimed. Colin, put your belt on? I don't want to be fined. To which I replied: Mine is on. How about putting yours on? Yes, this is the same woman who drove down to town without a belt on and while talking on her mobile phone, with me and her 3 kids in the car.
That's enough moaning for today . . . 

© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 21.9.18

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 20.9.18

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
  • I am confused. The Local is supposed to have gone behind a paywall and, as you might expect, on Tuesday night I was told I couldn't access a page because I'd used up my quota for the month. But last night I got and read this page in my RSS feed. And then this one. And this one. Teething problems? Or am I only barred from 'premium' pages? 
  • The rapacious Spanish banks, reports Don Quijones here, are having a few problems with Brussels. But they still have friends in the Spanish judicial system. So, relief for customers could be a long time coming.
  • Talking of unpopular corporate rogues, here's something on electricity prices in Spain.
  • More interesting, perhaps, is this Fox News item - via my RSS feed! - on Spanish charcoal manufacturers.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • This is not good news for the forces of order along our coast: Colombia continues to break records for cocaine production. The South American nation produced a record estimated 1,379 tonnes of cocaine last year – up 31% on 2016.
  • Those vecinos de O Vao/Bao . . . . The gypsy settlement, said La Voz de Galicia yesterday, is a storehouse of stolen goods. There's a surprise.

  • Which reminds me . . . Apart from the 2 permanent gypsy settlements near my house, there's a rather-more-temporary one on the other side of town. Situated just before the pilgrims' hostal(albergue), it's the first thing most of them see when entering the town. Walking past it this morning, I took to wondering how many of the decrepit vehicles there had passed the compulsory inspection mine had a few days ago. Not many, I'd guess. As for driving licences and insurance . . . More doubts. As to why none of the various police forces do anything about this, your guess is as good as mine,
Finally . . . 
  • I witnessed a spiders' fight to the death on my bathroom wall yesterday. Surprisingly, the smaller (long-legged) one got the advantage of the larger one which had wandered into a silken strand and had got it wrapped round itself. David and Goliath. Sort of:-

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 19.9.18

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
  • As if the besieged and hapless Mrs May didn't have enough Brexit problems on her plate, the Spanish government – like the one it recently replaced – is determined (with the support of Brussels) to take maximum advantage from the process in respect of its aspirations/ambitions for Gibraltar. Despite the fact that at least 99% of the folk who live there reject these out of hand. But this is hardly unexpected. It's the modern version of war. And some provisions of the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht need to be replaced.
  • The rejection of extradition requests works both ways, it seems.
  • Yesterday was the final day of free access to The Local. And they went out with a blitz of these items, very possibly all published previously:-
  • As it happens, I've been producing a schedule of (most of) the lists they've been issuing this year, aiming to post it at the end of December. It can be found below this post.
  • Finally on this . . . Here's Fiona Govan explaining why they've done this and why we should now pay for (most of) their stuff. I'm pondering this . . .
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • Yesterday, the president of our community asked me to give her and her kids a lift up from town at 3pm. As we waited for the latter outside their school, she called the council to tell them there was a nest of vicious and potentially fatal Asian wasps (velutinas) in our communal garden. In a panicky tone, she told them that 2 gardeners had already been attacked and there was a danger to the many children using the pool. After the call, she admitted the wasps were really only the normal variety and that nest was a long way away from the pool. But she'd felt the need to lie so that the council would act quickly. I wasn't impressed at this selfish subterfuge and sent a message to my elder daughter about this Fuck-the-Folk-Who-Really-Do-Have-a-Velutina-Problem attitude. Unfortunately, I sent it to lady in question, as she was the last person who'd messaged me . . . But at least it gave me the chance to tell her what I thought of her lies. She didn't give the impression of being even a tiny bit remorseful.
  • The velutinas are something of a nasty plague in the city, having arrived from the east. Here in Galicia the villagers use numerous names for them, as per this table supplied by the council. Some (most?) are corruptions of the real name. Which city sophisticates find very amusing. Which is probably justified in the case of Ghalopinas africanis at least:-
  • I guess I have to cite the peon of praise to Pontevedra city in yesterday's Guardian. It's pretty accurate and I suppose it'd be churlish of me to say exactly where it isn't. I'm very pro the council's actions in general but there are, inevitably, downsides to them. Not everyone is a winner. The losers include drivers who have to proceed everywhere at 30kph/19mph. And who can never find a place to park in the city, except in one of the underground parkings. These are not cheap and, interestingly, the most expensive one is near the council offices. But I guess the mayor and his mates can park there for free.
  • I wish to God my Spanish friends would stop sending me Wotsap citations of the bloody article. Five already this morning. Including one from Finland!
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 19.9.18