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Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain

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

Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 26 September 2020
26 September 2020 @ 09:17

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'* 

Living La Vida Loca in Spain/Galicia  

HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this El Huff Post article on the 23 things that young people don’t know about Franco. In Spanish. 

And also for this fascinating article - in English - on Lisbon's dreadful earthquake of 1755.

Back in 2000, Tom Burns Marañon - the half-British journalist son of an illustrious Spanish father - published a book entitled Hispanomania - about famous Anglos who've professed a deep love for Spain. In any future edition, he'll surely have to include the chap I mentioned yesterday - British concert pianist James Rhodes. Because of articles like this one - in English - in El País. I have absolutely no problem with people being very positive about Spain. After all, I chose to come here to live 19 years ago and regularly  assert it's the best of the 6 cultures I've lived in. But an assessment of a country needs to be net one - weighing positives against negatives - and it certainly isn't true to say, as Rhodes does, that everything here is better than in the UK. He does admit there are a few (macro) problems  here - poor sexual harassment laws, widespread corruption, drug and people trafficking, and homelessness - but essentially Rhodes pictures life here as Nirvana. Which it ain't for an awful lot of people. And there's no hint of why, for example, Spain's trains - and roads - are better than Britain's - an awful lot of OPM. Other peoples' money. After it became an EU member in 1985, Spain - for more than 25 years - was the biggest beneficiary of Northern European taxpayers' largesse; and it's legitimate to ask where Spain would be without that. And without the huge tourism industry stemming from Nature's bounty of a great deal of sun and a long coastline. As Vincent Werner does here, reaching very different conclusions. Incidentally, I wonder how the 2 of them would get on over a delicious tapas meal in Madrid . . .    

Richard Ford, of course, did have a more balanced approach to assessing Spain's positives and negatives, even though many of his criticisms no longer apply. And maybe Rhodes would do so, if he wrote a long book, as opposed to giving unctuous interviews which give the - almost certainly incorrect - impression of him wanting to ingratiate himself with the Spanish public. His future audiences.

Anyway, here's the Guardian on one of the seamier sides of Spanish life.  spains-plastic-sea

And here's María's Fallback Diary: Day 12  

The UK 

Thanks to Covid, British bars must now close at 10pm. This is how the brilliant Caitlin Moran reacted to this news: Presumably the reasoning behind the curfew is that the later it gets, the more pissed people are, and therefore more likely to forget distancing rules or hand-washing. But, knowing the British public as I do, if they are told to stop drinking and go home at 10pm, they will simply meet an hour earlier, and be 11pm drunk by 10pm. We’re an efficient people. We can do simple booze-maths. We’re the nation that invented the sherry trifle so that grandmas could get pissed on food. Do you remember gripe water? That was baby booze. Telling us all to go home at 10pm isn’t going to stop shit.


There more less-common refranes:-

- He that chastens one chastens twenty: De un castigo, cien escarmentados/Quien a uno castiga a ciento hostiga.

- He that eats until he is sick must fast until he is well: Comer hasta enfermar y ayunar hasta sanar.

- He that is born to he hanged shall never be drowned: El que nace para mulo del cielo le cae el harnés.

Finally . . . 

As you might have noticed, Richard Ford was fond of bald assertions about the Spain of the 1840s. Here's a couple which aren't true these days. Well, not totally:-

- Spaniards seldom trust each other.

- Spanish justice, if once it gets a man into its fangs, never lets him go until drained of his last farthing.

But one appalling feature of that era - the foundling 'hospitals' - certainly no longer exists. More on these tomorrow. Though I’ll spare you the grisly details so amply supplied by Ford . . .


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

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