Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in SpainSpain
- A good word about the Spanish, whom every foreigner agrees are one of the best things about life in Spain. That said, friendly conversations can often be remarkably trivial, superficial or gossipy. I really only enjoy the last type.
- And let's hear it for us Brits . . .
- Checking on the availability of Stalingrad by Grossman Vassily, I discovered that, on Amazon Spain, the kindle version at €19.32 costs more than the hardback version at €15.81. In contrast, in the UK they are £14.99 and £17.50, respectively. This is the first time I've seen this and hard to understand. Worse, Amazon - for reasons best known to themselves - only allow me to download kindle versions from the Spanish website. Exploitation?
- Talking of books . . . Yesterday I finished Eduardo Mendoza's An Englishman in Madrid (Riña de Gatos). It did move along but ultimately I was seriously disappointed by it, finding it confusing and even preposterous at times. So, I was surprised to find it'd won some major literary prize. Happily - and inevitably - though, at least a couple of people on Amazon agreed with me and had given it only a solitary star.
- Last year, I opined that most public toilets in Spain lack some of the 15 features I felt essential for a decent washroom. Yesterday, I noticed that the Gents in my morning café place - the excellent Hotel Rúas in Plaza Verdura - has a 16th element - a ventilator. So, even more sub-optimal places now.
- Query: How can Ryanair be so 'punctual' when Stansted is Britain's most delayed airport?
- Answer: Airlines all go in for the schedule-padding pioneered by British Rail about 35 years ago. Just add 30-60 minutes to your average journey time and issue a new timetable.
- Britain's 'post-truth political environment'. Is it as bad anywhere else in Europe? Hungary? Poland? Germany??? Or did that sort of thing go out in the 1940s there?
- Nigel Farage’s upstart Brexit Party has blown the United Kingdom's political system to pieces. And paradoxically, it's made it more “European” in the process. . . . We’ve been slowly moving away from two-party politics in the U.K. for decades now. The European election results might be the moment when we finally kiss it goodbye.
- The secret of the advance of the new Right is that it practices what the old Left used to preach. It is a new international alliance with a shared message, a shared vision of social change, shared adversaries and now a shared political platform. It does all that while cultivating local roots and speaking a language that people understand. Instead of classes, it speaks of nations; instead of politics, it speaks of culture; and instead of capitalists, it speaks of immigrants. Yet it is a paradox that those political forces most hostile to European integration have also been the only ones to formulate a common vision for Europe. More here.
- A famous chap called Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) once commented: You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned 70, or given up all hope in the presidency. This was in pre-Fartian times, of course.
- Word of the Day: Brote
- Riña de Gatos: Catfight.
- I bought a bird-feed 'hopper', to give the poor sparrows a chance against the aggressive team of at least 4 greenfinches on my existing bird-feeder. Guess who immediately dominated it . .
So, I've moved it to the front garden, where - so far - no bird of any type had happened on it.
- I've never really understood the awe in which the Mona Lisa is held. So this unconventional view of Da Vinci's art was easy for me to nod along with.