Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Note: One or two of the items below have been borrowed from Lenox Napier's Business Over Tapas of yesterday.
- Another anti-Airbnb measure.
- Some (officially) pretty Spanish streets.
- And I thought it was funny that work on a new bridge over Pontevedra's river was suspended after 9 months, when it was revealed it didn't have a construction licence. Amusing news from Barcelona.
- Smiling again: The Spanish are always smiling. The Portuguese, rarely. Even when you greet them with a smile. Worse than the English really. The only person who's spontaneously smiled at me was a (very pretty) young woman in the centre of Estremoz, whom I'm pretty sure wanted to entice me into having an eye test in the nearby vehicle. Unless it was a brothel on wheels. Either way, not really very spontaneous. Is this why the Portuguese are said to be the Chinese of Europe? I know that's said about the Dutch but this is because of their commercial expertise/aggression. In Portugal, I feel that all those years I've had to spend learning to make direct eye contact and smile at strangers have been wasted . . .
- I might generalise about the Portuguese disinclination to smile but there are, of course, exceptions. The lady in a cake shop in Portalegre yesterday could not have been more friendly, for example.
- Portuguese towns are astonishingly quiet. In Portalegre they play music - not loudly, of course - through speakers on the walls of houses and shops. At least in the old quarter. If not, you might succumb to the delusion you were in a cemetery.
- And I do wonder how shops here make money. I rarely see a customer in them. Perhaps I walk past them at the wrong time of day.
- I've heard it said that it's a legal requirement in Spain that there be a non-toll road as well as a toll road to your destination. So, you have the N6 as well as the A6 if you want to avoid the latter's toll as you get near to Madrid from the West. This doesn't seem to be the case in Portugal, as - driving from Portalegre to Lisbon - you have no choice but to continue on toll roads after your original N road morphs into an A road, with overhead cameras in gantries. Followed by the A1 with traditional pay stations.
- The full name of the man/oaf who's expected by most to be the next prime minister is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, usually known as merely Boris Johnson. Or BoJo. I'd never heard or seen the bizarre name Pfeffel but found this on it: This most interesting and unusual surname is an Anglicized form of the Germanic surname Pfaeffle", a derivative of "Pfaff", from the German "pfaffe", cleric, parson, or "papst", pope. This is an example of the sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual nicknames. More here.
- Says Richard North of him today: Now would be a good time to remind ourselves how awful Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson really is. But we've already been there, pace Max Hastings and his 2012 article headed: "Boris Johnson: brilliant, warm, funny – and totally unfit to be PM".
- Word of the Day: Duende.
- An interesting message in my Spam box this morning, 3 times:- Linda Dierks. FUCK YOU!!! I HATE YOU . . . I wonder if this is the lady in question.