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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: 10 July 2020
10 July 2020 @ 10:19

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?  

  • Attitude to risk: When I first came here, I quickly noticed that Spain is a country of fewer 'precautions' than others. Most obviously a lack of fences on a mountainous viewpoint above the estuary of the river Miño.
  • I first wrote on this subject - under the rubric of Rules - back in mid 2001: On a personal level, the Spanish have a somewhat existential approach to rules, whatever their provenance. If they think they are sensible, they will obey them. If they don’t, they won’t. The list of (‘irksome’) rules which are frequently ignored is a long one – the most obvious ones being drink drive regulations*, speed limits*, safety belt laws*, parking restrictions and health and safety provisions. On balance, I am comfortable with what I have decided is a very sensible and pragmatic approach to life, especially when the risk of facing a sanction is very low indeed. On the other hand, the flouting of safety regulations (when they are not mad) is clearly indefensible. Last week, for example, a young girl was gored by a bison in a local zoo, through a fence that probably doesn’t conform to EU requirements. Or possible even to pre-existing Spanish requirements. One rather doubts that her parents are currently considering suing the management of the zoo. I couldn’t help but notice on the TV news that the fence had not been modified in any way after the accident, even though it had naturally become the place to visit in Vigo. Especially for children.
  • Verdict: Things have naturally moved in the direction of lower risk [e.g. * not now] but not to the extent of catching up with countries which are obsessed with reducing all risks to zero. Spain still has a more relaxed attitude to risk, but not as much as it did 19 years ago.  

Current Life in Spain: Living La Vida Loca . .

  • Renfe has a new web page. Using it seems to be as annoying as with the last one. Yesterday, I entered Pontevedra in the Origin box and up came Santiago in it. Thrice! And when my daughter changed her return date for less than a euro, she was charged the full price for a new ticket and not sent an email from which to download it. Only a call to this number - (34) 912 320 320 - resolved the problem. Usefully, you can talk to someone in English on this, although they're clearly in India. And this is the Help page in English, if you need that.
  • Papeleo: Today we're going on a short boat trip around the bay. I've received 3 emails in respect of this. One of them lists all the things I have to bring. Needless to say, this includes our respective IDs. You'd think we’ll be touring a secret nuclear facility, not just having a short boat trip. And WTF does it matter if someone other than me turns up for the ride, armed with my downloaded ticket?
  • Here's María's Day 25 of our Adjusted Normal - Stocking up.

The EU

  • If you're really, really interested in how the British government - as a result of French duplicity and chicanery in a ‘predatory stitch up’ - gave away the UK's fishing industry and lied to the public about this, see here and here.


  • Quote of the week: The American Christian conservative movement has descended into squalor, rage, selfishness, and hypocrisy.  Members have debased themselves in electing a faithless serial adulterer, alleged rapist and compulsive liar. Sounds about right to me.

The Way of the World

  • Says Ambrose Evans Pritchard, optimistically: Britain should not quake before Xi Jinping: China has already peaked and faces economic stagnation. . .  China is starting to pay the exorbitant price for its wolf warrior diplomacy. . . The abdication of global leadership under Donald Trump is no more than a momentary spasm in American history. The US will swing back to normality. The world will find that American soft power is alive and well, while Xi Jinping will find that his strategy of picking off nations one by one is leading his country into a cul-de-sac. . . . If the democracies bide their time and hold together, China will eventually settle down and accept that it too is a graying status quo nation and perhaps even that its bid for global supremacy is going nowhere.  


  • Another 3 refranes:- 

- It's more blessed to give than to receive: Hay mas felicidad en dar que recibir.

- It's no crime to steal from a thief: El que roba a un ladrón tiene cien años de perdón.

- It's not the end of the world: Más se perdió en Cuba.


  • In his autobiography, Woody Allen says that Oviedo is A beautiful city, a little paradise. There’s a lovely bronze statue of him there, of which he writes: Nobody asked for my opinion or informed me. They just put it up. I would love to say that I did something noble and brave in Oviedo to deserve this honor, but I did little more than visiting the city, rolling around a bit, walking through its streets and enjoying its wonderful climate. He must have gone on a day when it wasn't raining. Of course, the statue might not be there for much longer.
  • As a priest of the same, I'm happy to note that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is said to be the world's fastest growing religion. 

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

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