Friday, May 22, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 22.5.20

Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.   
- Christopher Howse: 'A Pilgrim in Spain'*

The Bloody Virus 
  • It won't be long now before the UK overtakes Italy to become the country with the 3rd highest deaths-per-million rate, after Belgium and Spain. 
Life in Spain in the Time of Something Like Cholera
  • Here's one way to ensure you get (rich?) clients into your Spanish hotel.
  • MarĂ­a's Comeback Chronicle: Day 11
Real Life in Spain 
  • A note in my mailbox advises me that a package sent to my sister 4 weeks ago finally arrived yesterday. But my sister returned to the UK last week and recent experience renders me certain I won't be allowed to collect it from Correos, as I can't meet their bureaucratic requirements in respect of her ID and authorisation. Instead, it will sit in the Post Office for 2 weeks and then sent back to her husband. Which will, at least, save me the trouble and expense of returning some of the contents to her.
  • As long-time readers might recall, 3 or 4 years ago my 'individualistic' ex-neighbour destroyed our back-garden hedge, while I was in the UK. And now my - equally 'individualistic' - new neighbours have done the same to our front-garden hedge, as part of the transformation of their garden into something totally different. So, I couldn't help but be amused yesterday, when I saw that the chap rotivating their rear lawn had cut through 2 large black pipes. As he wasn't killed, I assume these were for water, not electricity. I probably wouldn't have laughed at a fatality. Well, not that of a gardener. Less sure about the house-owner.
  • At a more elevated level . . . Here's The Guardian with its '10 of the best novels set in Spain'. I've only read 2 of them . . .
The UK  
  • Astonishingly, despite the Covid-19 fact stated above - and much criticism in some quarters - Boris Johnson maintains high popularity ratings. Perhaps because he's conned the populace into believing he's saved the (ridiculously idolised) NHS from destruction. In part by shovelling old folk from hospitals into woefully under-equipped care homes.
The Way of the world
  • Religious fundamentalists and Covid-19: Given the unpredictable nature of our world (as the emergence of Covid-19 has made all too clear), nothing, secularization included, is a one-way street. Religion is perfectly capable of experiencing revivals. Still, there is no surer way to tip the balance toward an Omar Khayyam–style skepticism than for prominent religious leaders to guide their faithful, and all those in contact with them, into a new wave of the pandemic. This is the  final para of this fine article centred on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam, a work I've loved since I stumbled on it in the library of the Seychelles school I was teaching in, aged just 19. Eight years before - by pure coincidence - I went to work in Iran/Persia. I was delighted to read of the company I'm in as a huge admirer of Khayam's musings, as stunningly translated - albeit rather freely - by Edward FitzGerald back in the 1870s.**
  • Assuming he really is taking it, is it too much to hope that Fart becomes one of hydroxychloroquine's fatal victims?
Finally . . .
  • Here's a test of your sense of humour and, possibly, your IQ . . . Why is this funny?:-

* A terrible book, by the way. Don't be tempted to buy it, unless you're a very religious Protestant

** You can read EF's translation here. He actually made several goes at it and, in truth, I prefer this version of the opening quatrain:-

Awake! For morning, in the bowl of night,
Has flung the stone that puts the stars to flight.
And, lo, the hunter of the east has caught
the sultan's turret in a noose of light.

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