Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in SpainSpain
- The separatists are beaten off in Barcelona. Thanks to a Frenchman.
- If you're alone on a large Spanish beach, there's a good chance the next Spanish couple to arrive will sit right next to you, expecting to chat. So, here's some valuable advice for beach lovers to whom this won't appeal.
- Which reminds me . . . Driving up from Lisbon yesterday, I regaled my non-Spanish passengers with accounts of how the Spanish love to talk. After these had got out at Oporto, I picked up 2 Galician guys who uttered scarcely a word until we got to Vigo. Galicia is not Spain, as a nationalist Galician friend regularly tells me
- Checking on laws relating to driving I found this bit of advice: On roundabouts, stay in the center lane until you find your exit. Then, carefully merge to the outside lane directly before exiting. This, as long-time readers will know, is exactly the opposite of the (senseless) advice given in Spain. Or at least this used to be the case. I have read that things have changed but all the learner drivers who practice near my house are clearly still being taught never to go into the centre lane, unless (perhaps) they're doing a U-turn. (En passant, nor do they seem to be taught anything about signalling.)
- As we know, tourism eventually ruins places that used to be worth visiting, before the hordes arrived. Lisbon has a 'chic' food hall down by the riverfront, where you can't get a shandy, the food and drinks are not great but are expensive and the parking costs you at least an arm and a leg.
- Outside its tourist hot-spots, Portugal remains remarkably cheap. Except for petrol or, indeed, anything to do with owning and driving a car. Coffees and beers can be half the cost they are in Spain.
- Can you believe it? The UK’s government’s flagship “Help to Buy” equity loan scheme, launched ostensibly to give cash-strapped first-time buyers a leg up onto the property ladder, has dished out billions of pounds of publicly subsidised loans to relatively well heeled homeowners who were perfectly capable of buying their first property without need for outside help, asserts a new report by the National Audit Office. More on this here.
- Advice for British women:- Ditch your dignity, desperate Tories, and get into bed with Boris, the ‘hot totty’ hustler. See the nice article below. From one of the female tribe.
- This is another painting from the Gulbenkian Museum - A hunchback and an old woman. I couldn't help wondering what he's doing with his right hand. Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be making her happy . . .
- And here's another coin from about 2,000 years ago. Seems to predate British colonial headwear of the 19th century. And even the bowler hat of the 20th.
Ditch your dignity, desperate Tories, and get into bed with Boris, the ‘hot totty’ hustler: Camilla Long, Times
Not a great week for Tory women, was it. Grasping, unlikeable, unelectable — and that’s just Esther McVey. On Monday, Maria Miller was wanly wheeled out to make excuses for Dominic “I’m not a feminist” Raab, cracking a weak joke about how she’d persuade him to be a feminist one day (don’t worry, not sure they want him).
On Friday the jangling vowels of Priti Patel scratched like nails down the world’s biggest blackboard on Radio 4’s Today programme, defending what she described — and this is where my ears pricked up — as Boris Johnson’s “track record when it comes to women”.
Johnson was in fact a great supporter of women, she said, an outstanding “champion of female education”. He had campaigned for many, many minutes on his “girls’ education programme”, a brilliant global scheme that he had used to reach out to the most vulnerable women in society.
I thought: she’s not. She’s not going to pretend that Boris, of all people, was God’s gift to marginalised women, was she? No one’s ever going to believe that. Why would she bother? The only “girls’ education programme” he’s seriously conducted has been in and around the wine bars of Westminster.
Agreed, it’s been a tireless and dedicated scheme, in which he has indeed reached out to many vulnerable young women, often on a one-to-one level, late into the night, offering a strict timetable of chemistry, biology and opera. But to pretend he’s some sort of feminist panacea is ludicrous — the last gasp of a doomed party.
In many ways I wish Patel had been more honest. I’d have preferred it if she had said, yes, there have been three mistresses on record, an abortion and at least one love child, but we’re absolutely desperate. Who else do you want up against the Euro bastardi — a robot who can’t remember whether his wife’s Japanese or Chinese? Or a man who claps funny and whose wife has to write him encouraging notes?
Boris may not be viewed as “sufficiently moral” by his critics, but we already know that he isn’t “sufficiently moral” and never has been. So the question now isn’t, what are the awful things that Boris has done? But: why aren’t the awful things stopping him?
It says everything about the mind-bending horror of Brexit that we are now considering putting a man who once wrote car reviews for GQ magazine at the highest level of negotiation (of a Ferrari: “it was as if the whole county of Hampshire was lying back and opening her well-bred legs to be ravished by the Italian stallion”).
So great is the Tories’ collective terror over the mess of their own making that they are actively willing to lie about a man who didn’t even excel at a novelty job — yes, they are putting Dick Whittington forward to oversee the next stage of negotiations. You wouldn’t let Ken Livingstone anywhere near it, so why does the mayoralty of London qualify Boris? If he were one iota more strategic, he might even feel suspicious — am I just cannon fodder? Why do these locusts want me now, when they’ve spent decades laughing at me?
This has led to a bizarre “minestrone”, as he would say, of emotions in which I find myself revolted by his personal conduct but also desperate for him — anyone — to make it all go away. I’m worried about his sexual incontinence, yes, but only to the extent that incontinence of any sort is bad at the negotiating table. I’m worried about his ability to lie as well, but only because he gets caught so often — so inept. And can we rely on a man who schedules the break-up of his 25-year marriage at the same time as he’s meant to be doing all this? It’s simply disorganised.
So here we are: the Tories are offering us the first philandering prime minister since Lloyd George; the first prime minister to have written about the “hot totty” at a Labour Party conference; the first prime minister to have put up a Pirelli calendar in his office; the first prime minister to have promised the electorate that “voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts”.
He’s unsuitable as prime minister in a million ways, but the Tories are in such a panic, they’ve ignored the small print. On and on they go, pretending he was the best foreign secretary and a brilliant promoter of women, a man who not only supports their rights but “will defend” them, said Patel, as if we somehow should be grateful. As usual in Boris’s life, the loudest cheerleaders are women. He’s like a crippling payday loan they’re rushing to take out, even though they know it’s bad and he’s bad, and they are the ultimate victims.