Saturday, November 30, 2019

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 30 .11.19

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
                  Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain
Spanish Politics 
  • The last few years have raised doubts that any Spanish politician is capable of statesmanship, at least in the context of Cataluña. The author of the article I cited yesterday makes it clear that, even if there were such a person, her or she would be up against it. The Spanish, in a word, are victims of their experience. Just like the rest of us. 
  • On this, I'm reminded that Paul Preston has just published this book here in Spain. Sadly, it won't be available in English until March next year. Its theme is that the Spanish people have persistently been betrayed by institutionalised corruption and startling political incompetence. Promises to be a fascinating read.
The Spanish Economy  
Spanish Life
  • More on those radar traps and what you can do when coming up against a car at just below the speed limit. I've been driving for years on this understanding.
  • Those Spanish lovers - the Don Juans fatally attractive to North European ladies. . . Is it all a myth? See the abstract of an article on this below. Or click here.
  • Renfe continues to drive me mad. Scroll down, if you don't want details of my latest tussle with the rail operator . . . . Apart from the usual irritation of "We can't attend to your request right now", there's the problem of accessing my account so that I don't have to enter all my details every time I book a ticket. Having decided that the only solution is to cancel my account and open a new one, I've been told that getting an instruction from my registered email is not enough; I have to send them a copy of 'both sides of my ID document'. Since the government has long since stopped giving an ID card to us Brits at least, I've emailed a copy of both my passport and the useless 'certificate' (sans foto) that is given these days. Nothing is ever simple in Spain. 
  • Which reminds me . . . The letter sent to one of my sisters didn't arrive yesterday, so will probably arrive Monday, 4 days after the one posted to my other sister at the same time a week earlier. Life can be arbitrary here.
Galician Life 
  • Let's hear it for these fine local folk.
  • Here are then-and-now fotos of a spot in Pontevedra city near the Plaza de Galicia, next to the Plaza de Herrería. The ramp on the left goes up to the San Francisco church:-

And here it is today:-

It's no longer a place for trading but the large bus of the Xunta's blood transfusion service does park there from time time. The woman on the steps - almost certainly a Romanian gypsy - is seeking alms from the churchgoers. Or, as we call it these days, begging.
  • El País looks here at those sensationalist - hysterical? - reports of a seabed awash with narcosubs.
  • Local papers report that the sub had a 'homemade tiller' and an 'ancient compass'. The brave/foolhardy/desperate 3-man crew had provisions for 20 days, and the sub, it's said, had an 80hp engine, allowing a speed of only 7 knots an hour. I leave reader Perry to re-work his calculations and advise if it really could cross the Atlantic in 20 days.
The EU
  • According to a well-known Greek ex Finance Minister: Draghi deserves neither hostility nor adulation for his stewardship of the ECB. He proved adept at working within ridiculous constraints that forced him to do things that no central banker should ever do – and not just against Greece. Maybe a more courageous man would have refused to do those things. But no one can feel anger toward another for not being a hero. What matters today is that Lagarde will have to labor within exactly the same ridiculous constraints. Sensible Europeans should be very hostile to that reality. See the full article here.
  • Ffart 'humiliates himself' by showing once again that it's all about him.  No surprise, of course. Does anyone except him - even him? - believe his claims about what foreign leaders have said to him. Though I guess his dictator friends could well have stroked his humungous ego.
Way of the World
  • I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that the woman behind OneCoin had been a brilliant student and was already a sociopath with a criminal record when she invented it in 2014. Essentially, she realised that an awful lot of people could be conned - via multi-level marketing (i. e. pyramid selling) - into buying a new thing which they could never hope to understand but which was guaranteed to make them a fortune. Nor can it be a surprise that she's now thought to move in circles - possibly in Athens - where it's easy to buy protection. It's probably quite expensive but, then, that's very possibly not something she needs to worry about.
Finally . . .
  • Interesting to see that the UK TV program Peaky Blinders is rendered as Los Gánsteres de Los Midlands in Spanish.  

The Spanish Latin lover: a strictly domestic myth? A visual inquiry about the role of eroticism in Spanish tourism imaginaries (1950-70). Alicia Fuentes Vega

The character of the Mediterranean Latin lover became increasingly popular in late-Francoism Spain owing to a subgenre of films that exploited masculine phantasies of sexual encounters with foreign tourists.

Building on a visual analysis of several media (brochures and magazines, Government propaganda, guidebooks and travel books, postcards), this paper examines the actual presence of the Latin lover in Spanish tourism imaginaries during the Franco dictatorship.

Despite its important role in the hegemonic narrative of Spain’s tourism boom as a liberalizing factor that clashed against the regime, the myth of the Spanish Don Juan remains absent from the destination image intended for foreign audiences.

This suggests that its circulation was strictly domestic, and reinforces its interpretation as a governmentality device.

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