Thoughts from Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain: 12.6.21

 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 G7 Summit/Circus

A nice political sketch below


The UK: Despite being way ahead in vaccines, the UK is now on the verge of the 3rd wave experienced elsewhere – or 4 here in Spain. This is because of the Indian variant(Delta), which is 65% more transmissible than whatever the last strain was – British/Kent? – and which is causing 100% of new cases. Hardly anyone now expects June 21 to see the end of restrictions, with a delay of 4 weeks now predicted. But will Brits comply, given that it’s being widely asked. How many more weeks can we take? Or, as Richard North puts it this morning: With the prevailing uncertainties and the history of the management of this epidemic, gone are the days when automatic compliance can be assured. A number of anti-lockdown demonstrations have already taken place and more reaction can be expected. 

The EUMembers have agreed to ease rules over the summer to allow fully vaccinated tourists to travel restriction-free across borders. Restrictions imposed on non-EU travellers will depend on the level of Covid-19 cases in each nation. Unsurprisingly, the UK is currently excluded from all restriction-free plans, due to concerns over the Delta variant.

Spain: Where does this EU development leave Spain? Assuming you’d want to keep Delta from your shores, is it really wise to let even vaccinated British holidaymakers into the country? Will we see a rise in infections in the vacation hotspots pretty soon, meaning a 5th wave?  Hot off the press. . . . Madrid brings forward a second AstraZeneca jab for the 60-69 group, as more cases of the Delta variant are detected. According to the deputy health chief, there is already community transmission of this strain in Madrid. Not much of a surprise, given the laxity there over recent months. There goes my end June trip to see my daughter and grandson.

Cosas de España/Galiza 

Another command from Brussels. More games?

I thought I’d seen them all – T-shirts sporting strange bits of English. But yesterday a guy walked past my table with just FUCK OFF on his chest. Albeit with the 2 words in different colours, presumably to make it artistic.

María’s Final Stretch: Days 7-8

The UK

Surprise, surprise! . . .  Our closest allies no longer trust Boris Johnson. Loose words and jokey insults trip off the tongue of the PM but foreign leaders will be less forgiving than British voters. 

As all Anglophiles know, the best of Brits combine humour with deep knowledge and an intense work ethic. Boris Johnson is not among these, as History will surely note. Possibly even the electorate before then. As John Crace of the Guardian noted the other day: At some point he will come unstuck – like every narcissist he germinates the seeds of his own destruction. But  . . . Right now he’s riding the crest of the vaccine wave and looks pretty much untouchable. Why does that say, I wonder, about Brits at large?


A British view of the new president: Biden doesn’t understand Northern Ireland. He’s a classic of the type: a man of tenuous Irish descent who loudly declaims his Irishness yet clearly has little experience or understanding of the country, its history or inhabitants.   Including – and especially – those of Northern Ireland.

Quote of the Day

I’ve met Britain’s most pretentious coffee vending machine. At a Liverpool railway station, it bids you to wait while your coffee is “being crafted”. Crafted! There’s a soundtrack of coffee shop ambience, perhaps to distract from a robot spitting hot water, powder and UHT milk into a paper cup: Carol Midgley


I confess I didn’t know that thou and you were the equivalents of these formal/informal forms:-

German: Sie and du, 

French. vous and tu, 

Spanish: usted and 

It’s said that thou declined rapidly in the 17th century, as folk became wary of offending others by using the singular thou form reserved for not just children but also social inferiors. 

It’s also said that Shakespeare uses the forms inconsistently, sometimes using you with a lesser being, and sometimes thou.

Finally on this . . .Forms of the pronouns thou and thee are still used in regional dialects of English.

Finally  . . .

I thought I’d seen them all – T-shirts sporting strange bits of English. But yesterday a guy walked past my table with just FUCK OFF on his chest. Albeit with the 2 words in different colours, presumably to make it artistic.


Not much love and peace for these ageing hippies: Quentin Letts. The Times

The whole thing felt like a delayed wedding reception for Boris and Carrie. Newly spliced Mr and Mrs Johnson stood on a Cornish beach and greeted their friends before posing for photographs. Carrie was in a dress of such brilliant pink you could see why the US presidential security detail were wearing dark glasses. Boris was in a new suit. It didn’t fit him. Do they ever?

Joe Biden tottered around the place looking a bit zoned-out. Justin Trudeau loped and strutted and put his Covid mask on when he thought the cameras might be watching. He could do with a haircut, that lad. Angela Merkel, on her last international summit, actually laughed. Demob happy. When she and her husband arrived on the beach, it was a surprise to find they had not brought their towels.

Carbis Bay in early June. Some boosterist in Downing Street had decided on several events being held outdoors, including the welcome elbow-bumps, the “family photo” and sundown sea shanties round a fire pit this evening. Did Angela remember to bring her swimming costume? Miraculously, this opening day of the summit was dry and fine. G7 leaders were thus denied the character-forming Cornish experience of wind-lashed cagoules, slanting rain and a pastie in the car park with the windscreen wipers working.

Airport arrivals were overseen by Colonel Edward Bolitho, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall, a ramrod-spined, sword-wielding Etonian accompanied by soldiers in bearskins and — welcome to modern Britain — some Herbert with a bottle of hand sanitiser. Whooping motorcades whisked the guests down narrow lanes. Much of the Royal Navy was bobbing at anchor in St Ives bay.

“This is meant to be a fireside chat,” complained the prime minister, “but it has turned into a gigantic media circus in which we have to greet each other several times.” With that he expelled journalists from the low-ceilinged, bay-view executive meeting suite where the leaders were sitting at a round table.

Emmanuel Macron was described on Sky News as “the bad fairy” of the summit. Bad fairy? Can you still say that? The French president was certainly in itchy mood. He twitched his shoulders, fiddled with his comb-over (there was quite a breeze) and slipped a hand around colleagues’ backs. He wouldn’t leave Biden alone, stroking his arm and waving his fingers in front of old Joe’s eyes like a conjuror.

In the morning Macron was at the centre of a little stunt to assert European unity. At a terrace table bang in front of the official snappers, he went into a huddle with Merkel, Italy’s Mario Draghi and the two European Union delegates, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel. Draghi and von der Leyen were laughing heartily. Probably discussing “sausage wars” with Boris. Really, how ridiculous to persecute British bangers under chilled-meat rules. Everyone knows there is almost no meat in your average snorker.

The PM had a one-to-one with the US president, the two men sitting in arm chairs with a dead tree stump between them. No doubt bugged by the Russians. Dominic Raab, foreign secretary, said that there had been an “incredibly warm chemistry” at the meeting. It was, though, that sort of day. Close. A bit sweaty. Raab himself was glistening. More talcum powder for Dominic, please.

Much of the “media circus” was stuck 30 miles away in Falmouth. Protesters round the headland in St Ives were divided into “authorised” and “non-authorised” demonstrations. How shaming for any anarchist to be authorised. At least the heroes of TV rolling news had been allowed into the compound. Sky’s Beth Rigby was there, to tell us about “co-ordination meetins”.

Tonight the leaders will have that party on the beach. Marshmallows will be roasted. Mellow, folksy vibes. But White House bodyguards have been told to “shoot without questions” if young Trudeau pulls out a guitar and starts singing Joan Baez peace songs.