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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: 22 January 2021
22 January 2021 @ 13:10

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

I don’t know if this is the same drug as the one recently cited but it's still good news: The first drug to prevent people contracting Covid-19 has been shown to work in early (Spanish?) trials, protecting 80% of care home residents from infection. Infusing people with artificial antibodies appeared to provide an immediate burst of temporary immunity, preventing illness.

One of the pluses of Covid - are there, in fact, any other? - is that deaths from flu are way down this winter. I can’t see shops and businesses being willing to dismantle screens - or even to cease compelling masks - in future post-Covid winters. There’ll surely be a litigation risk, at least in Anglo-Saxon countries.

Spain

1. Given how free the 17 regions are to decide on restrictions, it surprises me they can’t ignore Madrid on the hour of the curfew, having leeway of only an hour. At least 5 regions want this brought forward from 10/11 to 8 or even earlier. But Madrid says No, at the moment. The regions are also not free to dictate home confinement. These things have to be done under the national State of Alarm. 2. The value of vitamin D administration displayed down in

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia/Spain

Spain has always been - surprisingly - a heavy consumer of water. Possibly all those golf courses in the hot, dry South. (As in Portugal too?). Here’s the per capita use in use in cubic metres, showing widely different stats. See the USA v Luxembourg:-

USA 3794

Finland 3407

Greece 2373

Portugal 2371

Spain 1924

Norway 1757

Italy 1546

Belgium 1515

Netherlands 1447

France 1244

Germany 855

Sweden 785

Switzerland 686

Ireland 461

UK 348

Denmark 318

Luxembourg 208

I raise this to ask what effect all the hand-washing is having?

Those electricity charges and bills: ‘El Salto Diario advises: Three presidents, more than twenty ministers and several dozen secretaries of state have gone from creating the rules of the electricity market to collecting millionaire salaries on the boards of directors of the main companies in the sector’. It’s the ‘revolving doors syndrome’ which blights Spanish politics. In short, corrupt oligopolies meet corrupt Spanish politicians.

Oh, and Correos: An American wife in Barcelona: My husband just went to check the mail and found a pile of Christmas cards that arrived well over a month late, which is par for the course with our international mail situation here.  Nearly half of the packages sent to us never make it out of customs, cards always arrive very (very) late, and any mail we send out is always a bit of a gamble.  Ah, expat life.

María's New Year, Same Old: Days 20&21 

The UK & The EU

Richard North today: The post-referendum debate was hampered by the binary nature of the discourse. You were either Leaver or Remainer in a rigidly binary confrontation, where the 'moderate' middle way got squeezed out, shunned by the main protagonists. In the post-transition era we're back in the same territory. As tales of woe are garnered by the media, responses have largely stratified into two camps. On the one hand, there are those, former Remainers for whom the events support their view that Brexit is 'a bad thing'. On the other hand, there is the Leaver tendency, which sees the problems as evidence of the rule-bound 'pettiness' of a 'vindictive' EU, thus confirming their decision to leave as the correct one. As before, nuance has been drowned out by the shouting match between the warring parties, aided and abetted by a venal, superficial media.

The EU

Click here for a review of A devastating indictment of the EU by a leading Left-wing intellectual. It certainly seems to endorse my view that the EU won't survive in the longer term. Unless it changes out of all recognition, which seems unlikely. As Perry Anderson puts it: Europe is stuck in a ‘trap’, unable to move forwards or backwards, and held together principally by ‘fear of the unknown.’

Recommended for both Remainers and Leavers. Though I imagine most of the former won’t bother to read it.

The USA  

Scales falling from (the wrong) eyes: Trump’s support among fringe groups that were among his most ardent followers has begun to fracture amid disillusion at his departure from office. He's been branded a “shill” and “extraordinarily weak” in discussion forums of the Proud Boys, a group of far-right nationalists who often showed up armed to his rallies. In the same Telegram channel on Monday the Proud Boys said: “Trump will go down as a total failure.” Took their time. As unforgiving as their (ex)man.

Likewise . . . The QAnon conspiracy community is also turning on Trump and the mysterious “Q” figure who started the movement online, as adherents voice concerns that the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. Who'd have thought it?

The Way of the World

The three wise monkeys have been a cultural trope throughout the world for centuries as a symbol of seeing, hearing and speaking no evil. Academics at the University of York have now decided that they are, in fact, an oppressive racial stereotype. Who'd have thought it?

Finally . . .

On cutting electricity bills . . . I read a recommendation that you keep the fridge light switched off. I’ve never had the choice. My Samsung fridge light has never worked. Unless I unplug it at the wall socket. Then it works until I’ve closed the door, but never again - until I re-unplug it. Which ain’t worth the effort. Now even less than ever.



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