Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 2.6.21

 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’ 

Detailed info on Galicia and Pontevedra city here


The UK: Now on the optimism upswing again . . .  The UK reported no new coronavirus deaths yesterday for the first time since the pandemic began, raising hope that the remaining restrictions in England may still be lifted this month. En passant, I read last night that the typical daily death toll from cancer in the UK is 450. Thanks to the neglect of patients over the last 15 months, this has now surely risen.

Peru: After a review, it’s more than doubled its death toll, meaning it now has the worst Covid-related death rate per capita in the world.

Gibraltar: Reported to have vaccinated 100% of its population. Would this have happened if it’d been part of Spain? Just askin’. As no doubt its inhabitants are.

Cosas de España/Galiza

Internal politics: An article on the complicated and complicating issue of pardons (full or partial) for Catalan politicians involved in the illegal referendum of a few years ago.

External politics: The price  of being an ex-colonial nation . . .  Spain has refused to take part in a US-led military exercise in Africa from fear that it would legitimise Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara. A Lot of interest in a lot of sand.

As it says at the top of every post, Spain is compellingly loveable. But this doesn’t mean there’s a total absence of things which grate. As every long-time reader will know, the continued prevalence of smoking is one of these for me. I’ve said more than once how saddened I am by the sight of groups of young women all smoking – a scene which plays out more than ever now that Covid regulations oblige them to stand apart from terrace tables. Yesterday, 4 things sort of jumped out at me on this theme:-

1. A report on an organisation called AECC posting members outside Pontevedra’s colleges to try to persuade pupils not to smoke.

2. Another report that the average age at which Spanish kids take up  the habit is 14

3. A finding that 90% of smokers do it in front of minors (including mothers pushing prams and the like), and

4. These signs on the windows of houses between the bars in the city’s main tapas street, imploring folk exiled from the tables not to smoke and drop butts in front of the properties:-

It’s one of the complaints I have against smokers – or some of them, at least – that they’re inconsiderate of others. Maybe the not-serious theory I postulated when I was a young man – that nicotine affects certain parts of the brain – is not so daft after all. Do they also throw, say, the wrapping paper from an ice lolly on the ground? Or just their butts. Or ‘fag-ends’ as we Brits say, to the amusement of our US cousins.

Enough said. Rant over.

To be positive . . . The computer bit I need arrived yesterday. As it came from Amazon UK, I was rather expecting it to be sent to the Post Office so I’d have to go there to pay post-Brexit charges and taxes on it. But it was delivered by the courier. Even better news, after initially failing to solve the problem, it then began to work and allow me to connect my laptop to both my printer and the all-important back-up hard disk.

Having recently read Giles Trmelett’s book on the International Brigades, I felt more than normally saddened by news of the death of the last surviving member of these, aged 101. Him, not me.

The UK 

Best news of the year so far . . . Salad Cream is coming back to Britain as part of Kraft Heinz’s plans to invest £140m in its Wigan factory.

The EU

Here’s a warning for those Brits who haven’t – like many of their compatriots – been living below the wire and have dutifully gained official residence: Britons face a one-month deadline to retain their rights in 4 EU countries. France, Malta, Luxembourg and Latvia.

For those Brits who have been living below the wire here in Spain – lots and lots of them  – they might get lucky, in that the government might well continue to turn a blind eye to their (non-taxed) existence. Bit of a risk, though, for those – many – who haven’t fled back to Blighty or sought to regularise their situation. And pay taxes. Time will tell.

Finally  . . . 

I couldn’t find a document I wrote in 2001 and decided to use a voice-to-text app to reproduce it, rather than re-type it. It’s debatable whether this saved me time and effort. Anyway. . . Some of the more amusing errors:-

Lump: Lamb

Urine: Your Rhine

Vomit: My meat

Must  be my (faint) Scouse accent  . . .