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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: 6 January 2021
06 January 2021 @ 12:06

 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'*  


Spain’s jabs so far.  

And a commentary on it:-

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain   

I don't go in for coffee capsules but, if you do, this will be of interest/value. 

Here’s Mac75 on how to enjoy cider in next-door Asturias.

And here’s my Asturian cider story . . . Years ago, my old friend Mike and I, en route to Santander and the ferry, stopped in Villaviciosa in Asturias because there’s a restaurant there which serves rabbit stew. While we waited for a table, we sat at the bar and ordered a cider each. This came in large, unlabelled bottles and the barman kindly poured each of us a centimetre or two of the stuff. As we drank down the bottle, we each poured more cider into our glasses, as one does. When we’d finished the bottles, we ordered another one each. At which the chap to the right Mike could stand it no more and told us, very politely, it wasn’t the done thing to pour our own cider. This was the barman’s job - as and when he perceived the glass was nearly empty. At which point. he’d pour the dregs into the metal channel which ran round the entire wooden bar, just below it, and aerate the cider in the way show in that article. Something which we were not permitted to do ourselves. Anyway, we enjoyed the second bottle even more than the first, if only because the other guys at the bar chatted to us and told us how they’d had to suppress their laughter at two guiris ignorant of the right way to go about drinking their cider.

Actually, I have another – shorter – story. Travelling along the Asturian coast with my then partner, we decided to have some of the famous Asturian stuff. Only to find the first 2 bars – to our amusement – didn’t have any. Third time lucky, though.

I post my blog in 2 places: on Blogger and in Eye On Spain. The readership of the later tripled during the 2 days I cited Spanish slang phrases. As some of these contained rude words, the conclusion is obvious. Sadly, readership yesterday returned to the normal level.

Here's María's New Year, Same Old: Days 4 and 5.

The UK

This (as-unkempt-as-ever) chap certainly seems to have aged a lot in 12 months . . .

One view of him . . .

The New York Times has a down on the UK. See the article below for someone’s - plausible - explanation for this.  


Finally . . .

Just in case you've never heard of Globish . . . Here and here.


What explains the New York Times's delusional view of Britain?

The NYT repeats a common view of the UK as a place that is, at best, quaint - at worst the ultimate perpetrator of injustice   Benedict Spence 

The New York Times continued its portrayal of these isles as a softcore Mordor last week, with a bizarre op-ed decrying Britain’s final departure from the EU, and a downright misleading story on its coronavirus vaccine strategy. Nothing new there — the NYT has become a running joke on these shores for the standard of its dispatches from Albion. Such is the frequency of the inaccuracies, one might almost think they were deliberate. 

Perhaps we have brought it on ourselves; heaven knows the British harbour unflattering views of the average American, existing on a spectrum somewhere between Homer Simpson and Eric Cartman. But the reasons for the NYT’s slanted view lie very firmly in the past, and its preoccupation with re-writing it to alter the present.

It’s not just its dispatches about the UK that the Grey Lady has come under fire for recently — for a paper of record, it has recorded some howlers. The NYT issued one article, following a two month investigation into its award-winning podcast series “Caliphate” stating the paper had “fallen short” of its standards for giving “too much credence” to “false or exaggerated” evidence. 

Then there was the fallout over a comment piece, written by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, on deploying the US military against protestors over the summer, which led to the resignations of senior editor James Bennet, and star columnist Bari Weiss, the latter claiming she had been the victim of targeted bullying. Staff at the Times had apparently claimed publishing the column represented a physical threat to their wellbeing.

Another NYT journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, led the charge against the likes of Weiss, and said she was “deeply ashamed” of the paper for publishing the Cotton op-ed. But Hannah-Jones, too, has been at the centre of fierce criticism as the architect of the paper’s feted 1619 Project (for which she won a Pulitzer Prize last year), the stated aim of which is to “reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery … at the very center of the national narrative.”

Despite the accolades, the project has come in for intense scrutiny from an array of commentators and historians, amid claims it promotes factual inaccuracies to push an ideological agenda. The NYT initially defended it before later issuing several corrections — but it is through this last story that we can begin to understand the paper’s continued misreporting of life the other side of the pond. 

Americans tend to view Britain as a quaint place at best; where everyone is either a cockney, an unemployed miner or a public school boy, where the food is bad, the teeth are worse, and we yearn for the days of red-coated flag-waving empire. For that last thing in particular, you can see why a certain animosity might exist at a newspaper bent on pushing a rewriting of history based on the transatlantic slave trade and historical injustice. 

Britain is the old colonial master — the birth place of the tyranny from which the patriots fought to free themselves, and the nation that brought liberal east coast America’s modern notion of evil “whiteness” to the continent. If slavery is America’s original sin (with an uncomfortable shuffle over questions on the fate of the natives) Britain is the serpent that despoiled this once tranquil Eden. 

Nor should we discount the fact that the NYT, based where it is, panders first to a community with deep Irish migrant roots, often away from the mismanagement and subjugation of their homeland by the British. All forms of Republican culture, from the country club sets and Ivy League networks to white trash and rednecks, are seen as Anglo-Saxon in heritage. Even the country’s hard Christian streak is typified by the arrival of the Puritan pilgrims aboard the Mayflower — so English that they broke with the Church of England for being a little too Roman Catholic for their liking. 

Britain, and specifically England, then, must forever be seen through this prism, as the backwards desolation America must leave behind - more a Troy to these Romans than a Greece. Combine that with the lazy comparisons between the Maga movement and Brexit, and the tenuous similarities between Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, and their fates, and you get the full package: America endured Trump and overcame, while backwards old Britain is stuck with Boris and Brexit. Not just a warning from history, but a live action alternative of how much worse things could be. 

If that is the fantasy world the paper wishes to inhabit, so be it. From afar, we have already seen what divisive and delusional outcomes framing stories to suit your beliefs has brought to America in the past few years. Britain too has indulged in its fair share. But let us not pretend that it is anything other than fantasy, regardless of whether it’s a “paper of record” peddling it.


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

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