Monday, June 29, 2020

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 29.6.20

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'*

Life in Spain: What has changed? 

  • Corruption: Is Spanish society as corrupt some say?, I asked in a post a few years ago. Or is it - as a Spanish reader once wrote merely ‘a country of low ethics’? Click here for my answer to this.  
  • I wrote yesterday that the most important thing for Spaniards is having fun. And then I read of the comment of Ayatalollah Khomeini that: There is no fun in Islam. Which left me wondering if modern Spanish culture is a long and deep reaction to almost 800 years of Islamic rule/influence . . . 

Current Life in Spain  

  • The saga of a switch from Movistar to O2 . . . I wrote this yesterday but it mysteriously disappeared from my draft, so I had to rewrite it this morning from memory . . . Well, there's still been no progress since I made an application to O2 on June 4 for a switch in telecoms provision from them to their parent company Movistar. Worse, the absence of an internet connection yesterday led to conversations with both companies, in which O2 denied having got an application (despite having confirmed it in an email) and Movistar denied I'd cancelled my contract with them. Even worse, O2 advised me that, if I'd cancelled my contract with Movistar - as they'd asked me to do - then O2 would take no further action. I can't say I can understand this nonsense but it's hard to avoid the temptation of concluding it's down to dishonesty rather than 'mere' inefficiency. With the objective of making me stay longer with the more expensive company in the group. Certainly, it looks - on the face of it - exactly like the sort of thing Vincent Warner complains about in this book 'It Is Not What It Is: THE REAL (s)PAIN OF EUROPE'.  Either incompetence or duplicity. Though I guess it's more probable it was the former, not the latter. Well, possible.    So, that was Saturday. Yesterday - armed with all the emails between us - I called O2 again and this time was told I did have a contract with them but things had been slow - more than 3 weeks! - because I'd asked for a new number. This was untrue and my suspicion is that it's the staple spurious ‘excuse' given to people who complain about delay. Interestingly, within seconds of this call, my phone showed O2 as my new provider. But I still don't have an internet connection at home and now wonder if Movistar will send the technician they promised to send when I spoke to them on Saturday morning . . .
  • Incidentally, it’s surely ironic that, at the time I’m contending with these problems with Movistar and its subsidiary O2, I should have coincidentally cited this refran yesterday: ‘His left hand doesn't know what his right hand is doing’: Borra con el codo lo que escribe con el mano. 
  • Here's MarĂ­a's Day 14 of her chronicle of these adjusted normal times. Love is Love. 
  • I used to complain that the (Pelican?) crossings I use every day before/after crossing O Burgo bridge were confusing for both pedestrians and drivers, as the respective lights were in conflict. And so, dangerous. But now they’ve been replaced by new lampposts and the solution has been adopted of switching off the pedestrian lights and leaving the drivers’ lights permantently flashing orange. Which is an advance. And conceivably less dangerous.
  • No, the works on said bridge still haven’t been completed. I suspect a problem with the ‘first-in-the-world’ lighting system - of garish read and green bulbs - in the base of the railings.
  • Which reminds me . . . The last official forecast for the completion of the AVE high speed train between Galicia and Madrid was 31.12.19, though - with elections imminent - I suspect it’s now 31.12.20. Against an original date - I kid you not - of 1993. And multiple dates since then.


  • Another 3 refranes:- 

-  Honesty is the best policy: Lo major es ser franco. [Really quite the same???]

-  Hope for the best and prepare for the worst: Procura lo major, espera lo peor, y toma lo que viniere.

-  If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well: Si vale la pena hacerlo, vale la pena hacerlo bien.


The Way of the World

  • UK celebrities are making humungous amounts of dosh by charging idiots for personalised videos to show their friends. And who can blame them? A refrain I cited other day remains as true as ever - A fool and his money are soon parted: A los tontos, no les dura el dinero.

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

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