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Thoughts from Galicia, Spain

Random thoughts from a Brit in the North West. Sometimes serious, sometimes not. Quite often curmudgeonly.

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain:6 July 2020
06 July 2020 @ 10:12

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 this century? 

  • Prostitution. Another large, complex subject which I’ve often cited as a shameful blight on Spain. Essentially, you can’t avoid it here. Every city, town and even village has at least one brothel - usually in its outskirts. They used to be called American Bars but these days it’s Clubs(Cloobs). And you really can’t miss their neon lights - usually pink or purple - and sometimes the large depictions of virtually naked women, also in lights. What the industry is based on, of course, is the large-scale trafficking of women from Africa, Eastern Europe and South America. There are said to be far more prostitutes in Spain than in Germany, which has double the population. The legal situation, I think, is that - as in the UK - prostitution itself is not illegal but that standard aspects of its institutionalised provision certainly are. Such as ‘hiring’ rooms to women with no papers. Brothels are regularly raided only to re-open again - sometimes under a new name, such as Working Girls - a few months later. Something of a game, then. 
  • Anyway, here are my earliest posts on the contentious subject, both of January 2004:-

-  It says in one of the local papers today that there are 8,000 prostitutes in Galicia. The article conjectures that each of them turns an average of 2 tricks a day at a unit price of 60 Euros. This means, says the paper, that almost 350m Euros a year is being lost to the taxman. I am struggling to understand this. It’s not the maths; that’s quite easy. It’s the concept that the tax authorities can’t get to grips, as it were, with the business. For, at the back of each local newspaper – just after the heavily religious ‘gravestone’ reminders of the illustrious dead – there are 2 to 3 pages of ads which leave nothing to the imagination. Including the name, address and phone numbers of the establishments offering a bewilderingly wide range of services. And then there are the pink-lit, roadside places [with discreet parking and names like ‘Venus’] which have the word CLUB in 5 metre neon-lighting on the roof. This, as we all know, is short for ‘puti club’ – puti being a corruption of the Spanish for whore, puta. So, you’d have to be a particularly dense taxman not to know where this ‘missing’ revenue is being generated. But perhaps there is a another explanation.

- A high court in Andalucia yesterday pronounced that the owner of a brothel was obliged to include his employees in the social security system and, thus, pay taxes on their income. The judges made an analogy with illegal immigrant labourers and so the inference to be drawn is that brothel owners have this obligation even though prostitution itself is [was then?] against the law. Three of the twelve judges went out on a limb and said they had misgivings about the brothel owner being able to dictate working hours [and practices?] to female employees. I wonder whether he will be similarly liable for accidents at work, whatever these might include. Pregnancy, for example. The mind boggles.

Current Life in Spain: Living La Vida Loca . .   

  • The London Times comes to Galicia, in  the context of the rich, powerful and very greedy Franco family. See the article below.
  • María's Day 21 of her chronicle of her Adjusted Normal. A dilemma.


Quote of the Week

  • Don't scorn languages. It's the polyglots who prosper

Social Media


  • New Word of the Week: To chaffer: To haggle about the terms of an agreement or price of something.


  • Firstly I need to explain that yesterday’s ‘also’ should have been ‘clad’, as in Al que no quiera(e) caldo, siete tazas. I have real problems with Spanish words into English ones. I usually manage to change them all back but missed this 
  • Another 3 refranes:-  

- It’s a small world: !Que pequeño es el mundo!/El mundo es un pañuelo.

- It’s as broad as it’s long: Tanto monta, manta tanto/Isabel como Fernando.

- It’s his/her own lookout/Tough luck!: Con su pan se lo coma.


  • Peter Skellern was one of my favourite performers and here’s one of his best songs - You're a lady. And here, discovered last night, is a nice Spanish version. Como siempre.


Family and Spain vie for Franco’s palace: Alasdair Fotheringham, Times

Franco’s heirs will clash with the Spanish state in court this week over the Fascist dictator’s summer residence, which the socialist government says was obtained by fraudulent means. The mock medieval Meiras palace in northwestern Galicia was built at the end of the 19th century by the family of Emilia Pardo Bazán, a writer, and bought by an association of Franco supporters in 1938, during the civil war.

The government claims to own the palace, arguing that Franco’s purchase was illegal. Its lawyers are expected to argue that the funds used to buy the palace were extorted from local workers in the form of “voluntary” donations from their pay. They will also claim that when the building was bought by Franco in 1941, at a fifth of the 1938 price and three years after his wife, Carmen Polo, had begun renovating the palace, the bill of sale was fraudulent.

The Meirás palace, in the small village of Sada, was used by Franco’s descendants as a summer residence after the general’s death in 1975. After Carmen Polo, who was given the title “Lady of Meiras” by King Juan Carlos, died it went on sale two years ago for €8 million. It is now run by the Francisco Franco National Foundation and is open for limited visits by the public after the regional government declared it to be a building of cultural interest.

One of the government’s arguments as to why the property belongs to the state was that until 1990 it was protected by the civil guard.

The controversy has generated a book, Meirás: a Palace, a Warlord, a Plunder. The co-authors, Carlos Babío Urkidi and Manuel Pérez Lorenzo, who also produced a report on building works inside the palace grounds, will be witnesses in the trial.

The socialist government has already clashed with Franco’s family after ordering the exhumation of the dictator’s remains from the Valley of the Fallen mausoleum.


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

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