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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: February 2021
12 February 2021 @ 14:00

 

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'

My thanks to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for a couple of today's items. 

Covid

Good News: An existing anti-inflammatory drug - Tocilizumab - has been shown to both save lives and speed the recovery of the sickest patients.

Spain: Andalucia: Ahead of  an announcement today about urban border closures/re-openings for the weekend, the Junta has revealed large swathes of the province of Sevilla will see their restrictions relaxed. Details here.

Australia: Thanks to its 'self-imposed isolation', the existential dread is gone. For many Australians, the pandemic – in the deadly, life-altering way we Europeans understand it – was something that happened back in March and April.

The AZ vaccineThe WHO’s imprimatur for the vaccine will come as a relief to the entire country. Scientists advising the WHO have recommended its use in all adults, including the over-65s, notwithstanding concerns about its effectiveness against the South African variant of the virus. What matters most, they say, is that it stops serious illness, hospitalisations and death even, if there are questions about its impact on milder illnesses caused by mutations.  

Living La Vida Loca in Galicia

From El País: Spain’s tourism industry is feeling the loss of British visitors. The number of tourists from the United Kingdom fell 82% in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the Balearic Islands hardest hit by the drop. 

From El Economista: More than 11,000 companies face fines of up to €600,000 for not having a free customer service phone number. Says Lenox: The companies in question are those that operate in general basic services, such as transport, private health, messenger services, financial services, insurance or utilities. Already denounced the consumers’ organisation, Facua, are Seur, IAG and Línea Directa.   Actually, I know the free number for Línea Directa. For a fee . . .

When I first came here, I was shocked at what I was later told was typical Spanish Anti-Americanism, all dating back to the loss of Spain's colonies at the end of the 19th century and the lack of support for the government against the Nationalist revolt of 1936. I was reminded of this reading this account of the American doctrine of Manifest Destiny. 

Here’s María's Tsunami, Day 11. And my comment to it . . .

The UK

For obvious reasons, comparisons are regularly made between Cataluña and Scotland. At least one Scot has a very poor view of Scotland's government: The SNP administration is a truly appalling government, a ragbag of competing egos enmeshed in a bitter internal war played out on a daily basis between its past and present leaders, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, and with a record in domestic policy that’s second to none for ineptitude. Only the Covid pandemic and a flair for public relations, aided and abetted by a tame television channel, have prevented Sturgeon’s government from sinking into a morass of its own making. Even beating the pandemic takes second place to gaining independence for the Sturgeon government as it gears up for the indyref2 it says it wants, while issues like closing the horrifying attainment gap between rich and poor schoolchildren and ending Scotland’s dreadful record as the drug-death capital of Europe are getting nowhere. It deserves to be pilloried not just for seeking, yet again, to break up the UK but for being an awful administration.

Would anyone go this far in respect of the Generalitat of Cataluña, I wondered. Well, one very knowledgeable observer based in Barcelona who says he ‘probably' would. I guess it's true of all single-issue governments. As nationalist governments tend to be. 

The UK and the EU

Time will tell, of course. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of 'experts' who say something like: Europe risks cutting off its nose to spite its face on financial services. And: Brussels' determination to rein in the City of London could be self-defeating.

Or it could not.

Currently, the UK accounts for nearly a third of all capital markets activity in the EU, nearly double that of France and more than France and Germany combined. Frankfurt wants that business and seems to be first in line. Increasing German influence/power in the EU. Will France try to stop that? Vamos a ver. Meanwhile, it's claimed that Europe’s fragile banking system could also feel the strain of being shut out of London. The politics of Brexit means Europe’s banks, with profits squeezed by negative interest rates and many with balance sheets stuffed with sovereign bonds, have cut themselves off from a potentially valuable source of liquidity should more troubles emerge. As they surely will.

Galician

Here’a video from a chap who’s always impressed me on the relationship between Galician (Gallego/Galego) and Portuguese.

Talking of Galego . . . a friend has reminded me that the sort of drizzle (llovizna) which gets under your umbrella is called chirimiri here. Not to be confused with chimichurri, which is an Argentinean/Chilean spicy sauce which goes on ribs.

But, anyway, here’s details of the 70 words for ‘rain’ in Galego. Chirimiri isn’t actually among them.

Finally . . .

Some friends of Lenox’s used his family home for this entertaining video. It will certainly improve your street-Spanish, though the English subtitles sometimes play it down.



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