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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

The Plot against Iglesias
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Last week we saw that the National Court had material to show from various police agencies (known under the general heading of ‘la policía patriótica’) that the previous government had spied on fifty-five deputies of the left-wing Podemos group and affiliates – including the party leaders (as were back in 2015 and 2016) Pablo Iglesias, Irene Montero, Joan Baldoví and Yolanda Díaz. The Minister of the Interior from the Rajoy government and Opus Dei supernumerary Jorge Fernández Díaz is already notorious for its actions against its rivals (when not honouring Nuestra Señora María Santísima del Amor – a plaster saint from a Málaga church – with the Medalla de Oro al Mérito Policial back in 2014).

The question must be – have things changed?

Yolanda Díaz on Twitter: ‘The PP has never accepted the rules of democracy. They spied on us massively to prevent changes in Spain. They didn't get it. Such serious news should push us to continue democratizing institutions. The PP must respond to Spanish society’.

Pablo Iglesias says ‘The dirty war has been enormously successful. I had to leave politics while our party, although it remains alive, has less electoral strength now than it did eight years ago’.

Joan Baldoví (Compromís) thinks that this is: ‘One of the most serious things that has happened in our democracy’.

Juan Carlos Monedero (co-founder of Podemos) claims in a TV interview that: "Worse things have been done to Podemos than were ever done to the Catalán independentistas".

Journalist Javier Durán on Twitter: ‘The PP has used the Ministry of the Interior and the Police to spy on political rivals. - The Guardia Civil has confirmed the party's meddling in several elections, including the last ones in which it came to government’.

From the beginning, it was a ‘dirty war against Podemos’, with the creation of the fake-news that Pablo Iglesias was financed by Venezuela and Iran through the Operación Pisa (‘Pablo Iglesias Sociedad Anónima’), as promoted in January 2016 by El Confidencial, OKDiario and other far-from-impartial sources. Then, as the Chief Inspector José Ángel Fuentes Gago said a few months later (after flying to New York to investigate another fake claim against Iglesias), ‘If it helps us prevent Podemos from getting into the Government, then so much the better for everyone’. One title chosen at random from OKDiario claims ‘The confession of the Narcodictudura Chavista (i.e., Venezuela) spy chief to Judge García-Castellón, that Maduro's assistant gave $600,000 to Juan Carlos Monedero at the Meliá Hotel in Caracas’.

Venezuela in those days was as frightening to a conservative Spaniard as Cuba was (and is today) to a conservative American.

How extensive were the police inquiries? A report says that ‘fifty-seven detachments, from special units to simple patrol cars, were involved in consulting restricted databases to find out the background, travel and accommodation of Pablo Iglesias and other party members’. Some 6,900 improper searches were made in the Ministry of Interior’s sensitive files in 2016 and 2017 by the national police says another source.

Following a complaint by Iglesias and others, we read that ‘Judge Santiago Pedraz agrees to investigate the dirty war of the PP Government against Podemos. The magistrate admits the party's complaint against Mariano Rajoy’s secretary of state for security together with the operational chief of the Police appointed by the PP and other commanders of the Corps for "alleged prospective investigations" and without judicial control’.

Ctxt, a Podemos supporting news-site, says that ‘…The determination of the PP and Rajoy to remain in power explains this dirty and illegal spying operation. It is probably the most serious affront to Parliament since the failed 1981 coup against Congress by Antonio Tejero. In both cases the goal was to subvert the popular will expressed at the polls…’

Like Podemos or not – one still needs to be seen to be abiding by the rules.  



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More Migrants Means More Support for Authoritarian Parties
Tuesday, July 9, 2024

 

Let’s talk about immigration. Not in the sense that some people might prefer to use this word over the out-of-fashion ‘expat’, but rather focus on those poor folk who make their way here in leaky cayucos from the coast of Africa, with an outboard motor and a larcenous captain wearing a life-saver.

Many drowning in the attempt.

People dream of moving to Spain. They come from Latin America (speaking Spanish and usually practicing Catholics). They come from the Orient to open a bazaar and make life cheaper, if more confusing, for the rest of us. They come from Africa, and work in the fields and the greenhouses, doing the jobs that no one else will do. Rate them for the Spanish as easy, middling and difficult (unless they’re good at football).

I don’t know where you stand on this subject – after all, there are one thousand five hundred million people living in Africa, and on a bad day, they might all decide to move to Spain, whether because there are no jobs there, or because of climate change, or civil war or rampant disease, or just a strong desire to see the Alhambra once in this lifetime (and anyway, granddaddy still has a key). And no, of course there’s not enough room for all of them – but there’s certainly room for some of them.

There aren’t many solutions to this – let’s call it a threat – and one of them, as proposed by the spokesperson for the Partido Popular last week, certainly isn’t the answer.

He says: send the Spanish navy to patrol the Mauritanian coast.

And then what – if they don’t stop (or politely wait until dark), then sink them with a judiciously placed artillery shell?

Admiral Teodoro López Calderón gave his answer to Pablo Casado back in 2020 on this very point: “If any Spanish warship encounters a boat in a situation where the lives of those on it are in danger, its obligation of all kinds, legal, moral... is to rescue them. And that's what would be done".   

I suppose we find those from Africa to be more of a threat to us, and this (with a little encouragement from the right-wing) will skewer us towards calling for protection from the nationalists. Whether Marine Le Pen, Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, Benjamin Netanyahu, Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, the AfD or (here in Spain), Vox, Alvise, Hazte Oir, Abogados Cristianos, Manos Limpias and a disturbing number of judges. So far, we have more or less dodged the bullet from these false prophets, but we can be sure that they will keep on banging that particular drum.

Somebody on Facebook says: ‘Let’s hope Le Pen wins. It’s about time Europe closes its borders and solves the migration crisis by moving millions of people out of Europe’. Maybe send them all to Ruanda – one place in Africa being much like another?

An editorial at elDiario.es says: ‘With few issues you can be more irresponsible and more incendiary, in exchange for a handful of votes, than with immigration. And the PP has decided that it does not want to give Vox even half an inch of advantage. Feijóo has launched his closest spokesperson to demand that we send the military to prevent migrants from reaching our shores by boat. Party spokesperson Miguel Tellado wants Navy ships, prepared for war and useless for small boat rescue, to be deployed off the African coast. It is unfeasible at many levels, even the head of the Navy says it, but it doesn't matter: what the PP wants is to match the xenophobic populism of both Vox and Alvise, in the hope of plugging the flight of young votes that are moving to even more radical options’.

The lure of the far-right perceived threat of the ausländer is a popular call. The more they come, the more we become angry or fearful, and the more we support the right-wingers. Whether the immigrants are going to both take our jobs (while going on benefits), move into five-star hotels paid for by our taxes and either disrespect our women, infect us with terrible diseases or perhaps blow us all up, the far-right will make gains. If the dreadful Madame Le Pen lost this time around, there’s always another chance somewhere.



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Did You Ever Hear about Lexit?
Wednesday, July 3, 2024

We have elections in the UK, where no one will talk about Brexit. In France, there’s elections as well – with a likelihood of the far-right getting in (dare we ask: ‘Frexit’?). In the USA, following that dreadful televised debate between Mr Biden and Mr Trump (talk about Jekyll and Hyde) the chances for us all surviving to 2030 appear to be receding by the hour – unless someone pulls the plug on Brandon (Biden’s nickname) and they can find someone a fraction younger for November 5th. You saw – by the way – that the Supreme Court, packed with Trump appointees, just gave the Orange One presidential immunity?

Over here, we are about through with elections for the time being – the Europeans are over, the Basques and – hopefully – Catalonians are sorted (although they may have to try again in October) and the deadlock with the CGPJ (the judges’ citadel) is finally resolved, five years past its ‘best before’ date.

So let us tiptoe down to Castilla y León, a quiet and un-touristy bit of Spain run by the PP and Vox doing what they do best.

There are nine provinces in this unwieldy autonomous region (the largest in Spain): Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid and Zamora. Before it was gathered into one administrative chunk in 1983, it was understood that León, Salamanca and Zamora were in one region and the other six were in the other (a bit like the Kingdom of Granada being the eastern half of Andalucía: Jaén, Granada, Málaga and Almería). Then (since we are on the subject), there’s the Basque Country with three provinces, which claims Navarre and its capital Pamplona as its fourth province… plus three more currently located in France: the Greater Euskal Herria (they’ll keep the capital in Pamplona while they are about it). And for variety, don’t forget Catalonia…

León was also looking to be a uni-provincial autonomy (like Madrid) in the early eighties, as indeed – apparently – was Segovia (and don’t even ask about Cartagena which has spent the last 150 years trying to remove itself from Murcia – another uni-provincial autonomy). León likes to think that it has three provinces (counties maybe) which are Ponferrada, Astorga y León, while ‘Greater León’ might be as many as seven provinces (the other four being Zamora, Toro, Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo).

As for its larger and not entirely welcome senior partner, Wiki says that ‘Castilla is a historic region of Spain with imprecise borders located in the middle of the country’ (mind you, there’s also a Castilla-La Mancha down the road with Toledo and other fine cities and provinces). And anyway, don’t we speak castellano?

Still, easier to lump all the 14 provinces into two regions: Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha, and how many autonomous regions do we need anyway (there are currently 17 plus Ceuta and Melilla)?

Heading north again, we discover that CyL doesn’t have a recognised capital, but its government offices are in Valladolid.

And so to the issue of the day.

The leoneses want ‘out’. Not just out of Castilla, but preferably out of León as well. That’s right, ‘Lexit’ is a thing. Their plan is two separate entities: León being one, and Castilla y the Other Bits of León We Didn’t Want being the other. Do you think it could fly?

By the way, it’s Llión in Leonés (Leonian as it were).

We wonder why – well, it all goes back to a king in 910 who moved the Asturian court to León (giving the good people of that city presumptive airs). And yes, La Constitución Española allows for changes in the regions (although, they might not have foreseen this particular proposal). A plenary vote in the provincial diputación last week favoured the idea of a three-province Léon, with the PSOE and local party in favour and the PP and Vox voting against (while – for what it’s worth – the other two provinces, Zamora and Salamanca, remain unimpressed by the idea). The mayor of the City of León mostly agrees, but thinks the single province of León should join with Asturias (yet another uni-provincial autonomy).

The government says it would accept an eighteenth region of Spain (if it comes to this), made up of León, Zamora and Salamanca, but notes that there are not enough votes (they would need a two-thirds majority) neither in the three León provinces nor in Valladolid.

Scotland take note!



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Anarcho-capitalism Visits the Capital
Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Argentina is an interesting country. It was – and should be – immensely rich. Indeed, a hundred years ago, it was the seventh wealthiest developed nation in the world. Today, it is bankrupt with inflation running at 280% annually.  

This giant South American state has an interesting president who wants to reverse the economic collapse of his country. One can easily appreciate why that would be a good idea, but perhaps the self-styled anarcho-capitalist Javier Milei is not the best person for this mighty task. He wields a chain-saw in his campaigns – cut taxes and cut services, he says. If you can’t make it till the end of the month, that’s your problem he says.  Social justice is immoral he says. Climate Change is a lie he says. Socialism is a cancer according to Milei, a message which goes down well with the right-wing opposition in Spain (and elsewhere).

Milei was here in May, invited by the Vox leader Santiago Abascal (‘a good friend when I was just a Nobody’, he says). It was a private visit – of sorts – and he didn’t check in with the Government, the foreign ministry or the Royal Palace. He did however remember to insult Pedro Sánchez and his government (and his wife) and it duly caused a diplomatic rift. The Spanish ambassador has been recalled from Buenos Aires and there things stand.

Then, just last week, Milei was back in Madrid to receive a prize from the regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso (who notably failed to invite Alberto Núñez Feijóo to the bun-fight). The occasion was a medal – the Medalla Internacional de la Comunidad de Madrid – very nice. Other past honourees of this medal include Esperanza Aguirre, motorcycle hero Ángel Nieto and the Movimiento Contra la Intolerancia.

This rather off-centre gesture was evidently another political swipe by Ayuso, who stands on the right of the Partido Popular – a potential candidate who is likely taking votes back from Vox and certainly a more attractive contender for eventual president of Spain than the grey Sr. Feijóo.

On the other hand, the Spanish media noted the behaviour of Ayuso as described by the conservative British Telegraph to be ‘deep disloyalty’ towards her country (and her party) and that she is ‘a far-right firebrand’.  We also learn that a German newspaper, Der Freitag, once called her ‘A Spanish Marine le Pen’.  

A prettier version, I grant you.

Regrettably, in an unfortunate example of friendly fire, Milei spoke to the gathered masses of the president’s companion being under investigation (he meant Pedro Sánchez’ wife, but, confusingly, Díaz Ayuso’s other half, Alberto González Amador, is also under investigation over a number of white-collar crimes).

Unlike Begoña Gómez, he’s probably guilty of all of them.

In short, with one thing and another, it’s all what the Spanish call un culebrón: a soap opera.

While Milei’s experiment with Argentina may turn out to be precisely the medicine that that country needs, unlikely as it may be, his fiddling with European matters of state are causing indignation – even among the core of the Partido Popular which now considers that it has had enough of Ayuso’s evident plotting.

Who else has she got up her sleeve? A genocidal president? A convicted felon?

They remember how she blew out the last PP leader Pablo Casado and they wonder if it could happen again.

‘She’s not just standing up to Pedro Sánchez’, says an opinion piece at LaSexta, ‘she also confronting Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who doesn’t appear to have either the power or the resolve to clip her wings’.



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The Coming Divorce
Monday, June 24, 2024

 I don't suppose that anybody cares much, but me and Facebook, Facebook and I, are about to part company. 

We had a longish fling together, eleven years according to them, but now the time is fast approaching when we must divide the furniture, the paintings and the dog, and see who gets the car. 

This is because they keep putting me down

I post something, and they put it 'lower in feed' (how many people read - or rather see my posts on Facebook anyway?). 'Lower in feed' is kind of like Being Sent to Coventry.

Not nasty stuff, like pictures of dead Palestinian children, or swastikas, or pictures of Donald Trump looking stupid - but, I don't know, pretty innocuous news stories from the Spanish press (one last week showed a graphic from elDiario.es on the voting spread following the European elections). I post these things because they are interesting.

They currently question, or remove, about one post of mine every week. 

They accuse me of posting 'Graphic violence' on this one about the voters spread, and then another of the Argentinian president Milei insulting Pedro Sánchez (also from a press clipping).

Javier Milei was back in Spain last week for another round of insults, invited by the future leader of the Partido Popular Isabel Díaz Ayuso (who notably failed to invite Alberto Núñez Feijóo to the bun-fight). He almost caused a riot as usual.

Me, I'm not gonna say nuffing on Facebook, Dear me no.

Today, they abruptly removed an article of mine which comes from the Eye on Spain blog about the odd drinking habits of the foreigners in Mojácar back in the olden days which I had posted a little over a year ago on a Facebook page called Mojácar Golden Years (a page about Mojácar back in the sixties).

A year ago!

They said it was 'spam'.

It is, I agree, a pretty terrifying article - foreigners getting plastered in the town square on five peseta brandy.

I wonder if they had read it. Maybe they had got a complaint from Alcoholics Anonymous.

Indeed, the break-up is edging closer (freeing me up to spend more time with other projects).  

I put Ronald Searle's marvelous cat at the top of this page to try and fool Zuckerburg's Thought Police - in case this article makes its way back to Facebook.

We shall duly see how that goes. 



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The Lizards Need to Cool Off
Monday, June 17, 2024

It’s been so hot here recently (thankfully, the weather changed for the better after the weekend) that I decided it was time to have a look at the two antique air-conditioning units that top and tail my digs. I had only the one mando, which needed batteries, but that was an easy challenge well within my capabilities. The other air-con didn’t have a control or any buttons or knobs as far as I could see.

I know that the global warming – you can believe it or not, I don’t care – is besieging us and each year it’s a tiny bit hotter, and well, I’m a tiny bit older too.

My daughter sent round a capable young fellow called Ashley (born and raised in the pueblo) to see if he could work his magic. 

I thought I had better clean up the bedroom and so moved things here and there, creating some space for air-conditioning mechanics, and discovered why the bedroom unit wasn’t working after I pulled a heavy trunk away from the wall.

Yes, friends, it had been left unplugged.

By the time Ashley arrived, I was down to just one non-functioning air-conditioner.

This particular piece, a relic from the days of Francisco Franco, is in a room full of both books and my computer and is decorated with a cane-and-plaster ceiling which is generally heaving with geckos.

We feared that the small and amiable lizards probably looked on the rather fuzzy looking box located above the small window as a kind of Geckos’ Graveyard. Switch that thing on and there’d be bits of grated lizard all over the house.

Anyway, it turned out that there is a way to open up these things, and buttons are revealed. ‘Huh. Who needs a mando’ I wondered.

And, it works a treat. Sort of. No reptile’s entrails to speak of.  

Now I have to upgrade the computer with a new operating system. Maybe Ashley knows someone. Like the air-con, the old box of tricks has seen better days and it never fully recovered from the millennium bug fright, you remember, when the internal calendar was going to return everything back to 1900: Goodness, how the time has gone.

The power here is erratic, with those annoying micro power outages, which is why I must remember to ‘save save save’ as my late father in law, a retired IBM technician, would say.

To counter this, some years ago I bought an eternal battery (well, good for three minutes anyway) which also controls any fluctuations in the voltage. One can never be sure.

Anyway, it doesn’t work and when the power goes, it goes too.

There’s probably a lizard trapped inside it.



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Alvise Pérez: The Booby-hatch Politician
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Alvise Pérez and his Se Acabó la Fiesta ('the Party's Over Party') got three seats in the recent European elections.

Simply put, he’s a kind of far-right version of the Monster Raving Loony Party: his main election-promise being to build a huge jail and put one person in it – namely Pedro Sánchez (video).

Another example of him on YouTube here or here in another video, where he supports the anti-abortionists Hazte Oir.

He is known, says Newtral, as a publisher of fake-news on his own YouTube channel.

Alvise is known in the social media world but has barely been noticed by the mainstream media. His arrival in politics and even more so, in the European parliament has come as a complete surprise to all pundits. His party has published no program and he seems to make it up on the spot. The media refer to him as an 'ultra-right agitator' which, eveidently, his followers see as a plus.

Now with parliamentary immunity, Alvise Pérez says he intends to remain in Spain. A subject that is picked up here by El Salto Diario: ‘Alvise Pérez's party (party) has just begun (and he will stay away from the courts). The extremist agitator has achieved his objective of obtaining judicial immunity to hinder the criminal cases pending against him. Currently, he faces two legal proceedings’.

‘Why did you vote for Alvise asks LaSexta here (notably, all the voters were male says the article). Well, to make a point, they say...

From El Mundo here: ‘Alvise's ideology: closer to Nayib Bukele (president of El Salvador) than to Abascal with "the largest prison in Europe on the outskirts of Madrid". The leader of Se Acabó La Fiesta is closer in his proposals to the Salvadoran leader than he is to Vox, with whom he shares the campaign against illegal immigration’.

From ECD here: ‘The PP does not recognize Alvise as part of the “centre-right bloc”’.

Onda Cero says it is hard to explain Alvise Pérez – whose party has leached 800,000 votes from Vox: ‘Defining Alvise Pérez from a political point of view is not an easy task. We are talking about a far-right agitator, with a certain influence on social networks and who has quite a few legal cases behind him, some for which he has been convicted. By the way, when Alvise Pérez enters the European Parliament as an MEP - in addition to pocketing more than 400,000 euros in the next five years - he will enjoy parliamentary immunity that would guarantee him, among other things, "to freely exercise his mandate without being exposed to arbitrary political persecution"…’ Plus he’ll take another million or so in government subsidies.

In short (in my opinion), a cockroach.

 



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The European Elections (Spain)
Monday, June 10, 2024

 Things became a little heated over the weekend, as we arrived at ‘el día de reflexión’ (when campaigning is over, the politicians traditionally go to the beach or stay home with the kids and the media must talk of other subjects) and then the Sunday vote for the European elections – where Spain will provide 61 of the 720 MEPs.

Not everywhere was quiet on the Saturday, as (unbelievably), the Madrid Superior Court of Justice allowed a type of prayathon outside the headquarters of the PSOE in Madrid – you know the drill, people wrapped in flags and calling for Christ the Lord …and the resignation of Pedro Sánchez.

The things which make Spanish democracy interesting.

On Sunday, a few anecdotal stories made the news. Pedro Sánchez and his wife being insulted outside the polling station. One of the list of Alvise Pérez’ Se Acabó la Fiesta (the party that makes Vox look soft and wet) Vito Quiles – a popular fake-news journalist – was asking for the vote on Sunday on his Twitter account. A gussied-up drag-queen called Pitita in charge of a Barcelona polling station (‘there wasn’t time to change for the evening gig’ she/he says).

One editorial over the weekend reckons that the Judge Peinado (the one chasing after Begoña Gómez) and Alberto Núñez Feijóo (I’ll be glad when I don’t have to type that name any more) were converting the European elections into a plebiscite against Pedro Sánchez. 

 

 The PP candidate for Brussels Dolors Montserrat, here with Feijóo and Ayuso. The poster-man on the left appears to be sending us a warning. 

 

 

In other news, the PP were found to have made an advert using the AI-created fake voice of José Luis Zapatero in an attempt to win over voters.

The European Parliament is important – it decides around three quarters of all laws, and one can only imagine where things would have gone if the far-right were running the shop when the pandemic hit. For a start, we would all be taking the horse-diarrhea drug ivermectin or worse still, denying that there was even a health issue.

So, the results (here in Spain): The PP got more votes than the PSOE, returning 22 MEPs to Brussels (against 20 for the socialists). Vox has six and the remarkable Se Acabó la Fiesta arrives with three seats (and very nearly 4.6% of the vote). The ongoing squabble between Sumar and Podemos did neither of them any good (just 3 and 2 MEPs respectively) and Ciudadanos – unsurprisingly – disappears.

Did the Begoña Gómez story make an impact? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Across Europe, the big winners were the far-right anti-immigration parties. Nevertheless, the pro-European centre-right held.

Those poor immigrants – blamed by the left for allowing the racism of the right to flourish.

An American report sums up the situation in Europe: ‘For decades, the European Union, which has its roots in the defeat of Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, confined the hard right to the political fringes. With its strong showing in these elections, the far right could now become a major player in policies ranging from migration to security and climate…’



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Country Life
Monday, June 3, 2024

The arrival of June means summer is here, which brings with it hot days and steamy nights, lots of visitors to dodge (or greet, depending on one’s age and inclination) and above all, lots of noise.  

There are fiestas and concerts plus, if you live anywhere south of Madrid, the Moors and Christians thrashes – which in our town’s case means three days of very noisy cap-guns, stunning outfits, parades and music from the marching bands.

I live in the campo, which has its own challenges. The visitors tend to have six legs, come out in swarms, and bite. A dab of repellent behind each ear usually keeps them away – or failing that, a green incense coil does the trick. The noise is provided by the hordes of brightly-coloured Argentinian parrots ('cotorras') who come and perch outside my window, the barking of the dogs who weren’t invited to the fiesta, and me shouting at the wild boar which have recently multiplied in my neck of the desert.

The pigs will come out at night and dig for grubs and the tender roots which are an unappreciated detail of my flower beds and modest fruit orchard. They will also pull down rocks from the stone terraces which are a fixture of southern Spain. They have noses like bulldozers. Sad to relate, I have found that putting the rocks back where they were doesn’t seem to work as it should. There must be a lot more to building a good terraza than meets the eye.

Oddly, the most destructive brute of all is a charming looking kind of wild goat called an ibex (or maybe it’s an arruí, a Barbary sheep, say some of the local naturalists doubtfully). It looks like a deer and it can stand on a thimble. Or, if there isn’t one to hand, then the top of a fruit tree will do. This cabra montes doesn’t just eat the fruit, or the geraniums when dallying in my garden; it breaks off the branches, or throws down heavy planter-boxes, while one of them even bit off an entire potted shrub the other day and then it pooped in the suddenly empty and unappealing flowerpot: a little souvenir of its visit, bloody thing!

There are about twenty of them local to me, and I’m told that they have moved, like the wild pigs, down from the hills and into the municipality. For most of my life, I had never seen a single one, but now I must rush outside and go ‘Hoo!’ several times a night.

Maybe I should get a dog to frighten them off, but the last one died of leishmaniasis, which comes from the no-see-ums – the tiny biting flies.

I was just talking on the phone with my son, who is in Missouri. There, they have a lake full of a kind of aggressive fish called an alligator gar which he tells me makes a barracuda look like a beginner. One simply can’t swim there and these things apparently reproduce at an amazing rate. They are from foreign-parts, he says, and thus an invasive species. A bit like the ibex and the cotorras, or maybe (to stretch a point), your humble correspondent.    

 



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Allez les Filles
Monday, May 27, 2024

Isn’t it a grand thing when one can change one’s opinion? It doesn’t happen often in one’s adult life – beyond maybe discovering that some of those rock groups really weren’t that good after all – and yet, lookit, here we are today: fans of Spanish women’s football!

They’ve done awfully well in the last twelve months, breaking the records that men’s football can currently only dream about – championships, FIFA World Cup championships and more – indeed, the Barcelona women’s blaugranas team just beat the French Olympique Lyonnais team in the Bilbao stadium in front of 51,000 spectators to win The UEFA Women’s Champions League.  

This strange new world we live in: a proper televised women’s sporting event where a couple of fellows brought a pro-Palestinian banner on to the pitch at the beginning of the match, receiving cheers from the fans (and evident approval from the organisers).

I learned today that Women’s Football has been played in the UK since 1890 (at least) but that ‘some saw it as a threat to men’s football. The FA banned women from playing the sport at FA affiliated grounds between 1921 and 1971, with the governing body stating: “…the game of football is quite unsuitable for females and should not be encouraged”’.

In Spain, the first club ‘the Spanish Girl’s Club’ dates from 1914 (‘twenty years before women could vote’, says an article I’m reading). From the Civil War until Franco’s death, the sport was dropped – call it chauvinism if you like.

I’ve never liked football – a long game interspaced once or twice in ninety agonizing minutes with a shrieked ¡gol gol gol! from the exited commentator on the TV on the shelf behind me. ‘Who won?’, I ask without turning round.

It’s probably to do with my early school life – the choices were either soccer or Latin (or, uh, smoking on the roof of the lavatories).

But look at the players! Somebody said unkindly a few years ago that you would never get eleven women to agree to wear the same outfit in public, but suddenly we saw that this whole deal wasn’t about sexy girls, like the ones playing volleyball matches – where nobody cares about the score anyway. This was about real ones: playing sport and playing to win: an inspiration for girls everywhere. Something to make society proud.  

Luis Rubiales was the one who discovered that the age of treating young women like giddy chickies was now officially over. ‘He didn’t respect me, neither as a player nor as a person’, said Jenni Hermoso.

Now that’s a mistake he won’t make again.



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