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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: 4 December 2020
04 December 2020 @ 12:38

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'*  

 Covid

It’s a mad, mad world. At least out East. Airlines are now offering the experience of flying out of Hong Kong and then returning to it an hour or two later. Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean is offering Cruises to Nowhere, starting and ending in Singapore.

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain

In this article on the impact of the virus on Spain’s Xmas traditions it’s said that the holiday season lasts roughly a month - a marathon of family and friend gatherings - ending on Jan. 6, with the Feast of the Three Kings(The Epiphany). I can certainly vouch for the fact the family I share a wall with have 5 meals in just over a week, all seeming to start at 9 or 10 and going on well into the night.

I suspect this number - always high - is now bigger than ever: The proportion of young Spanish adults -18 to 34 - living with their parents is 64.5%. 

Interesting. Spain mulls a move to four-day week and shorter working hours, in a bid to create jobs and cut the 16% unemployment rate. I can’t see it happening, myself. Though Unilever iare said to be trying it out in New Zealand.

Here's María's Riding the Wave - Day 19  

And here's María's latest post (no. 20), on this astonishing state of affairs/affairs of state: Spain’s defence minister has asked prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into a whatsapp group of retired senior military officers who talked of inciting a coup, threatening to “annihilate 26 million” and “purge the Reds”. The group of 40 exchanged the messages such as “Ready for combat! Go for the Reds! Raise your spirits and fight!” “There is no choice but to start shooting 26 million sons of bitches” Some of them signed a letter to King Felipe VI, assuring him of their loyalty while warning that a “social-communist” government was driving the country towards disintegration. Perhaps they're right to think a firing squad should be brought back, at least temporarily . . .

A propos . . . .HT to Lenox of Business Over Tapas for the citation there of the letter which appears as Appendix 1 below.  

The UK

ScotchEggGate: See the bit by the estimable Caitlin Moran below, possibly only of interest - and meaning - to Brits.

Finally . . .

Amusing aphorisms No. 6: When I say, ‘The other day,’ I could be referring to any time between yesterday and 15 years ago.

THE APPENDICES

1. An open letter from a Spanish grandmother to the female voters of [the right of centre parties] C’s, PP. and VOX

In olden days, under Franco, millions of women went out without their husbands - neither to parties, nor to drinks, nor to travel, nor to the beach, nor to concerts, nor to the movies, nor for a walk, nor to gyms, nor beauticians, nor to football, nor to go camping.

They wore very long skirts, with stockings all year round, not showing legs, not showing arms, not showing cleavage or back. No tattoos, no piercings, no tinted hair, no make-up, no waxing.

The woman was used (by the man) for sex and as a good maid for the house. If she protested to her husband, he slapped her to "straighten her out". She could not smoke, nor buy an apartment, nor drive, nor get divorced, nor shower every day, nor dress too much, or protest or decide who to vote for or when and how to make love - only give birth and give birth even if it cost her her life.

She dressed in black when a relative died and only in white (married) if a man "wanted" her for the rest of her life.

She would be insulted if she talked to male friends (as a puta) and if she didn't, why then she was ugly and a spinster.

A girl's toys were the dolls, the mop, the sewing box ... and her obligation was to learn to cook, clean, raise children, pray with the rosary and please her husband.

No ball, no video games, no bicycles, no scooters. These were for boys (pink for you and blue for him).

Every Sunday to Mass, the holidays to Mass, Holy Week at Mass, Christmas to Mass and also upon death – at Mass. Finally she received her very own coffin and burial (forget incineration) because to be a good Catholic woman, you had to be "devoured" by worms.

In winter, a blanket or brazier (no heating) and in summer, the fan (no air conditioning).

Those women ate a lot of rice, a lot of potatoes, a lot of grease, a lot of lunchmeat, and a lot of bread with oil, garlic and salt, because pizzas, serrano ham, salmon, veal, prawns, or eating out of the home, was something for the rich. 

I could go on like this for hours but why bother.

It is very easy to forget these things when you have the latest model mobile phone, with a car at the door, with a 30-inch television, with a closet full of clothes, with a full fridge and a warm house, with a visa-card in your wallet and you are plugged into the internet.

With being able to decide who loves you, how to dress, who your friends are and shouting 'No means no' when you want; to go to the fiestas, to the beach, to the bar and look at the time and see that it is after 10 at night and they have not yet forced you to return home.

It is very easy to talk and celebrate the past, out of ignorance, hypocrisy or lies with which some want to "whitewash" the past to sell it to the young.

Because that happy world never existed.

Thanks for reading.

Isabel Gómez Espinosa.

2.  Scotch eggs: Caitlin Moran

William Blake had it that the true visionary can see the whole world in just one grain of sand. This week, I suggest, a similar visionary could see the whole of Britain in 2020 in just one Scotch egg.  Scotch eggs are the thing; Scotch eggs are what we’re all talking about. 

For reasons that still haven’t been adequately explained, the new tier system will allow pubs to open and sell drinks — but only if accompanied by “a substantial main meal”. When pub owners tried to get clarity on this and asked if this would include, for instance, Scotch eggs, the government, essentially, collapsed — as if an egg covered with sausage and breadcrumbs were an intellectual grenade. 

On Tuesday morning George Eustice told LBC radio that a Scotch egg was a main meal — only to be countered by Michael Gove, hours later, insisting: “A couple of Scotch eggs is a starter, as far as I’m concerned.” By the afternoon, Gove had changed his tune, egg-wise, saying, “A Scotch egg is a substantial meal. I do recognise that,” while Matt Hancock did his usual thing of saying things that his face didn’t seem to understand: “A Scotch egg that is served as a substantial meal — that is a substantial meal.” As a catchphrase, it reminded me a bit of Sting’s cameo in David Lynch’s film Dune, where he has to say, “The spice is the worm, the worm is the spice,” over and over, very dramatically, while clearly thinking the whole film is bollocks.  

So, what is a Scotch egg? Well, what isn’t it, now? 

First and foremost, it’s a class issue. If you have to buy one to go to the pub, it has essentially become a tax — possibly our maddest since window tax. 

Second, it’s an intriguing glimpse into government ministers’ eating habits because a Scotch egg is essentially: 

1) an egg covered in 2) a sausage, and 3) a load of bread.  I would totally call that a main meal. Given that I, and millions of others, are perfectly happy with just a slice of toast for lunch, we seem to be in a position where a Conservative government is firmly telling obesity-hit Britain that it’s “under-lunching itself”, which seems an astonishing bit of micro-management, given, you know, everything else.  

Third, a Scotch egg — and/or any of its snack-siblings — is now the currency with which a beleaguered hospitality industry can wind up a flailing government. The Caxton Arms pub in Brighton is now offering a beer called “A Substantial Meal”, from the “Made-Up Brewery”; while the G-A-Y club-turned-bar at Heaven in Soho — which doesn’t usually serve food — has teamed up with McDonald’s and now includes a Happy Meal in the ticket price, so that customers can return, while remaining within the rules. 

While I’m all for businesses finding amusing, Hanna-Barbera-like loopholes to a piece of random government illogic, there is a serious point behind all this. “It’s outrageous you can have a pint in a theatre, concert hall, cinema or sports ground without a substantial meal, but not the pub,” says the CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association. Whether or not a Scotch egg counts as a meal will be a matter of financial life or death to many, already desperate, pubs. 

So far, Boris Johnson has offered pubs that can’t offer meals “a Christmas grant” of £1,000 to cover their losses over the festive period. Since £1,000 is the average price of a pint in London, this isn’t going to go very far.

I do have one useful idea, though. To save non-catering pubs having to suddenly churn out Scotch eggs to stay open, customers could choose to go “BYOE” (“Bring Your Own Egg”) by providing their own Scotch egg from home and being charged . . . “porkage”.

 

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



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